Sunday, April 29, 2012


In NVC (Non-Violent Communication), we talk about feelings and especially about needs as the fundamental core of all things we do. We distinguish between the perception of an incident (observation), the feelings that it inspires and the needs that these feelings touch upon - met or unmet. Needs are said to have a living energy, a kind of surge, a power of their own. You can find them hiding in your belly, knees, hands, chest, neck... and sometimes just touching upon them releases a burst of energy. This is not dissimilar from the principles of psychoanalysis, where touching upon the "basis" of sometime releases the knots that have been tied by that thing.

(Sometimes I find myself wondering about specific kinds of feelings... guilt, loss, shame... are these really feelings? How would we perceive these within the spectrum of NVC?)

Then there is the question of anger, much demonised, quite rejected... as a feeling, it's pretty much the epitome of negativity, poisonous to your thoughts and blood.

Today, though, while experiencing what has otherwise been classified (by myself and other people) as fear, anxiety, stress and panic, I felt anger. This is hardly headline news, though the experience of anger this time around as remarkably different from what it has been before. Perhaps because every time something like this has happened, I've not stopped to wonder if what I was feeling was indeed anxiety or something else altogether. All I felt was a jumbled mass of potent, incomprehensible STUFF. I've often described what I've felt as anger, and indeed, that is also a valid definition. But what I felt today had me wondering if perhaps anger is also a NEED and not just a FEELING.

My counselor evidently has a friend who spoke of how, when people get angry, they scream, and surmised that on a sensory level, then, anger is actually a way of expressing to someone that they are too far away. That they can't hear you. That you're unheard, in one way or another.

Anger, I think, can be a need. There are things inside you that cannot emerge without the shield and simultaneous vulnerability that characterise anger, and sometimes to bring those things to life, you need anger. Sometimes you need to be able to fight for yourself, isn't that a need too? Sometimes you yourself are blinded by your preconceptions about what is right and wrong, what is poisonous and foul and what is wonderful... and you fail to see those things that are wretched and miserable and a little broken that are, despite your greater sense of logic and whatnot, a part of you. Anger is also those needs, struggling to be heard across the vast chasm that you've put in between your idea of yourself and who you really are.

I sat today for a very long time with my happy yellow pill in my hand, thinking about anger. What I have been feeling for a long time, while rejecting it often, is anger. Anxiety too, but anger predominantly. What I have wanted for a while is to have someone who can hear this anger and accept its expression. It's alive, damn it. And I need it to survive too. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Absences - and what I learned today

The absence of someone you care about can be really disorienting and odd. But, like someone told me today, if we pay attention to that space, it can be enlightening, and teach us just how we care for that person and what they mean to us. Which in turn can be empowering, because you realise that it isn't that you can't function without them -- because of course you can, even if you feel kind of miserable and low and weird and just a little out of sorts -- but that their absence makes known spaces that they cushion or buffer. Those are spaces in you that you can learn from, just like fear is a space that can be clarifying in unveiling those hidden unspoken things, desires and promises, failures and catastrophes, memories or anticipations. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Moment of Clarity #1

So today while leaving the house, the landlady's dog came out to give me a shy headbutt. And of course I stopped and we had a bit of a conversation about who the best doggy in the world is and how I do most certainly believe its her. (This is, I have to admit, a post I assign quite randomly to all dogs. I don't know how you'd choose between dogs to say, "this one is better" or "no, that one is not good enough". Ick, what a horrible thought.)

As I was petting her, SOMETHING came and sat down on my forehead, and when I ducked a little, it FLEW away. Anyone who knows me knows that this is enough cause for me to run around in tiny circles screaming "MOTH MOTH MOTH MOTH!" For those who do NOT know me (this is that moment in the blog where I imagine a lot of people are reading this little thing), a little background is necessary. Ever since I was a child, I've been incredibly terrified of moths and butterflies, the result of a toddlerhood experience where several of these loathsome creatures lodged themselves in my then very curly hair. As a result, I've embarrassed myself in a number of situations in my adolescent and adult existence.

A recent experience with some healing processes however has kind of unlocked this phobia. I'm still not wildly fond of moths and butterflies, but I can tolerate their existence and there is no screaming or running around in very tiny circles like a loon. Like today. When the moth/monster flew off my forehead, briefly lodging itself in my helmet before taking off, I did...

...exactly nothing.

A while later, walking to my scooter, I realised that the healing processes have had this weird, unanticipated sort of result, and I celebrated that. I also realised that in all my previous dealings with the winged world, I have not had the kind of control I had today. In fact, if anything, I was compelled to do whatever I could to protect myself - although how screaming and running around in tiny circles is protecting myself, I do not know. Nonetheless, this led me to a moment of clarity.

These are rare, so they must be noted.

Fear is compelling. When you're afraid, in any manner, you lose control of your facilities and your body goes into a self-protective mode. Concurrently, when you find yourself doing odd things -- screaming at people who get 'too close' (which in the Delhi context is really Just Common Sense), but also at those other people who get too close in a more personal and therefore perhaps slightly more alarming sense, being one example of this kind of behaviour -- odd things that you're not really in control of, things that seem mad or insane to everyone else and even to you in retrospect ... perhaps really you're just doing them out of fear. And maybe if you can put a name to that kind of fear, or as I did with my moth-phobia, turn it into a shape and let it fly away into the more accepting arms of the universe... then just maybe you can deal with it.