I tried something new on Thursday evening.
for some reason I've been reluctant to participate in events run by a group that several people I know are pretty enthusiastic about. The group is called the Human Awareness Institute. (abbreviated as HAI.)
my therapist has been encouraging me to give them a try, it seems that for the kind of touch and affection that I've been craving in my life, this group has good results for a bunch of people.
Long story short; I've recently decided to try more new things for the first time. And I do have to allow for there will be some new things that I'm not gonna like.
Got to help a friend with a burning man project for a couple hours after therapy. Went to grab a burger and fries after that, and then lost myself in the internet while eating, enough that I had to bolt outta Five Guys and still showed up 15 minutes after the start time of the darn thing. Great.
I did manage to just BE, on arrival, which is a triumph considering how socially anxious I used to be. (I have done a LOT of therapy.) They've got a friendly looking dude (I liked his vibe) helping do sign-ins and the speaker is already in process. I join a circle of chairs.
She has a pretty mellow presentation style, comfortably but nicely dressed, like she could easily do yoga or go out to a midrange restaurant in the same outfit. She's barefoot, we all are, we left our shoes at the door on request. It's definitely that kind of house.
it's a mild digression from the main thrust of this post to describe the decorating style of the living room; but there's a ton of statues and structures with Asian elements, from what I could tell from a blend of cultures. Stylish, classy, pretty expensive by my guess, but... a bit in the Ordered All My Furniture From Pyramid Collection aesthetic. I don't know. It didn't *bother* me, but it left an impression.
Okay. so we're listening as she talks a bit about what HAI does, their goal being to sort of love yourself into wholeness or something. (yes, I started out a bit skeptical.)
I'm feeling actually, like I'm pretty darn whole, I've just struggled to find healthy and happy poly relationships with people who we have mutual levels of interest and similar kinds of dating goals. And I've been a witch for over twenty years now, I've done a LOT of work on my soul wounds and childhood stuff, relationship stuff. Basically I've worked on all the ways I've ever been hurt or have hurt myself. It was a lot. I had touch averse emotionally distant parents and I was the only nerd in a neighborhood full of jocks. I was lonely and grew up HUNGRY in ways I, as a child, couldn't feed myself.
This has been a longstanding research project for me. A *lifetime* of research unlearning the habits that made me miserable, finding teachers and teaching myself more about how to be happy, content, how to ameliorate the places of need and heal the soul pains of my life.
Gosh, I kind of want to name and shame them by describing the kind of techniques they used to force us into intimacy with complete strangers.
There were several activities we worked on during the 75 minutes I was in attendance; there was a cycle of hugging and another cycle with an uncomfortable kind of "make eye contact with each person before clasping hands at chest level and then each of you kissed the other's hand", there was a kind of confession time where you partnered up and the script was, "if you really knew me, you'd know..." and then you make a series of stream of consciousness shares with your partner while they listen with attention; then you switch and you listen with attention while they share. The last thing that I can remember is a kind of touching exercise; you each take about five minutes to cup and stroke the other person's face. IDK if they were expecting me to hold eye contact during that; I ran out of eye contact spoons about halfway through.
(do neurotypical people have zero problems holding eye contact with someone else for long periods of time, +/- 5 minutes? Unless I know and trust someone I have trouble holding long eye contact with them.)
at the end of the alotted time our hostess collected us back into a circle and talked some more about the longer, full weekend HAI workshops. I was feeling weirdly ungrounded but still mentally present, and in this case took note of the cost of the weekend as being cheaper than one night in some of the places Jeff and I have stayed (they were NICE rooms okay) but I was feeling like the cost was still prohibitive.
like, I know if I wanted to, I *could* afford that weekend, but my gut feeling was saying, "nope that's too much".
I'm glad I trusted my gut feeling. I definitely didn't want to sign up for anything based on this artificial feeling squashing together of people who didn't know each other.
and I mean, I KNOW THAT you have to meet people before they can become friends, but ... okay. Let me fast forward to on my way home, for a second.
Okay. Driving home. Reflecting on the evening, and why do I feel uncomfortable. Ungrounded, a little like I'm floating above my own head. I am literally operating on autopilot, and I've got the gps in my little Prius going, and somehow I *still* am so lost in my own mind that I miss the freeway turnoff for my house.
Which I *rarely do*, but okay.
I'm *exhausted* when I circle round and actually get my car parked in front of my house. exhausted and *starving* which usually a greasy burger and fries will hold me three hours EASY.
I check my internal resources and I try to *ground*
and I ... like, there's almost nothing *there* to ground *with.*
There's *always* something there. It may be sluggish, or it may be stuck, but I've *always* got plenty of "juice".
It's a bit like you're used to a Las Vegas neon display, but suddenly you look and all that's there is a few tired glowsticks scattered around instead.
I'll be honest. It feels like someone(s) in that workshop are energy vampires and I got fuckin' DRAINED.
I've never spent (or not in YEARS) so much time being forced into proximity without having some kind of buffer; social chit chat, physical space, the ability to go introvert for a little while if I needed to.
I've always been able to either ground or shield, or both as needed.
I'm not some N00B witch, I can shield damn well if I need to, I know how to protect myself energetically, but I didn't, because the nature of the exercise was, I thought, to foster a chance at intimacy.
... I think they're either playing with forces they don't understand, or someone's, consciously or unconsciously, harvesting personal energy from people. Or maybe it was just me? IDK...
Like I got a very fluffy "love and light and we have the power to /love the world to wholeness/!" vibe off them, maybe, MAYBE they have the best intentions running the thing, and as the folks who've been doing it for a long time, the hosts all feel well grounded themselves.
... just UGH. no.
Not my bag. I have communities I can work within and call on for comfort, acceptance, hugs, positive kinds of eye contact, I do not think I will be returning to that community.
Instead I will return to my ecstatic dance community, try out the Contact Improv dance classes locally for physical touch and flexibility and challenge, and join the political action group that some friends from my ecstatic dance (Open Floor) community have started.
I will make more lunch dates. More art dates with friends, more activities that feed me in MY WAYS.
I will do more of the Witchy Shit (tm) that I love and that feeds me.
because yeah. That shit wasn't fun for me at all and I don't wanna do that again.