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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Grinning Through the Bile

When I read Eat, Pray, Love, I had a very different understanding (or maybe not different) of the idea about smiling in your liver. I didn't take it to mean that you smile with your entire being, though that was one element to the larger picture. Why smile in your liver as opposed to your bladder (too busy churning out that urine?) or stomach (too busy digesting that burrito from last night?) or even your heart?

Actually, Ketut may have meant your heart, but not having him in front of me to retranslate, I'll tell you how I've been processing Liz's recording of liver.

I first heard about this idea of smiling in your different organs from an ex-boyfriend (truly, we haven't even scratched the surface of my dating tales of woe). One night, we were at a bookstore and he told me in this matter-of-fact manner that he didn't orgasm anymore. Correction--he did orgasm (in fact, this practice gave him multiple orgasms at once), but instead of going for the full release, he took that energy (and sperm?) and sent it skyrocketing up his spine and out the top of his head.

"Isn't that called blue balls?" I asked.

He gave me a book on Taoist sex principles which, strangely enough since you can find connections wherever you look, is written by a proponent of liver smiling as well as Chi Nei Tsang, an abdominal massage that releases the anger, frustrations, and grief we have stored in our abdomen (read: liver).

My brother is fond of sweetly reminding me of a local church sign, "bitterness destroys the vessel that contains it" because I am the one who cannot let something go. I will relive the same conversation in my mind 1000 times, bringing myself directly back to the same anger, frustration, sadness I felt when the words were first said. I can literally make myself cry replaying conversations that are twenty years old. I bruise easily AND I never heal--a terrible combination (though the inverse is that I care deeply--especially about others--so it's a toss up about how much you want to mess with the system).

When I read that line in Eat, Pray, Love, I was reminded of Monsieur Blue Balls and his grinning liver. We had many a terrible fight and the anger compounded--I wasn't just angry with situation D, but also brought back my anger from situation A, B, and C. He asked me to try his form of meditation and I even went so far as to go to an initial workshop (except there was a cricket in the room and I simply couldn't stay). For whatever reason, this man brought out a fury in me like no other.

The same is not true for Josh. When he frustrates me (which, you know, never happens because he is perfect), it remains in the moment and once we resolve the argument, I never carry that anger with me. And the same is true for some friends, though not others. And some family members and not others. There doesn't seem to be a rhyme or reason to why some people bring out the compounded anger; the bile that I cannot let go through my spine or any other energy passage, and others give me...for lack of a better term...the full release.

As I was reading the book, I was thinking about the fact that I actually need to deal with my liver right now. That I am continuously negotiating a relationship with a few people who bring out that compounded bile. I can feel the anger each time we communicate, I can feel the anger in between each communication, and the smallest statements tie back to those larger transgressions even though no connection exists between them whatsoever except that the reason for the anger (most notably, the way we communicate) is the same each time.

Were horrible things said? Yes.
Were my feelings dismissed? Yes.
Was I treated crappily? Yes.
Can I get over it? No.
Should I get over it? Probably.

By which I mean, yes, I do need to get over it--if not for them then for myself because I waste so much energy being angry.

I've been trying to remember this book whenever I feel the bile start bubbling. It is not a conscious exercise where I sit down and force myself to smile (I took, of course, smiling in my liver to mean taking that angry frown and turning it upside down). Instead, I just think about the book and how I need to control that anger, release it or get emotional blue balls.

Blue balls? How can that ever bring you to multiple orgasms?

Do you ever find yourself holding onto anger? Especially with certain people and not with others? Why do you think that is (is there a common factor between those certain people) and how do you release it?


N said...

Especially with certain people. And mostly when I feel, logically, that I have been wronged and/or did my best in the situation. That is to say, 9 times out of 10, even if I'm emotionally involved in something, I can tell whether I'm being rational or not. And when I'm absolutely SURE that I'm being rational, then there's almost no way for me to let go of that anger. I can only think of 2 or 3 people (okay, 3) that bring that out in me. But oh, they do.

I've been trying to let go of it, but I think really I just end up practicing avoidance.

Jess said...

Oh yeah, especially with certain people. Being hurt by someone you love and trust is the worst for me...not only about the thing that hurt you, but the loss of part/all of your love for that person, if you knwo what I mean?

Nothing heals that sort of thing but time...and perhaps not always time.

I would be interested in hearing more about Mr. Blue Balls.

bleu said...

I got a book on Taoist sexual work called Cultivating Female Sexual Energy when I was younger and it discussed channeling the orgasm for men by not spilling their seed and retaining chi flow or menstrual flow for women. I still have it actually although I do not follow it, it was an interesting book.

OK on to the question. When I was young I had a lot of rage, a lot. It was from the abuse at home and I was even an elementary school bully which is interesting because I was also an absolute twig.

When I became older the rage morphed into self hate. It manifested by either destructive behavior, self harm, self hate or all of the above. I spent years turning all that rage inwards and lashing out at myself with it. It got to a point that I had trouble getting in touch with anger when it would have been healthy even.

When I got healthier and grew up more I finally was able to get in touch with anger again. It was new and scary and productive all at once.

Now days I am pretty ok with anger. I try to identify it and acknowledge it and experience it and let it go. I find I have the most problems with grudges towards people that have hurt those I care for much more than those who hurt me. Even to the point when said hurt person has long forgiven I have not which I am working on changing.

I also have to mention how hard hormonal anger has been for me, when I know it is drug/hormone induced it scares and upsets me all at once. It has been a difficult part of the IF process.

For the most part though the only anger I have been unable to let go of has been towards my parents, but I have come to believe it is ok. I spent a lot of time trying to look into it and it is just a fact. I try not to feed it or waste energy thinking about it, but it is there.

Thanks for sharing, as always your words made me think and feel, one of your true gifts.

bleu said...

btw here is a good link on organ smiling

Not on Fire said...

I think that how much a person bugs us depends on the rules that we have in our own lives. I think that hardest faults to accept are the ones that we have ourselves.

I think that how we feel about the things that happen to us is a choice. You chose to be angry when something happens because you are believing what you mind is telling you about what should have happened. You have to accept what happens, acceptance does not mean liking it, but not resisting. I am not always able to stop myself from being angry when some one does something that I don't want or like, but now I try to question my reaction. I am not responsible for the behaviour of others (well, except my kids.)

It is a huge waste of my life to spend my time and my emotions on the actions of others. I will never be able to control what others do, but I can stop them from controlling me by choosing my reaction. There is my business, other people business and god's business. I try to focus on my business.

So what do I do when something bugs me? I accept that it happened. I accept any emotions that arose with it and feel them fully. I review what I am telling myself about the situation to make sure that it is true. I tell myself that it is futile to remember the past as it is unchangable. It is pointless to fixate on the future. There is only now. I try to be present in the current moment.

Does it always work? No, but for me it is better that any other way that I have tried to deal with life.

Lori said...

Mystics say that you are triggered by what you recognize in yourself. So one way to "get over" a problem with another is to see where you have done the same. It may have been to a different person, it may have been to a much lesser degree.

Find it in yourself, embrace it, and then forgive yourself. Let it go. Then you don't have to deal with it in the other person any longer.

That's the energetic view, anyway.

Cassandra said...

At this point in my life, I am mostly beyond anger. Except with certain people (just a few). Then, not only am I not beyond anger, I relish it. I go back and forth about whether it's wrong to relish it, whether it's bad for the karma or the spirit, whether I should just let everything go, but I keep coming back to being a part-time hater. The delight in that anger makes it cease to be painful. I don't know that this is really the person I want to be, but for now, it makes a nice counterpoint to the sadness and disappointment of IF.

Kristin said...

It really takes a lot to make me truly angry (not just uber-frustrated). However, once I"m there, the issue does tend to linger and I hate that.

loribeth said...

What Kristen said. I don't think of myself as a particularly angry person... but when I REALLY think about it, I have to admit that, yes, I do bear certain grudges, some of them dating back decades. "Mean girls" from the schoolyard. The two girls I shared a house with at grad school, who made my life miserable. Looonnnngggg story... let's just say that we were totally incompatible as housemates. It got so that I would stay in my room until they left the house in the morning (& arrive late for class as a result) because I couldn't stand to face them, especially first thing in the morning. I would usually rewash the dishes before leaving the house too, because they did such a sloppy job, there were always bits of food stuck to the plates. UGH.

I can feel the bile rising as I type (& this was 25 years ago...!), so I think I'd better stop & start trying to smile...!

Marie said...

Oh yes! I hold onto things just ask my hubby. However my biggest problem? Not telling people how I feel.

AnotherDreamer said...

Oh yeah. We'll just leave it at that.

WaterBishop said...

I have this problem with my mother. She won't even have to do or say anything that bad, but all the past angers in me over her come bubbling up and suddenly I am resentful of any of her requests. The minute I hear her voice on the phone I can feel my blood pressure spike as the rage courses through my veins. I know I need to stop this. And I do try. Sometimes it just catches me off guard.
I so wish to be one of those people who smile stoically as everything rolls off.

Flying Monkeys said...

Yep, I stuff it down with cake then I get angry with myself.

Kim said...

Oh my yes! Certain people yes. And even more specific my in-laws. I've asked myself "why?" thousands of times. The best reason I can come up with is that they are not my family. They are the exact opposite. One SIL in particular is the worst. I try to repeat "let it go. let it go" over and over but it only works for so long.
I agree with n's response. I try to ask myself if it's rational, too. If I'm in doubt I ask my sister and she usually reaffirms it.

Star said...

I definitely still experience anger from time to time. In reflecting on which people from my past (or present) still inspire it, I think the common thread is that they are people who I feel hurt me unfairly -- i.e., I did little if anything to deserve whatever they did or said -- and with whom I know I will never be able to have any closure, for whatever reason. And they are all women, I am realizing now as I type this. Certainly there are plenty of men who hurt me unfairly, but I don't have anger or lingering hurt with respect to any of them. Hmmm . . .

JamieD said...

I definitely hold on to anger. And with certain people, I will find myself preparing to be angry before they have had the chance to catch me by surprise.

I can easily get worked up by events long, long past. I have been working on making choices. I have the choice to get over it or the choice to dwell on it. When the anger sets in, with the heat and nausea that usually come with it, it is so hard to get over. And I hate the way it makes me physically ill.

B said...

It's hard to let something go when you feel you have not been acknowledged. But then it's also kinda hard maintaining anger - in that it does eat you in the end.

I struggle to let go.

I think I am taking baby steps.

Wierdly, for me the thing that helped the most was a shiatsu massage. Strange huh. Perhaps I had relaxed a little too much and let my guard down.... in the middle of an otherwise silent massage the therapist said " you have to let go to receive new things". That's all he said during the whole thing so it sort of stuck. And it was true too....

Io said...

You and your men! Mel, you crack me up!
I know I hang on to anger. I'm not good at letting it go when it's because somebody had deliberately hurt my friends or family. I let it turn into something smooth and small and white hot. It stays there in the pit of my stomach collecting with other rocks.

Holy shitballs - maybe that's what's making me fat!

Bea said...

Remind me to challenge you to a grudge match some day. This is where we line ourselves up and see who can hold the longest, bitterest, most irrational grudge. Bet I win.

I hold real grudges against people who never acknowledge, or never seem to even consider, that they may be at least partially at fault, or that I may have some kind of point about something. Especially people who don't pull back and at least try to be rational and reasonable, and listen to what I'm saying. I have a huge problem with that.

How do I let it go? I'm not very successful at this. When I am, to any extent, it's because Mr Bea has talked me through the situation objectively, and told me I need to get a grip. He manages to acknowledge both sides of the debate, and tell me where I went wrong without making me feel like a bad person.


Julia said...

So I am trying to catch up on my blogroll. Meaning I am trying to get my reader down to 0 via reading every post I missed. Which is how you are getting a comment today on your post from August.

There are very few people who get me that way, and most of them are not close enough to bother me on a daily or even weekly basis. One who is rather consistently and unavoidably capable? My MIL. The times when I am able to let go of the bile are the times removed in time enough from the latest assault to not have it be painfully immediate AND also when I am able to see that she is really hurting herself the most. If she is sitting on her ass waiting for us to prostrate ourselves before her and declare her indispensable, she will have a long wait. And in the meantime, she will miss seeing her grandchildren. See? Hurting herself. Not always easy to do, this bile suppression. I still can't calmly think of her words and behavior the week A died. She was horrible. No other word. Double whammy for JD, you know?