So for the last 10 days I was meant to be on a silent meditation retreat. I booked-in months in advance (as you have to with this free Vispassana retreat), however, I wasn’t quite in the right mindset as the time to go approached. I went anyway, as my time off from parenting was all organised and I wanted to check it out.
It was meant to finish this morning, but I have had an interesting time sorting other things instead.
I lasted two nights, one full day and two half days.
There were two main things preventing me from committing to it.
Uni, for which Orientation starts this Tuesday, had me down as studying secondary school teaching. Through my Aspie diagnosis and my own gut feeling I realised that wasn’t the right path for me. So instead I’d applied for Psychology, journalism, animal ecology and a Bachelor of Arts (so that I have lots of options). I was under the impression that if I applied for all these preferences at the same time, and I met the entry requirements, I would get offers for all of them and could take my pick.
The next offers round happened to be the second day of my meditation course. As I checked in to my course they asked us all to give up our wallets, phones, car keys, any writing materials and any books. As an Aspie I generally can’t lie so this was hard but I had prepared myself for this moment. I gave up my keys and wallet, they said “No phone?”… I (smiling) said “no I didn’t bring it”. The lady looked half impressed, half distrusting. But I knew that they wouldn’t see my side if I told them the truth.
So after an initial few hours of being able to talk to the other meditators we all headed into silence for the first 8pm meditation sesssions. Jees it was noisy!
I kid you not… they played a tape recording of this guy doing untuneful singing/chanting for a while… then he started to describe a very basic technique of watching the breath coming into and out of the nostrils, then emphasising to follow the rules and attend all meditations and meditate diligently in our own rooms when we weren’t in the meditation hall three times a day. Each of his instructions were followed by a Chinese translation, as the only 10 day course that fitted into my potential uni term times was a bilingual one. It was such an assault to my eardrums that night that the next morning I asked for ear plugs to dull the noise down.
The next day wasn’t quite so bad, it was less instruction and more silence on the tape recording.
However, when I had tried to go online to accept an offer for Journalism which I was most keen on at this point, I was shocked to only have been offered a place in Psychology. I then realised that they only give an offer to your top preference. I’d been so hectically getting ready for the retreat that I hadn’t made journalism my top preference, plus I didn’t think it mattered. Makes sense in hindsight. But what was I to do now? My phone battery was extremely low, the phone reception was pants and I was unable to get the process done of changing my preferences on my phone.
I went to the manager again who had kindly given me earplugs. (We were only allowed to speak to the manager if we needed something or to the teacher if we booked an appointment.)
I told the manager that I was finding it hard to relax as I needed to sort something very important out on the internet. She told me I couldn’t go on the internet and how come I hadn’t sorted all of my affairs before I came in? I knew she was right it was just bad timing!
I was also starting to overthink the situation with my daughter’s father who had been very difficult before I came to the retreat. He had refused to meet me half way between our houses to pick up his daughter. He insisted I drive the half hour to his house and the half hour home to bring her to him. I said it’s half way or I keep her so of course I ended up keeping her for an extra night and the morning before my retreat. He is very stubborn, I was very passive during our relationship and he is struggling a bit more now to bully me with my slowly increasing new-found sense of strength.
But alas it was all playing on my mind on the retreat. If he could be so stubborn that he misses a night with his daughter then is he going to be the same when it comes deciding what school to send her to and therefore what daycare I send her to when I start uni in the coming few weeks?
Needless to say it was pretty hard to relax and meditate on the breath coming into and out of the tips of my nose. It seemed like these issues were not going to go away unless I sorted them.
So I met with the Teacher, thanked her for having me but that realistically I have too much on my mind and it’s not a good time for me to do the retreat. She kindly said “you’re still young, you can always come back”. So with that I was released back out into the world.
I found I was more mindful on my exit. I was able to pick moments where I could focus on the end of my nose when I wanted to stop the thought stream. But also I could chose when I needed to get on with something and get it done.
I did change my offer preferences and received an offer for Journalism in the next round, on Valentine’s Day. It was lucky timing as the government organisation JETS was also deciding on how much child care they were going to help me with so I had to provide them with the correct degree, the correct number of days at uni (my new timetable) and bring the dates forward for it to start during essential orientation week. It still ended up getting stuffed up in the end as they only only offered me one day of covered child care, starting the week after Orientation week, when I actually need a maximum of three days some weeks. But I’ve been on the phone to them so it will hopefully be sorted by this Tuesday and Wednesday when I have to be in uni orientation for the two full days. At least I’ve been onto it. I feel proud that my days of procrastination and being frozen in fear seem to be lessening. It’s so helped having he diagnosis, dozens of books on the subject, a supportive clinical psychologist and even my dad has started talking to me more via email since the diagnosis so that is lovely 🙂 maybe he can relate to the diagnosis for himself?
On leaving the retreat I messaged my daughters Dad saying I do not like the conflict. I told him I could drop her to him (after my classes) on Mondays and he can drop her to me on the alternate Monday mornings. He was happy with that. He works just around the corner from my house but he was getting cheesed-off that it always seems to be him picking her up and dropping her off. But it’s not exactly out of his way in my eyes! Luckily my uni is near his place and so it’s not particularly out of my way either to go to his after class every fortnight. I also have Co-Dependents Anonymous meetings up hear his place on Monday nights that I might start attending again once I drop my daughter off with him. They say it’s a lifelong issue, like Aspergers is I guess.
I also informed my ex of where I’d like to send out daughter to school and daycare (near my house and also near his work) and gave him an idea of what secondary school I have in mind as I am happy with this new area that I have moved to. It’s close to his work, it’s quieter and more family orientated.
I have no intention of moving back up to the area where he has just moved into with his girlfriend. I lived around there for two years and it is so much busier than where I am now.
He usually tells me off for telling him my opinions. He usually says “I don’t need to know your life, I’ve moved on”. Some typical condescending words to that effect. But this time I was relieved to receive his reply which was in agreement, so I could go ahead and book my daughter in to the local daycare, that goes on to provide after-school care next year.
I love where I’m living. Yes I’m ony renting a room from a fella that I hardly know but he seems really nice. His mum invited me and my daughter around for a swim in her retirement village which was lovely. I only lived with my housemate for a week before he went overseas for 6 weeks, he’s still there now teaching surfing in the Maldives. I hope that when he returns all is honkydory.
So I’ve had a lot on my plate and I’m glad that it all seems to have fallen slowly into place before uni starts.
My intention was to be in a calm and serene place before uni started but that could not have happened if I had come out of my retreat today. There would still have been so much to sort.
Over the past month I have gone vegetarian and over the past few days I have started to try to buy only organic and I see a big difference in how healthy I look. I think my skin glows and I look slimmer.
Unfortunately I’ve been getting a sore throat when I sing and huge amounts of muscle tension in my neck and shoulders whilst I was in the middle of trying to sort everything out. And my chiro must have done too much one day as that night I developed pain down my left arm which still results in numbness and tingling in that hand. Luckily I’ve sourced a good GP, massage therapist and physiotherapist in my new local area so I’ll be visiting them when I need to too. When the physiotherapist worked on my neck it did seem to refer through to my throat so maybe the sore throat will abate through addressing musculoskeletal issues. Or it may be down to post nasal drip, a virus or reflux according to the three doctors I’ve seen about it. I think at the end of the day I have to trust myself and with their assistance figure it out for myself. It started before the meditation retreat and resting from singing doesn’t seem to have cured it.
It may be all stress-related with uni starting and being nervous about going back as a single parent. And not doing my natural strength subjects in the sciences. But at least I have the knowledge that I’m aspie now and my clinical psychologist has provided uni with the diagnosis so that they can provide any suppport if I need it.
So I’m feeling prepared and that’s I guess the best I can do.
Let go and let god (the god of your understanding) – as they say in CoDA.
Thanks for reading xx