I, the Comfort Addict

Yesterday I signed up for my first 10 day Vipassana retreat in November. There is a wait-list for women’s spaces, but I do see this as a commitment to attending one – if not in November, then at the next opportune moment. The ‘code of conduct’ as such for the retreat is a lot stricter than the 5 day retreat I did last year at the Red Hat Temple – there are many things that I am going to struggle with. The most scary – no smoking or yoga for 10 days …

As I was filling out the form to sign up, I must have paused with my finger hovering over the ‘x’ button a dozen times. If I’m going to commit myself to 10 days straight meditation, I at least need yoga to help ease things through! And no smoking – how can I concentrate on the task if all I can think about is nicotine withdrawals. No way! And no writing? … okay, now this is just getting ridiculous. I am better off cultivating a stronger home practice at home, where I can be comfortable and supported by the familiar tropes of my life.

Ah. right there. I didn’t press the ‘x’ button, because in explaining to myself why I shouldn’t go, I revealed why I need to go.

I am a comfort addict.

I hide from my anxiety by holding fast to the familiar things that give me safety … escape from fear. Smoking for me is far more than just a habit – if it were, I would have quit long before I was paying $50 for 30g of tobacco! It is a functioning part of my complex system of anxiety management – I visualise it like someone hooked up to an ECG machine (I remember those things well) – each little wire tapping into a part of me that needs to be recorded and measured. In order to manage my anxiety – I got so damn good at locating the fear and strapping it down – one part got nicotine; another, starvation. The part that comes and goes got periodic wine-submersion. And the parts that were a little more fluid were treatable with yoga. I got so good at it – I am so good at it – that it took me most of my teenage and adult life thus far to figure out that I had anxiety at all. I had micro-managed it to the point of dissolution – but there was a cost. One I am still paying daily.

Such a complex system is destined to glitch. All these different wirings are set at precarious angles, ready to spasm if the environment changes. They thrive in homeostasis … it feels like ECT if I try and rewire the system. I pull back. I can’t bare the fear.

I am now at the point where I want some of that space and energy back. I am resisting the wiring and seeing how exhausting it all is. I want to let go … and I cannot move whilst pinned down by so many nails. I have to pick away at them one by one, and face the spasms of fear, rage and pain that come as a result. Some days it’s too hard – thus i cannot speak of this process in the past-tense. Yet.

I read an article that a friend shared yesterday about the life of Shinzen Young, titled “A Small Price to Pay for a Different Kind of Life”*, which talks about his journey to a monastic life. Something moved in me as I read it. Instead of torturing myself with the usual What are you so afraid of Sian?, I started to ask, What price can you put on your own freedom?

and , like is expressed in Shinzen Young’s piece, the choice became obvious. I will give all of it – I will pay the highest price for a Different Kind of Life. Perhaps not “One hundred days subtracted from my life” just yet … but 10 days? 10 days to try and break free from the hooks, and the wires and the damned strong convictions that keep me so stuck? A very, very small price to pay.

To be continued – the thoughts are still fresh and the path not walked on yet.



“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,

there is a field.  I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,

the world is too full to talk about.

Ideas, language, even the phrase each other

doesn’t make any sense.” — Rumi.


This is potent, to me. I drink up the words – they speak to the part of me that so desires stillness, and love. And clarity.


… “even the phrase each other doesn’t make any sense” … it sounds like the end – the end of suffering. Of wanting. Of painful desires and pleasurable ones too.

I want to feel that.

I … I …I  …. See, I am so far away. I am still waiting for the word that follows “I am …” I cannot yet leave it as I Am.


Where to from here?

just a glorified excuse … – a Reassessment 6 Years On

just a glorified excuse … – a Reassessment 6 Years On

JUNE 1, 2010 – the original post. 

 — I wrote this post 6 years ago, when I was sick. I had no children yet, and I hadn’t yet attempted to unpack the assumptions I had ruthlessly made about myself and about the function of ‘emptiness’. It’s a rather glorious thing now though – I can read this back, a passive observer, and see the wisdom so chocked by the fear and intimacy. This post is taking another look at the words I wrote back then … an attempt to re-create a glorious realization, if you like, in place of  a glorified excuse.

I have been recently reading a poetic yet ‘self help’ formed book called “A million little pieces” by James Frey.

He is a seriously fucked up addict – alcohol, crack, glue… he is mentally and physically ill and looking down the barrel of a life spent in jail or dead when he is taken to a rehabilitation clinic.

In it he talks about getting better from addiction through AA meetings and seeking a higher power, and he comments that they are never really recovered they have just filled the void of their addiction with a new one – strip away their meetings and their God and their Dogma and they are back where they started – addicts needing to fill themselves until they kill what is on the inside.

“though the people in (the testimonials) are no longer drinking and doing drugs, they’re still living with the obsession. Though they have achieved sobriety, their lives are based on avoidance, discussion and vilification of the chemicals they once needed and loved. Though they function as human beings, they function because of their Meetings and their Dogma and their God. Take away their Meetings and their Dogma and they have nothing. Take them away and they are back where they started. They have an addiction.” James Frey – A Million little Pieces 91-92

I so relate to this  – I think that my whole life I have had this huge gaping hole in me  – in my heart. and I have fought to fill it with everything since early childhood, running races, school – excellence excellence excellence, boys, booze – more more more, writing, drugs – forget forget forget … but nothing has filled the gap quite like anorexia….for a while.

Yet, at the same time – it has only ripped the hole further, made it into a gaping, gasping fucking black hole in my universe that now there is no hope of repair. and there is no way to fix it so I might as well stretch it – grab hold of the corners of it’s depth and rip violence until I am completely overwhelmed, and I become yet a hole in the universe that

people see through and people don’t touch and I don’t feel.

 — What happens when we discover so soon that there is no permanence – that the self is always going to remain illusive? I was so desperate then to un-see this. To grab onto something, not yet knowing that the transparency and the void that I was channeling were not nothingness or exclusive to ‘me’ – they were the truths that would one day set me free. Correction: Could one day set me free.

And if I was to go to some rehab  – be given food, and therapy and blood tests as my Dogma – and be made to get what they call on paper with all their glorified excuses, ‘better’ – the hole would still be there – menacing and resilient, and I would live my life searching in vein for something else to fill it, something else to quieten the reverberating echoes it creates inside my mind. crushing me.


I hear things in its emptiness, and sometimes the emptiness creates a false sense of purity and security. Be empty, be nil and fear not, as you feel not.

the most common misconception of human nature is that we can change and manipulate our minds and bodies so much so that we can be someone else.

 — I still love this line, and I think it is important. This ‘being someone else’ – making ourselves new, is not only so desperately sought in our society – its also taught to us from babes .. the American Dream, the capitalist success …. The family man … the feminist narrative … all of it teaches us that we need to be better. That we need to want more and that progress, PROGRESS, is what will drive life. The fuel of self.

No self man. No self.

Someone we admire. Just like ‘them’ or Just like ‘her’. In some ways, our biggest fall from Grace is in our constant dissatisfaction with ourselves and our obsession to present to the world these phony outward facades. So much so that we have lost trust in those around us, for who knows what face, what words, lurk beneath the surface smile. I could go on about this forever, not to mention the fallout that has followed seeing us hide among technology and materials, anywhere void of real human emotions and expectations ( Facebook, cell phones… alcohol…) in fear of what being open to the world and its truths may bring. Love is toned down, so that it becomes  mere obligation to one another  – gone are the days of Shakespearean romance and holistic need.

Reality – one day we will realize that we are the same person we were to start with. and all this time, all these years, we have wasted – searching with broken wings for something that was never to be. We will wallow in bitter regret, pining after our stolen youth and our wasted fervor – as the truth actualizes itself.

 — I was so close. re-edit : “one day we will realize that we are no one person. And all this time, all these years we were searching for one self to adhere to our souls, we have been enlightened all along – searching with a winged promise that all we need is right here. We will sigh with a little regret, after the illusion of stolen youth and wasted fervour – but the truth will actualize itself. And we’re free.”

If only we had accepted ourselves – and worked within the mold to carve a life  – then, maybe, it would have been worth living. Then maybe, the regrets would cease and the pain would live a little further from the heart. And this pungent odor of irony and mockery would not poison our current state

I have hollowed myself to match the galloping emptiness that haunts my every breath. I have stopped trying to be whole, and rather, embraced nothingness and in-completion.

 — Keep embracing Sian. It’s the secret. The wholeness will not nourish.

Does it work? Do I feel I have mastered the art of escape from the Human Tragedy?


 — No. NO. But I will. I will.


Stop the Flashing Lights

I still get these, these … flashing lights. Something deep in my neural pathways that’s telling me – it’s not okay. You’re not okay. When the lights flash, reality is so broken. I feel broken. All the hope and love that I build throughout the day – watching my children play and say please and eat their broccoli – feeling the ease in my yoga practice – walking out of a lecture theater feeling a little bit wiser – being embraced by someone my soul aches for – yet all that is damaged. And the hope doesn’t linger. Hopelessness can be so crippling. I worked so fucking hard to keep the hope. I gave everything of myself to keep it. Flash. It’s gone.


I hate those moments. And they do linger.


Like cigarette smoke in your clothing. I walk around after, tainted. I feel like people can smell my fear. I feel alone; like someone whom it pains others to see. I reek of desperation and complication. I have dreamed since a child to be simple. Black and white. What you see is what you get.


Yet … what I see has never been okay. What others see has never been okay for me. Its crippling, you know. To feel so busy yet remain so empty. I want to fill myself up. I want to be full.

But still empty. What will it take, do you think? I’ll take the exhaustion. I’ll take the pain and the trials and the mistakes and the sleepless nights. Just fill me up.


Stop the flashing lights.

If you ever ask …


If you ever ask me about love, I will tell you you taught me how. You brought the clarity and grace. You are Love.

Even when we cry, that’s love gone too far.

Even when we hate, that’s love gone to fear.

And even when we leave, that is love come too near.


If you ever ask me why you have two homes, i will tell you it was for love.

We cried, your dad and I, when love went too far.

We used words like hate, but we were afraid.

Even when we left, it was to protect the love … for You.


If you ever ask me why I didn’t eat with you, I will lie.

I‘ll lie so I don’t cry.

I’ll hide the words of hate that keep me hidden.

I will leave things unsaid when you come too close.


If you ever ask me about life, I will ask you to teach. You brought the clarity and grace. You are Life.

Even when you cry, that’s life gone too far.

Even when you hate, that’s life gone to fear.

And even when we leave, that’s life come too near.


If you ever ask me …. I will send you home.

the words come from Love

from Life

from Fear

The words, my dear, come from You.


Sian Alexia

including You.

picture for blog post me 2016


For what must I stand?

the air here is silent

I look into your eyes and you cry.

You weep for a moment 

and  two here are breathing

but there are no words tonight. 

for I saw you laughing

in a field

so sweet

a movement of jaw and round cheek.

You did not see me but you spoke to  


the words in a foreign tongue

For what must I stand? 

I saw you there preaching

I will pull the veil from your eyes.

Its darkness will hide you 

and there’s tears in the fabric

I will  lick the words off your lips

for I may be dying 

the air here is silent

I need to go back to that day.

for we may be dying 

the air here is silent

we need to go back to that day.

Sian Alexia.

At a time in world politics where “us versus them” seems to be eroding essential human values …. I offer only hope, compassion and belief that there is still a better way for us to Love the other, and bring them within ourselves.


I’m sorry

I’m sorry. I’m a fucking fraud. The last posts … much hope. So much healing. But … too much hope. Too much desperation to put it on paper and make it true.


You stare at the ceiling and you want to go home.


“It” hurts. But what is “it” ? Is it just …life. The experience of being. Could being present hurt that much? Or … is it trying to Not Be … trying to kill something inside … is that what hurts?


When I try and locate the pain … it’s indescribable. It’s like an overwhelming depth and fear. Like swimming underwater with no surface break in sight. Trying to hold the breath long enough to find clarity, trying to answer the question while your lungs are burning and bursting and you’re edges are blurring. And then there’s numbness … that comes next. And it’s not better. It’s worse.


Because the loss of feeling doesn’t mean all the bad feels go away and all the good feels remain … numbness takes it all. All the tears leave with the smiles. All the past bliss dissipates with all the loss … and your empty. You haven’t even got enough left to get yourself to sleep. You lie awake.


You stare at the ceiling and you want to go home.


Back to that house in your childhood that was always warm and colourful that never did exist

The one you made up so you could smile.

The one you made up to justify your tears.


I’m fundamental, you see. I crave edges and limits and extremes and ends. But … my life has never delivered. I live in grey spaces …


… i live in the night …


Sleepless nights full of wanting and giving and emptying, emptying, emptying.


Fundamental. Fullness … no I’ve never wanted fullness. No full belly. No full house. No full mind. . and then … i cry for the emptiness. I shed tears because it’s all gone. And then i wonder why … i see it now. The words came out and I see it now.


I want what does not serve. I must learn to need what does serve and sustain the wanting, unemptied.

I’m so sorry. Always so sorry.