Monday, September 12, 2011

What I learned from the playa this year,2011

 I'm going to attempt to express my story here...when my foot stepped off the RV, onto the cracked playa 2 weeks ago, it seemed everything was wrong with me,at least in my spouse's heart. I talked too much, I nagged , I wasn't focused, i had too much energy... Big B was exploring his own head space,somewhat overwhelmed by the art car, trailer, mechanical, RV, issues, bringing our son, our kids leaving next year, our own rite of passage, emotions, and he decided that he wouldn't talk to me,a passive -aggressive move I'm familiar with,.. I seemed to be a major, constant, irritant to him , for his own personal reasons and whatever shit he had brought with him to the playa...I wanted to get through it , work it out.
  At one point,in our first 4 days there, as we worked building the city, before the burn started,before the city "opened' for business, I decided that the burn would be a lot better if B and I could communicate, seemed like if he would talk to me,we'd have a lot more fun too.conversely, perhaps he was just going deaf, like me...maybe he was losing his hearing, , I had  just gotten hearing aids and knew that eyes, ears, strength, and flexibility seem to be lost rather quickly as your form deteriorates.
 B was going out for the first test run of the  art car , and asked Marley if he wanted to go out on the playa. "What about me?" "Am I invited too?" I asked, hurt,of course,... I mean, I didnt want to be hurt by this, but it was programmed in me ...I sat down (actually slumped) in a lawn chair,crying earnestly, and told him that the burn was gonna suck if we didnt talk right now about what was going on., that we were creating our burn together right at this moment. He said it was because I wasn't in the moment, hmmmm,..we all know that you cant blame others for passive/aggressive behavior. We had danced this old dance so many times, me being the source of his irritation, him responding by shutting down to me and opening up to everyone else, a form of punishing me for being myself,... a cruel irony I was used to(  ahhh,...awareness can be difficult in the darkness of old behavioral patterns) So, after a wee bit of me, standing strong and insistent on integrating our shared experiences, insistent  for a connection with my best buddy in life, telling him how I wanted to be loved ,not scorned, ...he softened, and we connected. Meanwhile, back In camp, I was doing some motherly/shaman/medical work for our camp, providing a small clinic to my camp mates.
Sometime, towards the middle of the Burn, the camp leaders approached me as I was headed to the burn pit to burn some compost, I saw them coming towards me, I felt that I was doing something wrong, and when they spoke, I felt, at first, as if they were going to reprimand me for SOMETHING I HAD DONE WRONG!. instead, they wanted to give me a beautiful piece of swag and then proceeded to say the most wonderful sweet things.WTF,!!! there it was AGAIN! whats wrong with me? The sick feeling that lives in my solar plexus and gut. That has set up shop there for as long as I can remember ,.....totally  activated .
Ok, so the burn began with a strong sense of everything that was wrong with me.Even moments of praise and gratitude from my camp mates were activated by the strong sense.

 As the week progressed, I felt the service of what I bring to the playa unfold and blossom. Im there to provide solace, strength, nurturing , compassion, inspiration, and comfort.I fell deeply into my work. It was fairly heavy at times interspersed with complete liberation . Yet, all week, I wanted to laugh, long and hard and break open from the heaviness. I verbalized it to my friends.By the end of the burn, at the Temple fire, I stood where I like to stand, as close as I can to the edge of the fire ,surrounded by it, and then, my motto,... I step ONE STEP closer. Next, I stay as long as I can (til i'm burning) and  then I STAY LONGER.
 Inside of me, as I was burning in the fire, I felt a vague familiar rise of kundalini stirring in my spine and my gut. I asked for tears to well up, I asked to cry,and so I did, a little..., next day, I drove home, we cleaned the RV, everything was put back in place...Oh yes, an important note( maybe not), a few  days before the temple burn ,I had written "whats wrong with me?"on the Temple wall( remember, my first moments at the burn were all about feeling that something was wrong with me, all these childhood emotions flared up in my abdomen like when I was a kid), i was going to burn those feelings, I had decided that nothing was wrong with me, that Everything was RIGHT WITH ME.
 I told b about this, that I had allowed him, in those first days on the playa,to make me feel as if there was something wrong with me when actually, there wasn't anything wrong with me.and also, that I had burned this feelings in the fire.
Upon return from Black rock city, I was WIPED out! I couldn't move , I wanted to sleep, my body ached, my head seemed dull, slight dizziness, extreme fatigue...burned out literally. Within 2 days of being  back here, I actually heard myself ask out loud, "Whats wrong with me?" Fuck! I thought, I burned that! DAMMIT!,Now, it was a physical "whats wrong with me?" SHIT, i couldnt escape myself!
 So, drained and weary,we drove up to Joshua Tree to the Bhakti yoga festival. Having done this event for 3 years, I know how powerful it is, but coming on the heels of Burning Man, seemed a little excessive, yet, we wouldn't miss it and headed up there.

 We arrived in the clean-ish, still dusty, RV at JT.
Kirtan was going off, 24/7, delicious conscious foods, raw, fresh, light, love, devotion everywhere,...and SOOOO... many people who had just returned from the burn!
 Lydia, who was vending her amazing foods, had just come from cooking for 2 camps , Caraucci-with her fashion, the Other deepak-singing 35 shows at Black rock, now onstage for more,and,on and on, all these amazing people, who had hauled their shit to the playa, and then come right out to the festival to work,....for me though, It felt like a release from service. I was there to restore,breathe, and listen to the music of love.
 Saturday morning, I happened upon a folk rock singer ,named Ena Vie, singing at second stage, I loved her deep, soulful voice, reminiscent of my good friend, Shawn bisi. She had a powerful ,mature musical array .
And then, it happened, during her set. I felt the same tears that would not form as I stood close to the burning fire at the Temple,,I felt them bubbling up, boiling , churning out of me, heaving, sobbing for the longest moment, it kept flowing, something had opened up, spilling my 'whats wrong with me' all over the festival floor. And then, the magic of the universe occurred, in that moment,I was standing again in front of the fire at the TEMPLE!!this was no memory, I was there, i was burning and crying and releasing all this shit into the fire,even though I was sitting at mid morning on another desert floor at a kirtan concert.I was in both places at once. I was aware of everything, the people around me, probably wondering what was going on with me,happy for me to be feeling deeply... where was brian I wondered? It was as if I was in an empty, cavernous hall with soaring ceilings, and rooms with open doors coming from all directions, thoughts were coming from the open doorways, thought i had was a conversation with the woman I had met the day earlier who had shared her divine transformative experience with me, where she had cried for 3 hours, during a fairly typical daily routine ....was I doing this crying because of her?Had she planted the seed the day before? I was everywhere at once, and I knew it was a BIG event. And then, I realized that this GRAND event was want I had been desirous of for a while since my last BIG event. Now, that I know these crazy blissful moments are available, I have missed having them and I wanted one! This was the big event that I had desired at the Temple Burn, even though I had told myself NOT TO HAVE EXPECTATIONS, I  had lied to myself. I DID have an expectation,dammit... I wanted to feel a divine orgasm again, I wanted to feel these big, blissful moments more. And here I was ,in the middle of ONE! And, appreciating it, and thankful for it, and acknowledging all the tangential thoughts that were associated with it.It was the interlocking puzzle pieces coming together to form a  picture (note: on the playa, there was a giant interlocking puzzle that I stumbled upon and thought at the time"Hey, I THINK OF LIFE as an interlocking puzzle, I am going to stop and experience this art work.!!"

 OK, that's it, I thought I had wanted to laugh at Burning Man, I guess I really wanted to cry, and it didnt happen at the burn,it happened at the bhakti, BUT, I WAS transported BACK to the burn( OR,IT was transported to the NOW) ,I was able to combine and experience 2 instances in time,then and now, at the same time and in the same space. so, Im left wondering,with a deep question that perhaps one of you can answer, ... if I can experience the THEN (the past-standing in front of this recent Temple fire) at the same time as the now( crying in JT at a festival), and time and space have been can I commingle the future with the now and bring the 2 together into this moment?
 So, what did I learn, what did I experience? ...Im left wondering so many things, will I have more of these profound experiences?(yes!), far can we go into profound? how big are we ? Whats available to me?....and most importantly, since all these crazy ass puzzle pieces came together, big b, the camp leaders, the woman telling her story about crying for 3 hours, Ena Vies magical music, Temple fires, ....time space.....I can state that nothing is wrong with me, and will now ask myself,when confronted with these old feelings, WHATS RIGHT WITH ME?
in love
dr deb
ps, your story from the playa? please share, make it long and include the details!


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. let me try again... my comment may have exceeded a blogger imposed limit. I'll have to post in Parts
    PART 1

    Funny.... it never occurred to me that anything would ever be wrong with you (not that I know you on the inside).

    Thanks for writing from a deep place - for posting without projecting or preaching. Do you ever worry that if you go too deep you won't find your way back? (This is why I shy away from Kundalini ) ....

    I have yet to write about my Burn experience I think because I know I'll colorize it. But not here, because its safe to write here. No one will find me here.

    Burning Man is different for me every year and as I always say, you get what you need, not necessarily what you think you want.

  3. In preparation for this Burn - in addition to art projects, costuming, temple projects, etc - I began reading a book called The Sedona Method, which was teaching me how to honor my emotions and release them - not allow them to define me. My goal every year is to grow and heal. This is my 9th year of growth and healing. When I first arrived I was a grieving mother. I was here to punish myself for not preventing my son's death. My transformation began at the Temple that year. For the next 7 years, I attached myself to the Temple as though it was my job. I was glued to it, not just during the burn but all year long.

    Burning Man is the place I feel closest to my son. Here, my inner voice is his and I trust his words. Last year, he told me to leave the Temple and to stop remembering the way he died and focus on the way I lived. That the more I reached beyond my self imposed boundaries - insecurities that have haunted me since I was a young girl - the more I would free him and myself. We are one. He also told me to look at the people I attracted into my life and the circumstances that surrounded them. That there were lessons for me to learn in each of them.

    My immediate reaction was to focus on the people that were no longer in my life. Lovers, friends, campmates who discarded/rejected me.

    Number one on my list was a man I camped with for 3 or 4 years. His name was Mike aka "Issue". He provided me with a great amount of attention. He was smart and funny and powerful in his default world, but here, he was a toy for me to play with. I allowed him to chase me, to lust over me. I even tricked him into thinking that he loved me. In truth, he had no idea who I was.

  4. PART 3

    (I realize how calculated this sounds but) At the time, all I understood was that he fed my insecurities. What I craved from my burn was male attention and he was safe. I wasn't attracted to him and I knew he would never try to overpower me. I felt in control and control is powerful and power was my drug.

    Back home, I was 7 years into a monogamous relationship - my first EVER and even though I had given myself permission to stray on the playa, I felt stronger staying true to a bond with a man I felt safe enough to love.

    In 2008, with less than a week to go before the Burn, Mike emailed me to say that due to work, he would not be attending and that I could not camp with his friends. And then.... he disappeared. I had already shipped my camping supplies (I'm an East coaster) and I was traveling solo. I was devastated.

    It never occurred to me not to go that year. Instead, I headed into the burn kicking and screaming. "FUCK IT... I'll camp solo. FUCK HIM, FUCK EVERYONE... I don't need anyone!" but I knew myself well enough to know that there was a strong chance that I'd shut myself off from everyone and everything. Or worse, that I'd project myself as a victim - something I deliberately avoided all my life, even after the death of my son.

    I put an ad on Tribe asking if anyone needed a "drama free" campmate (ha!). A man from B.E.D was the first to contact me. He was very open and kind, but I didn't feel a connection to him or to the camp (probably because I wasn't willing to provide a service). The next person to contact me was a woman from New Mexico. She explained that she was a virgin and would be arriving on the Green Tortoise bus. She had also met another newbie on Tribe named Lazy Boy. Lazy Boy had befriended a silver couple from Portland. The fact that none of us knew each other and that we were all orphans, was oddly comforting.

  5. Part 4

    We made friends with a couple that camped next to us and we all formed a unique bond. Each year, more orphans found their way into the camp and deep, interpersonal connections flourished.

    There was a major shift this year and I fought it hard. Some wanted an open door policy - inviting more and more people that they'd met online or at regional burns, and others wanted to keep the invite to friends so that we'd maintain a more intimate setting. Eventually, feelings were hurt and the camp split. And my guilt came back with a vengeance.

    Yes, I'm opinionated, and at times controlling and bossy. I've never had a problem admitting my flaws. I also understand that the subset of wanting to control is the built-in opposing force of wanting to be controlled. When control motivates us we long to have someone to blame for our lives and our feelings.

    I'd wake every morning with my head spinning. I was focused on knowing that I had hurt people that I loved and that they were angry with me. My son was angry with me when he died.

    I spent several weeks focusing on this. Honoring the emotion. And releasing the emotion. And then..... the rejection of Mike resurfaced. Why did he dump me? What was the catalyst? And why couldn't I get him back? I knew feelings of rejection would churn and grow during the burn if I did focus on it so..... I made a giant voodoo doll and named him Mike. So there was no confusion I gave him a name tag that read, "MY NAME IS MIKE, I'M FROM BOSTON AND I HAVE ISSUES." I stuffed him full of tears, letters, and garments he had gifted me. For extra flavor, I added a few things from a former employee who was suing me.

  6. Part 5

    I took my time making him. I could feel the shift even before he was complete. I started taking him places. I blogged about him. Mike made people smile.

    I shipped him to a campmate in Southern California who agreed to have him sit shotgun on his journey to BRC. Mikes ticket was one way. He would be burned along with the Man.

    Because they shared the same first name, I emailed a campmates who had split from our camp this year so that I could explain who Mike was. He had heard about Mike for 3 years now and did not reject my quest for inner peace. His email reply was light and uplifting.

    Due to the Hurricane, Mike beat me to the Playa. Oh the irony! He celebrated Fat Tuesday without me, dined on Gumbo and dance it up with campmates old and new.

    I arrived drained to a level that I had not felt since my first year and I greeted with a bombardment of negativity. Not from my campmates but from my former campmate who was telling his new campmates that I had made Mike to punish him. All I could feel was negativity... directed at me. It was suffocating.

    I focused on my feelings, my need to defend and then it hit me.... I finally understood who Mike was. He was every man who had ever rejected me, abandoned me.

    Starting with my father, who left when I was 2. And then it to the man who molested me when I was 7. And then to the boyfriend who told me I'd need to have sex with him or he'd dump me, and then when I did, he dumped me. But the worst rejection of all came from my son.

    How could you leave me???? ..... (so many tears) My first born, my only son.

    I had never allowed myself to feel anything negative about his choice to choose death. I understand its a brain disease, that he was not thinking clearly. I defended him in death just as I did in life.

    I was finally ready to honor and release my feelings of abandonment and rejection and with that came (to my great surprise) my need for male attention. I dressed for me. I felt good about me. I was silly and spontaneous without being seductive.

    And then I looked around me....

    Every one of my campmates was joyous and loving, kind and generous. Excepting, open, forgiving, and nurturing - new campmates, old campmates. THESE are the people I've attracted into my life.

    deep... deep breath.

    I am learning. I am growing. I am free. I have found peace within myself.

  7. I like that, Deb. "What's right with me?" I like that a lot. It's a much better question to ask than the one we all do, all too often.

  8. The only thing "wrong" with you is that you put up with a sadistic man who would rather see you suffer through his silent treatments ( a sure sign he does not give a shit about your feelings) and put downs rather than be honest with you and say he really isn't that interested any more in making you happy. We all are bitches, nags and hags at some point, but that's just frustration and hormones speaking. The silent treatment is an intentional form of abuse that someone is using to beat you down psychologically.
    You seem like a beautiful and magnificient being, if your life partner has been choosing this kind of strategy as his way of communicating, he is already on his way out. Someone like this whose behavior has been tolerated by you for this long knows he is holding the cards and power in the relationship. He is stripping you of your joy because he knows this kind of mind fuck creates suffering for you (how many years has he used this torture tactic?) yet he'd rather that than share his thoughts with you. Way less cruel is a good argument where some experession is taking place, tension is being released and things worked out.
    I had a man like this, and he enjoyed the fact that I suffered so much when he pulled this shit on me. I remember the last day we were together and I was very loving towards him.
    But I did not realize he was itching to just move on, and all of a sudden he pulled it on me for the final time. He refused my affection, and refused to talk or respond to anything I said. I finally asked if he wanted us to break up, to the point of becoming hysterical.
    When I finally got to that point, he said, "I don't really care."
    I moved out that day, and a week later, he had singles ads everywhere and never looked back. Don't bother wasting your time or money on counseling, because your core issue with him is not "your issues" it's this guy's immaturity and lack of interest in your emotional safety and well being. When he is not behaving having like an ass, ask him if he still has the same kind of feelings for you, or if they have changed over the years and doesn't know how to tell you that. Watch his reaction and the time it takes for him to actually speak up about it. I hope I am wrong, but you deserve someone who will treat you right and feels the same about you. Goddess bless

  9. that was a dia tribe and a gift to remind those who choose to support elevating the Spirit, finding what is right, supporting love in a humble fashion of of of self and not to tear town our individual temples. Thank you for such a beautifully transparent raw experience shared. Real and true to form. Beautiful. Diesel

  10. Wow... two powerful posts here, I think... One from Dr Deb and the comment from Green Monkey.

    I think we journey through Life looking for all kinds of answers to many many things... and if we are lucky, we figure some things out... as GM did re: Mike. That he represented every man who had rejected/abandoned her...

    Sometimes I think the answers come rather easily... many times, not.

    It's a journey...