I took a serious hiatus in blogging. I had planned to post on Friday evening, but those plans were thwarted by an incredibly intense mental breakdown, which I'll dive into as this post unfolds.
FIRST! A recap of what I'll refer to as "Before the Psychological Apocalypse."
Thursday, 5/4/17. The most magical of all Thursdays.
My very special excursion for today, which I mentioned in my last blog post, received a delicate modification.
I originally intended to take a picturesque boat tour through the Danube Bend (Szentendre, Visegrad, and Esztergom). I was completely prepared to follow through with that, and even blogged early Wednesday night. However, I did not crash until 2:30 am and would’ve had an alarm go off at 8:00 am. Not happening. Didn’t happen.
I awake at 11:30 am, a little groggy but mostly refreshed and entirely grateful I did not push for the early wakeup. After 20 minutes of mulling and research, I decide to go to Szentendre anyways and take the suburban railway. Live like a local, right?!
Before I ready myself, I check the weather report, which says "cloudy," so I am nervous my special adventure will be foiled. But once I make my way outside, I understand that by “cloudy,” the nice digital weatherman meant "clouds in the sky," like these--of the awe-inspiring cumulus variety.
I hop on one of those old-school trams today and can’t figure out how to validate my ticket. I almost have a nervous breakdown at every stop, anxiously awaiting a large stocky Hungarian train policeman to board and yell at me for being a useless American who can't do anything right, and then fine me $200 or slap handcuffs on me and haul me off to Hungarian prison. I slink off one stop early because I can't take the heat, and I'm too embarrassed to ask anyone how to do it. No one offers either.
Yet another shout out to the impeccable timing. My trip to Kiraly yesterday prepared me for knowing where to go to catch the HEV train today. Deciphering the pathway to new adventures is a wee bit stressful, so this made for a smoother journey.
Compared to the boat trip, the HEV line is a far less glamorous mode of transportation but there is a pretty view of the Danube out the window, and then we travel through a quaint hills-and-valleys area.
Roughly 40 minutes after departing Budapest, I arrive at the Szentendre train station, with 18 oz of water and a 16 oz smoothie patiently waiting to evacuate my bladder. The toilet at the end of the track is like a mirage in the desert – as I approach, I discover it costs 200 HUF, which I don't have. I mean, I do, I have 10,000 HUF but the bathroom clerk would likely freak on me if I hand that bill over. I meander, allowing my internal compass to guide me (who am I kidding, I am following a group that seemed to know where they were going). My instinct draws me into a coffee shop that has free bathrooms! Bladder is happy.
This place is utterly and completely … ADORABLE. Imagine 20 puppies bum-rushing you to knock you over and lick your face. That's what it felt like to walk through the streets of this town on a warm, bird-chirping, breezy day. I read reviews from people saying this was the most boring part of their trip, so I was nervous. I see now that those people have no soul.
I bask in the rays of the sun, saunter along the Danube, relax at Gorog Restaurant, read my book (You are a Badass), and soak of up every moment of joyous Spring freedom.
Around 6 PM, I decide it’s time to leave, sadly, because I want to catch the sunset from Fisherman’s Bastion—which is poetic because it’s the first sight I passed by when I arrived in Budapest 4 weeks ago, and so much has happened since then. I hop back on the HEV, now an expert at suburban travels, and get back to Budapest right at 7 PM.
My phone dies. I am heartbroken. Even moreso because it teases me. It has 20% left, and I shut it off thinking I would save some juice. This plan is thwarted—every time I turn it back on, it stays on for about 5 seconds, and then shuts off again, EVEN THOUGH it has 20% left. My phone is just like me—NO NAPPING. On the rare occasion that I nap, I’m the tiredest, crankiest mofo you’ve ever seen when I wake up. My eyes do NOT want stay open for more than 5 seconds. I feel you, iPhone. I forgive you.
The sunset was gorgeous. I did manage to snap a few photos during the 5 seconds my phone opened its eyes to yell at me that it was going back to sleep. I did this routine about 5 times and snapped one photo each time before it really told me to eff off, and turned in for the night.
By the end of the evening, I’m feeling a little under the weather. Probably pushed myself too much this week trying to pack in all the sights before I leave for Prague on Tuesday. I’m gonna be really sad. Whereas Paris was love at first sight, I fell in love with Budapest. BP earned it.
Because of this earned love affair, I cannot decide what to do.
Stay in Budapest a few more days? Another week? Forever?
I ask Spirit to show me a clear sign. Until then ...
FRIDAY, 5/5. The Day of the Psychological Apocalypse.
Today begins like any other day.
First, I recall a dream.
I find a bright white shining book. It looks brand-new and like someone is giving it away. I realize that it was collected off of a school desk. I try to figure out if I can take it. I see the name on it says Amanda but it's not me Amanda, it's a different Amanda, and it says something about feeling good, and there's a dark-skinned woman on the cover (Nina Simone?!?). And I realize that different Amanda has been sick, maybe with cancer. Her classmates banded together to get her this book. And then the teacher tells us that we're giving a gift to April. She says it'll be 202 each. And I think, oh my God $202, I don't have that money right now. And she says no, $2.02.
I lazily arise from my bed around noon-ish, follow my morning liquid protocols, and head over to the organic grocery store to exchange a few items, and stock up for the next week.
PS. They don't do exchanges in Budapest. I called the store in advance to make sure I could exchange a few unopened items that I wasn't going to use and didn't want to waste. The guy was so confused when we spoke. I explained my intentions behind the exchange. He said, "I can't tell you if we can do this. I don't have authority to tell you if it's right. But bring it in and maybe something will happen." Mmmm'kay.
When I arrive, they are very gracious, and make the exchange for me, especially since I am spending more than I'm exchanging.
I pop into Vega City next door and pick up food for the rest of the day since I'm heading to the baths and then have coaching sessions and another ancestral clearing session in the evening, so no time for cooking.
Today's bath is Lukacs. If you visit this bath and you find yourself in front of this building, KEEP GOING. It's not the right one.
The grounds of Lukacs reminds me of Gramercy Park--very well kept, quiet, exclusive-esque. Inside, they take the medicinal, therapeutic aspect very seriously. As a result, it's the most sterile and hospital-like of all the baths. Which means it has the least number of tourists and is likely also the cleanest. I'm ok with this.
And at the entrance to the pools, I see the most beautiful sight of my whole lifetime. Two words on a sign that mine eyes hath never beheld in such glorious regard: SILENCE HEALS.
Despite the cleanliness and the relative quiet, I think this may be my least favorite bath. I do like that the pools are situated very close together, so you can dip in and out very easily. But there's a certain character that's missing, and it doesn't feel as cozy and historical as some of the others. So, you're welcome, locals. I'm doing you a solid with this lukewarm review.
Tourists, just go walk around the grounds and skip the inside part. It's a creepy maze in there anyways. (You're welcome again, Hungarians.)
I head home after 3 hours of bathing, and prepare myself for the 9:30 PM clearing session with Steve. I'm a mixture of exhilarated and terrified. My last experience was SO cleansing, yet there were a ton of uncomfortable and painful emotions I had to unleash to feel the relief.
The Psychological Apocalypse Begins
Steve and I connect by Skype, and I jokingly grab a 7-inch thick roll of paper towels to catch all of my anticipated tears and snot--the poison that is screaming to be released from my body.
As the session starts, I'm feeling performance anxiety. I felt like last session was so successful, and I'm not sure if I can go there again this time. Steve reassures me that every session is different, so I relax, close my eyes, and allow the guiding to begin.
We work through, or I should say ATTEMPT to work through, a series of physical sensations and associated images and thoughts. It's not going anywhere. The tension in my jaw and throat seems to be increasing. I feel major resistance. I want to cry but nothing is coming out. The images are bullshitty ones, just scratching the surface of what I know is festering within.
Steve stops the work. I'm slightly taken aback, but I get it. We aren't really making progress.
He then tells it to me straight. He can't work with me. I'm too blocked. There's nothing he can do with the ancestral clearing until I do some major work on myself. I've made an agreement with myself not to thrive. Due to all of the early life traumas, I'm on a path of revenge--self-sabotage, hating others, judging others and myself, ruining the good in my life. "Oh, the world hurt me, well SCREW the world. I'm gonna be a mess and hate myself and destroy myself and you can go to HELL and back." Like drinking poison and waiting for your enemies to die.
I am shocked. Here I am thinking that I am doing all this HEALING. Gosh, I'm so damned EVOLVED. I'm brushing my skin every morning, drinking fresh juices and smoothies, extracting toxins from my cells all while journaling and meditating and writing affirmations and doing ancestral clearing!
I have an out of body experience. I hear Steve telling me these truths, truths that are self-evident but extremely difficult to hear someone else say, especially someone I was attempting to impress with my spiritual freedom and openness and depth. I realize that I'm not as far along as I thought I was.
During the session, I envision a deep, dark, solid black egg in the pit of my throat. Steve reflects that it is my protection. That it's served me for all of these years. That the wounding of my childhood was too much to bear, so I had to shore up all vulnerability, and steel myself against the perceived evils of the world.
To dispel this black egg, I have to break the vengeful agreements I have made. The agreement not to thrive. Not to trust. Not to love. Not to connect. I must trust that I have as much light within myself as I do darkness. And that, in fact, the darkness is just a lack of light. I must shovel the shit of my shadow self--the she-who-must-not-be-named--to find the crystals and diamonds within.
He says the process may be messy and slow. It took me 36 years to get here, so I can't expect to change overnight. But it doesn't have to be years, or even months. I need to accept things and people as they are, namely myself. I must accept that I am good in order to see that the rest of humanity is good.
How long does it take one to accept that they are good?
He advises me not to make a plan or think about next steps. Go take a bath, make a cup of tea, and let the steps unfold as they will.
We end the call, and I am reeling.
My perception of myself and my supposed progress has been shattered.
What am I doing here? Has this healing journey been completely for naught? Have I just been fooling myself all these weeks and months and years? Who am I REALLY, anyway? Can I ever be connected? Healthy? Non-destructive?
I have a choice. I continue to live my life as is, protected, “safe,” moderately joyful, alone, “free,” easy. Or, I choose to be open, vulnerable, raw, true, gritty, connected, alive, powerful, seen.
I don’t know if I have the strength for the latter. Or even the desire. Maybe I like the little shitpile I’ve created for myself. Maybe that’s all I want or need.
I have my work. I love my work. Doing my work distracts from the real work. If I’m working, producing, creating then I’m moving forward, growing, surviving. But am I thriving?
I start to spin out. I cannot make sense of all of the realities that just sideswiped me. I call a friend who is familiar with shadow work to ask her advice.
The conversation starts off with me joking that I'm broken. It quickly devolves into me realizing that life is meaningless, and that we all live in an illusion. WE ARE IN THE MATRIX. And we fool ourselves into thinking that our actions and efforts are actually doing something. BUT. Nothing matters, nothing is real, we are NOTHING.
I'm right, she says. Life is meaningless. We are in an illusion. Nothing does matter.
I'm having a mental breakdown. I consider ending it all. It's too much. It's too hard. It doesn't make sense. I don't have the strength. I cannot lie to myself anymore.
And at the same time, she continues, life is EVERYTHING. It is magic. EVERYTHING matters. We must learn to live and thrive with this duality. That is the journey. That is the mission.
I feel utterly and completely alone.
Well, you are, she confirms. You are alone. You are utterly, helplessly, and completely alone in this world. But SO IS EVERYONE ELSE.
We are all here being alone. And the reality of this is heartbreaking. And all of us are running around all day every day trying to pretend this isn't the case. We numb ourselves, addict ourselves, punish ourselves to blot out the truth. We cannot deal with the reality that the WORLD MAKES NO SENSE. How did we get here? Through God?! How did God get there?! It's pure insanity. There are no answers. Only emptiness. It doesn't matter anyway. The only experience that is real is the one we choose to create. And we can spend our time on Earth self-destructing and avoiding, or we can be honest and help each other do a better job of being alone. We can figure out how to be alone, together. Magically.
Once you accept all this as truth, it is truly freeing. You allow love and compassion and true connection, because we are all going through the same shit-storm to find the beauty. The life. The rainbow. The unicorn.
By the end of our almost 90-minute convo, I'm feeling the blood in my limbs again. I can feel my feet on the floor. I sense that my understanding of the world has entirely cracked open, and I can never go back to the way it was before. Denial is no longer an option.
I wanted to call it quits. But I rethink. I've been given this gift of life, however meaningless, so why not fully accept the gift. And all of my own gifts as well. As the universe gave to me, I shall give to others. Gift after gift after gift. That is my new purpose.
My dear friend, who has patiently and compassionately listened to my sob-filled existential crisis--suggests I unplug from the Matrix for the weekend. Take care of any outstanding business, give loved ones a heads up, and shut down all WiFi devices. Allow myself to have a playful weekend alone guided entirely by Spirit. This sounds like an assignment I can follow. I'm good with instructions. And I'm grasping for some kind of positive action I can take.
I start frantically texting people and responding to emails, trying to wrap up various loose ends. I notice how fearful I am of dropping the ball, of not fulfilling expectations, of the enormous weight of responsibility that I balance on my shoulders. Anxiety consumes me. Eventually, I recognize I need to get some rest, so I decide to tie the rest up in the morning. But my sleep is not entirely restful. I feel out of my element.
It feels like I'm going into the jungle. It's the Amazonian rainforest of my subconscious.
It's Saturday morning. Post-Psychological Apocalypse.
I had purchased tickets to see a concert at the Liszt Museum at 11 AM, and I didn't go to bed until 3:15 AM. My friend encouraged me not to restrict myself by plans I previously made, and to truly allow my Higher Self to plan my day with me.
So I told Spirit before I went to bed that if I was meant to see the concert, that I should wake up naturally at 9:45 am.
Welp, I did.
I now have an hour to get there, and I need to make sure a few tasks are finished. Plus, I hear Spirit whispering in my ear that I should put on a flirty dress, do some sultry makeup, and indulge in my femininity. Consequently, I end up leaving the house later than I had wanted to, so I'm rushing to make it there on time.
Fortunately, I catch the tram just as it's arriving, and it drops me off right in front of the Museum. I enter the concert hall just as the musicians are entering the stage.
The music moves me to tears. The musicians are in their zone of genius, and I marvel at what a gift it is to be human, and to witness such magic.
A father has his young son with him. He can't be more than 2 years old. And he is mesmerized by the performance. For over an hour, he makes not a sound, just sits and watches in awe, until the very end when he grows sleepy. I choose to be like him today, and see the world through his eyes.
Since I'm already there, I decide to visit the museum. I'm surprisingly emotional when I walk in. For some reason, it reminds me of my grandparents' old home--the one they lived in before their retirement community home.
I usually rush through museums. I find them boring, and I'm eager to go DO.
This time, I savor every moment. I stand with each work, instrument, letter, photo, and I allow it to affect me. I feel at ease. I feel connected. I'm starting to understand this whole Spirit-be-my-guide thing.
I find a natural conclusion to my museum visit, and then realize that I CAN DO WHATEVER I WANT now. I have 48 hours ahead of me of yet-to-be-discovered activities.
I begin to walk. I think about how I have no idea where I'm going. And that it might be nice to have a map just so I don't get lost in the ghetto.
A few minutes later, I stumble upon a vegan restaurant called Kozmosz that was on my list of places to check out. Well, fancy that, Spirit. Nice one.
As I'm waiting for the hostess to seat me, I see they have a stack of MAPS on the table by the door. Thank you very much.
I enjoy a lovely beetroot burger with rice, pickles and ginger tea. And then I set out into the big bright unknown Spring day with map in tow.
Given that I am running on little sleep and an evening full of sobbing, I have a tension headache. Now, I've been having a running dialogue with my Spirit all morning, and we've been getting along famously. So, I asked her if she would take my headache away. She said, of course, but you must allow it to be taken. I comply. No less than 2 minutes later, GONE. I kid you not.
The day begins to unfold in the most exhilarating way, and I become a player in the fanciest day ever created.
First, classical music in a gorgeous concert hall.
Next, after lunch, I find my way to Boscolo, a hotel that looks like a palace. It's around 3 PM at this point, and just before I arrive, I note to Spirit that I am in need of a nap. Spirit delivers to me the most comfortable couch-bed-chair in the lobby of the hotel, and I nap for 45 minutes undisturbed. And I wake up rested, happy, satisfied, and CHIPPER. Spirit, what have you done with Reprimanda?!
Post nap, I stroll over to the cafe section--called New York Cafe--and I sit in a balcony seat overlooking the most marvelous atrium, with a live orchestra playing, followed by a pianist performing renditions of Fiddler on the Roof and Start Spreading the News. I glance through the menu--New York-style Cheesecake along with New York-style prices--and I order a glass of sparkling champagne while enjoying the music.
Eventually, Spirit tells me it's time to venture out again.
We set out for a walk, and I'm feeling nurtured, cared for, protected, and guided in a way I've never experienced before.
Spirit and I continue our dialogue, and she's playful and sprightly, a bit of a jokester but benevolent. She dares me to start skipping down the street, and I do, but self-consciously. She tells me that no one is watching me. Everyone is too concerned with their own self-image. And if they did see me and laughed or scoffed, it is their own path of revenge.
Even though my logic brain has registered this sentiment before, it hits me in a new way. I begin to see everyone in a new light, with love and compassion. Something my friend said to me last night reverberates--everyone is doing their damned best. It might not seem like much, but it's the best they can do given the resources the were or were not gifted. And no matter what, everything is perfect.
They are just like me.
We are all grappling with this blistering insanity and vacuous unknown. I want to hug everyone I see and tell them, "I'm with you."
I start smiling at people. The screaming children I encounter along my path, who would normally affect me like nails on a chalkboard, no longer upset me. I feel empathy for them, and empathy for the parents who are doing their best to make their children happy. I want to give to them. I want them to help make their lives better. I want to give so they can do better at being alone.
I pass by the famous Synagogue. I eat the MOST delicious and eye-pleasing apricot jam and walnut ice cream sundae at the famous Cafe Gerbeaud.
I stop at home to freshen up cause Spirit is taking me out on the town.
On the way to I-have-no-idea-where, I encounter numerous VERY large groups of guys. I am always flabbergasted when I see giant groups of guys. I've honestly never experienced a large gal group--at least never more than 8-10. There are HUGE GROUPS of like 20 dudes sprawling all over the city, and they organized themselves to get blitzed and get chicks. I smile. They are taking the Matrix to the max, and living it up.
Spirit guides me over to Gozsdu Udvar, and I'm giddy cause I've visited during the day but have been wanting to explore it at night.
I take a seat at Vicky Barcelona, and am tended to by a sweet bartender who helps me choose my items, and offers to pay for them (and eat them) if I don't like them. It's all delicious.
Once dinner is consumed, I move over to a separate bar area, called Jardin, and sit at the bar. The bartender hands me drink menus, and I sit there for a few minutes before he asks me if I'm alone. Yes, I reply. He then informs me that the bar is reserved for a big party, which apparently started at 8 PM, so I'd have to go sit outside. I don't believe him. It is 10:30 PM. I look around, and none of these people look like they are together. And why after 5 minutes of me sitting there, do you break this news? Honestly, I think he thought I was an American hooker and didn't want the likes of me in his establishment. Well, that's just fine, sir. I didn't want your pretentious $10 cocktail anyways. (And by the way, I'm a VERY classy-type hooker.)
I feel rejected. I'm not smiling this time. I want to cry.
I move on to Szimpla Kert. My first night there was such a blast, I think, I'll show YOU, bartender. I'm gonna have the time of my life. Thank you for rejecting me, ya jerk.
There's a long line. I reach the front, they inspect my bag, and insist that I throw out my water bottle. No water allowed. Well, scary sir, I don't want to discard my water bottle cause it's the perfect size for my bag, and I like it.
I take both of these "rejections" as gentle nudges from Spirit that it's time to go home.
BUT, I make one last stroll back over to Gozsdu Udvar to see if anything is happening. As I'm walking up and down the corridor, people spilling out from all of the side-by-side bars and restaurants, I hear the Spirit voice clearly say,
Go home. You are in danger.
What is spirit protecting me from, I wonder? I'll likely never know. I heed her warning.
On my walk home, I see a very drunk frat guy make his way over to a disabled homeless woman. I think, oh man, what horrible crap is going to come out of his mouth. Well, he bends down and greets her like she is an actual person, and gives her some words of encouragement. People are not evil, they are doing their best.
I walk through my door a little after midnight, slightly disappointed by the evening's turn of events. Although I'm mourning the dream of an unforgettable night out, I trust that Spirit did not lead me astray.
I sleep 12 hours. It is a gift from the heavens, no doubt.
Spirit keeps me at home most of the day. I leisurely prepare my liquids, do a bit of satisfying work, and prepare myself for the event I've been looking forward to for weeks: Elektra at the Hungarian Opera House.
It is everything I hoped for and more. Badass females dominating all over the place, genius staging, powerful acting, unparalleled singing, dynamic set design with a descending bed from the ceiling and a wall on hinges that rises and falls on a 45 degree angle--and it's set in a thermal bath! AND all done in 1 act! My kind of opera.
By 9 PM, I'm on my way to dinner, and snap the moon shot above.
I end up at M. Restaurant at a perfect little table on the 2nd floor nestled in the corner by an open window, overlooking the street. It was hot in the Opera House so this cool air is balm to my soul.
The wallpaper is so clever! The decor is drawn in pencil!
Tonight is THE night. Spirit is really taking me out on the town this time.
I pay the bill at the restaurant, and head over to check out a new club called Fogas. There are supposedly a ridiculous number of dance floors and bar areas, and I want to DANCE.
I walk inside, and it's practically empty. But this is happening. So I sit in a corner, and I patiently wait. I know something is coming, I can feel it.
And then, there she is. After about 20 minutes of awkward aloneness, a girl sits next to me, who also seems to be awkwardly alone. We exchange a few awkward questions and answers about where the bathroom is, and then we finally decide to be friends.
She is a kinky-haired blonde Russian named Dasha. She proceeds to drink lots of vodka. Then, she pulls me out to the dance floor. And there are pictures of Putin and Trump on the walls surrounding us. (This is a real story! I wish I had a picture of her to prove it.)
I feel a pull to go to back to Szimpla Kert. I don't know exactly why, but I know we have to leave. She doesn't seem into it, but she eventually complies when I tell her when can come back if the other places sucks.
She's VERY annoyed when we arrive and there is a long line. She hates lines. I think, yes, but what if it's Spirit delaying us to protect us?! I don't share this. I just smile and make light of the situation.
Finally we make it in, and less than 10 minutes of being there, I am approached by an adorable Argentinian lad. And I understand, this was the pull. This is why I was called here. I had hoped for a romance while abroad, if only to feel a connection with someone, an aliveness. Earlier in my trip, I thought a romance might bud with a guy I met--at Szimpla Kert, no less!--but his energy turned out to be too much like my old negative patterning, and it didn't go anywhere. This guy feels light, straightforward, sweet, good-natured. I like him instantly, even though we only understand about half of what the other one is saying, as his English is rusty and my Spanish is non-existent. We have a blast. It is exactly what I needed and asked for earlier in the weekend. And Spirit certainly delivered.
All in all, I'm noticing that I'm pretty on point with Spirit. I had mapped out a schedule for the weekend, and it turned out all the places on my agenda were precisely where I was led. So, I'm clearly in touch with what my Higher Self wants. My lesson is learning to trust the unfolding without added anxiety and time pressure. In honor of this flow, I am choosing to stay in Budapest 2 more days, and leave for Prague on Thursday. I cannot pinpoint exactly why yet, but it feels right. So I'm going with it.
It felt incredibly freeing to sign off for the weekend. But the weight of anxiety still bore down on me on Sunday night. Anticipating all the tasks to complete, emails to review, people to take care of once I had to log back in on Monday morning.
The good news is I'm more comfortable with the reality of the world. Living in the Matrix. Co-existing alone with humans. Accepting myself and others as they are. Making the most of this beautiful insanity.