Under The Influence

She lifted the pages and waved them in the space between us before she spoke.

“Candice, the writing is good. But I can’t seem to find you on the page. It’s like you’re reporting events from somewhere outside of yourself. I just keep wondering, where are YOU in this story?”

Her words struck a chord deep inside me, & I had no idea how to answer her. I felt like I’d been using my writing to try to claw back into the center of myself since the day I cracked the pages of my first diary, the blue one with the tiny key I had kept hidden in the bedside drawer.
It was an equal blend of idealism & self doubt that drew me toward wellness arenas and the pseudoscientific world of new ageism. I was intoxicated by the promise of holistic health & it drew me into practices that transformed my body and my relationships, and also tethered me to teachings that had me spiritually hustling, trying to earn the favor of metaphysical gods, transcending my humanity through good vibes and positive affirmations.

What I couldn’t see then is that my beliefs were simply a laundered version of the same old top-down good-versus-evil spiritual hierarchy. And my original sin was having an ego with all its limitations.

My journey through new age wellness was helpful & productive, until my spiritual path became codified into a new age religion. Perpetually in service to an ideal, I had a habit of suppressing my discomfort in order to compensate for what I perceived as my personal deficiencies. I sought out cultures where the teachings confirmed what I already believed about myself. That it was my fault that bad things kept happening to me… if only I were good enough, then some invisible force above would reward me & bring an end to my suffering.

In my mind, heaven wasn’t a place you go when you die. It was an embodied ascension up&out of the torturous ambivalence of my humanity. In theory, that is. In reality, it was just another way to rise up&out of my body. Dissociation had been my safe space from the time of early childhood, and Whitney hadn’t been able to find me there on those pages because I didn’t know how to be there.
🎧🔥 Ep.32 | Under The Influence
Photo: 2006 Cully Wright

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