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I missed posting last week, and what’s more, I feel like I have lost my voice.

Not in a permanent sense, more like I caught a bug and my voice went out.

I feel like I have been whispering for a few weeks, equally disturbed and intrigued by the husky quiet in my mind.

The usual murmurs and side stories and worries seem to have faded as I find myself entranced by the early spring here in the Bay Area. The plum blossoms and the magnolias are bursting with vibrance and riotous color, yet when I stare at them I feel inarticulate.

What can I possibly say to top this?

One of my biggest cases recently settled mid-trial, and as usual for a public defender, it didn’t feel like a victory.

The nature of a plea bargain in a criminal case is compromise, which means no one gets what they want, especially the person who is going to prison.

It all ended very quickly. I had been intense trial prep mode for months, and then a few weeks into the actual trial process suddenly it was over.

As I’ve reported, I have been struggling, experiencing intense anxiety along with sadness and a fearsome upwelling of imposter syndrome.

All of it has been in a spin cycle along with some objectively challenging life circumstances. (For example, we have medical issues in our extended family, and it’s been very hard.)

So I expected, or at least hoped, I would feel some relief when the case was over.

Instead, I could feel nothing.

The truth is I was kind of a mess, which meant it was perfect timing to go to an Outside Circle Intensive.

Outside Circle is an all-gender emotional work weekend, facilitated by the the men of the Inside Circle, men who were formerly incarcerated in the state prison system, where they began doing emotional and personal work, as well as men and women from Women Within and Next Step, with a diverse group of participants from many other walks.

It was an impressive and powerful circle, crackling with energy right from the start.

I love these kinds of circles, and in many ways, I believe I am most alive at these times and places, most clear and open, most attentive and flexible.

And yet, the first day I felt disconnected and antsy.

To be honest, I had questioned if I should have even come at all, and had thought of bailing out more than once.

Still I knew it would help and that this was a place to reboot my system in mind, body, and spirit.

Yet here I was and all I wanted to do was leave.

I felt judgments arising about what was happening, even as I my mind chewed the bitter cud of the month I had just experienced.

Thanks to the work I have done with MKP and other modalities, I have gotten pretty good at knowing what I am feeling, but this was the absence of feelings.

This was numbness.

I had became like a ghost: present in the world, and yet disconnected. People would ask how I was doing, and it was hard to answer. I felt frozen like a statue. Inarticulate, vacant.

At the end of the day I told the circle I might not be back the next day for the conclusion, that I was feeling really really tired from the last few months of work, and that I needed a day off, a day at the beach, or on my bike.

They were so kind and understanding and supportive, inviting me to take care of myself even as they said they hoped I came back.

Later that night as I was making dinner, I suddenly began to sob.

The repressed sadness of the last months fell on me like a sudden rain shower, and the shell, or maybe it was a shield, of numbness that had accreted the last months softened and fell away.

My heart hurt with grief and loss and a feeling that it was all somehow my fault, my imposter syndrome springing into action to remind me of my alleged imitations and burdens.

As I stirred red tomato sauce, tears rolled down my face, and I knew that no matter what I would be heading back into the circle the next morning to do my work.

to be continued in two weeks…

Bee well friends, and thank you for your patience as my voice returns.

Dave Klaus

King Bee, Fire-Tender

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