It's not so much my past that is being brought to the surface, but all of the feelings I had pushed down so long ago. The Titanic, he said, sunk to the bottom of the sea in icy cold waters, and lay there compressed. What you have to remember is that bringing the contents of the Titanic to the surface did not tear them apart. I remember looking at the dining sets at the Titanic exhibition in New York - crockery remarkably preserved.
What was strange is that all of the references to the Titanic had somehow stopped after I had met with my teacher and he had offered to listen. So perhaps now that I had got the message I didn't need the continual prompts. What followed the meeting were a few days of unsettling contemplation. Logically, I knew what had upset me and why, but I was still lost as to how to unleash these feelings during a 45 minute meeting. It needs to come out, but how?
I sent my teacher an email, asking for a meeting and giving a very brief explanation of my concerns. I am afraid that I will be wasting your time, I said, I refuse to cry.
He replied with a one liner, suggesting a meeting just before Rosh Chodesh, where at least 100 people would be coming along to understand the energy of the month of Capricorn.
Oh great - so not only do I not want to be seen to be crying at the best of times, but now he wants me to make a mess of my face just before Rosh Chodesh? But if this was the only time available at short notice, then so be it. I was going to give it my best shot.
I spent the next few days somewhat consumed by the approaching meeting. How was this going to work? What on earth could he say which would possibly get past this seemingly enormous barrier to allow me to open up? When I lit my Chanukah candles, I meditated on finding a way to let go. I played sad and bitter songs to try and get a rise out of myself. I tried to understand the crux of my issues - what was really the root here? What was I most upset about? What, if I try to explain to someone else, will push the button enough to allow me to let go? Despite feeling a deep lurking pain, no emotions were coming to the surface. Not so much as a tea-set. Just the much practised I am dead inside so just leave me be air of martyrdom.
I turned up for the meeting prepared to cry, grateful for someone to listen and having an open mind. He was running late, which made things worse. He asked me what had been going on for the past week and I started to explain my recent pre-occupation with trying to find a way in. Less than two sentences out of my mouth, and he interrupted.
"So, let's just stop here. What has changed? Nothing has changed here. You have missed the miracle of Chanukah. If you'd understood the miracle of Chanukah it would have happened by now."
He then proceeded to tell me that I needed to move on: to start doing the spiritual work. Stop telling yourself the old stories, he said. They're just old stories, they mean nothing. The only way you can move forwards is just to decide to move forwards and start learning. Have you read the Shabbat book? How can you come to Shabbat if you haven't read the Shabbat book? You don't even understand what consciousness you are meant to have. You can't just turn up like it's a religion and expect to see the return. You can't just sit in the room and listen to the reading of the Torah and gain from it. It shouldn't just be a habit that you do - you need to learn it. You should be an advanced student by now. You should know better. Start studying and all of this will just go and all of these old stories that you tell yourself will go away."
He spoke some more about the energy of the month, giving me practical advice on Kabbalistic tools such as the Mikveh, telling me that I always over-complicate everything, that it really isn't that complicated, firing information at me whilst my head reeled with a variety of emotions. I was stunned. I felt betrayed, stupid, naive, and as though all of my good intentions with Kabbalah were second rate and a disappointment to him and the centre.
After ten minutes of lecture he said "Okay, that's it, see you at the New Moon" I sat with my mouth open. So that's it?
"Okay, now go. That's it." I sat, motionless. "You have something to say to me? I feel you have something to say to me. What is it?"
I couldn't express what was on my mind clearly - confusion reigned. "I just... I just don't... people have been telling me to move on for years and I've never been able to. I just don't understand how that is meant to work. For the past few weeks when all of this stuff has come up I don't feel as though anything has changed at all" I said, trying to avoid eye contact. My throat was constricted and I fought the tears that were beginning to prickle at the back of my eyes. But it was for all of the wrong reasons, and he doesn't want to hear it. Who ever did?
"That is the illusion of the Opponent" he said "What happens when you change something in the spiritual world is that it is immediately concealed, so you don't think you ever had it. But it is there waiting for you. But if you keep telling yourself the old stories, you will miss it. You need to keep doing the work, and learning, and in a couple of months you won't have these feelings any more. They will be gone".
There was a moment's pause whilst I tried to accept what he was saying. Maybe he's right. I couldn't see how I was ever going to open up. Perhaps I am just too determined to hang on to my feelings. Perhaps it really is that simple - let them go.
Before I got up to leave, he casually threw in the question "So, how's the crying going?"
I laughed mockingly. "Yeah, well, like I said, I don't do crying"
He sat back in his chair and looked me in the eye with a knowing smile. "But you want to cry now, right?"
Despite all manner of thoughts crashing through my brain and a massive ball of rage slowly burning up inside, I haven't yet cried. But on Friday night I switched TV channels and heard the words "made at the same docks that built the Titanic", and on Saturday night "this is one Titanic event" and this morning "I take it you've all seen the film Titanic?"
Something is shifting. Perhaps I didn't miss Chanukah after all.