I decided this week to share the writings of men and women that have revealed parts of their stories with me. I’ll be sharing full-blown writings or scraps of things I found on Social Media that moved my thinking. I’m going to try and share a new writing every Friday. Listening and reading about the experiences is one way to learn from others.
Unless otherwise noted, I’m sharing their stories with permission and anonymously. Mostly.
This first post is from one of my dearest friends who has been willing to walk with me as I’ve tried to live with the monsters that keep me awake at night.
I had a horrible scare last night. All those insecurities rushing to the surface. I thought I was ok, but one questionable moment, and I fell apart. Completely. I went to the ugliest, most painful place first, and grabbed hold like I was drowning, and it was my life preserver.
Except it wasn’t my life preserver, it was the water.
I know when I assume the worst, I am trying to protect myself – soften the blow. But it doesn’t. If there is a blow, it is still a blow. It will still hurt the same. And far more often than not, it is not nearly as bad as I imagine. I know enough of the science, that our brains have a negativity bias, we are wired this way. But I also realized that there is always a lesson hidden in the fear and anxiety.
Sometimes these dark places serve as a reminder – a reminder that we are all human – flawed, fallible, and messy. And when we are in a relationship with others (which we all are, in some way or another), the messy can spill over onto them, and on to us. Just like my messy home office can spill over to the kitchen counter or dining room table.
But the bigger lesson for me is about trust. Trusting myself, my journey, my heart, my gut. Trusting that whatever comes my way, I got this. Trusting that I will be able to keep my heart open and, at the same time, keep reasonable boundaries. My meditation teacher describes it as “soft belly” vs. “hard belly”. Trusting that I can feel and express my pain and anger and disappointment in ways that are honest and heartfelt, without being mean or vengeful. Trusting that by expressing my pain, I am giving the other person an opportunity to deepen our relationship.
But let’s be real – the lessons only emerge after some sleep and distance. The monsters that come out at night seem bigger and meaner than those in the daylight. They have longer, sharper claws, and hold on with fierce tenacity. They seem so real. They are immune to rational thought. And they will return.
The only option, at least for me, is to let them come. To give myself permission to get totally swept away by the tornados generated by the monster’s screams. And listen to what they are saying. Because monsters only live in the fear. So they are reminding me of what I am afraid of, and what can happen with an open heart. There will always be fear. There will always be pain. The well will always be a few feet deeper than I can reach. There is always something more to learn – about myself, about loved ones, about showing up, and risking, and being vulnerable, about (trying) to live with an open heart.