And that you will walk alongside me all my life.
But I want a new relationship with you. You know, that fledging one we’ve been growing.
One that doesn’t cause more or unnecessary fear. Or hurt and pain. Especially for others I love.
I know you are a basic, primal and necessary emotion. That I need you.
But how I deal with you hasn’t been working for a long time.
We both know it.
But you keep showing up, even when I don’t want you to.
I want you to quietly sit in the corner, very small but present. And not say a damn thing. Just take notes.
And even by writing this to you, I realize I have been attaching another emotion to you too — shame.
It is showing its head even now as I type this to talk about you, let alone share you. I’m supposed to be “bold” and fearless right?
Fear isn’t something we celebrate in my culture. In fact, remember the “No Fear” stickers. You’re an outcast, not just in my life, but in the culture.
But the reality is you are here to stay. And the truth is … I’ve been fighting with you, or rather, running from you, a very long long time.
That tactic is called avoidance and most often for me trying to numb you out.
I’ve pretended you don’t exist. I’ve shunned you. I’ve muted you. I’ve sought desperate measures to make you just go away.
But you always come back.
You won’t magically go away.
You only mutate into dread when I avoid you and don’t face you, listen to you, learn from you, look around and see what you’re seeing. And you become bigger.
I guess that’s your job.
I don’t understand you. More so today than ever, but I still don’t understand you.
And frankly, the pain of you hurts. You feel endlessly deep. And unrelenting.
You’ve often prompted me to action. In those cases, when I can act, I tend to feel a bit better and you get softer and fade for a while.
But in the last couple of years, it felt most of that response — action and options — was taken away and I just had to try my best to “sit with you.”
Face you. Feel you.
I couldn’t act and make it better, which was always my most effective reaction to you.
But when I felt I couldn’t do that, I had to just be with you. And that really sucked.
I turned over and over back to avoiding and numbing you.
Yet you still showed up. And only grew bigger.
But then that definitely numbing and avoiding part stopped working. And caused all kinds of havoc and chaos and more hurt in my life and to those I love.
So things had to change.
Before the last couple of years, those strategies — acting or avoiding worked seemingly well for me. But the sitting with you — I didn’t have much experience with that. At all. It was a new and rather frightening thing.
Maybe I felt like I sat with you so much earlier in my life, I couldn’t stand the thought of reliving those times again. But wow, life has a way of forcing us back together.
Frankly, I didn’t believe I had it in me to face you. Because I didn’t know what to do with you. How to handle you.
By the way, what are we supposed to sit and have coffee or something, chat about the weather? The whole sitting together thing …. our fellow friend anger has much to say about that glib advice.
So I avoided circumstances that I’d didn’t have to see you much.
When life forced me to finally face you, I was haunted to the core. Yes, you got that right – fear of fear. And there was no where else to run.
Very slowly, I began to see there were many many layers around you. Deep inside me. A lifetime of experiences with you that were a magnifier of what I think is the basic you.
The shock of feeling you, the blood draining from parts of my body, the hollowness, was and still is often shattering to me.
My mind flashes dark and horrible visions and pictures of things and scenarios of what could happen. And that created even more fear and turned into deep dread.
Shock, paralyzing, crippling dread.
Death in a sense.
They call it catastrophizing it.
It feels like a horror show … and I missed my calling, fame and fortune as a director.
Inherited, karmic, genetic eons of experiences then multiplied, accelerated, heightened, inflamed by life experiences and reactions of you. Whew.
For the biggest and most treasured things to me, you became the reper of all I love and cherish in this life.
Not to blame myself, because let’s be honest, I beat myself up badly so much anyway, but I created that image of you, of the abyss, by how I related to you.
You became death to me.
I made you into death, the abyss, the worst.
But I start to see now you aren’t. That’s my reaction to you.
Slowly as I’ve been able to separate out those layers from you, it’s helped.
I’m still at a loss for how to relate to you most days as you well know.
If I can’t act … I have to accept. That’s a bitter pill to swallow for me.
Somewhere deep beneath all of that shroud, you have these lessons and utility for me.
The paradox craziness in this is I know you aren’t going away. You won’t ever leave me.
And I’m forced to evolve my relationship with you. And my life by extension.
But I’ve seen glimpses for how our relationship can be transformed and I’m encouraged by that.
Today though, I merely accept you. I may need reminding. But I acknowledge and accept you in my life.
I have lots of questions of course.
When I sense you it feels painful, like physical hollow deep pain along with the blood escaping part of my body. Like a void living inside me. I know through my work, I’ve started to get some better understanding of that.
I don’t see fully yet how you are an ally to me, but I want to.
I want our relationship to change. For the better. I need it too.
Frankly, I have no other choice. Like so many things, it’s come to having no other choice finally.
It can’t go on like this, but we’re stuck together.
Some day though, I hope to thank you profoundly and genuinely for that. I really do. The staying with me part and all the things you’ve done for me and helped me with that I can’t or won’t right now.
Also, ok, the part that leads me to wholeness and all that.
I sense a building appreciation for you, but I’m not there to admit that yet.
Now, in my head, I can acknowledge your role and place with me and my fellow humans (and animals). I see your essentialness. I see survival. I see alertness.
That’s practical and rational.
But the conditions have changed drastically from life on the savanna. The tiger in the bush is different and nuanced now. Even though there is danger in the world. Threats are real, but not as visceral always.
Even though the visions I have when I catastrophize feel like imminent death in the tiger’s jaw …. It’s just a bit different now and I need to find ways to adapt and adjust to you.
The deer or antelope in your path feels you, acts … and if it lives, shakes it off and goes on.
For me, and most of my fellow humans, there is a lingering residue.
Then we become stuck in loops. I do. I play you on automatic repeat, every day, with multiple albums on my shelf.
My work has been to trace back those loops to its source and deal with the origins of them. It’s helped.
It seems like my options most days are I can either retreat into being paralyzed …. or be pushed and propelled forward into something I need.
It seems the paralyzing forces me to sit and accept.
Yes, I’ve found there are ancient lessons and present-life lessons in them.
Acceptance and forgiveness. Letting go, taking in.
Through you, I’m evolving and diversifying and deepening this life for sure. I’m expanding. Even if forced. Even if I’m not always happy about it and in fact rather miserable at times.
Without you, I know I wouldn’t have done all the necessary deep work of the past four years, and in particular the past two.
Because I’d much rather stay in my shell, I begrudgingly thank you.
But you helped me outgrow it.
Outgrowing it has been an uncomfortable experience to say the least. That space between leaving that comfortable shell and being forcibly evicted to find a new one, feeling exposed and uncertain, is … well, it’s been an experience.
But we ran together.
The fact is … I don’t currently dream and long to run naked and exposed across a beach to find my next swimsuit. Not anymore anyway. Maybe when I was a kid, but gosh, look at me all grown up with all my adult insecurities in hand.
OK OK, maybe you’re a wise teacher and all. Maybe.
Maybe you’re also an ancient companion.
But I reserve the right to be pissed about it all for now. That shell was warm and comfortable even if it was getting rather snug.
I mean … if we are in this together, and you’re going to unflinchingly do your job, can’t we at least have a laugh about it together?
And with that, I realize …. I became rather serious in all of this didn’t I?
Way, way, way too serious.
And somehow in all this living thing, I forgot to laugh.
The art of the chuckle.
The exhilaration of the belly laugh.
To simply laugh at the baffling morbidity of it all.
And eventually savor the experience and joy of being alive. Of recognizing life as it is in all its horrific beauty.
Would I know or appreciate beauty without tragedy?
As the crab, I do wonder what would it be without those paradoxes.
Without the two sides of the coin.
The yin and the yang.
The light and the dark.
Without the seasoning of struggle dancing with the flavor of joy, how would life taste?
The crab in me goes …. well, very very safe. Seemingly secure. Yeah, I could just stay right here, comfy and all.
And it’d likely be boring as hell. And a jail cell.
And I’d still be that little crab, on the same beach, wearing a shell that didn’t fit me anymore …
Still. Scared. As. Fuck.
So thanks for hearing me out.
I’m sure we’ll talk again very soon.