I don’t know if it’s harder to know that we are not perfect or if it’s harder to know that we are also more magnificent than we could ever quantify.
Which is scarier?
Which is more uncomfortable?
What is vanity?
What is pride?
Could we be in a dysfunctional relationship with how proud we are of how broken we are?
I have had this crazy relationship with all of this. I bet you have too. I hop between my fear of disappointing others, my fear of impressing others and my fear of being labeled as any ONE thing. I want to be lots of things!
So I set out to prove myself. But not TO MYSELF, to others. Ugh.
When things happen in life that look like destruction and everything is stripped away, you feel naked. And lots of days life feels like those awful dreams where you’re somewhere public (usually at school or work) and you look down and you’re naked. And everyone is just right there with you, looking at you, and you’re naked. And they’re laughing and taking photos and whispering and talking about you. And you’re naked. Did I mention YOU’RE NAKED? I used to have that dream a lot.
And life feels that way sometimes. You think everyone can see how naked you are, and everywhere you go, you think people are either pretending that they can’t tell you’re naked, or talking about how naked you are. Add to that a feeling that you are committing some sort of a “sin” if you show your naked body and this dream can really start messing with your head.
When we think there’s some way that we can beat our shadow, and we think we have…then we hide it even more when it shows back up. The thing is, our shadow is inextricably part of us and we will never be able to make it go away. And why should we? The ramifications of thinking there’s some GOOD THING we can do to never struggle in life again are devastating because we need community more than ever when we struggle. When we retreat in the darkness to hide our struggles, there IS a sweet spot of isolation where you get the message and come back. But it can start to smother you like tar if you stay there for too long. There are so many things that are medicinal when the timing is right and then go toxic when they start to rot. Isolation is this way.
I wish we didn’t hide our struggles and our need to go into isolation for a while to figure things out. Why can’t we say, as if we were trekking into the literal wilderness; “ I am gathering some intel in my shadow, will you come get me if I haven’t returned by this time?” And not shame each other for having to do it,but support each other in going there “to get what needs to be got.” Sometimes you’ve got to do it alone and other times it’s nice to have a friend come along. But no shame is needed, ever.
The messy middles feel like an insult when we think we should be somewhere else, or that we should have gotten to where we are headed by now. Or things should have turned out in a way that let us stay where we were so we didn’t have to go on another hard journey again (or what we are telling ourselves is “hard.”)
Sometimes you do need to sit in the middle of the intersection and cry. And sometimes it feels better to laugh. It makes the memory of it sweeter. It’s been many months since that happened, and the best part of it was that I was with my son, and we had learned together how to laugh and stay calm in situations like this. We learned it BECAUSE we have been through so much of this kind of thing together.
I guess there has to come a big moment when you’re so sick of the stories that are constantly rolling through your head that you’ll do just about anything to get rid of them.
Because it’s the stories we tell ourselves that end up molding our life.
This moment of being sick of yourself is a crossroads that pokes at you like a kid in line with you at the grocery store who is eye-level with the m&ms and won’t give you a moment of peace until you put them in the cart.
This moment is the gateway to the turnaround. Life is about to change, big time — if you let it.