As I mentioned on the last road, there are some things that you can only see if you climb up high enough for the view.
The same is true to for the things in the lowest places. There are some things you can only see if you are willing to go down instead of up. There are things you can only experience in the lowest places.
It’s become stupefying to me how much we, as a culture, seem to always think that more is better than less. Or that higher is better than lower. Or that bright light is better than darkness. Or even that health is better than sickness or death is better than life.
My feelings about these old beliefs have changed so much. There are so many gifts in less. There are so many gifts in the lowest places. There are so many gifts in the darkness. There are so many gifts in both sickness and death.
Sometime in early 2020 I decided I wanted to climb 100 mountains. On Mountain #6, I fell down a 12 foot cliff and landed on an even higher cliff and just about fell to my death.
It started out innocently enough, I mean I was so experienced after climbing the first 5 mountains that I chose a really ambitious one for my 6th.
The very word “God” has become such a loaded word, and I want you to know that I know that. I wish it wasn’t so. I feel like as a human family, we need a shared benevolent parent now more than ever. But we won’t talk about that today.
I feel like I know God, and I feel like God knows me. We’ve traveled way more than 50 roads together. That’s why I have struggled with feelings of deep confusion when it comes to what I thought I used to know about the nature of God, and the way life works, and how if you are just a good kid who does all the right things, everything will work out.
I lost my faith for a while. And then I got to experience the way others sometimes treat you when they think you’ve got a horrifically contagious disease called a “faith crisis.”
When I set out to write these roads, I committed to being as honest, raw and vulnerable as possible. It’s not an easy thing to do, and some of these roads I have written, I wanted to delete as soon as I published them. This is one of those.
But I have to tell the truth about the roads that have led to now, and leaving this one out would not portray an accurate story. So I guess I will just cut to the chase and tell you that I started trying to disappear long before I actually disappeared from the world a few years ago on my quest to figure things out in my RV.
You see, secrets are poisonous and this is one of my secrets – I wish our whole human family could understand that we’ve all got to drain our secrets of their poison so that we can heal together. We’ve got to stop causing others to feel shame about the things that have poisoned them.
We all have our default behaviors to bring some kind of instant relief in times of severe stress. These are often behaviors that are not great for our lives in the l long term, but we do them to make uncomfortable or painful feelings stop. People look for relief in overworking, or by drinking a few cocktails, or over-shopping. Mine used to be binge eating, and it still is if I’m not careful. I can find instant relief in chocolate, Cheetos and carbonated drinks. If things are really bad, I can find myself at the gas station, numbing my feelings with a hot dog that’s had been rolling on the warmer all day — the older the better. I’ve learned better, so I can do better now. These days, I find that the most effective relief comes from standing right in the middle of what is scaring me or stressing me, looking it straight in they eye and not backing down.
But it took a long time to get here. And a wild horse was my teacher.
The Road Made of Mirrors taught me that there is always so much more than we can see, and the only thing we can truly influence is what we see in our own mirror. But that we have to have the courage to look, and we have to preserve and protect our time by not spending it looking at the thing or person that we believe wronged us. There will be hurts in life that will never be made right through apology. There will be things that happen with others that we may never understand. There are tragic things people do to each other, but what makes it even more tragic is when we either let it steal our life from us or we don’t take the opportunity to look in the mirror and first see the role we played. We feel free when we own our part, we feel validated and seen and powerful. We feel whole because we aren’t hiding from or leaving out parts of the story. Don’t deny yourself the whole of the story. Don’t gaslight away the parts of the story that can . Don’t pretend not to see what you see. Being a human is hard and messy so sometimes we are going to see things in ourselves that are hard to see — and messy to clean up. But man it feels good when you take your own power back and stop feeling like everyone else has all of the power.
I’m going to start this road by telling you that “I don’t know” has become one of my favorite phrases, and it’s almost always true when I say it. Sometimes I think I don’t know but I actually do, and sometimes I know that I know but I’m too afraid of saying it out loud. But most of the time when I say “I don’t know,” it is positively true.
It wasn’t always this way though. Somewhere along the way, I adopted the belief that if you didn’t know something, you were inferior. I have been one who asks every question that crosses my mind from the time I could first form a sentence. Because I really wanted to know about everything! I quickly learned in elementary school, as well as middle school and high school that kids laugh at you when you ask a lot of questions, and scoff that you had to ask. So, I always thought everyone knew but me. But the laughing didn’t deter me from asking questions, it just made me think that I was the dumbest one in the class.
Then when I became an adult and I would attend meetings with other adults, I would always raise my hand and ask question after question, making sure I truly understood. It was then that other adults would pull me aside after the meeting and say, “thank you for asking those questions, we were all wondering the same thing.”
What? Then why didn’t you ask?
What if the kids in school didn’t know either . . . and they just didn’t want anyone to think they didn’t know? What if I wasn’t dumb after all . . . just curious?
Well, I figured I could be very prolific on my journey all the way around the block. I knew what I was capable of. So I made a plan to “fix myself” as quickly as possible. And I figured that a little bit of therapy and a new location would do the trick.
It would just be a little trip around the block and then everything could get back to normal.
I took quite a few roads around the block before I figured out that I was just going in circles, down old familiar roads that brought me right back to the place I had grown out of. And that in my need to get finished quickly and efficiently, I was just wasting time and wearing myself out. It looked like momentum, and it was, but it was really more traveling procrastination than anything.
After a few frustrating and exhausting and prolific trips around that same familiar track, I finally surrendered to what was happening, and how big of a mess it was going to make.
This wasn’t going to be me doing the creating in the way I was used to, this was me being created by the energy that had been building up for eons, like a volcano. There was no stopping it.
Sometimes I am starved of things that sustain my life. Sometimes I am so thirsty for who I am that I think I am going to die. And sometimes those things just take a remembrance of what is needed and an action to deliver what is needed, and then I’m renewed.
But this feels different. So much of me has already died. It is gone. So much of what I thought would sustain me forever is gone now. This might be a long process of being green slime and trusting that it is going somewhere good.
I don’t want to be angry or bitter about this time in my life that has felt at times like such a cruel death. I want to trust it, welcome it and be grateful for it. I want to allow it. I want to let it take as long as it takes. I want it to be as complete and whole as possible.
I want to be new without crying about what is gone that felt so much an essential part of me. I want to be new without constantly apologizing and explaining that I no longer have parts of me that others used to enjoy. I want to trust that who I become will attract the ones who like what grew from the ashes of the old me.
I want to love what I was without clinging so tight to it that it becomes shackles that keep me from moving forward. I want to appreciate and enjoy the memories of what once was without feeling like what should have lasted forever got stolen from me. It was just time, that’s all.
I know that in the past, I have carelessly handed over my personal authority and almost always, I have been dominated, pushed-around, browbeat and bullied. I have been demeaned, talked down to and disrespected. I have handed over my own remote-control and become a machine at the mercy of someone else’s whims. I have had my own life ripped from my fingers and held over my own head. I have had the things I birthed taken and hidden and used as ransom. And I didn’t use any of this as fuel to rise up and fight. I just got smaller and more victim-y. This insidious pattern (that I chose) has tried to teach me over and over and over to stand up and take control of my own life.
But the dancing damsel in distress always seemed to win out.
I know that I am the one who danced this dance. I know that I am the one who sought out dance partners to replay this scene over and over again in a million ways. I know that I am the one who kept it going on the dance floor.
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