Thursday, November 4, 2010

Metaphorical Journeys

Photo by Shayne Gray

Being a human is such a bizarre thing sometimes. Being able to go so far beyond just 'being' and into the realm of thinking and processing and planning and dwelling and analyzing and even over-analyzing is a hardship sometimes. From the day we are born, there is so much pressure on us to 'be' a certain way, and we are so oblivious to this that its crazy. Inevitably, something happens along the way which causes us to start becoming aware that this bubble we have been brought up in is mighty thin, and then pop; and there's no going back. Or is there?

I thought I was happy enough growing up, going through middle school, high school, college and entering the work force - this is what everyone did, and I wasn't about to stray from the ordained, 'proper' pathway, because I was too afraid. Even though the entire timeline of this existence of mine felt invariably wrong. I was putting on smiles all over the place, but was going through some major motions all along. I couldn't even giggle with the girls naturally, for fear I was giggling incorrectly. Minute by minute was truly just comparison by comparison. There was no such thing as peace, let alone peace within myself, within my own existence. All I knew was that there was something wrong with me.

Decades of feeling, knowing, that it was me that had the problem. I prided myself on being two steps ahead of everyone else because I knew what looked stupid, and I stayed away from the 'stupid' so painstakingly, that I could not see that no one was judging me, as everyone else was too busy judging themselves to be concerned with the quiet, fat redhead in the corner. What I thought was being steps ahead of everyone else, was in fact being miles and miles behind.

After a quarter of a century of pretences, I read a book that popped that bubble so fast, so explosively, and that was it. Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. I won't go into details about the book itself, and in fact, this book has nothing at all to do with the personal plight of a young, disturbed (read: normal) woman. What it did was alert to me that there was something bigger out there then my muddled head, and that there were larger problems to be woken up to.

Though this may sound like a wonderful, enlightening moment, it wasn't. Though pivotal, it was terrifying, almost too much to take in. There is a lot of weight and burden out there, outside of our delicate bubble, and there is no amount of preparation any school can do to ready us for this. It's a realization most of us will come to eventually, but all we can be prepared for is feeling small, and likely beyond helpless, until we start to figure it all out; until we start to see that the beauty lies in simply being able to 'be'.

Needless to say, I have been overwhelmed for more than a few years now, and for good reason. I've spent countless hours in therapy (both professionally, and in the form of amazing friends) trying to find some peace in this world, but all that was happening was that I was becoming more and more disheartened and angry with the human race. It's so easy to have this complex that you are above everyone else (and in our own little worlds we are, because we are the sole inhabitants of our heads) but really, when you live this way, you will become infuriated often. Guaranteed. It wasn't until I started realizing that it isn't everyone else I can change, it isn't the world at large I can change, it's only me that needs to change. I have since lost faith in therapy (the professional kind only) because I find it so hard that someone who isn't me, who doesn't know me or how I feel, can dictate what steps I should take, to feel the way they think I think I want to feel. Understand?

Something had to change, and this is where the quitting drinking and meditation comes in. I've been open about this with a few of my friends, but it baffles me how when the opportunity came up to tell someone about this process who really deserved to know, I couldn't spill. For those who are curious, I'm taking a ten week 'course' called the Presence Process. Make of that what you will, it's a personal thing only. Part of this process is unearthing suppressed emotions, bringing them up to the surface and coming to terms with them. After a few weeks in, this wasn't really happening, until it caught me blind-sided, during a lovely dinner with an old friend. I flipped, or rather, something flipped in me, and she, the first witness to my new (old?) emotional outburst was the first person I did not tell about this process. No reason, simply that I didn't realize that this is what was happening to me until I embarked on my solo walk home.

When I realize now that all this long suppressed, emotional bullshit began flying across the table, my friend was likely left in the confusing dust a little. She'd never seen me act quite like that before. So now I think, do I tell her? Do I lay to rest the whys of that particular situation? Well, no, actually. I guess sometimes personal journeys are meant to be taken alone, and you have to be careful divulging this sort of thing. If you aren't ready to take on the criticism of others, don't talk about 'emotional journeys' as that is bound to receive criticism.

So for the next couple of months, I'm just going to have to bear with myself, and hope that my loved ones can do the same. As I have come to understand: the only way out is through.

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