OUT OF THE WOODS
“the monsters turned out to be just trees”
we tell ourselves stories. Old Stories. Future stories of what will PROBABLY happen. We even tell ourselves stories about what IS happening in the present tense.
And these stories bring us great pain. It isn’t the circumstances, but rather the feelings around the circumstance, that causes suffering.
Many times, we create 100% fabricated stories to protect ourselves from the hurt. But ironically, that way of living actually creates the suffering.
These fabricated stories box us into a small closed off space in our heart, and the walls are of our own doing. They are the lump in our stomach. They are the heart beat quickening. They are the nausea. They are the shortness of breath. They are the wincing & looking away. All those feelings are symptoms of fear. What are you afraid of? What monsters or demons sneak in, as soon as you take a pause from the go-go-go of your day. Is it when you and your spouse disagree? Is it when your boss calls you into her office? is it when you get dressed in the morning and your dress feels too tight?
Fear of Failure. Fear of what people think. Fear of what people will say. Fear of disappointment. Fear of disappointing. Fear of not getting your way. Fear of Pain. Fear of Rejection. Fear of Loneliness. Fear of Exposure. Fear of Vulnerability. Fear of Imperfection. Fear of not having enough, doing enough, being enough. Fear of being Different. Fear of Death.
What might happen if we get curious about our fears? What if, as soon as we feel one coming on (that quickened heart rate, that defensiveness), instead of defaulting to turning away from the perceived misery… what about trying something different? what about looking at it? Leaning into the fear, so to speak. Or better yet – staring it down…right in it’s terrifying face? What would that look like? What about being inquisitive? Asking additional questions to get clarity – but without the defensiveness that comes from attaching to an outcome (that by the way, is most likely not accurate, but rather a figment. and even if it is accurate… who cares? will it kill you, that additional information? Will it kill you if it does end up being affirmation that you were right? Most often not. More likely, it’s more information… which allows you to make more informed decisions about what you need next).
Or if asking questions out loud – to another person – feels too scary, how about sitting alone with it? Meditating on it? Asking yourself about the feelings, in a non-judgmental way. The way you might to a good friend who is hurting. Take notice of the feelings of discomfort. Where they are in your body. Pay close attention to your stomach (the ‘other’ brain), your heart and your throat. As you discover these sensations and specific areas of your body, what do they feel like? Can you breathe into them? Literally send your breath to the areas that need attention (like a medic!). In those uncomfortable moments, you can decide that your only job is to breathe. The tough times in life get more manageable. We all know how to breathe. And by focusing your attention on your breath, you gain awareness. And maybe that awareness extends to the terrible feelings you are experiencing. Congratulations. You control them more than they control yoiu at that moment. And maybe they don’t feel so terrible after a few minutes of breathing through them? And maybe you can bring some of that awareness into your every day life, to have more understanding of yourself and the world you are walking through. My favorite part: you are absolutely capable of doing the only job required of you: breathing. Pat yourself on the back, b/c you rock at breathing.
Looking at things in a different light has a wonderful way of revealing that the monsters you saw in the dark of night, with their giant teeth and gangly arms, are actually just trees. The warm sunrise illuminating their narrow branches and yellow leaves.
“Well it sucks to be honest
And it hurts to be real
But it’s nice to make some love that I can finally feel”
Do you remember the scene in The Matrix where Neo is offered the choice.
“This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”
Do you want the blue pill or the red pill?
We see an example of what the blue pill can be… blissful ignorance in the form of a juicy steak and a good red wine. I feel a pull towards that ease.
It’s hard to be honest. It’s hard to be real. Especially when we’re bombarded with photoshopped images of how life and love should be (thank you Hollywood and Fashion magazines). Never mind how we willingly participate in the insanity. We portray ourselves on social media in the way we imagine we have to be perfect – our looks, our job, our apartment, our car, our relationship, our personality – leaving no room for individuality and missteps. If we’re real, will anyone love us? If we’re truly ourselves, will people turn away repulsed? Will we be all alone? What would that feel like?
So we become the person we imagine folks will like, be attracted to, want as friends, lovers, co-workers, teammates. It is unnatural, but perhaps an easier path. It feels good initially. Until the mask you put on day in/day out grows heavy, and starts to weigh you down.
The first date i went on with my boyfriend, I took so much care with my appearance. I wanted to achieve that perfect blend of effortlessness, and sexiness. I wore towering high heels and skin tight jeans, with a leather jacket & a scarf. I learned later that he absolutely hated the heels and all the “work” he perceived I had done. He liked me best in comfortable jeans, a t-shirt and flats. The scarf is approved as well. Go figure, that’s how i like me best too. But I “dressed up” and became something I thought he wanted. vs what he wanted — which was for me to be just be.
That’s the irony. There is a person desperately hoping to find the true you, so they can be the true them. And once you do, you can connect on such a deeply authentic level that the entire world’s connected vibration can feel the surge. They can’t help but smile at you two. The world will be better for it. You’ll unconsciously give others the same permission.
But it ain’t easy. There are going to be people that you piss off, that you scare to death. Here’s the flip side though. I heard this once, and it rang true: if you aren’t pissing anyone off, you aren’t turning anyone on either.”
Wouldn’t it be nice to make some love that you can finally feel?