Really? I must? My core’s philosophy is more of the “Follow Your Bliss” perspective. But when I run into something I know I need to do in order to move forward with whatever is the next step in following my bliss, then I not only accept Eleanor’s wisdom but gratefully embrace it as a productive prod to persevere.
Tangentially, it’s a bit interesting to see what images people choose to accompany this quote in their memes. I’m sure these wise words have as many interpretations as there are people who quote them. I chose this meme because 1) The woman’s posture is the shape I take in my dreams when I fly, so I resonate deeply and joyfully with this gesture, and 2) She’s really only a couple of feet off the ground! This is no mountain she is climbing; there is nothing heroic going on here; she is simply moving herself into a space of interior freedom symbolized by a whimsical yet celebratory movement. This is a do-able dare. This is a manageable mandate. This is where challenge meets bliss.
That’s pretty much what this whole blog is about: perseverance: Pushing through that which is most difficult so I can fly forward with a freer spirit. However, sometimes this dogged devotion to breaking the bonds of what would shackle my soul feels more like a crippling compulsion or a pigish plowing ever deeper a rut that risks burying me. So I take frequent and long breaks from this necessary but unwelcome task.
There are times, when writing, my mind just goes blank, and then flits to something completely unrelated. One might be tempted to think that I am easily distracted. Actually, I am capable of extreme concentration, and too often engage in a chosen activity with metaphorical blinders on, screening out my surroundings and not even noting the passage of time.
But when I try to write about something difficult, my mind throws up all kinds of obstacles. And when those distractions don’t work, it just “walks out,” vacates! My mental landscape becomes something like a desert: all white sand with a cloudy sky and nearly no perceptible horizon. I could have chosen a “white-out” blizzard as a metaphor except that I enjoy snow and cold and am not easily disoriented by it. But heat and lack of water make me feel sleepy and unmotivated to move. This is another thing my mind does when I don’t want to address a painful topic head-on: persistent play with words (developing metaphors, etc.) rather than using words to actually TELL something.
Ach du lieber! And then there’s that too: clichés.
So, I just keep typing. I let my mind move through its avoidance maneuvers, until I exhaust them. Explore, express, explain, exhaust. Return to topic?
Today, doing what’s difficult means finishing my last post regarding strong emotions. Some so strong, so painful, I once attempted suicide.
Do I still fear the strength of my emotional capacity today? Yes and no. I am still capable of a rage that is truly fear-worthy. But I’ve learned to recognize when I am nearing the edge of that storm. (I think of how rage feels and moves within me as something like a tornado. It can pop up seemingly suddenly, yet there are warning signs. It turns very fast, powerfully, and could be destructive to things in its path, but it doesn’t have to “touch down”. And most importantly, it really is a storm within me, but it is not me; I can walk away from it.) While I can’t control my world so much as to guarantee I avoid all possible triggers to my rage, I can even-so sense the perimeters of triggers and walk away when too near. Even if I temporarily engage, I can walk away. Walking away is a very important skill! Walking away is always an option, and one that is as powerful as rage, actually more powerful because in walking away I dismiss the rage. I won’t go into here and now what triggers rage for me; the significant thing is that I’ve learned how and when to walk away.
Other emotions which I can feel so powerfully that I fear being overwhelmed by them are grief and fear itself. However, grief represents territory with which I have become familiar enough I am comfortable navigating rather than feeling lost. Feeling a foreign fear, or fear before I understand what has caused it, or panic, or pernicious anxiety, I have learned to treat that sensation like a ferocious dog. I can be terrified by a growling, teeth-baring dog. And while it’s reasonable to be afraid of a dog that could attack, and it’s justifiable to simply avoid such a threat, I have been in situations where a dangerous dog had to be faced in order to get away from it. The main thing I learned was to not SHOW my fear, to not show that I am intimidated, to refuse to submit to its terror tactic, to pretend to be the one in charge! So when I experience a feeling of panic flare up within myself (and usually its accompanied with a racing heart and a rush of adrenaline), I’ve learned to bring up within myself, the “Commander,” She who takes Charge. Taking Charge is not my preferred way of being, but I’ve found it’s a very handy tool in my skill-box.
Where, when, and how I’ve “learned” these things I won’t explore here. Some of these capacities are unconscious instincts I’ve “discovered” I already have at my ready use; others are skills I’ve consciously and deliberately chosen to learn and develop.
The last fear of strong emotions I’ll mention here is when I notice (usually retrospectively) that others are somehow led by or dependent upon my “power.” Sometimes my “power”, that which I am exuding and others are following, is emotional; in those times its usually expressed as enthusiasm. Sometimes my “power” is intellectual: clarity of thinking. Sometimes it is spiritual: wisdom, or moral courage. I don’t mind being a leader when I have chosen that role and those being led have consciously consented to my leadership. I don’t mind leading in areas where I have expertise. But when I find that others are led by my emotions I feel wary. I don’t like that kind of “persuasion” exercised on myself, so I don’t want to manipulate others.
However, some people really enjoy experiencing the emotions of an artist-type. That’s when I find myself being put into the role of Muse for others gratification. And I don’t like it. To me, it might be something like when a patient projects onto their therapist, or a parent lives vicariously through a child, or a fan stalks a celebrity! Those things are not equal to each other, but what they have in common is the observer loses touch with the parameters of reality in relation to the observed; the receiver (or taker) of gratification assumes as their own something that actually belongs to another. If I were a true performer, I would probably like being used as a Muse by others. I think Performers know how to and enjoy developing a Public-Persona, and can keep their private-person shielded from the public experiences. I however am mostly “just me.” I struggle with the idea and use of shields. I prefer to be fully integrated and to act consciously, directly, deliberately; it’s something I work toward every day. It’s true I know how to take on various roles in different situations, but I don’t wear them as a mask; I use them as tools or skill-sets.
As a victim of abuse I quickly learned how to compartmentalize my experiences, my world, my self. But as a survivor and one who would thrive, I work to become fully integrated. Facing my fears, especially fears about my own nature, helps me heal, become stronger and healthier, and I hope eventually whole.
“Where Night meets Day” by Loyan Mani (aka Maxine Noel)