Four winters ago, I found myself hanging from a cliff, dangling and desperate to climb up. I survived that winter, allowing myself to believe I’d never slide off the cliff again. I wasn’t completely wrong, if you’re looking for me, you won’t find me dangling off a cliff. No, you’ll find me crashing through the waves as I’m being pulled down by the undertow, a cyclical trap of sand and sea. Afraid to open my eyes, I toss and turn in the darkness of it all until finally, I seek the light. I open my eyes and see the beauty from above, blue skies and cotton candy skies, a hint of love among the chaos.
I possess no hidden illusions about the struggles and consequences of life and how no one is free from such things. We all struggle and we all suffer, some similar but most different in detail and design. No one can truly understand what another is going through because no one lives the same life. Our paths may cross, and we may hover near another’s pathway, but we never traverse the same exact path. Our starting points differ as much as our endings do, but what differs the most is the tiny details of it all. Our who, what, when, where, why, and how, is never the same. In brief, moments when our paths do overlap, we will never experience the same experience – perception, and point of view always shaping and skewing truth and circumstance.
At the end of the day, I know regardless of the similarities in our struggles, we can never truly understand what another is going through. You cannot share another’s perspective, you can try, but you’ll always come up short. I see it in the world around me, and I see it in myself, the judgment, the idea that given a chance at the steering wheel ‘we’ could do a better job. We’re all guilty of looking at another’s circumstances and assuming we could and would make better choices; as if we ‘would never behave that way.’ Playing ‘armchair quarterback’ is America’s pastime why would we live our personal lives any differently? This judgment that we are all guilty of is simply a distraction. A way of living life as if we as individuals are free from flaws when truly our biggest flaws are those we point out in others. Think about it.
I woke with the potential of new beginnings staring me straight in the face and still I found myself numb to the idea of anything this morning. The winter of numbness and disconnect is wearing on me. I seek answers to questions already asked and answered. I need to remind myself that this nightmare is not of my making. I may control the management of my situation to the point of no real control at all, but I did not and do not create the situation in which I find myself trapped.
Trauma is the gift that keeps on giving, it rewires your brain and takes you hostage. Even as I write this I find myself hesitating, an involuntary response to a fear of feeling too much. A fear instilled in me as a child. I have always been too much and not enough, a ball of confusion with nowhere to turn. I feel too much, I think too much, and I talk too much – directives of my youth. I learned quickly how to respond to said directives – I buried my feelings, distracted my thoughts, and shut my mouth!
I see now that my need to disconnect and direct my energy towards other people’s needs and happiness as a child has created an involuntary disconnect from my own happiness. On one hand, I find myself making choices to avoid situations that are guaranteed to cause emotional turmoil, and on the other, I make every effort to live life and crush comfort zones. My mindfulness driving me to push ahead regardless of my feelings and still it’s a balancing act. For every moment of gut-wrenching, comfort-crushing bravado on my part, I am given in return, an equal measure of fatigue, pain, and anxiety to follow. This is the part that crushes me.
Photo by Federico Bottos