A string of beads has a thread running through all the beads, keeping them together. What we need is a thread too—of sanity and stability. Because when you have a thread, even though each bead is separate, they hang together. When we have the teachings in us, stabilizing us, there’s a thread to keep our life together that prevents us from falling apart.
The thing is, either it’s clear and I write about it, or it is not clear and I write about it anyway. Sometimes I slip into a space so uncertain I cannot articulate what I’m experiencing. It’s as if I’ve pushed a mute button.
The past few months have been a blur of work, party planning, various other need-it-yesterday obligations, extreme heat and humidity, broken plans, insomnia, extreme exercise, and some really big steps outside my comfort zone. These beads of my life rattled and bounced on a string that stretched ever tighter. In the past week the frayed string snapped. That I didn’t totally fall to pieces is a testament to my faith and spiritual practice.
Sure, I hurt inside. When I don’t hurt I feel utter emptiness. I catch myself wrapping myself in false dressings, then embarrassed at the attempts, rip them away and start anew.
“You are going through a major energy shift,” I’m told by one who sees and feels things. Energy shifts feel like rides at amusement parks. Sudden rapid acceleration followed by jerking turns and clunky stops. Then the waiting, the interminable waiting. This seems unexpected considering all the accomplishments of late: I’ve had freelance work almost all summer. I trained for a 5K obstacle race and completed it. I’ve taken on some long and challenging bike rides. I helped plan and execute Girl from the West’s graduation party. I kept up with all my volunteer obligations and met all deadlines. I made a number of new friends. Shouldn’t I be elated?
Inside I’m shredded by terrible anxiety and an almost unyielding drive to take on something even more difficult (like a 12-mile obstacle race). All year I’ve pushed myself into situations (hello, class reunion) and people (those who will challenge me, who doubt my ability and I feel I must prove them wrong) who I’d otherwise avoid like a mosquito-infested swamp.
Something in me tired of being sequestered in an empty office, of interacting with the world almost exclusively by computer. I joined more groups, said yes to every invitation, and now? I cannot stand to be alone. I’ve nearly abandoned most of my social media accounts, remaining loyal only to this blog and Facebook.
I think about how on the physical level, with running and boot camp training and bike riding long miles I endured the physical pain of sore muscles for the goal of getting stronger. I thought it would be the same on an emotional level. The thing is, even inflamed tissue responds to ice and anti-inflammatory pills. How do you build emotional strength? When you bear through the discomfort of situations you want to avoid. When you march through the pain of doing the right thing, even if it feels terrible. Nothing but time, self-discipline, and patience can heal emotional pain.
I’ve been told I live life with so much intensity. That such a quality either grabs people or turns them away. I’m drawn to and attract others who do the same, which almost always leads to trouble of some kind or other. A friend told me she’s disappointed in me because I continue to deny who I am to please others and in the process I end up hurting people because they view me as a game-player. I do not see myself that way. But, for the first time I think I understand how that could be the way I seem to others. In the process of this growth I lost that new friend, someone who could have been a nice addition to my life, but my inner battle to be who I am against who others think I should be, sent me running, hands over head as if bombs were bursting overhead, into my hidey hole. Is there anything worse than being accused of something you cannot even understand or see that you have done?
I’ve had some great, high moments. I’ve earned the respect of people I admire. I can take pride in those moments because I was honoring my true self. But it’s the humbling, raw moments that stay with me, when I’m called on my BS, my lies exposed. I’m scared. What am I supposed to do with a “big energy shift”? Invent something? Save baby rabbits? Trade my life for the monastery?
Here’s the thing. I need to get back out there and not retreat into that hidey-hole, which is my habit. I need to be my best self, put forth my best effort, and rebuild that string, bead by bead. All is not lost as it feels on the inside. I’m just focusing on one particular bead lost, and not on all the collected ones I’ve earned right there at my feet.
They also hold value.