Oh, man. Here’s a thought that hits home.
I had the most vivid image during a therapy session last week: Little Becky, maybe six or seven years old, standing in the middle of a circle, absolutely terrified. Around her stood all the inner parts who seek to keep her safe. They formed a protective ring, facing out, ready to fend off anyone who might threaten her.
One pointed a spear. One held out a diploma. Another, an, ahem, book – almost as if to say, “Look at how smart I am. You can’t fuck with me.”
And yet. There is nothing old demons like better than to fuck with people who think they are somehow unfuckwithable.
Trust me on this.
What landed on me in the words above is the idea of being trapped in addictive behavior. As a woman in recovery from alcohol, I like to think my addictive behaviors live in the past. But when words like “defensive,” “fearful,” “angry,” “depressed,” and “even a little bit crazy” get thrown out, I know I am seen. And that helps me to better see myself.
What we see when we are open to looking honestly may not always be pretty. I think of it as the creepy crawlies that live under a rock we pick up: our first instinct may to slam that rock back to the ground and run, but it’s essential to look. And not look away. Look deeper, even. Excavate.
What I see when I look deeply at myself is hard to admit. Since last spring, I’ve been living in something of an emotional crisis mode, DEFCON 5, an emergency cycle of self-protection run amok punctuated by huge waves of anger, distrust, and outward-facing blame. I’ve been breathing the fumes of anger rather than allowing myself to feel the true feelings of abandonment and betrayal that lives so tenderly beneath it. Therapy always helps, but it is, by necessity, a slow kind of help. As they say, big ships turn slowly.
And while it makes sense to the child in me to point and shout, “But she did this!” or “This is his fault!” and “I deserved better!”… the wise woman within me knows the only thing we can control is ourselves.
We can’t change a mother or an ex-husband or the past or [insert trigger of your choice here]… but we can bring to the present moment a willingness to embrace our inner child’s fear and anger and grief, care for her in ways she hasn’t experienced before, and show her – show, not tell – that she is safe in her home within the woman she’s grown into.
We can look squarely at my defensiveness and choose, again and again and again, to ease into the soft spaces of right now that we all so crave.
We can grieve and accept and allow the big ships we are to keep turning, however slowly, into the light of the future rather than the shadows of the past.
I want to leave you with this: If the idea of feeling “even a little bit crazy” resonated with you, please know you’re in good company. I was in a group of women the other day and asked for a show of hands for whom that had felt true at some point in their lives. Twenty-one out of 22 hands SHOT UP. (The 22nd came up slowly.) So just know that feeling of inner insanity is kind of like that feeling like of inner stuckness: completely universal, but there is a path forward. And I’m just so glad we all get to walk the path together.