As smart as I may be, as much personal “work” as I have done, I still get into big trouble sometimes. It’s personal, but it also is common, so I write about it because I know for certain that others are snagged in similar ways. More important, I hope my way out can help others find their way out (and upright through the door rather than on your knees through a secret passageway). Details may differ, but perhaps you can locate your own missing peace.
I asked for what I deserved. The answer was “No.” I felt as though I had been socked in the stomach, the wind knocked right out of me. And when I thought of standing up for myself? My heart beat too fast to catch. Oh my god, a heart attack? No, a panic attack.
It’s just a person telling me I won’t be getting what I thought I was owed. Why is my reaction not, What? Are you kidding? Why is it suddenly overwhelming shame? Why is it my temptation to apologize, to grovel, to throw up, to promise I’ll never ask again?
As soon as I realize that this reaction isn’t in real time, understanding begins to take shape. I am confusing this person with my father who left when I was an infant. I am begging him not to leave. I am so inconsolably sorry for asking for anything. I am lucky to get what I get – I would rather give all of myself away than lose him again. My heart is beating too hard, too fast. A young child unable to survive, to breathe, to go on. I am sobbing. I am terrified. I am not in present time. It is my body screaming out, my mind asleep.
Beginning to separate through words by naming the various aspects of feeling, of the situation, of reality, of balance, things slow down. The words, the words, the words. I didn’t have them all those years ago. I have words now. I use them to get a foothold in the present. I can claim what feels right. I may win my claim, and that will be great. I can lose the argument, and that will be fine. I will survive that too. I can stay despite the outcome. I can leave because it no longer feels like the right fit. I can be present, adult, calm of heart and mind, generous and confident. Breath begins to return. Life begins to flow again. Perception becomes clearer. Mobility returns. I can leave through the door, walk and not run, feel love and not erasure, stay grounded and present even if I choose to leave.