My eyes are very dry, my head pounds, my energy has drained, and I feel that I am touching into something profoundly important.
I am not living in accord with my core values.
I wish my dry eyes could feel the relief of tears, but I am numb to feeling. No energy left for tears. I left my relationship with my emotions somewhere back at the gate to a weedy garden of emails. Somewhere back there I decided to push myself “just a little” to work harder, and it was there that I turned away from myself.
No stranger to working hard, I was raised on a farm. As soon as I could hold an implement, little Kristy was swinging a pick axe. As soon as my feet reached the pedals little Kristy was driving farm machinery. My whole childhood was a series of hard jobs done willingly to earn praise and acceptance.
And I’m still dragging her around by her pick axe.
I’m still making that little girl dig up massive weeds in the paddock*, driving her relentlessly toward acceptance and praise, acceptance and praise, acceptance and praise …. But she never gets there.
She never will. That place doesn’t exist.
Playing on the beach is someone else’s life. Paying for coffee in exchange for internet access for spreadsheets and email and documents is my life.
I feel the sorrow of over four decades of ignoring her needs in the service of survival. My work continues to provide me with a false sense of safety. I am praised for working hard; I am accepted by the workforce and the people who pay me cash and attention. She is so tired, though.
I sit in a cafe and watch the beach through the window. Playing on the beach is someone else’s life. Paying for coffee in exchange for internet access for spreadsheets and email and documents is my life. She’s chained to this table while the other children throw sand on the beach.
But she is patient, this little one. And she hears a far off story about freedom and authenticity and, most amazingly, fearlessness. Fearlessness of loss, rejection or abandonment. A story about living a life out loud, and stunningly quietly. She sees, across the ocean, a place free of shackles. She nods silently to me, knowingly. She’s strong enough to keep up the hard work, and wise enough to know that, ultimately, none of it is necessary. Most importantly, none of it buys acceptance from the one who matters the most – me.
Images of my colleagues swim in my head. Would they still love me if I failed? And the answer comes: They would love me the most. And they would help me. I no longer have to do it alone.
She waits, patiently, patiently. One day, I’ll be there. And I’ll find I always was.
*Australian agricultural field