And I have a steady emotional undercurrent of dread and sadness.
Yesterday in the MSC we talked about resistance. We talked about the many ways we avoid being with our direct experience of suffering. Turns out, I’ve been resisting – having a self-compassion practice does not mean we avoid resisting.
I’ve been plugging myself in to my laptop to watch my favorite go-to reality show – the one I have multiple seasons of, loaded onto my computer for a fast get-away to another dimension. I’ve been using coffee, chocolate, sugar, melatonin and herbal tea to help me get away from my experience.
I know that I am resisting because I feel afraid of what is underneath my quest for distraction. I know that I am resisting because I do not feel whole and I have a subtle fear that I’m going to start crying spontaneously at some point, without understanding why. I know I am resisting (and more strongly introverted right now) because I can hardly bear the thought of being with other people at mealtimes, and what I’d really like is for everyone to go home so that I can be by myself.
And so I ask myself, what is my potential alternative to this painful state of resistance? What am I missing out on? Who might I be if I were not resisting?
What am I resisting? My present moment experience. I don’t even know what my real present moment emotional experience would be without resisting – I just know that it’s too frightening to go there.
And so I ask myself, what is my potential alternative to this painful state of resistance? What am I missing out on? Who might I be if I were not resisting? I get a glimpse of her, and then my internal landscape opens up to me as I move from resistance into backdraft and into openness.
This dear woman sheds a tear as she comes into contact with old, old suffering, but she feels comforted, supported and connected in her tears. She feels the warmth of a mother’s embrace, the flood of oxytocin and opiates as her natural ability to soothe and be soothed comes online. She is the mother who comforts and she is the little girl who is in over her head, the little girl who has been sent in to do a woman’s work.
This little girl has been charging in to challenging situations all my life, out of a sense of duty, but mostly out of a need to survive. Her life depends on being independent, resourceful and useful. She understands, to the core of her being, that if she is not these things, she will be lost in the wilderness, she will drift out to sea, she will be abandoned.
How does a little girl cope when the email inbox becomes too full with demands and she starts to have trouble remembering how to swim in the middle of the threat of falling behind? How does she cope when the child parts of other people express impatience, perfectionism, indignation and panic? Not very well. She doesn’t have the woman’s ability to see things clearly and to stand in her own power. She gets jostled and trampled. She is not equipped.
And so, I invite the oft repeated MSC question, “What do I need?” And I open to the possibility that I might be able to give this to myself.
I need to send in a woman to do a woman’s work.
What I need is a break from the inner critic telling that poor little girl that she’ll be abandoned if she doesn’t work harder. I need that strong woman part of me to step in, to scoop up that dear little one, to hold her up above the flow of the stream of expectation and finger-pointing and projection. I need for her to feel safe, and for some other part of me to work out how to tend to emails and hold my colleagues’ child parts with kindness and tenderness.
I need to send in a woman to do a woman’s work.
And with backdraft comes a new understanding: this is the gateway to wholeness. This is the gauntlet to navigate, knowing that at some point the effort to resist will give way to surrendering to the tide of kindness that will carry me to another place. And this place is no other place – it is right here with my parts doing what their ages and abilities allow them to, easefuly, joyfully. Everyone in their right place.
And so, the adventure continues. I teach so that I can learn and I learn so that I can teach. There’s no point on the map to get to in this work. There’s just a steady, determined trudge toward the light, with childlike eyes gazing upward, hopeful…
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