The fear driven life (Fear of Transformation)

transformation-butterfly

I needed, or wanted, or.. wanted and needed to write today, either, and, or I’m here, and lucky you!

I’ve been working through a lot of fear recently.

Fear that leaving my recent “occupation” to create my dream online and in the waking realm will be foolish. That I won’t be valuable outside of, well, the bedroom.

Fear that financially I should wait, or save up, or just suck it up (and ok, not entirely literally there) and sloooowly take one step at a time to get my new plan in motion.

Fear that if I don’t take steps on it now, it will fade away and be too late.

Fear that continuing down that other path would lead me to hate the world, or die of it, or both.

Fear that others will think this a silly idea of mine and won’t support it. (Though so far I’ve met amazing support)

Fear that I’m not taking care of others by taking care of myself.

I’ve been meditating, walking, talking (as my therapist can attest to, and my dear S.O.), thinking, pondering, letting go, waking up, moving on, and finally.. meeting myself in the place where I am truly terrified.

There is a crossroads within, in which several of me from the past are gathered, and they are afraid.

They are the me of my younger years, about 5-8 I’d say.

Afraid of speaking up, of making others uncomfortable with my truths.

Afraid of asking for more, never sure where food will come from or if the phone bill will be paid without my suffering.

Afraid because I feel unworthy.

Afraid that there may not even be a car, or a tent, to sleep in tomorrow.

Afraid that my stepfather will come back in our life, that she won’t be strong enough to say no.

fear

Though I’ve touched on it in other posts, I suppose the time has come within me, to say more.

When I was just a little girl (and actually I hear the song Que Sera start up in my head here.. oy), about 4 years old, and my mother married my stepfather, my life as a happy, cheery, upbeat child ended. Not only was he violent, and verbally abusive with a wicked alcohol problem, but somehow he found his way to know folks involved in child pornography and so this way, did I.

These are details I can’t go into, and perhaps I wouldn’t if I could, maybe, simply because I don’t recall much. I simply recall long car trips with him feeling so lost, so sad, wishing I could disappear or die. He’d tell my mom we were going to Disneyland, but we never made it that far.

I remember old warehouses, an abandoned artichoke factory I believe, dirty mattresses and cameras. And that, is about it.

My behavior changed, of course. I no longer loved to run around naked as a jay bird, happy with the sun on my skin. I hated to see photos of myself, particularly partially undressed (as most babies and toddlers are in pictures now and then), even a bathing suit was too much skin, even years later.. I destroyed every picture I could find like that. I stopped singing. I felt completely alone even surrounded by others.

During this time my mother was in a deep depression and my family was afraid (there’s that fear again) of speaking up and saying something that would upset her. She didn’t always find herself able to work, and so the income of my stepfather was all there was for a while, and some of that came from what I did I know.

But in this lack I was afraid.

Afraid of eating too much, of not being able to afford more, of not being worthy of more.

Afraid of only being worth someone elses pleasure, and not my own.

Afraid of his temper. (You couldn’t even wake him up.. my mother would prod him awake with a broom handle, they didn’t even sleep in the same bed)
Afraid of speaking up and making my family uncomfortable, or sad.

When I was 7 I started taking food from other kids lunch bags at school, my mother was baffled because she packed me a full lunch, but I was always hungry for more.

Eventually I went to see my own therapist, as I’d started to tell my mother I wished I could die.

After she finally left him around 8 years old, we were homeless for about a year. Occasionally we’d stay at a friends for a week or a month or so, but usually there were limits on how long we could stay. We often stayed at motels down by the beach, due to a voucher program at the time; funny how staying in one of the most beautiful places in the world could really be so dark and frightening.

My 9th birthday we were “camping”, because some friends had a tent and sleeping bags we could borrow. My friends didn’t know those particular details, but they showed up and we had a camping party.

I remember after my mother went to the food bank around this time, finding some exceptionally nice treat in the bag, and feeling like I had to eat it slowly, carefully, because I might not get it again, ever.

So much of this was created by my mothers own fears. Of being alone, of not being worthy, of not being good enough that someone like my stepfather, so bruised and battered, would change, or heal for her, of not being enough, of being successful on her own, of being deemed an unfit mother (I didn’t often go to the doctor, and was treated for many things at home).

And here I am, at 35, finding that my fear now? Is centered there.

Afraid that without giving my body away, I won’t be liked.

Afraid that I won’t be worthy of another income, of making it on my own, with my own business.

Afraid that asking for more, more money, more health, more food, more support, more guidance; is asking too much, and that I’m … selfish, and bad for even thinking of it.

Afraid to share my story, my stories, be they pleasant or otherwise, for fear of not saying it perfectly the way they want to hear it.

Afraid to share my dreams, should they be too grand, too bright, too filled with joy and life.

Afraid to stand on my own and be capable, powerful, loved. That the only way to survive is by the grace and gifts of others, not my own.

Yet here we sit, at this crossroads, my younger selves and I. I’m ready to move on. I’m ready to create a new world. After all, there is a new way to see this world and I can see it, live it, and breathe it; if only I can release the fear that doesn’t just slow me down, it holds me back, it drags me down under the water, so fast, and so fierce, so that I’m drowning with no way up.

I’ve been taking baby steps forward, beyond the fear. Though I feel it still, sometimes overwhelmingly so. I’ve run from it my whole life, hidden from it, treated it like the black sheep in the room and done whatever I had to do to keep my head above water, so that I didn’t have to face it.

So I sit with it, with them, and I allow that fear, their fears, to be acknowledged, to be loved, to be acceptable and worthy. There is nothing more I can do for them, but offer them all I am now, the knowledge, the love, the hope I have here, in this moment, that everything will be ok. That they can walk away from the fear and in to light.

eagle

And I leave with that, and lead with this, one of my favorite writings of all time:

Sometimes I feel that my life is a series of trapeze swings. I’m either hanging on to a trapeze bar or swinging along or, for a few moments in my life, I’m hurtling across space in between trapeze bars. Most of the time, I spend my life hanging on for dear life to my trapeze-bar- of-the-moment. It carries me along a certain steady rate of swing and I have the feeling that I’m in control of my life. I know most of the right questions and even some of the right answers.

But once in a while, as I’m merrily (or not so merrily) swinging along, I look ahead of me into the distance, and what do I see? I see another trapeze bar swinging toward me. It’s empty, and I know, in that place in me that knows, that this new trapeze bar has my name on it. It is my next step, my growth, my aliveness coming to get me. In my heart- of-hearts, I know that for me to grow, I must release my grip on the present, well-know bar to move to the new one.

Each time it happens to me, I hope (no, I pray) that I won’t have to grab the new one. But in my knowing place, I know that I must totally release my grasp on my old bar, and for some moment in time, I must hurtle across space before I can grab onto the new bar. Each time I am filled with terror. It doesn’t matter that in all my previous hurtles across the void of unknowing, I have always made it. Each time I am afraid I will miss, that I will be crushed on unseen rocks in the bottomless chasm between the bars.

But I do it anyway.

Perhaps this is the essence of what the mystics call the faith experience. No guarantee, no net, no insurance policy, but you do it anyway because somehow, to keep hanging onto that old bar is no longer on the list of alternatives. And so for an eternity that can last a microsecond or a thousand lifetimes, I soar across the dark void of “the past is gone, the future is not yet here.”

Its called transition. I have come to believe that it is the only place that real change occurs. I mean real change, not the pseudo-change that only lasts until the next time my old buttons get punched.

I have noticed that, in our culture, this transition zone is looked upon as “nothing”, a no-place between places. Sure the old trapeze-bar was real, and that new coming towards me, I hope, that’s real, too.

But the void in between? That’s just a scary, confusing, disorienting “nowhere” that must be gotten through as fast and as unconsciously as possible.

What a waste! I have a sneaking suspicion that the transition zone is the only real thing, and the bars are illusions we dream up to avoid the void, where the real change, the real growth occurs for us. Whether or not my hunch is true, it remains that the transition zones in our lives are incredibly rich places. They should be honored, even savored. Yes, with all the pain and fear and feelings of being out-of-control that can (but necessarily) accompany transitions, they are still the most alive, most growth-filled, passionate, expansive moments in our lives.

And so, transformation of fear may have nothing to do with making fear go away, but rather with giving ourselves permission to “hang out” in the transition between the trapeze bars. Transforming our need to grab that new bar, any bar, is allowing ourselves to dwell in the only place where change really happens. It can be terrifying. It can be enlightening, in the true sense of the word.

Hurtling through the void, we just may learn how to fly.

Butterfly-Released

And then?

And then what? Stopping the Worry Demon

Lately I’ve had a few people ask me how I stopped the “What if” demon. She’s been in my family for generations and had a rather cozy spot in my life for so long, along with her brethren of friends.

Now I’ve read more positive thinking & self help books, articles, on line email threads, than I could count on all of my fingers and toes times.. 10. (Maybe more) And I’m not bashing them, they’ve all offered me something, in some way. Some, of course, far more so than others (“Feel the fear and do it anyway” – that title alone got me from 16-30).

However what has actually “cured” me, and saved the villagers of the small town living below the snowball that becomes an avalanche when I worry and get lost with the “what if” demon is this..

I simply take the fear and follow it through, quickly, simply, but honestly.

Example:

I’m out wearing a dark colored shirt, and I realize it’s covered in cat fur (white cat fur). I wonder what people think of me, what if they see it? what if they judge me for it? what if they don’t like me because I’m so untidy? What if I were out with a friend, how would they feel being seen with me? And … it begins.

So I take it from there. And then what?

They see it. And then what?

They judge it. And then what?

They care, or they don’t. And then what?

Do I care what they think? Possibly. And then what?

Well, why do I care? Will my friend be embarrassed? And then what?

Perhaps they won’t want to go out with me. And then what?

I’ll go out alone in the future. And then what?

I won’t mind who sees the fur, it’s my cat, I love her, I’m not harming anyone with a few cat hairs. And then what?

Ok, they judge me and give me a snide look or turn away. And then what?

I continue on my day, never to run in to this complete stranger again. And then what?

Now, this is how it goes with 90% of the worries I have, and 95% of the worries I hear from other people – so concerned with the approval of others, and their presentation to people they will never meet again that they get caught up in the what if game.

Even if it’s what if with people they know, co-workers, spouses, friends, lovers, parents..

So I’ll add in the positive way this event actually happened today, before going on.

Now..

I run in to someone I know, the cashier at the grocery store. And then what?

We actually get in to a wonderful conversation about our cats, I find out he’s a cat person and is very concerned with how my cats vet visit went. And then what?

I actually fell like I connected with someone, they cared, and I cared, and we were better for it.

 

Ok, so lets take it even further into the demon realm, and say it is someone I know. And then what?

They judge me, dislike me for being so unkempt and unpolished. And then what?

I don’t talk to them again, they won’t return my calls. And then what?

Lets be honest, anyone that doesn’t get me and my love of my cats, isn’t someone I really want to be friends or close acquaintances with – they can’t understand me or appreciate me. So I decide to move on. And then what?

Well… and then I make friends that do get me, that love cats, and dogs, that don’t mind a few cat hairs on their clothes and we have great, relaxing times together. And then what?

Perhaps it doesn’t go so well. Now this is where the demon really sinks her teeth in.

Perhaps I can’t find any new friends, perhaps they all seem to hate animals or my cat hair shirt. And then what?

 

Do I die? Does anyone die? Is my cat hurt in any way? Is this event so catastrophic that life itself ceases to exist because of this event?

 

No? Well then.. I move on, I let go, and the crazy, neurotic snowball that was building steam has suddenly disappeared. Poof!

There is no fuel for the fire.

My best friend hasn’t called me back, my husband hasn’t texted me, my boss didn’t smile at me as they normally do each day. And then what?

Do I die? Does anyone die? Is someone going to end up in the hospital because of this moment? (perhaps if I don’t stop the snowball, yes.. mental hospitals count) No?

Well then, move on.

Life is beautiful, and this particular turn of ours, on this merry go round of nuttiness – this act we play out on the stage that is called life. It’s short in the scheme of things.

Too short to be caught up in worry, in fear, in letting snowballs bury the poor villagers of the cute mountain town below.

So there’s my secret. Something I haven’t found in any book so far.

And then what? What then? Can I live with what happens next? Literally.. Yes? Good. Let’s move on.

The whirlpool vortex of Depression

(Did you know Vortext is a “new” word? Typos CAN teach us lessons..)

As I sit here procrastinating on the creation of my dream site and all the content for it – and I was pondering the value of plagiarism in society and in the act of creation (more on that later), I was reminded of how easy it is to get sucked in to someone elses depression.

I’ve spent much, most?, of my life depressed. It’s only been the last 3, maybe 4ish, years that I can say I spend more of my time happy, upbeat and positive (or at least mildly neutral) than otherwise. From the time I was 6 or so, perhaps even younger if you listen to my family, I went from a happy outgoing little girl to a rather quiet, sometimes morose, ghost.

There are many.. explanations for that, of which I’ve talked about in some detail already.

But I came to realize fully recently how often my mental, emotional and even physical state of being is something I diminished for the sake, or seemingly so, of others.

I’ve read so many supportive quotes, texts, prose, wonderfully full vibrational thoughts on not doing so:

I will not die an unlived life.

I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire.

I choose to inhabit my days to allow my living to open me;

to make me less afraid, more accessible,

to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch,

a promise.

I choose to risk my significance;

to live so that which came to me as seed goes

to the next as blossom

and that which came to me as blossom,

goes on as fruit.

And I read it, and reread it, memorized it and held on to it as truth.

But I was an awful lot like the character on the dark road, alone, in the middle of the night, with but the barest of even a small pen light to guide the way, whistling in to the shadows, jumping at every twig that breaks and every leave that rustles in the trees. Repeating to myself that everything will be ok, just keep walking. And yet, deep inside, feeling terrified and wishing I could just run all the way home and never have to look any deeper in to that darkness.

Because I was depressed, and while I would read the words and know their truth, I could not live it.

As I was washing the dishes yesterday I grasped that I have, for the better part of 30 years, taken on so much from others – feeling I was sparing them somehow.

As a child it came out as being somewhat subdued, not demanding anything extra, anything more than my mother (who could barely crawl off the couch at times, much less even muster up food or sustenance of some sort) could possibly give. Which was next to nothing.

As a teenager it came out as being sick, caused I know by insane amounts of stress overloading every aspect of my being until I literally collapsed from exhaustion, and offering my mother a confidant, a .. kindred souls experience.

In my 20’s, under the weight of nearly two decades of chaos, I spiraled in to depression and often found myself in arguments, fights, full blown episodes of utter blackness, not often helped my a partners belief that life is hell on earth and nothing good comes of it. (It’s hard to see the bright side when no one else wants to even imagine it let alone hear about it)

My 30’s has been a parting of the clouds, a release of the need to provide others with support I .. well, I don’t believe in.

Yet standing at the kitchen sink I saw that I still do this, in small, twisted ways. And that it’s still killing me slowly, although that’s been picking up pace too.

When my husband is depressed I’m far more likely to watch a movie with him, or play a game, or just (ho hum) putz around online, rather than choose to put energy in to my dreams and my projects and plans – because I don’t want him to be alone, to feel so lost and depressed.

Not just because I know how it is, and oh boy do I. But because I have, since I was a little girl, tried to make everyone else feel better, to dim my light, to suffocate the fire, to crush the blossoming hope, so that they wouldn’t feel so.. alone.

Yet I’m now able to see how very little this actually benefits anyone. Them, or myself. And that I’m ready to be a bit more, well, selfish. And be happy, doing what I need to do, what my heart longs to do – from that state I am far better situated to offer a helping hand to others.

It’s a lot easier to lift someone up when you yourself aren’t drowning with them. Which is what depression really is, drowning in emotion, in sorrow, in loss, in anger, in apathy. And it’s so easy to get sucked in to that if you don’t secure the rope your throwing out at them first.

I wish my love, my hope, my happiness, my simple (awesome? sorry.. sarcasm) presence alone would be enough to light the way for someone lost in the darkness; however now I finally see, and know, how important it is to be the light for ones self, and to so be it for others.

It beats stumbling around in that darkness, alone or together, eternally lost and afraid.

Oubliette – New Word for The Day!

All right, so the word itself is not new. But outside of computer games (or dungeon lovers), not many people have an awareness of this word.

However when I recently rediscovered this word in a wonderful novel I was reading, and it’s meaning, I realized how much this word embodies so much more than some computer game dungeon, or medival french/european torture method.

An oubliette is a dungeon with only one entrance/exit that is in the ceiling. Often the person being left in the Oubliette was lowered by a rope which was then lifted out of reach, some perhaps had a ladder but at the top was a door with no chance of unlocking it.

Oubliette is from the French word Oublier – to forget. So the Oubliette was designed as a place of forgetting, or a place for those that one wanted to forget.

Many of the the Oubliettes were designed with standing room only, no sitting, no walking around – the only thing to do was stand and wait. Keeping in mind that you were placed here, to be forgotten.

This word, Oubliette, is so like my feelings and frame of mind for so long. I believe that depression is a wicked Oubliette.

Who needs a medival dungeon when you have your own dark, place to be forgotten inside?

And how often do we feel as though we are stuck? Forgotten? Locked away in the darkness with no seeming way out? Even if we have the room to move slightly, we can feel as though it’s useless, to what end should we move when we have nowhere to go?

There have been so many times in my life that I felt as though there were no true options, that I was at rock bottom – with no ladder, no rope, just the barest hint of light from some crack in the dark, cold walls.

Eventually though I learned that the light was the way out, that like so many others who have gone before and will come after, focusing on the light is the holiest, healthiest, sanest choice one can make. That it doesn’t matter if that light is literal – the brightest star in the darkest night sky, or if it’s a memory, a scrap of light almost left behind.

That even if one never gets out of the Oubliette, if one never remembers what is forgotten – if I never remember the years I’ve placed in my own Oubliette, that to focus on the darkness serves no purpose. That if you do not make the choice to focus on the light, however dim it may seem, you will forever be stuck in the Oubliette.

If you stare in to the darkness, then when the trapdoor is opened and the rope or ladder lowered, you won’t see it because it is in the light, it is of the light, and all one sees is…  darkness and forgetting. We can even be blinded, and afraid of the light when it arrives in any abundance – we are too comfortable with the dark, we know it too well.

We can become so enamored with the Demon of Depression that we become the forgotten of our own specially designed Oubliette.

In reading more, and growing more, I’ve learned how focusing on anything other than the light is what has left me there, in the dark. We are energy, our thoughts are energy, everything around us is energy – what we put our attention to grows. And for so long I focused on the darkness – thankfully I have learned to appreciate the light, even if it means closing my eyes and seeing only the light within.

It can be the purr of my cat, the laugh of a child, the warmth of bread out of the oven, the sound of rain, the feel of a soft blanket or a warm shower, the words on a page or in an email from a friend, a good meal, the green grass, the birds in the trees, or even the hope of some good dreams when I go to sleep – whatever brings me back to joy, love, light – that is where the energy, attention, intention, must flow for me to ever find my way out of the Oubliette within.

I believe the rope is always there for us, the door up above is unlocked, and we have just enough room to move up and out – it just takes a little shift in energy, in belief, that we deserve the light, that we can live in the light, that we are worthy, that we are only forgotten by ourselves.

My One Word – What’s yours?

wor·thy
adjective: worthy; comparative adjective: worthier; superlative adjective: worthiest
  1. 1.
    deserving effort, attention, or respect.
    “generous donations to worthy causes”

 images

Recently I was reading a wonderful book by Oriah Mountain Dreamer, The Call. In it she talks about how she believes that we all come in to this world with One Word as our .. challenge word if you will. The One Word that defines the lessons you are here to learn this life, the Word you must embody, not just to yourself but to others. That in living this One Word we will come to live fully, wholy, alive.

For some it’s resting, or trust, whisper, nourish, dance, laugh, there are so many words possible.

“Living your word opens the door your fear has closed.”

My first thought was that my word would be Love. This seemed so obvious, this is one aspect I feel so strongly within it overflows in all I do and I’ve had such a tough time accepting it, even when it’s right in front of me (or within me). But then, bah!, she directs the reader away from “big” words such as Love.

I was a bit irked I will admit, “What do you mean I can’t use that word? It’s how I feel, isn’t it worthy? Aren’t I worthy of using this word?”. When it hit me, fairly clearly.

My word is Worthy.

It isn’t that Love has been in short supply or non-existant, it’s that I haven’t felt Worthy of it.

I didn’t feel Worthy of speaking growing up, or writing. I hardly felt Worthy of jobs I had, money coming in, gifts being given, kind words said to me. Worthy of a loving relationship? No. Worthy of a job that is both well paying and healthy? Nope. Worthy of financial abundance? Oh no, definitely not. Worthy of achieving any sort of personal success? No.

It’s there, and I believe everyone ELSE is Worthy beyond measure. Of every great, wonderful thing they can imagine, fathom, dream up, create, long for… every single other being on this planet is Worthy.

Yet, somehow, I am not. Or so I have felt for over 30 years. And why? I can’t tell you one moment where I ever did, or even thought of doing, something so horrendously catastrophic that I might be unWorthy of anything. And to that point I believe that even those that have done horrible things are Worthy beings (they are still spiritual beings in these human bodies).

But me? Not really.

I can see the earliest years of my life where I felt unworthy, where the actions of others left me feeling as though the only, ONLY reason they would let such things happen to me is that I wasn’t Worthy. The years I lived a life in which these feelings were only reinforced, reaffirmed.

The little voice inside still wonders about it all. If I’d been Worthy my father wouldn’t have left, I would have been Worthy of his love and attention. If I’d been Worthy my mother wouldn’t have married my step-father. If I’d been Worthy he wouldn’t have hurt me. If I’d been Worthy my family would have saved me from the pain they saw me in, from the terrible home life. If only I’d been Worthy… somewhere along the way someone else would have recognized this and saved me. If I’d been Worthy, God would have never given me such a life – I must be a terrible person to have called this in to being, my Karma must be shit and I must have been a horrible person in a past life.

imagesCA7ACB3O

 Then of course I stop myself, and I examine this depressing structure I’ve built in my head. Do I believe this of anyone else? No. I don’t for one brief moment believe they are unWorthy, ever. And if I don’t believe it of others, perhaps this means I’m Worthy too.

So… now that I know this One Word, I can look at it, ponder it, mull it over and bring it to the forefront of all that I do – to learn, and grow in to the sense, the belief, the Knowing, that I too am Worthy.

I am Worthy of Love, Happiness, Success, Joy, Spirtual Knowledge, Sleep, Dreams, Hope, Abundance, Laughter, Beauty, Food.

I

Am

Worthy.

And so are you.

imagesCAOFFSR0

Firing my Demons

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When I was a young girl I found myself in the company of many demons, their teeth were sharp, their words daggers to my heart. They filled my head with fears over what ifs, what if this happens, what if they hear what I’m thinking, what if they know what I can do, what if they don’t like me as I am, what if.. an endless supply of fear.

They did such a fantastic job, at some point, I hired them to be my gatekeepers. Not only would they continue to keep the me from the world, they could now keep the world from me – I let them rage at others, I let them build a wall, a gate, even a moat to keep us all apart.

Eventually though, as must happen to all phases, to all parts of life, the walls began to crumble, the water dried up, and the gate is rusting.. my dreams and my cats became my sunlight, my view of green trees and verdant fields of lush green grass and clean, flowing rivers. And I realized I didn’t much like my employees, these demons of mine.

So I’ve begun to let them go.

Unfortunately over the years I brought on many demons, and so they’ve collected up a bit, they cover many shifts and some come and go as the seasons change, so, I know I’ve got a bit of a process going forth. I tried communicating the changes to the first demons, hoping they would spread the news, but seeing as this is a demon communication network, the word hasn’t gotten around and when it has, it has gotten jumbled a bit.

So I will continue to be honest, and clear, and firm. And I will let them go, one by one.

The gate, the walls, the moat, will all dissapear on their own with no one to guard them – though perhaps I will decide to tear it all down, there is a natural course of things that will take care of them as well.

We’ve had some crazy adventures, and some interesting stories to tell, these demons & I, but I’m ready to find some new stories, and experience some new adventures – to hear some new voices in this world of mine.

Veronica Yem

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