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

Dancing with the Ghosts

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I have been so angry, for so long, at so many people – including myself.

It wasn’t something that you’d see from just looking at me, it was something that was simmering, submerged deep within.

I remember when I was 12, and in Childrens Hospital for a while, I told them how angry I felt. They suggested I take it out on one of those large, exercise balls (you know the kind people can sit on), hit it and not hurt it.. and I was getting more and more frustrated with them as we discussed this, because taking out this rage, this anger, on a bouncy ball.. was not going to be enough.

I wanted to break something, I wanted to take a glass and throw it, watch it shatter in to a million tiny pieces – something you couldn’t fix. I wanted to do this over and over.

They looked at me, alarmed, as though somehow they saw someone much larger, much .. more, than a 12 year old girl, in front of them. I don’t think that I ever expressed the depth of my anger again to someone, anyone, for over 20 years. Somehow it was easier to add it all to the growing rock of anger held deep within.

And up until recently, that’s what I did. Even when my therapist/guide suggested we have a special session to address the anger, I held back.

My dreams were even, clearly, showing me a need to work on it, to let it go.
I’d be traveling somewhere, ready to go, going to move on, when someone or even something, would stop me and tell me that I needed to let go of the anger before I could go to the next place in my journey.
Of course, I’d feel a bit frustrated at that (in my dreams and in waking life), but… I got the messages.

Though I needed to let go of the anger, it felt as though it had taken on an almost super nova capability. And that if I dared to open the door to it, in any way, it would consume me and everyone around me.

As much as I had worked past a lot of anger, a lot of pain, sorrow, hate, hurt and abandonment – I could still feel this amazing ball of terrible energy within.

 

Pissed off at a family that stood by and did nothing, at a mom that was involved more than I’d like to admit, at a father that dissapeared, at all of the people that do nothing… at everyone and everything that wasn’t as my little girl self felt it should be..

I knew that all of these people were simply coming from a place of their own pain, their own fears, their own angers and hurts, but it didn’t matter – they didn’t take care of me, when I needed them most. When they knew I needed them.

I began reading Wishes Fulfilled by Wayne Dyer, and talks about how we hold on to energy (anger, joy, all of it) for so long and that after a while, who we were angry at (or whatever) is gone, even if it was at our self.
That every cell in the body has actually changed and been replaced.

I was feeling this resonate at some level deep within. In a way, it brought so many things together, so many thoughts and memories, so many emotions (energy).

And then something happened this past weekend.

I went in for my, now, regular acupuncture visit and I talked about how my legs were still experiencing so much discomfort and it started in my hips and lower back – it has been a sensation as though my legs are stuck in ice. And it had been getting worse. So he decided to work on my spine this time. My Qi has been out of sync for some time and I felt it.

I felt it there in my lower back. It wasn’t some injury done recently, or sitting poorly in my chair, or not doing enough Yoga… (all of which have some truth though)

I felt my anger, I found where it had been resting. Where it had been hiding, growing, consuming me from inside out.

Then it all came together. And apart.

I discovered I’ve been angry at ghosts. My own and others. That I had held on to them, and they to me. That I’ve been dancing with these ghosts of anger for most of my life, caught up in some sorrow filled angry melody.

I found that I was ready to let them go. Dancing with them as I have, has had it’s own beauty, but that I am ready to dance with the living spirits now.

Now, suddenly, when I try to touch on those ghosts of anger again – they have been my dancing partners for over 30 years after all, I don’t feel them as I once did. I feel them as they are, Ghosts. Wisps floating in the wind. I can’t even manage to conjure them up as I once could, as I once did, even mere days before.

And I can finally see my anger inside (I can SEE it), as a .. piece of darkness, like a lump of coal in my stomach and back. I see it dissolving, slowly, resisting even at times, but it is growing smaller and smaller.

I told my therapist I was afraid of this loss, yet also afraid of calling them back.

I have been dancing with these ghosts for so long, now I wonder if I’m dancing alone. Or who’s dancing with me at all?

Maybe that’s ok though. Maybe.. in dancing alone, I will discover my own dance, a dance of joy, of love, and hope. I know the ghosts are always waiting, but I’ve been waiting too.

Ripples in the Pond

Today, as I sit listening to the wonderful sounds of music on my player, I wonder if we’ll ever know just how much the little things made the biggest differences in someones life.

Listening to Patti Griffin can bring me joy, comfort, and to tears of sorrow and such depth of emotion, one I rarely find myself in recently. And I recall the friend that brought me to her, Jennifer, do you know how important you were? How this one (among many) gift you brought in to my life has echoed over these past 12 years?

Does Darcy know how her enjoyment of Enya (albeit played at a level much higher than was reasonable to us neighbors downstairs) helped to bring this music in to heal me? For some 20 years now…

Does my grandmother quite understand how The Secret Garden saved me as a child? How I would hide away from the pain in the garden, growing, learning, lost in my own secret paradise.

How a trip with a friend to Tokyo could leave me at such peace, utterly lost in a world not my own, yet so at home anywhere I went.

That hypnotherapy with my great aunt, once, has left me with a grove of flowering cherry trees to visit in meditation, dreams, day dreams, any moment I needed safety and calm.

That a conversation between this same aunt and her friend could leave me afraid to share my own gifts in a way that would request any compensation. And lead me to question and ponder how we share our gifts with the world.

How driving up to the last house on a list, in a funky neighborhood, tired and frustrated at the lack of reasonable rentals, could lead me to a little black cat, and an amazingly bright, loving soul, that would change me forever, who would heal me and love me so completely.

How from one afternoon, my friend sitting in an AOL chat room, could bring me to my friend, partner, husband of nearly 20 years. One sentence from her, and I knew someone special had entered my life. Did she understand this ripple at all?

How firing me from a job, as a waitress in a strip club, could take me down the path of office work instead, of HR management, Business administration, from doctors offices, lawyers, to Microsoft, and Amazon, to my own businesses now… what if she hadn’t fired me that day?

Even the seemingly bad moments, led me to some amazing, beautiful memories. Perhaps I would never have been able to grasp the love, the light, the joy in my life without the darkness in it too.

That through the pain, we aren’t just damaged, or broken; we are in fact lifted up, brought to another plane of existence. We are stronger, more capable, aware, and alive, because those ripples of sorrow, of grief, despair, depression and rage, found their way in to our path.

I wonder how it would be, if we realized how powerful our own ripples were. How they transform the world, not just ours, but of others, in ways we may never, ever, see or know of.

Saying what we Need to Say

Sometimes what we want to say, isn’t what we need to say. And often what we Need to say, we don’t.

Having been told/shown/taught most of my life, whether directly or indirectly, that speaking up is not something we should do; learning to speak up, to say what I need to say, or even want to say – has been a tremendous, continuous, lesson.

I’m sure my increasing difficulties with my thyroid and swallowing are related to 30-some years repressing the words.

And recently between friends, family, online or no, therapists, spouses and the synchronicity of the universe I have found that saying what we, what I, need to say is very important.

However! I have learned that there is a monumental, HUGE, difference between what I want to say and what I need to say – and that often times I let myself get caught up in between the two.

I want to tell you that you can be an insufferable ass. I need to tell you that I want to be treated better, or to be left alone.

I want to tell you that if you hit your kid again, or kick your dog one more time, so help me God I will come after you myself. I need to tell you that I understand your pain, but that you’re only causing it in another, amplifying it – that you are capable and worthy of so much more.

I want to tell you that all of those years of verbal arguments and abuse have left me feeling dead inside when I see you, or speak to you. I need to tell you that I love myself more than you now, and I’m moving on.

I want to tell you that your political leanings are misguided, short-sighted and narrow-minded. I need to tell you why I believe the way I do, that my view is different and that’s.. Ok.

I want to say that life is beautiful, full of hope, sunshine, daisies, warm puppy kisses and gentle laughter. I need to say that life is all of that, and sorrow, tears, anger, pain, depression, loneliness, and most of all Love.

But often what I need to say will lead to things I have suffered my whole life to avoid. It will leave others feeling the need to cry, yell, run away, hide..

I want to say something that will uplift, and bring hope. But what I need to say may be the dark night before the sunrise, and not the sunrise itself.

Sometimes what we need to say, what is festering beneath the surface of our lips, hiding behind the shadows of our souls, is not pretty, or friendly, it doesn’t feel loving or gracious. It is the truth of who we are, of what we do, the lives we lived, the dreams we’ve had, the memories we’ve never shared, the hopes that linger.

So how do we speak up? How do we communicate to others what we are, literally, dying to say?   Because I believe that what we hold in, what we hold on to and repress, kills us. Oh it may not end in death tonight, or tomorrow, or in a decade, but it may very slowly show up to stay. From the cancer that eats us from within to the sense of a life never lived, there is a death that occurs as we hide the words within.

Perhaps for some it will come as a Blog post. Or a graveside confession of years past. Maybe it will come in a therapy appointment, or a courtroom confession. You can try a letter, that you write but never send (or maybe you’re brave enough to send it!), and burn over a candle, or a bonfire.

Maybe you will find it in you to share it with others, living or otherwise, human or otherwise…

I hope that whatever I need to say, I say as I want to say – clear, honest, but loving and true. It is far too easy to say what I want to say, and not only address the wounds but tear them open or cause new ones.

I need to say how deeply I was hurt by your choices Mother, but that you are perfect, and that I’m grateful to be your daughter, without you I wouldn’t be here. I need to say I love you, but I’m not in love with you. I need to say I miss you, every day, and though I may not think of you every moment that passes, you are forever a part of me. I need to say that though you hate yourself, I’m thankful for you, for what you see as pain caused to me, to others, what you see as reasons to hate yourself, are what led me to find my own way out, to grow in to someone stronger, yet softer, than you. I need to tell you your driving skills are horrible, but I understand you hate driving.

I need to say how firmly I believe in God, the Divine, the all-encompassing light of the universe and all that is – I also believe in Buddha, Krishna, Allah, Diana, Jesus Christ, Hashem, Mother Theresa, Fairies, Ghosts and things that go bump in the night. All as expressions of the One, Spirit.

There are so many moments in life when what we need to say, when we need to speak up, never a sound, nor a word, is uttered.

Say what you need to say. And know you are never alone, in any of it, happy or sad, seemingly good or bad, dark or light – you are never alone – and what you need to Say, someone needs to hear you say it.

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.

Veronica Yem

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