Notes on the Journey

Friday, May 22, 2015

Through the Eye of the Needle

So, the consensus of opinions I received in response to my last post was that I should basically get over myself and cheer up.  Jeez...tough crowd.  I get that it's uncomfortable to dance with our darkness and allow anger and upset to move.  I hate it.  Just like I hate making mistakes.  Being comfortable and having no conflict is my preferred state, but Life doesn't always adjust itself to my preferences.   I still say that sometimes the only thing to do is to allow everything to be what it is and not wish it was otherwise.  I still say that sometimes it's about being uncomfortable.  I still say that sometimes it's about accepting that there's nothing that can be fixed.  And, I still say that sometimes it's about regret.

I'm not advocating hanging out for the rest of my life in any of these states, but they all serve a purpose.  In any situation, it's important to be able to see it for what it is and stop wishing it was different.  Wishing things were different doesn't make them so, it just stalls everything.  Digging in with "what ifs" and "woulda, coulda, shoulda" just sets us up to get stuck instead of move forward.   If we can see the truth of what's happening then we're more apt to respond appropriately and to find a solution, if one exists.

Being able to be with our discomfort is a very useful tool.  I hate being uncomfortable.  Being comfortable is high on my list of preferred states of being.  But, allowing a state of discomfort to exist without doing anything to wriggle out of it is valuable.  Being able to be with our discomfort holds a lot of clues as to how we got into that state to begin with.  Why am I so uncomfortable?  What is it I'm resisting?  What is it I don't want to acknowledge or see about myself?  Where is the discomfort coming from?  When we're able to give discomfort its space, it reveals all kinds of useful information.

Being able to accept that there's nothing in our current situation that can be fixed harks back to seeing things in the truth of what they are but is a little different.  Our first response is often to run around looking for a way to fix whatever has gone off the rails.  But, in my experience, I've often made things worse by attempting to fix my initial mistake.  Sometimes things can be fixed and, when that's the case, it's a huge relief.  But, other times, there's nothing to do, nothing to fix, nothing that will make it better.  To accept that what's happened is done and unfixable is no more my preference than being uncomfortable, but there's an inherent letting go when we're able to do it.

Regret is not a bad thing.  Regret is about wishing we'd done things better and/or differently.  Regret comes from caring and awareness.  If we don't regret something we've done, or a decision we've made, then we won't learn from it or find a way to forgiveness through it.  We first have to regret what happened in order to even know that forgiveness is necessary.  Why would we be sorry if we didn't regret what happened?  I think regret is valuable.  Again, I don't think hanging out with regret for the rest of one's life is a good idea, it's just another valuable stop on the journey.

I'm through the eye of the needle and on the other side of my reaction today, so things appear more clearly to me at this point.  But, it was necessary to allow myself the indulgence of letting all the emotions I was experiencing move through in order to get where I am now.  Every time something happens that triggers us into a strong reaction, it's like the scab got ripped off the wound and we're bleeding all over again.  And, every time we get triggered by some event, Life is giving us the chance to do it differently, to be different.  How many times and in how many ways do we need to get triggered by something in order to come into awareness and free the underlying issue?  Endless amounts of times.  Life gives us never-ending chances to find our way through things.  We're all starring in our very own "Groundhog Day" movie.

I still hate to make mistakes.  I still want to think that perfection exists and that there's a "right" way, even though I know there's not.  But, maybe next time I won't react quite so strongly.  Or, maybe I won't beat myself up quite so badly.  Who knows?  We never know until the trigger gets tripped again.  But, every time we can move through a reaction with some level of consciousness its impact gets diminished, even if just by a little.  And, at some point, we might even be able to realize that we were able to remain neutral in the face of something that would have previously caused a meltdown.

If we never got triggered, we'd never know where our issues are hiding.  Every time we get triggered into a reaction, we get another chance to look at the underlying cause and decide if we still need to keep it, or if we're able to let it move out and leave us in peace.  It's like the issue is waving goodbye as it starts to move, "Bye...I'm it okay if I go now?"  If we're able to stay out of reaction to whatever's been triggered, it's like saying, " can go."  And, if we move into reaction, then it's like saying, "No...I still need you."  And, there's no judgment.  And, we'll get endless chances at it.

So, my issues around self-worth are up.  It's all still rattling around.  And, I have no idea when or how things will settle this time, or how or if what I just went though will change anything or not.  But, I do know I'm going to have plenty of chances to find out!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


I hate making mistakes.  Really.  I hate it.  I know we're all human and we make mistakes and...bla, bla, bla...but, I hate it.  I've always tried so hard to be perfect, to do everything right.  In truth, I've not even come close to perfection and have done so many things wrong.  So many things.  And, what's really hard is when we do something that there's no coming back from; no possibility of recovery.  I've made many of these types of mistakes.  Mistakes you don't come back from.  Mistakes you just have to find a way to live with.  Mistakes you hopefully learn from and don't repeat, but permanently impactful mistakes that you can't fix.  Devastating mistakes.  Soul damaging mistakes.

I'm always amazed by people who say they have no regrets.  Really?  It's a new-age based idea to have no regrets.  A supposedly spiritual idea to have no regrets.  Everything brought us to this point.  Everything that's happened has contributed to who we are.  We should be grateful for everything that's happened to us and for all the mistakes we've made.  Again...bla, bla, bla.  I don't trust people who have no regrets.  How can anyone live their life and not deeply regret things they've done and decisions they've made?

My most recent mistake is so miniscule compared to other mistakes I've made that it's embarrassing to even bring it up; but, it doesn't help to diminish it and try to convince myself that it doesn't matter.  It matters.  It matters to me.  No matter how small it is in the scope of things.  And, I realize that my pattern of trying to rationalize myself out of how I'm feeling, and convince myself that I should feel differently from how I actually feel, is still very much alive and robust.

We have a yearly audit at work for all the departments, and because of mistakes I made, we failed the audit.  I did everything I could think of to prepare for this audit.  I thought I had everything covered.  But then, I made a stupid mistake that I knew not to make, but I made it anyway.  I didn't mean to make it.  I didn't intend to make it.  But, make it I did.  And, not only did I make this mistake, I made it three times.  Three times!  I know beating ourselves up is not the best idea, but punches are being thrown here, damage is being inflicted.

All my issues of self worth have been triggered.  The voice that tells me I'm not good enough, that I'll never be good enough, is loudly reminding me of all my shortcomings.  The voices that only have negative things to say are saying them, repeatedly, on an endless loop.  I'm awash in shame that I am, once again, responsible for failure.  That I have, once again, messed everything up.  I'm not in a good place right now.

I don't want to wallow in my darkness, but I also don't want to deny it.  I need to give these voices their space and to let these feelings move.  I need to acknowledge the issues at play and comfort the lost little girl who's crouched in the corner and wants to disappear.  Sometimes, the only thing to do is to allow everything to be what it is and not wish it was otherwise.  Sometimes, it's about being uncomfortable.  Sometimes, it's about acceptance that's there's nothing that can be fixed.  Sometimes, it's about regret.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Already Walking

I've been more aware of walking lately...the way I walk, the pace at which I walk, how it feels, how it impacts my body, how my feet move, how my shoes fit.  This isn't something that would normally take my attention, but I'm going on a very long walk--about 500 miles--relatively soon, so walking has become somewhat of a focus.

One of the things I've come to realize about the way I walk is that I do it quickly.  I tend to rush wherever I'm going.  It's all about getting to wherever I happen to be going, and not wasting any time doing it.  I can hear my mother's voice, "Don't dilly dally!  Come on!  Keep moving!  Let's go!"  Walking anywhere wasn't about anything other than getting there.  There was no discovery or exploration or smelling of the roses; no zigging or zagging or taking the long way 'round.

I actually feel breathless sometimes when I'm walking, like I'm moving so quickly I don't have time to breathe.  Asthma symptoms start to activate and I feel like my energy is being squeezed out of my body.  It takes a great act of will to slow myself down and ground myself back in and feel present.  I only recently became aware that the simple act of walking was so fraught with fear for me.  And that, when I'm walking, I revert to being the slow child who's incurring my mother's wrath; who's forever falling behind and incapable of "catching up" or "keeping up."

I decided to walk to a restaurant close by last night for dinner, and I had to constantly stay in awareness about how fast I was walking.  There seemed to be an added anxiety about crossing the street and I noticed that I would almost run from one curb to the other, hoping the light would stay green until I got there.  It took a lot of energy to monitor my pace and slow myself down and keep breathing.  I was very relieved to reach the restaurant and be able to sit down.  I then realized that I had some anxiety about having to walk home.  When my meal was finished and it was time for the return journey, I had to stop before walking out the door of the restaurant and take a few deep breaths to prepare myself to traverse the few blocks home.

When my sister and I were small, just starting elementary school, my father worked and my mother went to college, and my sister and I had to walk what seemed like a very long way to get to school.  My mom and dad both had to leave the apartment earlier than my sister and I did, so my mom showed me that when the big hand on the clock reached a particular point, it would be time for us to leave.  I was to hold my sister's hand and not let go and, if we walked at a good pace, we would arrive at the school on time.  I would watch the clock like a hawk and make sure we left at the appointed time.  I took the responsibility of getting us to school on time and safely very seriously, and I never wanted to face my mother's anger and upset should we be late or should anything happen on the way.  "Never talk to strangers."  "Never get into anyone's car you don't know."  "Never take anything anyone offers you."  "Never stop anywhere along the way."  The level of vigilance and fear this instilled in me was extreme.

I now realize that all of the patterns of vigilance and fear that were instilled in me as a kid, in regard to walking anywhere, are still operating; have never stopped operating.  And I think it's finally time to give it all a rest.  As much as I would like it if my awareness of these patterns alone would stop them, I know that's not the way things work.  It will take time and further vigilance to break the old patterns and establish new ways of moving in the world.  I'm learning to walk all over again.  Baby steps.  One foot in front of the other.  And, walking The Camino will help me to establish a whole new rhythm and way of being in my body; a new relationship to physicality in general.

As with anything we choose to do, once the decision is made and committed to, the journey begins...even before the first step.  Once we turn ourselves to it, we are in the experience of it.  I realize that I'm already walking The Camino energetically, and that it's already having its way with me, even though I haven't placed a foot on it yet, and won't until September.  I'm grateful for what has called me and for my choice to answer the call.  I'm grateful for the impact of the journey I'm on, for all the ways it's already changing me, and for all the ways it has yet to change me.  And, all I have to do is show up and keep walking.  I can do that.