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Posts tagged ‘fears’

A calamity threatens the walkabout

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I spend a lot of time worrying about things that never happen, so when a real calamity strikes; it is unexpected and feels like a surprise attack.

My walkabout threatening calamity struck just before Christmas (and a day before the predicted end of the world.)

First I came down with the flu. Following that, I received a call about my pension. In a bullying way I was informed that the company had made an “administrative error”  10 years ago and I really wasn’t entitled to what I had been receiving — and I, in fact, owed them thousands of dollars. This was news to me!

Someone reminded me that compared to drastic health news; this was nothing — which is true.

But this pension was funding my dream!

I also panicked as I saw security in my old age slipping away.

And it was at this point that I hoped the world really would end the next day.

I hate it when someone suggests that I re-frame terrible things as “opportunities” or calls me “courageous” in these situations.  I started to tell myself these things too . . . and then I shut myself up pretty quick.

When calamities happen to me, I just want them to go away. This is childish I know, but I would really rather be the lucky girl who doesn’t get the chance to BE “courageous”, or the one who doesn’t GET “opportunities” over and over again.

Heaven help me … I want to be Paris Hilton!

Calamities like this knock me off my high horse and bring me down to earth pretty fast where I have to face all the dirty, grimy, frightening . . .  and real things in life.

I am sharing this because I want to be a real person in this blog, including all the good, bad and ugly parts of the journey. There are many beautiful spiritual aspects to taking a walkabout  . . .  until there aren’t. And if I am staying in integrity, I need to incorporate the calamities into my story.

After the phone call, I spent two sleepless nights and two full days in my pajamas — sick, panicky, sniveling and mourning the loss of my dream. Visions of sugar plums turned into visions of bag ladies in my head. Some dissociated part of me watched as I cycled through shock, grief, fear, anger and then back around again.

In a lucid moment I also contacted a good lawyer.

On day three I took a shower, got dressed and went for a walk. I felt clear-eyed, grounded, and determined. I decided that, at all costs, I had to hang on to my dream. So I will.

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I doubt I will ever validate this thing as an “opportunity”, but I will admit to arriving at a new plateau in awareness of the inner demons that were pouring out of me. This thing was a surprise attack, re-traumatizing me in my most vulnerable spot.

As a pre-schooler I experienced my first life changing surprise attack. I was molested and terrorized by a relative when my mother was out of the house. This was not a good start to life. I compare it to the sound of a gong. There is the strike of mallet to metal (the abuse) and then the impact radiating out like sound waves for the rest of one’s life. There is no turning back the clock to innocence or safety. Hopefully you heal, but meanwhile there is this subterranean force of trauma impacting your relationships, your health, and your happiness.

With this recent calamity that’s where I went – the place where terrible things can happen to me — where I will be hurt, abandoned, left alone, not heard, not seen; I will die. These are the places from my childhood of loss and abuse.

I let this wound “speak” for awhile and now I have to put distance between it and I. I am ready to move on and tackle this most injustice pension matter as an adult.

I am only one person (and her lawyer) against a large multinational corporation with retirement fund coffers in the billions.

As I have done my whole life, I will do what I can to bring about justice in an unjust world – both for the outer world and for the inner world of my wounded child.

“There can be no transforming of darkness into light and of apathy into movement without emotion”
― C.G. Jung

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Walking through fire on my way to inner peace

The Volcano Mandala

I call myself “The Walkabout Woman.” Three months ago I sold most of my belongings and set out by car on a walkabout to discover and live my longings. I chronicle my experiences here on this blog.

So far my walkabout has been anything but peaceful.

It has instigated change and stirred up inner turmoil. In my mind’s eye I can see the old petty dictators of my psyche brandishing swords and refusing to be overthrown. I can taste the fear.

On the other side — the side of truth and beauty — is my walkabout. It has also taken on an imaginary personality of its own, that of a trustworthy little soldier who seems to have my best interests at heart — but is relentless in pushing me to confront things I would rather avoid.

And these “things” would be the painful unhealed relationships in my life.

On a regular basis, my walkabout guy cheerfully leads me to the center of the relationship volcano and says, “Here, jump right into this lava. It will be good for you.” I cover my eyes and say, “No – no!”, and he leaves me alone for a couple days, only to return and suggest, “How about this bed of hot coals – take a stroll,” or “Look at that raging forest fire – why don’t you sky dive into it.”

I get what my walkabout wants me to do. It wants me to take an appropriate level of responsibility for those relationships (not all or none), have compassion, offer and receive forgiveness, and ultimately feel gratitude. I know the drill.

But knowing what is good for you is one thing. Doing and feeling it is another, so I am taking my first tentative steps,  walking through fire, and living with uncertainty about ever healing or being at peace.

I hear this Rainer Maria Rilke quote a lot: “Live your questions now, and perhaps even without knowing it, you will live along some distant day into the answers.”

Frankly, all that indefinite waiting around makes me exquisitely uneasy. It’s hard to live the questions. I want to take those questions by the throat and squeeze the answers out of them. That distant nether area, which may or may not deliver, makes me want to distract myself with pizza, margaritas, excessive chocolate or a major religious tradition.

But lately I’ve tried a few other things.

I am a little embarrassed to tell you how I am coping. It’s pretty ordinary — not very impressive.

I want to be helpful to you all. I want to give you the answers. I don’t want you to sit around forever mired in the mud with Rilke.  But here it is. Here is what I’ve done on my walkabout to cope – to achieve some semblance of inner peace:

1. Every Day Stress or Fears: I firmly require myself to be present in the moment. When I worry about my “what ifs”, my children’s futures, my health, where I am going etc., I stop and appreciate the blessings of the moment – that we are all alive and on our paths.

2.  Bigger Calamities: I recite the first paragraph of the Serenity Prayer over and over like a mantra. I didn’t find it at church or AA. I discovered it at a Dollar Store checkout counter and thought it was brilliant. It goes like this:

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

3. Daily Practice: I do art, write and share my results here on my blog and in social media.  These things help me make meaning and sense out of my life, and help me feel less alone.

That’s it. I know it doesn’t seem like much. I wish I could offer you a magic pill, the definitive self-help book or the next best savior/guru incarnation.

But,  add in a little chocolate, and it’s the best I’ve got.

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