Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Unexpected shoals

For whatever reason, I woke up feeling vulnerable this morning: unfocused, unsure, undefended, anxious... It was more a body feeling than a mind feeling; as if I hadn't gotten enough sleep, or if my body chemistry was off in some way. But it was interesting to watch where my mind went with these feelings -- definitely off into some old tapes; definitely some replay action.

And then, in my study group this morning, it became apparent that several of us were left with some unresolved "stuff" from Thanksgiving. Discussing some of the difficult interactions various folks had experienced, one wise friend said something that jolted me back awake: "I figure, if I ask if there's something I did that upset them, and they say no, then I did my part and I can let it go." Hearing that, I realized I had asked the same question -- did I do something wrong? -- and had gotten the same response -- no, I'm fine, it's all okay -- but for some reason I was stuck in the second-guessing, worrying zone: did she mean it? Will this come back to bite me? Why didn't I handle that differently? Was I being manipulated?

So I asked my wise friend: how do you get to the point where you let go, and the woman said, "Oh, I study a lot of Buddhism, and I understand that we create our own suffering; I just choose not to play those tapes."

Oh, right. Duh. That's exactly what I was doing, allowing my own insecurities to tie me up in knots. I know better, or at least I thought I did, but I got so caught up in the drama that I didn't even notice -- which is the other bad part about those vulnerable days: it's like I forget everything I know about how to deal. It's pretty humbling, actually.

Sigh. More grist for the mill.

So why this picture?

Because it looks so safe and solid: the boat is home, tied up, resting. But that's not what the boat was made to do: it may be safe, sitting on land, but it's tipping, unsteady; it's not in its native element. No wonder I was feeling off-balance: I'd somehow gone aground, tripped up on what one skipper calls "a nasty bit of underwater topography." Because the real problem here was not whether or not the other person in this interaction was okay. The real problem is my own need to "do it right", to be loved, and my own sense that if I do it wrong all hell will break loose.

Hmm. I'd forgotten I was still carrying those treacherous subliminal shoals... or perhaps I just hadn't noticed the tide was running low.

Good to know, I guess. But now what? Do I just wait till the tide rises again so I can float off this little sandbar? Or should I untie the boat and wade right out into the depths?

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