Friday, January 18, 2013

Just When I Thought It was Safe...

It can be difficult to tell yourself the truth. Sometimes I have a hard time distinguishing between well-being and denial. In therapy, I am looking at the skills honed throughout my life to cope with stress, hurt, anxiety, or disappointment.

One of them has become my signature move: I RUN.

No, I don’t pack an overnight bag, jump in my car and drive to Vegas to become a blackjack dealer (although I hold on to that fantasy). I avoid truth and the accompanying discomfort by staying busy.

A challenging software sales career fills my Monday through Friday. I run after work chasing errands (groceries, nails, liquor, shoes, etc). Weekends are often more of the same. But emotional “running” can also include hours of television or surfing the web. These are my ways of avoiding time for genuine reflection.

But in those rare quiet moments, life slows enough for me to FEEL.

When I have an uncomfortable FEELING, my LOGICAL brain often comes in to edit it. “You can’t feel that way! That is stupid, weak, ridiculous, destructive, a waste of time, scary, and unpleasant.  You are too smart for that."

LOGIC often keeps me from even acknowledging or sitting with my FEELINGS, “I feel sad and afraid…hmmmm, how interesting”.

But here is how I FEEL (shut up LOGIC): I have been lying to myself about someone I love. Conditioned to take the love crumbs left over from family favorites, I have pulled away from engaging. Caretaking has replaced connection and ambivalence is my cloak of protection.

Confronted with what is left after my mother’s death, I keep telling myself to lower my expectations; if I don’t need or want anything, I won’t be so shattered by my permanent place at the back of the pack. Besides, everyone has the right to live on their terms, especially if they have waited several decades to do so, right?

Then why does it feel so tragic? Why does watching the withdrawal, the isolation, the acting out, and seemingly giving up hurt so much?

Because I still need someone I have only seen glimpses of; an emotionally engaged, involved, caring, unconditionally loving, present father.

More than ever now, it feels like time is running out.

And that is the truth.

1 comment:

  1. Wow - powerfully honest and well is rare, and can be difficult, to be alone with our true thoughts and feelings. Because once we stop running and acknowledge what it there, everything changes. In fact, it's the first step of changing. Your realness about what you truly feel is refreshing, and it will lead to a new space for you and Dad, or for you alone. Either way, you are on a path to becoming more true to yourself, and that's a beautiful thing.