Darbella’s Articles — Memoirs of a Phaser, part 6

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Jumping into the Void

In last week’s arti­cle, I wrote about my silence expe­ri­ence as a metaphor for my life­walk. I wrote about var­i­ous ways I choose to be in my life. I left out one major aspect of my life­walk — falling into the abyss, the void, the Nemo, the empti­ness, the cesspool. There are many names and in my con­ver­sa­tions with peo­ple, there is great fear of this place — and we all seem to know it.

In the past, my pat­tern has been to avoid this place at all costs. This has been most­ly accom­plished by fit­ting into the roles of my life, mak­ing myself numb, and keep­ing busy with “doing” so I have no time for “being.” Being would involve falling into the pit and that thought led to a major anx­i­ety expe­ri­ence in my body. I def­i­nite­ly want­ed to set my life up to avoid that anxiety.

There has been a major shift in my learn­ing in the last cou­ple of years. I now rec­og­nize the val­ue that the void has in my life. It still takes an amaz­ing leap of faith to jump into it. Some­times I creep in eas­i­ly one foot at a time. Some­times I plunge. Some­times I sit on the edge not mov­ing in or away from it — frozen for a time. Some­times I choose to turn away. All these choic­es are valid at dif­fer­ent times in my life, when they are made con­scious­ly. I can “be” in any of these places. I am work­ing at not choos­ing “avoid­ance.” (Which is, of course, a dance to avoid the void! WCA)

I have found that, in this place, there is great learning.

  • A time to sort through the var­i­ous choic­es that are avail­able to me.
  • A time to choose the direc­tion to work my way out of what feels like a cesspool.
  • A time to rec­og­nize that there is not one cor­rect path to choose to exit the cesspool — just the one that feels right at this moment in my life.

I have learned to wel­come the anx­i­ety rather than avoid­ing it, choos­ing at times to dive deep down in.

In the past, I thought that the jour­ney through life was like climb­ing a moun­tain. The ulti­mate des­ti­na­tion was to reach the top. I strug­gled to find the “right” moun­tain to climb. Some­how, if I found the right moun­tain to climb, and if I made it to the top, my life would make total sense. This was a process that I chose to do alone. I gave myself grief for all those times I chose to stop and rest. The des­ti­na­tion was the top and I had to keep climbing.

Imag­ine my sur­prise when I found what I thought was the “right” moun­tain and made my way to the top! — only to find that there was anoth­er moun­tain on the oth­er side. AND there were many moun­tains beyond that. In between each of the moun­tains loomed the great void that I thought I was climb­ing my way out of — nev­er to return. And yet, there it was — to be vis­it­ed again and again. I learned that there was no “right” path and no des­ti­na­tion to reach. Life’s learn­ings took place along the way, often in the most sur­pris­ing places. As long as I kept trudg­ing along “doing” life, I was not open to the expe­ri­ences around me.

Off I went to Haven for Phase One, with this view of life. There I added some more pieces. I learned to breathe more and appre­ci­ate what I already had around me in my life. I learned how much time I spent “doing” rather than “being.” When I stopped and noticed, there was so much that I had missed. I did not need to climb any moun­tains if I did not choose to. There were unlim­it­ed choic­es around me. There was no “right” path.

Once I chose to start up a moun­tain, I could change mid­stream and choose some­thing dif­fer­ent. It was fun to play with new expe­ri­ences, on moun­tains I nev­er would have cho­sen before going to Haven. I learned the val­ue of try­ing a new behav­iour on for size to see if it fits. Some did and some did not. I had my favourite moun­tains and I had fun choos­ing some new ones. I did not have to keep return­ing to the same moun­tain just because that was the one I always picked.

The most excit­ing learn­ing was that I was not alone. I did not have to be iso­lat­ed. I could choose to hang out with peo­ple on the climb. There was so much I could learn about myself in rela­tion­ship with oth­er peo­ple. All I had to do was look around me and see the oth­er peo­ple. They were always there but I had cho­sen not to see them. We could choose to climb togeth­er for a peri­od of time or we could sim­ply hang out and enjoy the view. I could reach out to peo­ple, even peo­ple on a total­ly dif­fer­ent moun­tain, and we could learn from each oth­er. All it takes is a lit­tle exer­cise of the curios­i­ty muscle.

By not see­ing the peo­ple around me, it had been easy to choose the path of walk­ing alone. I would sit on the moun­tain of my choice and wish that some­one would notice me. I sat and wait­ed. Wish­ing. Hop­ing. Des­per­ate for any­one to notice me, some­body to come out of the fog into clear view. I was unaware of the choice I was making.

Gain­ing peo­ple in my life had to come from me. My first task was to rec­og­nize that there are peo­ple out there. Open­ing my eyes and see­ing was not enough. I had respon­si­bil­i­ty to make this hap­pen. I had to make the first move by reach­ing out and invit­ing peo­ple into my life. In that place, I con­nect­ed with the peo­ple around me who were reach­ing out. When I did this, I was sur­prised by the wealth of con­nec­tions around me and how avail­able peo­ple were when I reached out to them.

And there was still that void. It was at every cor­ner. It seemed so large and vast. It was a murky place where the waters are mud­died and there is no clar­i­ty in vision. The fear was over­whelm­ing. There was a sink­ing feel­ing. There appeared to be no way out. If I cried, the tears would go on for­ev­er. If I screamed, the screams would nev­er stop. I would be lost. I would be alone. That was the scari­est one — being alone. In that place, I could see nobody else swim­ming there with me. It was up to me to find my way out.

When I entered that abyss at Haven, I dis­cov­ered some­thing new. I was not alone. Just because I could not see any­one in there with me did not mean they were not there. I lis­tened to sto­ry after sto­ry and peo­ple feel­ing trapped in the same place. I lis­tened to sto­ry after sto­ry of the ways that peo­ple dis­tract them­selves from the void. I learned the most valu­able les­son of all. I could not see any­one in that place, yet all I had to do was reach out. If I swim around in the murky water with my arms out­stretched, look­ing for con­nec­tion, I will find some­one. If I con­tin­ue to swim in a tight lit­tle ball, all curled up in fear, I will nev­er find any­one else in there.

Hold­ing onto a friend in those murky waters makes the whole expe­ri­ence less scary. Togeth­er, find­ing a way out is much eas­i­er. Togeth­er we can learn.

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