Shower realizations are the best, right? Maybe it’s something about the white noise of the running water, the flow, the idea of cleansing or whatever, but I often experience eye-opening, heart-pounding and ear-splitting epiphanies mid-shampoo. And THIS, my dears, is one of the biggest.
HOLD ON TO YER SHOWER CAPS
I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the past couple of years mentally shaking in terror of becoming homeless and starving (sure, I’ve also spent a much larger percentage of time in love with the world, experiencing freedom and having the time of my life, but I’m writing about fear today, people–sometimes you have to go there). I’ve spent so much time, in fact, with this underlying, overlaying and infiltrating fear that it’s got its own nickname: H&S. It’s become a joke to people who know me, but it wasn’t ever a joke to me. Having taken some massive leaps in my life, I desperately wanted to prove to myself that if I followed my heart I wouldn’t end up on the streets–which goes to show, fyi, just how deeply the fear-veins of truly stepping outside the box can run. Maybe the starving artist stereotypes serve a purpose; I’m not a card-carrying conspiracy theorist, but I’m just sayin’.
This H&S fear may seem ridiculous to you–I know this because if you’re one of my friends, you’ve gotten more than one of my panic-stricken calls and you’ve actually (and finally, repeatedly) laughed in my face. Or at least snortled, highly amused; you couldn’t help yourself. Despite how much that validated to me that this might actually be an irrational fear (and thank you, I grabbed onto that), that fear has been very real to me. No matter how many times I’m reminded that I have “so many people who love me who would never let that happen,” just the fact that there are people who are homeless and starving in the world was evidence enough that it could happen to me as well.
Okay, now the good stuff.
The truth of it is that underneath the H&S is the fear of losing control–of what? Of the ability to provide for myself what I need. Alright. That makes sense. It makes sense though, only if I’m operating (and I was) under the assumption that it’s solely ME who’s providing what I need. Ah. Stick with me here–this may sound Cocoa Puffs to you, but I absolutely KNOW that I as the identity is not the Provider; I’ve got lots of proof for that. My evidence? Me, at 18. Cue…
Epiphany Part 2:
Standing under my Aquasana shower filter last night, fast-forwarding through my pregnancy and the ensuing events which occurred over 20 years ago, it was if I’d been struck by lightening. Here’s how that went: as I reviewed the story (finding myself pregnant and still in high school at 18, uneducated, jobless, unmarried and possibly the most naive girl on the planet), Now Me realized that compared to my present situation (educated, experienced, employed, no dependents), what did I have back then by way of proof I’d be ok? Not much, but I didn’t think about that. I’m pretty sure I had no awareness of how ill-prepared I was; I just got up every morning and lived my life. What I recall is looking straight ahead and knowing what I had to do: apply to college, go to class, make dinner, go to my checkups–and so on and so forth. One thing at a time, one foot in front of the other, just taking the next step that was laid out in front of me. In my mind there was no getting out of this, no turning back, and thus, I just forged ahead; I don’t believe there was really much room for fear at that point–I was too busy renting a place (I’d never lived away from my parents), reading about parenting, completing school assignments and sleeping somewhere in between all of that.
Yes, there was a certain amount of shutting down that happened during that time (although thankfully, never with my son), and I’ve been opening myself back up ever since. But I was okay. My baby was loved, we always had a roof over our heads and enough to eat, and you know what? I had the time of my life back then, too. I did end up marrying Dylan’s dad, my family came around and I earned a bunch of degrees, but all that’s beside the point, really. The point is that when I “had” so little, when I simply put one foot in front of the other, door after door opened up. I enjoyed where I was most of the time, and I just kept moving.
Amalgamation of Epiphany Part 1 and 2:
Did I really make all that stuff happen?
- Did I make getting married happen? No. Dylan’s dad could have just as easily split.
- Did I make having a healthy baby happen? I ate semi-well (18-year-old-uneducated-about-food well) and exercised, but I didn’t have any real control over his development.
- Did I get through college because I worked hard? Sure I worked hard, but how did I get there in the first place, and what inspired me to keep going? I don’t know.
Of course, I carried out all the actions involved in this story, but those things showed up for me, I (as Christy) did not and could not possibly make them happen. I also didn’t worry about them not happening. It’s like when I get sick and my body heals itself: me as my conscious identity didn’t heal me. I didn’t make the plants grow that I ate last night for dinner (or put them in the store where I could purchase them) and although of course I took good care of him, I certainly did not control the physical growth of my infant son into a 6′, body-building, hyper intelligent amazement of a man. It all just happened. I was only minding my own business, acting on what was in front of me: doing my homework, cleaning my home, filling out paperwork, loving my baby. Step, step, step.
I’m pretty sure this is what’s meant by the phrase “just show up.”
Somehow, over the years I’d gotten off track and begun fearing loss and holding on for dear life. What happened? I don’t know exactly. I began to attribute everything in my life to my own efforts, for one, whereas I didn’t ever think about that before. Maybe back then I had to rely on so many others (Medi-Cal, Dylan’s doctors, my husband), that I couldn’t buy into an illusion that I was in control. Later I got divorced and moved away from a lot of my supports, and began, I think, to feel that I was relying solely on me, which I see was never really the case. Obviously though, if I think I’m in control of it all, there’s a fear of losing that control. I’d been in my job for so long that thought I needed it. And maybe expectations about where I should be at my age crept in. I probably perceived that I had “more to lose” later in life and less time to “get it all back” if it did go away. But all that feels like one big, heavy, anxiety-ball of misunderstanding to me now. Stop it. Breathe–in out in out.
This is now clear: step, step, step. That’s all there ever is. Now. Now. Now.
So is that the “proof” I was looking for?
Naw. I recognize that there is no proof, no guarantee, no sure thing. But it certainly adjusted my focus. Here’s what I do have proof of: someday I will die, and my job is to live–right now, I’ve got a place to stay, great food to eat, and I adore what I spend my days doing. Focusing on H&S is just as sensical as worrying about suddenly going blind, being buried alive or stung to death by fire ants. Sure, it happens, and there’s no guarantee it won’t happen to me, but why would I waste my precious time thinking about it?
My experience is that when I focus on where I am and what I love, simply placing one foot in front of the other, amazing shizz happens.
And that’s all the proof I’m ever going to get, and at the same time, all the proof I’ll ever need. This feels like a hallelujah moment, folks. Thanks for sharing it with me. LiveLove&BU
Image credit: pawbehaviour.wordpress.com