Tuesday, May 05, 2009

On Uncertainty

I have to say that this is the hardest thing I think I've ever done. I feel pathetic writing that, since it's so ridiculously mundane compared to what a lot of people go through, but it's true. It's triggered all my deep-seated fears of abandonment, my hidden conviction that I'm worthless and unloveable, my terror of the unknown and the uncontrollable, my longing for someone to stay with me, love me, and protect me. There's a reason why I never liked those scare-inducing rides at the amusement park and never liked taking physical risk, never liked watching horror movies or telling ghost stories; I don't like being afraid, being out of control, and having to sit with uncertainty. Let's just say that I am not a candidate for sky-diving.

Now, sitting here, surrounded by the unknown, by the infinite possibilities generated by my very imaginative brain, and the worst part: not being able to check them out with you or reach you at all, I find I'm terrified. And in response to that terror, I worry. I worry incessantly, with all my soul. There's an ache in my gut, a gaping chasm of blackness; there's no trust that things will be alright in the end, no hope that we will ever get through this, and a nagging feeling that you are now lost to me forever, almost like you never existed. Sometimes I fear you are dead, and that I will never know, because nobody would think to tell me. I recognize this worry as a way to try to control things, like somehow my worry will reach across the physical space between us and help things turn out alright. At least I'm not just sitting here doing nothing! Because there is nothing I can do. And that terrifies me.

To deal with the terror, which some people may call anxiety but feels like absolute, crippling terror, I turned to a technique called EMT, or Eye Movement Technique, based on EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). It was easy, I could do it by myself, and it works for me. During one session, trying to calm my anxiety, I concentrated on this gaping terror-feeling in my gut, and after a half a minute of tapping, I had a vision of a little girl, cowering in absolute fear in the corner of a dark room. It was more than just fear of some specific threat out there that she was feeling, it was an all-encompassing panic-stricken fear of the world; of where she had found herself by being born. Like a wide-eyed, horrified sense of "What the hell is this place?"

I felt such compassion for her and concern for her that I started to cry. I wanted to hug her and tell her it was all going to be alright, that she was safe. It sounds so cheesy, but I know that little girl was me - my inner child or my inner terror, anyway - the thing that is terrified of being brutalized by this bizarre place we call reality; the little girl who hides and cowers, trying not to be noticed, and not knowing how to stand up and blossom. So that lasted for a few minutes, and then I felt a little better. But the worry, the agony of the not-knowing is still in there, if a bit calmer.

I wonder what I'm supposed to be learning by having you in my life. How to let go? How to deal with uncertainty and impermanence? How to ride the waves? I worry about you, I want you home, I send you all my love, and yes, I let you go.

May you be peaceful
may you be happy
May you be healthy
May you find joy

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