BEHIND THESE WALLS

prisonI dreamt last night that I was moving out of my house. The night before that I dreamt that a friend who has no children – as has no plans to have any – was having a child.

Knock, knock. Who’s there? Change.

Change is certainly at my door and my mind is going into overdrive processing it. Even though I always feel like I am in a constant state of change (after all, it is the one thing we can always count on), sometimes the gravity of the change is much heavier and it causes me duress. I struggle, resisting it at first but, ultimately, acquiescing and finding the silver lining to it all. Right now, the change is stressing me out. I feel trapped within in. I cannot sleep. I feel sad. Nothing is clear in my head. I am not entirely sure what is changing but I have some ideas and it is rocking my foundation so much so that I feel wobbly as I make my way through my day. I feel powerless to it all and it is overwhelming. These are the times that I am usually hanging on until my fingernails bleed but, now, I feel myself slipping. I am losing my grip and it is scary to not know just how far I might fall and where I might land.

Earlier this week, I was in the grocery store and, as I was paying for my stuff, I glanced over at the woman who was behind me on line. All I could think when I looked at her was how sad she looked. She never made eye contact with me because she was staring off into space, clearly focused on the burdens weighing heavy on her mind. I looked back at the keypad on the credit card machine and, as I was signing my name, ready to retrieve my loot, I wondered if people saw me the same way. All this change has made me feel lost in space. I know I am not connecting in the same way I usually do. And, while I do not feel depressed, I am sorrowful because I am certain that some very important components of my life are drifting off and I don’t have enough clarity to be sure whether or not letting them go is the right strategy. I have been wandering aimlessly inside my mind, looking for an escape hatch all the while realizing that there is no exit. Not yet. It’s not time for me to leave. There is more work to be done here and I have to stick around and see it through. I stand in the shower and think endlessly about the pain I am struggling with. I lay in bed, trying to settle my head, looking for a quiet escape from the noisy clattering of the change. The machine is cranking, ready to turn out the updated model of my life and, quite frankly, I am not sure I’m done with the one I am driving.

I often wonder if the skeletons of my past, the demons that never seem to want to leave (dessert and coffee have been served and we are all ready for bed, thank you) cause me to be stuck in an outdated pattern of coping with the difficulties in my life. I wonder if those awesome survival skills that I brandished as such powerful tools when I was younger are now turning on me. They are now becoming weapons against myself. Perhaps it is time to visit the hardware store and look into some new sets of tools – ones that more adequately fit my mature hands.

For most of my life, I have kept things bottled up inside me, locked behind my steel walls. It is part of how I am hard-wired. Like many who are born under the sign of cancer, I keep things very tightly packed up inside me. The gates are locked, there is no key. Nobody is crossing this threshold. As a result, I torture myself, wrestling through every thought, every decision, every anguish on my own. It is unusual for me to open up or ask for help despite my frequent urges to others to do so of me. As a child, I watched my mother talk to one friend after another, crying her eyes out, singing the blues, seeking advice for every trouble. Of course, she failed to call in reinforcements to assist her with the biggest challenge in her life – herself. I listened as she chastised me about all of my shortcomings and then was subjected to all the advice her friends dispatched. I remember, one day, finally pushing back at her and telling her that she needed to make decisions for herself and stop listening to what other people told her when they were not living under our roof. I completely understood how complicated our lives were and how incapable most people were to offer any advice on how to navigate our unique journey. And, I promised myself that I would never wear my heart on my sleeve or burden my friends with my troubles. I did not want to be that person. So, instead, I am this person. Trapped behind my bars in my own little prison.

Ironically, this week’s topic for my coaching group is change. I have asked my group to share one thing in their life they would like to change and how they might go about doing it. As the leader of this group, I should be able to jump into the circle and lead by example. While change is happening all around me, it is unsolicited and beyond my control. The type of change I would like to see in my life would be to not have so much uncontrollable change. But, I suppose that would be something like making the earth stop rotating around the sun. Maybe, instead of wanting to stop the change, I should learn how to manage it better. And, with that, perhaps I could learn how to begin to break down some walls to free myself from the prison gates. A short visit out into the world to find my team, my fellow journeymen who might be able to help me make sense of it all. I can try to let my words out, to share what’s in my mind and in my heart without worrying that it will cause some colossal breach. I worry that the floodgates will open and no amount of sandbags, no levy will ever hold back the surge of waters rushing to drown me.

I’m not ready to commit to that change because it requires so much strength. More than I have to offer up right now. However, I commit myself to continue to explore this type of change. Maybe that is the change that is meant to happen right now. Maybe that is what my dreams are telling me. In the meantime, I hope I do not look like that sad woman daydreaming about her woes even if I sometimes feel just like her. I am still awaiting parole from my prison but, for now, I will sit on my cot and ponder my fate.

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