We lean on things because we are clinging to the idea they can make our feelings stop. Not help cope with anything. Not deal with our anxiety, our depression, our loss. That isn’t our intention. We just want the emotions to stop. The anger, the frustration, the hurt, the fear. Cast it out. Cover it up. Make to stop.
Even when we stopped drinking, stopped using, stopped whatever addictive behavior we’d deemed useful. Even when we started looking at our damaging behaviors. Everything we did was still under the guise that this too would somehow allow us to make the feeling stop. We became bound by the idea that if we can understand where the hurt comes from we can fix it. Make it go away. The goal was never to embrace it. To face it. We want to trace everything back to its origin so we can destroy it. Time-traveling to kill the would-be mothers of our greatest influencers before they conceive.
Using personal development as another crutch. Another trail to get to the same destination. But that place doesn’t exist. We cannot arrive in some promised land and receive Vonnegut epitaphs. “Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.” It doesn’t exist. No, not even by taking special care to understand why you do everything. Not through proper (whatever we decided that means) diet and exercise. Not through clean living and regular trips to the dentist.
No matter how many “right” things we do we are never going to be able to stop the apparitions of “bad” feelings. We are trying to cure a disease that does not exist. We are taking the same approach we always have. We call it by a different name now. No longer are they addictions, they are good habits. We scramble violently to rid ourselves of feeling. Of all those little things that make us human and fragile. Just as we always have.
The work we are doing is good and important, yes. But I hear James Carville whispering to me, “Sometimes the right thing gets done for the wrong reason.”
I don’t want to keep throwing myself against the same wall. This notion that I can somehow purify myself. If I just focus and work hard I can get rid of all the uncomfortable and jagged parts of myself. I can slough away all the injured pieces and finally feel like I’m in control of the things that go on inside my head.
It’s not true. You’re seeing it now, aren’t you? We don’t need to dispose of anything. We don’t need to become different people. We just have to realize that we’ve had the wrong goal the whole time. This journey isn’t about becoming the type of people we think we can deal with. It’s about learning to deal with the type of people we are. Grimy and dirty. Rough and ragged. Messy and damaged. I don’t need to figure out how to I can get new supplies. I need to figure out what I can make with the medium already present inside me.