Saturday, March 19, 2011

Feel Babies! Feel! The Art of Deep Sea Diving

I read a book once that said the American narrative is "Good and getting better" and that this narrative taints our history books and doesn't really allow for all of the complexities and flavors to come through. If the stories that are being told do not reflect this narrative, then they get silenced. I've come to wonder whether or not this is a very cultural American view of the world or just every peoples view; I can see how that robs us of people, stories, and worth all the time.

I recently saw the CEO of my org do this session on failure that really struck me. Her basic message was one I had been trying to work out in my head for awhile. Failure is a necessity in a fully lived life. She said if we only accepted or avoided failures than we encouraged living that was tepid. Our peaks can only go as high as our valley's and as a result both get shrunken. On the other hand, if we failed deeply and relished the failure, the learning from the ultimate valley's created massive peaks in our living experience. (She had visuals that make this easier to express, haha)

I think a tepid relationship to failure ties into a tepid avoidance of the dark in our worlds and I think it's why we get so fascinated with pieces of art that are particularly dark, because they dare to go places where we normally put firm boundaries, but I digress.

As an assault survivor I can say that the avoidance of the dark stymied my healing for a very long time. The thing with being a survivor is that you actually CAN'T avoid it. It sneaks up on you in increments and pieces numbing or darkening your life. So then, you're faced with a choice, do I live a numbed and slightly sadder (for some slightly angrier) existence or do I dive into the pool of dark emotions and allow sadness, grief, and anger to be a visceral part of my living?

I have found that as I do, I may be in iteration 5 or 6 of diving back in to the scary parts, living becomes more vibrant, richer, and more full of gratitude. I feel the anger or sadness and thus feeling hours liberated from it and doused in gratitude for the warm and beautiful world that surrounds me, is a better high than I can bring myself to articulate in words. I am so aware that if I avoided the dark, my ability to see the light would be limited. So constricted with the pain that it would be hazy at best.

I've worked with a lot of kids and its taught me so much about our shared human experience. Mostly, they say what adults don't like to admit, and I appreciate the candor around it. In this time, a major theme pops back up over and over again when it comes to healing. Many of them have conceived success as "not hurting". And this, to me, is the major disservice that we do our collected community. We let so many of our little creations grow up believing that the goal is to not fail, hurt, be mad, or sad. In reality, this is exactly the existence we should wish for them. One of great joy and great pain which means life has been full of great living.

I can't tell you how many times I've been in rooms of adults and kids where I just want to scream out "FEEL my darlings! Feel!" I mean, I don't cause part of communicating is finding ways to be heard and the crazy lady screaming is rarely heard. haha. But the emotion is there.

I hate the thought of cauterizing a heart/spirit, especially as carelessly and unintentionally as we do. It really is such a different deal when someone makes a choice around this and says "No, actually, this is the life I want." vs stumbling into half living believing there is no other choice.

Of course, I can also see that this emotional meandering and self-indulgence is a luxury of the safe. When you have created a world as safe as mine, you can dive back into the dark, you know life rafts and life guards exist all around you. So thank you my lovely friends for giving me such a safe place to go deep sea diving in. It is allowing me to ingest more and more that I am not broken, just human.

Boy that humanity guys, it will get you huh? This overriding want to be animatronic when we are flesh. When did we put such a premium on being unaffected? When did that make us grown ups? What I know, and I admit that is very little, is that all of my favorite people have gone deep sea diving. They have dived so deep that the pain/anger/frustration/sadness/indignance/grief is no longer a trophy that gives them exemptions in how they treat themselves or their loved ones. They don't use booze, sex, drugs, church, kids, or anything else to avoid the tide of emotion at their perimeter. They swim and it is just another emotion(s) in the many that they get to feel as a part of living.

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