I’ve come to believe that to be alive means to experience trauma; and I don’t mean things like war, or car accidents (although those things too) — I mean things like death, divorce, and anything else that shakes us up and makes us feel unsafe physically or emotionally. Trauma can also be secondary, by the way. It can be hearing or seeing someone else’s traumatic experiences. When you take into account the majority of news stories, I’m pretty sure we’re all walking around a little traumatized.
We all deal with trauma in our own ways, but I’ve noticed I deal with trauma by minimizing it, dismissing it, or doing whatever I can to distract myself from the depths of my feelings. Who wants to feel sad or angry or insecure when there are movies to watch, people to call? Who wants to feel sad or angry or insecure when there are places to visit and dreams to chase? I certainly don’t. But the reality is, we can’t outrun our trauma; it clings to us like a shadow. Carl Jung said, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you’ll call it fate.”
Carl, why you gotta be so spot on? I don’t want to make the unconscious conscious, but I’ve reached a point in my life where I can’t ignore it anymore. As someone said to me once, “What you resist, persists.” I wanted to punch them in the face when they said that to me, but I found, yes, it’s true. I kept working so hard to resist, but my resistance didn’t banish the problem, it only served to keep it alive. The question then becomes, how is a professional emotional runner, so to speak, supposed to all of a sudden stop running? How can a person face their demons instead?
When I brought this up to my therapist, he said to me, “Just lie down. Instead of actively trying to skirt the perimeter, yield, and let the flood wash over you.” And wash over me it did. When I stopped actively trying to do anything, all of the emotions overtook me. I didn’t enjoy it, it wasn’t “fun,” but I feel relieved. It takes a lot of energy to run away from feelings. A LOT. By stopping, by turning around to face my feelings instead, I feel drained, but in a good way. Like after a full day swimming.
To tie all of this to a spiritual concept, people talk a lot about being in the flow of life – me too – but I think it’s important to remember, getting into the flow is not always an active process. Sometimes being in the flow is allowing ourselves to be carried by whatever is here. Just like flowing down a river, it’s a lot easier if we don’t resist, and also, we have no idea where it will take us.
I dream of a world where we yield to what we’re resisting. A world where we feel our feelings instead of pushing them away. A world where we put ourselves into the flow by understanding sometimes that’s a passive process.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.