Sometimes the only thing you can be certain of is that you are not yet ready to give up, and sometimes that one thing saves your life.
I spent a lot of my week and weekend in relative silence.I’d reached the tipping point for my own emotional well-being and had officially entered “not-okay” so I was desperate to hear instructions on how to at least get back to the border. What rang most prominently in my mind was a conversation I had with Rose this summer where I told her everything I’d been going through this year. From my story she told her own about harvesting grapes for wine. I am paraphrasing but here is what she shared with me:
Environmental factors matter a great deal in the ripening of grapes. If, for example, a grape does not get enough or gets too much light or warmth from the sun, causes the fruit to go into “survival mode” and thus has an effect on the grape. Sometimes the effect is that grapes do not fully mature and balance sweetness with acidity and they can be too much of one or the other. So the product is much more concentrated. Similarly, as our environmental factors around us grow extreme, we, too, go into survival mode. This can greatly influence our ability to balance and can cause a sort of concentration of our own product.
Her story resonated with me because I explained to her that due to my own turmoil, I was no longer able to devote much attention, if any, to those things that did not have some sort of energetic return. I saw it as a welcomed consequence of being low-on-fuel. It is interesting to see where you invest when you only have a little, in both a figurative and literal sense.
So this weekend, I was faced with evaluating my investments. Some are still up in the air, some remain protected and important, and others are in flux. What I have become more clear on is what I can and cannot continue to invest in. In another conversation with Rose she mentioned our similarity in controlling the energy in a room for our own survival. Again paraphrasing…”We” she explained, “use dress as a means to harness attention and it is our way of feeling less scattered or pulled or bombarded with energy because our appearance was crafted with an intention for who would be in the room.” I had never considered this before and still find it quite a brilliant analysis of how the emotionally sensitive survive social scenarios. Yet, everything about it made and makes so much sense. By any means necessary we, and the emotionally sensitive in particular, must protect our vitality.
It is what much of my current turmoil boiled down to and it is perhaps what my break down called to my immediate attention. I had not been protecting my energy. I had allowed my emotions and thoughts about myself as a result of my sexual assault begin to redefine who I believed myself to be. I was devoting too much time to others without allowing for or properly asserting my need for reciprocal nurturing. I was allowing my emotions to rule me, dictating my thoughts and actions. I was becoming sedentary, mean, and withdrawn as a result of the stories I was choosing to believe. I was staying in a job I knew no longer serviced me, I was stunting my own creative growth and all of it collectively threw me into a wall at 100 miles per hour.
We are not out of the woods yet, but in the wake of the crash I am looking around and trying to make sense of what happened. Last night I laid in bed and began speaking to the light at the end of the tunnel. I allowed myself to imagine the process of my dissertation work from the call to participate to the defense and walking across the stage. I let the joy of fortitude to fill my body. I imagined accepting a job offer that excited me and had promise for growth innovation and challenge. I assured myself that I was qualified for the position and let the pride of accomplishment to fill my body. I imagined relationships both platonic and romantic where each party took responsibility for his or her own actions and role in the partnership. I allowed myself to assert that I was worth more than silence or the skilled incompetent belief that “not-being-good-at-emotion” was reason enough to avoid it. I allowed the richness of love given and love returned to fill my body.
When I woke up I did so with a recollection of my conversation with myself. I did not have access to the endings yet, but I insisted to myself that they were possible and that I was worth trying for them. And I am.