Status: Steadier this week. I’ve tackled some big dragons. This is actually something I wrote a couple of weeks ago and I’m just now feeling like I can post it. (And I just posted this and saw the length–whoa. I should probably apologize, but you know what? I’m just not going to. My space. My writing. My stuff. I only post every other week anyway. Break it up into chunks.)
So, if you’ve been following my blog at all, you know that I’ve got a rock, and lately, it’s been changing. So many people have come by to chat with it or talk to it that it thinks it gets to talk, too, which of course pisses me off.
Here’s the thing: It’s not the perfectly shaped egg that it used to be. It’s …collapsed somehow. It looks more like a rock. A rock that’s been through a tumbler. It’s got some angles and flat places, but they’re tied together with all these soft, rounded corners.
And the teeth …well, the teeth are still there, but they’re softer, too. They’re not metal anymore. And since they’re so tiny, they look a bit like peach fuzz.
And that’s something else. It used to be really pretty–beautiful, in fact. It was all glossy and sparkly and perfectly formed and just really, really gorgeous. But now, with all the awkward edges and the fuzz that strangely resembles mildew, it’s ugly. Gross. Really, really repulsive.
But, that doesn’t much matter to me, because I hated when it was beautiful, so I don’t like it any more or less now.
Because I know why it’s here.
See, I’ve got some Stuff. And it’s not all my stuff. Some of it was handed down to me. Some of it was done to me. Some of recent. Some not. And a couple of months ago I had a really nasty realization: I realized that I couldn’t write because I couldn’t forgive myself for not being perfect, and the bad part was that I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself for not being perfect until I’d forgiven Those Who Had Hurt Me.
Yeah. Not gonna happen.
But, I tried. At the very least, I was finally able to see TWHHM with some compassion and understanding. Miserable people do miserable things. That’s just how life is.
But the only reason I was able to do that was because I promised myself that I could keep the resentment. I was able to forgive because I promised myself I’d never have to forget. I could acknowledge that they were bitter, miserable, unhappy people. And I could let go of some of the anger and pain. But the resentment? No way. I promised myself I could wrap that around me like swaddling. It would hold me up and keep me together.
And then my rock showed up.
And told me that I’d have to let the resentment go. That scared me. And then, a few weeks ago, it pissed me off. A lot.
During a meditation, I ran out into the field where my rock sits with my inner critic, which startled them both because I usually don’t go out there. I’m only a guest, after all. And I dragged that rock out from under that tree and into the middle of that field and I started looking for the biggest, heaviest branch I could find so that I could beat the shit out of it and make it leave.
And I started shrieking, “I hate you! I don’t want you here! I didn’t invite you here! This wasn’t part of the deal! I don’t have to do anything. I get to be resentful! And pissed! And I want you gone! And if you won’t go, I’ll damn well run you off!”
And when I found the branch I was looking for, I turned back to my rock, expecting to find it cowering against the grass, or maybe already gone because it could see how serious I was.
But it wasn’t scared. It wasn’t trying to hide or flee. It was just sitting there in the grass where I’d dragged it, looking up at me and blinking.
I didn’t even know it had eyes.
I raised the branch over my head. “Do you see? Do you see me? I hate you! I can’t have you here any more! And I’m going to drive you from here if it kills me!” All I could feel was my own hatred and resentment.
And it just blinked at me.
Then, it sent a quiet little voice to me in my head, “That’s okay. You can hit me with that branch. I’m a rock. I can take it. And I know you need it right now. And that’s okay. You’re okay.”
I stopped, but I gripped that branch as tightly as I could. I know a sales pitch when I hear one. I didn’t back down.
Until it said the next thing to me.
“You can hit me all you want. I can take it. But I’m just going to stay here. And you can hit me for as long as you want. What you’re doing is really hard. And you have a right to be angry. So, I’m just going to take it. Because I can. And because I still love you.”
And I simply broke.
I collapsed to me knees on the grass and the branch fell away. I bent over and I started to cry. And I couldn’t stop.
I stayed that way on my mat in my office for a long time, sobbing into my hands.
A while later, I felt brave enough to look up. My rock had moved closer to me. I turned my hand over and it crawled up into it. I lifted it up to my face where I could get a good look at it.
It just looked back. It was still ugly. Fuzzy and mildewy and imperfect. And I kept waiting for the reproach. For the acknowledgment that I’d fucked up big time. For the judgment. But it just sat there.
So finally, exhausted and broken, I said, “Okay, so what are you trying to tell me? What wonderful bit of wisdom are you here to share? Please just tell me so I can get it over with. I can’t take this any more.”
And it blinked at me. But it said nothing. And eventually, after a moment, it slowly turned around and turned its back on me.
A horrible sense of dread that this wasn’t over–that even after all of this self-work, my damn rock wasn’t going to help me out at all–swamped me. All my fear and insecurity came rushing back. “Wait! What are you doing? I’m here. I’m listening. Just fucking tell me already.”
But my rock didn’t move.
“Look at me! I’m here. I’m doing the damn work! And I can’t heal unless you talk to me! What the hell do you want?” By now, I’m crying again. “Please.”
It turned around again, giving me it’s full attention, but still not speaking. Eventually, I got the distinct impression that it was saying, “Are you done?” and looking at me like I was a doofus.
Finally, at a complete loss, I sniffled and said, “What?”
It blinked at me again and slowly, like it wanted to make sure I got it this time, it turned back around and faced the field.
For the first time since I’d run out there, I looked up.
It was beautiful. The sky was a vibrant, gorgeous blue, and the sun was shining so brightly that I was surprised it didn’t hurt my eyes. Everything shone. The grass, the trees, the lake in the distance all seemed to sparkle and shine with color. Even my inner critic was looking up, Milk Duds momentarily forgotten.
I sat there for a long time and watched it. I felt delight and wonder. Somewhere in the back of my mind, it registered that it had been a long time since I’d felt those things, a long time since I’d given myself permission to just be happy.
Slowly, everything began to fade back to normal. It became simply another field again. And I’d almost missed it all because I’d been so wrapped up in solving my own anger and resentment.
I looked down at my rock in my hand and saw it looking up at me. That little fucker was smiling.
I lowered it back to the ground and it made its way back to my inner critic. I was astonished to see her lower her hand to the grass and help it up onto her shoulder. As far as I knew, they’d never even acknowledged each other. But apparently, now they were friends.
That’s how I left them. My inner critic, perched on her favorite root, looking down into her box of Milk Duds, my rock sitting on her shoulder, looking at me and smiling.
And I suppose that that entire experience was very profound somehow and should have left me with some kind of brilliant insight, but all I really feel is shaken and unsure, like I’m walking across an ice rink in sneakers. I don’t know how to live without the swaddling of resentment and anger. I don’t know what’s going to hold me up or keep me together.
Maybe my writing. Maybe me. Maybe all of you. I guess we’ll see. Thanks for being here.