This could kill you.

Monday, June 19, 2017

I walked mostly.  Around the block at first.  My God, I was so damn tired.  And it's not like the tiredness you get from losing a few nights of sleep or the natural tiredness that comes after a crazy-hectic week.  This is like, a bone-weariness that makes you question whether your legs will carry you to the kitchen from the couch.  And it's constant.  Depression is nice like that.  Really slows you down and cramps your active lifestyle:)

But I knew I had to do something.  And I KNEW it was a nervous system that needed a rest from my mind but also gentle movement to keep the blood flowin'.  
I live in a neighborhood that is tucked in to high riverside cliffs, with steep incline's on either end of town and in between.  I had to avoid these.  I didn't think I could get up them.  I was that tired.  But there was a little voice inside that said, "Keep going anyway.  Just do what you can for now.  This is enough."

And I walked.  And walked.  And walked.  Mostly in a few-block radius on flat pavement.  

A renewed love and deeper level of self-compassion for myself was born from that small voice on those simple, daily treks.  A greater level of acceptance for myself on ANY day, no matter how low, unmotivated, ugly, chubby, judgmental, irritated or lost I felt.  Just self-love and acceptance.  I know now without a doubt, this is the place from which all our own personal healing and the WORLD'S healing stems.  We really can't be of any service or good use to others if we're not caring for our own minds and body.

I discovered more about my inner strength and wisdom on that quiet, lonesome trudging along than I EVER could have lost in a sea of cushions in the comfort of my own home.

Until I found myself standing on a small square of concrete on a corner, staring up at a huge hill ahead.
I'd gotten sucked in to a podcast while walking and had meandered downtown without really thinking about where or how far from home I'd wandered.
I've walked this hill countless times before.  Plowing upward pushing two kids in one stroller even, without giving it a second thought. 

But this is what can happen.  When your adrenals have been wrung dry, fear has robbed you of all confidence and memories of what you USED to be able to do don't even matter nor are strong enough to propel you forward.  That is where my mind resided for a time.  Most of my daily thoughts were permeated with the idea that anything I tried to do outside of the norm, would lead to death.  Mostly because of the onslaught of physical symptoms that arrived with any THOUGHT of doing something out of the ordinary.  That's anxiety, folks.  And it's ridiculous.  But EVERYTHING I used to know looked threatening and perilous.  

And according to the response I was getting from my nervous system, you'd have thought I'd just arrived at Base Camp of Everest with a 50 lb. pack attached to my back.  Staring up towards the peak.

"Shit.  I thought.  I don't think I can do it."  I stared up towards the top.  I knew I was being so stupid.  But that's how warped my sense of perception was.  How far I'd strayed from the physically and mentally strong woman I USED to be and thought I was.  

Fortunately for me, there was no way around it.  The only way home was up that hill.  I couldn't turn around and go back the way I came.  It would take me twice as long to get there.  There was no one I felt I could call to come pick me up without being totally ashamed by my having to throw in the towel on an uphill street climb.  After all, I wasn't in a wheelchair.  I had two, totally healthy, working legs.  How the hell would I explain this to anyone?!  "Ah, yeah.  Could you come get me and bring me home?  I just got to this hill and I don't want to walk up it."  I couldn't do that.  

My legs shook, my heart was already racing before I even took a step.  I felt dizzy and nauseous.  I knew I was panicking from the fear of having to face something so big.  What I THOUGHT was so big.  But I knew past all of that, my body was just responding to my thinking.  And that maybe if I could WALK THROUGH it, UP IT, I'd come out the other side eventually?

"This could kill you," I thought.  (And have thought so often since.)  

"This could kill you."  This thing you're about to do.  This thing that is invoking so much fear, doubt, trepidation, reservation, kicking your nervous system in to high gear at the slightest provocation. . .it could kill you.  For sure."  

Like going to the dentist, having to attend a social event, facing someone from your past who brings up a lot of pain, climbing a mountain, going in to a war zone.  The external circumstances vary, but the fear response is all the same. 

"Girl, this could kill you."  (That's what my thoughts told me.  Which I've learned are separate from who we ACTUALLY are.  Thoughts are just words.  Letters of the alphabet.  Whether we think them consciously or they float in to our space subconsciously, they don't have to MEAN anything.  WE give them all the meaning and attention.)

This could kill you. 
But I knew BEYOND that, on a deeper level. . .


It just might be the thing that rescues you from yourself, from the memories and attachments of your past that have held you back.
From the imaginings and projections you've created in your mind of a dreaded future and 
INSTEAD, launches you in to a freedom from your mind, a release from your fearful thinking, like you've never had before.  

It could just do that instead.
And I had to see.

I trudged up that hill certain my heart would explode out of my chest and I'd die before even getting to the top.  "How embarrassing," I thought as I took each step.  On the brink of tears.  "They're going to find me laying in a heap halfway up this hill in these horrific sweatpants.  Un-showered, unshaved, sweaty and killed by panic.  And I'm going to miss my son's baseball game because I tried to walk up a hill.  Tragic."  As I inched forward my vision blurred and adrenaline coursed through my body, tightening my chest and ability to take a full breath.  

But I did something different this time.  I smiled at it all.  Invited it to kill me.  Right there.  "Go on then.  Do it.  Take me.  I'm done fighting you."  This body is not mine to keep anyway.  And these sweatpants?  I'm pretty sure my husband has intentions of burning them at some point too."

There was no anger.  No cursing.  No tensing against.  Complete surrender WHILE moving forward in to the intensity of the feelings.

And that was it.  It dissipated in an instant.  All my nervous systems vanished.  My vision cleared.  My heart rate slowed.  My breathing returned to normal.  I was at the top.  Heaving and panting, but I had arrived.

Once you've faced panic, allowed it to sweep over you, what is left to fear?  When you no longer are afraid of fear OR yourself?  You are free.

I've stared in to the eyes of deep depression.  Held hands with some of the greatest of my fears.  And I've learned most importantly, first hand, that "disruption in our lives always leads to greater freedom, inclusion and complexity," as Rob Bell says.

It's true.  

And after a lot of struggling in my life, I realized this minor "disruption" was going to be my greatest teacher.  

And I welcomed it in more willingly after that.  Hill after hill, climb after climb.  Not only did my physical strength grow but so did my mental strength.  One day I found myself jogging.  I don't even know how it began.  It had been so long. . .years since I'd run a mile even?  The XC and track career of my high school days long since vanished.  My new life had given way to the stress of motherhood, extra weight and too many excuses to count.  I lost interest and FEAR, including the fear of pushing myself too hard, became stronger than any quest towards any greater physical strength.  

But I suddenly found myself running again.  And ENJOYING it.  WITHOUT FEAR!  And hiking for hours on end.  I couldn't believe it.  But also knew the work I put in, in learning to accept myself at my absolute worst, paved the way for me to regain the inner confidence, wisdom and strength that I really could do ANYTHING if I could do it without expectation, ego, let the fear do its thing and just see where it took me.

And it's taken me to new heights of acceptance and understanding that I look forward to sharing. . .stay tuned:)
Living WITH fear. . .it's way more fun. . .


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