Why don’t I ring the doorbell when it’s freezing out and I need to come in and get warm?
I’m still doing all of the things suggested to help un-clog the root chakra. I am wearing the red, inhaling deeply of patchouli, cedar and sandalwood oil, eating lots of protein and root vegetables and working on my tree pose (although I’m kind of a wobbly tree whose raised leg gravitates magnetically to the forbidden knee of the grounded leg).
I also read and re-read read the pertinent parts of Judith Anodea’s Wheels of Life, because this chakra stuff is new to me, and there’s a lot to take in and remember. Every day, it seems, I pick up a new idea to carry on this journey, another smooth pebble in my pocket as I walk.
Yesterday I caught on this sentence: “Facing our fear can help the first chakra wake up.”
I wasn’t so much doing that, what with all the yoga and sniffing and chanting. I was busy.
I know the root chakra is all about survival, grounding, the right to be here, and the right to have things, but I had avoided answering Judith’s questions, provided as tools to explore root chakra issues:
- “From whom do you need permission to take care of yourself?”
- “What is your fear of grounding, of becoming stable, of standing on your own two feet?”
- “How was your survival provided for in childhood, by whom and at what cost?”
So I started thinking, and looking for the answers beneath the stock answers. I knew the “right” answers. They are as follows:
“I’m a grown woman and I don’t need permission from anyone to do anything.”
“Of course I’m not afraid of standing on my own two feet.”
“My parents provided for my survival because they loved me, and there was no ‘cost.’”
Only the truth is, none of those answers are honest. Not even a little bit.
The truth is that I feel guilty and embarrassed when I take care of myself. I have a pattern of running myself into the ground (usually to please other people) and then having a kind of defensive hissy fit in which I announce that I am “Going to take a day off and don’t judge me!” Which is, of course, a way of saying “please say it’s okay if I take care of myself.”
Yesterday I counted how many times I apologized or tried to explain why I was not doing various things (that no one had actually asked me to do anyway). I apologized to my husband because I was taking a day off from helping him look for jobs. I apologized to my father because I wasn’t going drive over to see him because the weather was bad. I made excuses to best friend who is hundreds of miles away and would have believed me if I told her I was spending the day splitting atoms.
I am actively afraid of being “caught” being selfish. I am afraid of being caught by the people who love me best, although no one has ever remotely suggested that I don’t deserve to take care of myself. The real answer to the first question is that I need permission from everybody to take care of myself. And the only person in my life who would ever actually deny me that permission is me.
I am also pathologically afraid of being really, truly independent and standing on my own two feet. I am scared of being poor, alone, abandoned, and ignored. I wasn’t always; I was for many years a single working person living alone in a city and taking care of everything from leaky faucets to hauling groceries on the bus. I don’t know what happened there. I have to think about it more, dig deeper, and poke at more nerve endings before I even understand what the actual problem is.
But that last question? I think I know the problem, if not its source.
My parents really did love me and I had a really happy childhood. For some reason, though, I always felt that the cost of my continued happiness was being “good.” I don’t know where it came from. I was taught to have impeccable manners, to serve others and to be loyal to my family. Is it possible that I somehow translated that into a quid pro quo in which my right to be on the earth, safe and secure was entirely contingent on pleasing people?
I remembered this: when I was 23, I lived at home between college and law school. I had a full time job. The only rules were that I had to clean the house once a week, and be in at a reasonable hour or call to say I wouldn’t be home. Pretty fair.
One night I fell asleep at the boyfriend’s apartment. I hadn’t called to say I’d be gone over night. It was too late to call my parents. I panicked, and made the boyfriend get up and drive me home. He kept saying “I’m sure they’ll understand” but I was irrationally afraid, as if my own dear, reasonable parents were monsters.
When I got home at 4:30AM, the front door was locked. I just knew it was punishment, “tough love,” and judgment. I didn’t want to compound my badness by knocking or ringing the bell at the crack of. I told the boyfriend to go, and I sat on the front stoop on a freezing October morning until my dad came down at 7:00 to let the dog out.
As it turns out, they hadn’t actually even known I wasn’t there. My father, thinking I was already in bed, had turned out the lights and locked the door before heading up to bed.
There was no “tough love,” no judgment, no punishment.
After I came in, shaking with cold, my mother said “why didn’t you just ring the doorbell; we would have let you in. It’s freezing out there!”
Why don’t I ring the doorbell when it’s freezing out, and I need to come in and get warm?
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Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: Allison Crow on Flickr