June 21, 2015

What Reluctance Feels Like.

Girl woman alone metro subway

I was struggling, feeling, learning, growing, loving, stretching, hurting, healing and focusing on just being so that I could honor the storm I was going through. But I was reluctant.

I’ve discovered that what I call “being with reluctance” can be its own set of challenges, and I’m guessing these look different for everyone. When everything you believe is thrown into the fire, uncertainty can take over and you can lose sight—and, if you’re not careful, lose light.

You know how sometimes parts of you are missing or hiding, and parts of you are fighting to not be put away, and you are walking around with all of the parts looking for shelter inside you, all at the same time, bumping into one another like they can’t see in the dark? You’re wondering if anyone else can hear the rattling and scuffling. Sometimes all that inner mayhem causes you to lose your balance.

That’s how my reluctance feels.

I have found that it really is possible for someone or something to shake your foundation and muck you up for a very long time. And it isn’t because you weren’t strong enough or wise enough or enlightened enough. It is because you were open enough: open enough to be broken into by someone whom you’d already given a key. And when our beliefs are shattered, it isn’t just pieces we are putting back together; it is dust that can’t be glued, and shards that can’t be avoided and a replica that can’t ever quite match the original. So things look different. Things feel different.

For me, it is hands that tremble, bloody with fresh wounds, rough with telltale scars in unexpected places, and scared to hold any of it, and scared not to. For me it is a nervous heart.

Sometimes I don’t recognize my surroundings and there is a conflict in just being. There is an innocence and desire to trust and pour love out while at the same time an uncertainty if pouring out is even an option because who knows where that love will land and in what kinds of hands.

I feel scared to trust my own heart. I remind myself to trust it and then I forget to. I second guess everything, not just what other people say but also what I do. What I write. What I think. I doubt myself. The only thing I don’t second guess is how I feel. I know for sure that I feel afraid. It is like the ground is shaky under my feet. I am sure of that.

In this place of reluctance I don’t know what’s true and what’s not. Genuineness isn’t always clear, and those who are authentic are not always easy to identify through the fog of my self doubt.  It isn’t about them. It’s about me. I suddenly have a filter where there never seemed to be one, and instead of a clarifying filter, this filter makes it harder to discern what is good for me and what is dangerous.

My reluctance paralyzes me and I shut down as if it’s an exercise in safety and self preservation and at the same time in a bizarre way it hurts to the point of madness to give less of myself.

So I lay my head down and look like I’m asleep but my heart beats awkwardly with one eye open. After all, it’s hard to sleep on broken pieces. I squirm and readjust and sometimes find a spot where nothing is poking me too hard and I doze off but then inevitably I move in my sleep and I wake up with a sharp edge digging into my skin in a critical place like a dagger attached to an angry yet lazy hand.

And it is then I recommit myself to choosing love and, albeit reluctantly, I make the conscious decision to breathe love, to speak love, to live love. I cradle my uncertainty and love says “come what may.”

Because I know sometimes the truth can crush your skeletal faith. And everything you believed in can crash to your feet and splinter like your bones, tiny particles blowing away, never to be seen again.

But I also know that love and grace will put you back together because you are worthy,

you are worthy,

you are worthy of more

than the truth

that broke you.


Author: Jacqueline O’Leary
Editor: Caroline Beaton
Image: Elephant Archives

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