We’re our own dragons as well as our own heroes, and we have to rescue ourselves from ourselves.
— Tom Robbins
If it’s going to be, it’s up to me.
Today is the first day of the rest of my life, but no worries, so is tomorrow.
As I’ve mentioned in the past few blogs, I’ve been listening to (via Audible) The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown. While I’m not one for hero worship, this is a woman who works every day to be present and authentic. She is a one woman army working towards helping anyone who is interested in living a wholehearted life.
The term “wholehearted living” is a lot scarier than it sounds. For one thing, it means feeling the feelings that are in your life. It means trying your best to avoid numbing, and be present for yourself and your loved ones. For me, this is very, very hard – maybe for you too.
Numbing can come in lots of flavors. There’s booze, drugs, chocolate, denial, avoidance, TV, movies, and books. Since my youth, I’ve numbed by avoiding through reading. If I could get lost in a book, then whatever was going on in my life was more bearable because I “went away.” It was my only coping mechanism, and as a kid my favorite reads were romances where the female heroine (the fictional me) was swept away by the hero. In the sweeping away, I was rescued from the situation in which I was trapped.
To be fair, that was not usually how the story went. The guy always got the girl and they lived happily ever after, but she often didn’t need rescuing. They just fell in love – which always conquered all. The glow of being in love (by proxy) would get me through many an uncomfortable situation and I would sacrifice most anything to have it.
Pay the Price
As a result, as Ellie wrote in Raise One Arm, I also have a fantasy of being rescued. What’s most interesting to me is that most of our friends view each of us as being so independent that no one would dare to rescue us. And that’s the catch.
In reality, I feel that I am more capable than most people at figuring out what’s right for me and taking action. Much as I want a Prince Charming, he’d probably get pushed aside as I moved forward towards my goal.
My dad never quite got it. He felt that someone should take care of me. I think he meant well, but I didn’t receive it that way. A great example is the year I was on the road for over 100,000 frequent flier miles. I was flying somewhere at least once every three weeks. The more this continued, the more Dad decided that I needed someone to come along with me to take care of me. I’m not sure what he thought this extra person would do, but at least they’d be there. He even offered to come with me. Fortunately, when I explained that it would be very expensive, airfare, hotel, meals, he figured out that it wasn’t feasible. He still wanted someone to take care of me, he just wasn’t willing to pay the price.
And that’s the point, I think. Everything has a price. Self-sufficiency makes it hard to become dependent again. Rescuing someone else requires that you give up your dreams, at least temporarily.
It’s pain that causes me to want to numb out, but when I’m numb, I’m not solving the problem, I’m trying to outlast it. I’m hoping it will go away on its own. That was OK when I was a kid and I really had no options. It’s not OK any more.
Today, as they say, “If it’s going to be, it’s up to me.” So, I need to dig myself out of my book or my movie and figure out what I want and how to get there. I grieve the rescue fantasy, but I’ve never been a good damsel in distress. It’s time to get off my duff and set out on my journey. I don’t know where I’m going, yet. But, I’ll figure it out.