Monday, June 08, 2009


If you look straight into the middle of the sun, you're left with dark spots floating before your eyes. Too much light is blinding. Temporarily. Too much reality is blinding as well. Temporarily. Both shock your system leaving a sense of discomfort you want to flee. What happens to your body if the shocking light stays on and on and on?

Palpitating heartbeats
Racing thoughts
Shallow breaths
Electric impulses
Sensory overload
Rushing adrenaline........over and over and over......

If you walk into a theatre after the lights have been turned off.....just before the movie is about to begin, your hands automatically go up in front of you as your grope around for something solid to grasp onto. Darkness disables our sight. Temporarily. "Coping" with our own reality, by repressing, supressing or pushing it off into a recessed corner disables our sight as well. Temporarily. What happens if you continue to live in the absence of light?

Palpitating heartbeats
Racing thoughts
Shallow breaths
Sensory overload
Anxiety time and again...
Numbness, numbness......dulling the pain......

We try to do everything in our power to avoid the extremes.....those deer caught in the headlight moments and those dank dark tunnel times.....especially if they lurk too often. They make us feel completely discombobulated....incapable and weak. Survival mode kicks in and we put up the shell of self absorption, or try to turn our attention on someone else possibly even overreacting to their drama because its a place to put our own anxieties. We turn into helpers, rescuers, lifesavers....or this is how we see ourselves. Others may see it very differently.

Quite often, because we are so determined to avoid our own house of horrors, we overdo our "helping" and get in the way of someone else's growth and learning. I have been guilty of this. Because of some circumstances where I have tried to "help" or to "rescue," I have neglected my own shadowy demons to a point where I realized the light was TOO bright and I completely backed away. Another time that comes to mind as I write this, I pushed too hard to help and drove the person away. I think its called smothering.....or perhaps "s'mothering" is more apt! Not that I did it out of anything but kindness....but I did it for the wrong avoid my own shadows. Not good for either side of the equation. It wore me out rather than energized me and it impacted a friendship.

There are times when I wish I had a magic wand to take away someone else's pain. I wish I had a magic wand to take away my own when it comes to visit. But, I don't. No one does. Pain, which is the offshoot of anxiety and depression, gets a very bad rap. It HURTS! But, it is also a necessity for survival and for personal growth. It is essential and according to Paul Brand is "the gift nobody wants." When we FEEL pain, whether its physical or emotional....whether its a great big dark crevasse spiritually.... we must learn to recognize it for what it is.... a beacon, a signal in need of attention.

We never have to go it alone, though it is an option offered to us. Isolation rarely heals because of its massive potential for internal cyclical ruminations which eventually leads to a sense of believing there is no exit from the darkened theatre. But, being rescued is no better as it never allows for new learning from the experience... (and can I just add here that this is THE worst thing a parent can do for their child is to continue to rescue them..... how the heck will they ever learn to personally deal with life???).

Too much light....not enough light......signals we are in crisis. The very best thing you could for do me and the very best thing I could do for you? NOT to go into rescue mode...not to take on someone else's suffering...... Just to quietly sit beside one another right in the middle of the mess. Tough to do, to sit in someone else's suffering, or to allow someone else into your own, but if we can't do that as human beings for one another, then we've completely missed the point of why we are here on this planet taking part in God's creation of humanity aren't we??? This is compassion. Sitting in the suffering.
Interestingly, temporary blindness has the capacity to lead to new sight...."insight..."

So how do we get there? How do seek out that beacon, where the light is just right?? How do we adjust the light so it isn't so darn blinding?? All it takes to make this happen is for one of us to utter three very important a friend, a doctor, a minister, a psychologist, a psychiatrist, a stranger .... someone you can trust....

"Please help me....."
Why is it that we choke on these words so often? Why do we dredge the suffering on by denying we need help?

ps. I chose the photo to accompany this piece because I loved the fact that this geranium was a slip cut from a plant and is re-rooting. Such a beautiful bloom, but also it has a few leaves that are damaged and dried up...and the stem isn't straight. It has lived long, perhaps in the garden last year and was reborn into a different form of beauty. Last night, it sat in a vase with such elegance over my friend Jen's kitchen sink. The late afternoon sun caught in its spaces.....its red petals sung with a promise of strength....its roots replenished with goodness. Soon it will join the rest of the garden.


Anonymous said...

That temporary blindness definitely leads to greater insight. I just wish I could remember that when the lights are dancing in front of my eyes and I feel myself slipping into the crevasse.

A very insightful post. And a message I need to remind myself of.

Rainbow dreams said...

Growth nearly always comes out of pain...much as we all dislike it.
However, balance is good!

The ones who help us through are indeed the ones who sit with us, they are the ones who don't judge, but are there to hold our hands and accept us as we are.

I think perhaps it is hardest to do when it is your own child - and perhaps that is why so many children do grow up expecting to be rescued from every situation...
people find it easier to take over and 'do' rather than let someone work though it themselves and guide them.

Marja said...

Thanks to going to great pains, with somebody sitting aside I improved a lot, although it is still easy in difficult times to relapse
I am still guilty of doing to much especially for my child as they undergo the same kind of problems I did. I try but it is very hard to step back and watch them fall

Marja said...

Great post Dana Thanks for reminding

a mouthy irish woman? ridiculous! said...

my name is heather "fixer" kathleen. and i learned how to ask for help when i was 38.

i'm now 43. and living.

nice to meet you.

Awareness said... too! I would also like to remember the reason why I go into a funk once a month! Why can't I ever remember this? :)

Katie...Sadly, we are living in a time when we don't even allow our kids to go anywhere without some beeping device on them for goodness sakes!
Though there are most definately times when we have to jump in to rescue. Our kids need to know they can trust and rely on us...that's all a part of learning how to feel secure, but most parents go way overboard and interfere with every little conflict. They also over schedule the kids so there's never any down time or open ended play. Where did all of this over parenting stuff come from??? And why has it been so fashionable for so long? I think we're going to see a new trend....a return to helping kids figure things out and learn that boredom sometimes leads to great inventions. surely is, especially if you've experienced it yourself. When it has happened to me, I have a very tough time not reacting and have to force myself to recognize I'm reacting based on my own triggers.

Irish Heather...I'm the fixer fairy and try to leave my glue gun at home as much as I can. Funny though, when I hit my 40's I dropped a bunch of roles around here....mitten keeper, schedule nazi, list making momma.... and adopted the new brain of a wandering writer. My head is in the clouds most days. My family continues to adjust to this phenomenon.... one of the adjustments is that no one seems to have socks that match. I could care less. hahaha!