This is the question I ask myself this morning as I wake up, too early, again, wondering where I’ve gone off the rails, again.
In a few key areas of my life, I feel things spinning out of orbit. I’m not sure how to read the signs. I’m not sure how to respond. My two default stances are desperation and paralysis. Of the two, paralysis seems more attractive to me at the moment, simply because then I don’t spew my desperation all over these situations that already feel uncertain to me.
But a sneaking suspicion crept into my thoughts this morning. What if I haven’t done anything wrong? It’s a startling thought, because it challenges such old beliefs about who I am and the nature of my true power in the world.
It seems that when my life gets uncertain, my brain and heart and spirit (?) revert to very very old ways of thinking and feeling. And the oldest of them all is that whatever has happened that feels unhappy, has happened because I have done something wrong. And if I could just find out what that wrong thing is, and fix it, then that unhappy thing will go away.
It’s wildly oversimplistic, except that it’s such a powerful presence in my thought processes that I don’t easily identify it as an old belief, much less understand that there might be other ways to view my life.
And it’s a peculiarly twisted way of feeling and understanding my personal power. Either I behave “right” (the definition of which keeps shifting, by the way), and have happiness, or I behave “wrong” (in ways I have no idea I was wrong until after the fact) and have unhappiness.
Granted, there are always mis-steps. And certainly, old patterns of thought and behavior can indeed set me up for repeating painful situations without realizing I’ve done it.
But I’m wondering, right now, if the truth lies in a different place. I’m wondering if, really, I’ve done anything wrong at all. I’m wondering if, maybe, I could take that burden off of myself. I’m wondering if, when I look at my internal world, at those things that matter most to me, if I could simply observe what I see without returning immediately to judge my own role in it all.
Somehow, the difficulty here is it makes me feel like a bit of a fool to do that. It makes me feel as if I’m setting myself up for further pain. It gives me the sense that by changing the equation from “find out what I did wrong and fix it” to “this is what I’m experiencing and I did nothing wrong” I’ve moved from honesty to hubris. It feels, also, as if I’m setting myself up for a date with naivete, and later, the inevitable denouement in which my lack of judgment, knowledge, and understanding are revealed and my full responsibility for the unhappiness in my own life and the lives of those around me is revealed.
It’s a tricky business. Because certainly if I choose my thoughts (or even step back from them) I can move from self-blame to simple observation. And certainly that one small step can have far-reaching consequences. But what if I’m wrong, there too? See this is how my thought patterns work. The intensity of self-blame, of self-doubt, becomes so pervasive that I question even my capacity to step out of it.
What about trust? What about faith? What about believing that whatever is happening in my life right now, I’ve done nothing wrong? What about imagining the wildness of simply trusting that what is happening, is happening outside the realm of my inner evil? What about questioning whether my inner evil truly exists? What about looking inward and finding places where it hurts, bad, and removing the thumb screws and the other emotional self-torture devices and simply saying “this hurts right now and I don’t understand it”? What about looking outward at the twists and turns of my life and saying “I have done so much dreaming to get here. This is my dream life. And my dreams are evolving.”
I tend to want to hold on to what felt good, what felt secure, what felt reassuring, yesterday or last month or last year. And certainly I appreciate when life brings me those golden threads that I can follow and continue to weave into the changing patterns of my existence.
What if the most golden thread of all, for me, is the one that says that I didn’t do anything wrong. What if the most golden thread is the one that lets me know my dreams still matter. What if the most golden thread is the dreams.
And what if dreaming makes me a fool? I wonder, what if it does? I dream of a life for myself and my daughters that looks and feels much different from the life we live right now. And I know that the dreams I started dreaming almost six years ago when I first came out to myself, are dreams that have in so many ways become – well, they’ve become my life. My impossible life.
What if dreaming takes me places I have no idea how to go? What if counting on dreams brings me a peace that can’t be described by the old “you did something wrong” belief? And what if, in shifting the responsibility for my life away from externalities and onto dreams, I find relief?
Thinking now of the tarot card of the same name, the playful person setting out on an exciting journey, I will be that kind of fool.