Last weekend I was driving down a stretch of I-81 in Virginia, it was pretty and quiet and I was several hours into a 15-hour drive.
It was a nice and quiet respite of solitude after several very social weeks. Until, suddenly, a tangle of grief and anger rose up in my gut. Tears started leaking from my eyes and a whole lotta curse words started spewing from my mouth.
My first thought was: Still?? Still this grief after 13.5 years? Jesus Effing Christ. (Apologies to those with a Christian bent. No disrespect intended to the Jesus man.).
My next thought was: Why do people leave me when I need them most?
Well, hello, little painful, unhelpful belief. Where have you been hiding?
It’s an old painful belief that has lain quietly in my brain and heart for many years now. It’s not hard to find the origin of it. The day I found out I was pregnant, my fiancé was in a car accident and taken off life support two days later. He never knew about our daughter and, obviously, he couldn’t be there with me when she also died months later.
Although rationally I know that he didn’t have much of a say in the matter, when I needed him most, he left. So did my daughter.
Emotion isn’t rational. Emotion and these kinds of sneaky hidden beliefs aren’t logical or made of common sense. They are born out of hurt and pain when, for a variety of reasons, we don’t have the skills or capacity to process that particular hurt and pain.
A similar hurt and pain had come up again recently in a situation with a friend, and unbeknownst to me at the time, so had this painful belief that people leave me when I need them most. It was a belief I’d spent the last month or so desperately avoiding with unconscious busyness, social time, and a whole lot of mental distraction.
Looking back it explains a lot. No wonder my sleep has been crap. 😉
Then came a quiet, solo, no-distractions road trip. And I couldn’t avoid it anymore. This old belief arose, triggering old and new pain, and came unavoidably spewing out my eyes and mouth.
And honestly, while it hurt, pulling that thorn of a belief out of my heart after so many years has been a relief these past few days.
Because as soon as I was aware of it, as soon as I stopped running from it, it no longer had power over me. I could see it. I could see how it poked it’s thorny head into my relationships to wreak havoc.
And, now, because I could see it, I could let it go. I could take back my power over it and prevent the damage to my relationships.
Now, I could finally also see all the times and ways I am always supported. I could see the ways that family and friends, and even strangers, have been there for me when I needed them most. Sometimes that isn’t always in the way I want or expect, but most of the time, when I need someone, someone is there.
When I let them.
When I can let them because I don’t have this painful hidden belief stirring up some rather impressive self-sabotage.
And, finally, I can be there for me when I need me most. Because that’s what I need the most – me to be on my side. Me to be there for me.
So, my question for you is this: What are you avoiding? What painful beliefs might be lurking around your brain?
And perhaps more importantly, are you fully on your own side? Are you being there for you?
Something to ponder.