A new attitude.
Named must your fear be before banish it you can.Yoda from “The Empire Strikes Back”
If I remember correctly, George Lucas actually wrote Yoda’s lines (not the screenwriters Lawrence Kasdan and Leigh Brackett). At any rate, I do find that Yoda’s wisdom sometimes comes in handy. Yesterday I focused on my dreams/nightmares. For weeks I have struggled with moments of anxiety and fear spurred by my dreams. I haven’t remembered many details of them, just how they make me feel.
Last night, for the first time in weeks, I feel as though my dreams were not quite so disconcerting. This morning, I awoke with a clear memory of some details from a dream. There was nothing extraordinary about it, nor anything that needs to be deeply analyzed. What stood out, however, was that I did not feel that all-too-familiar sense of fear and anxiety which has filled my early mornings for the past few weeks.
I named the problem and now I feel as though I can work to address it.
For weeks I think I have been sublimating too many things. Oh, I have had moments of raw honesty in these daily posts, but overall I have been avoiding the full reality of my emotions. Let’s face it. Messy emotions are not comfortable – not for the person having them or the person hearing about them. I realize that I am still editing and I don’t mean editing here in these posts (although that is certainly the case). I mean editing in my own mind.
My mind is a powerful thing. All my life, my intellect is one of the few things that I have felt positive about. It’s something that is totally mine and something I can control. I have always been an academic overachiever – straight “A” student, valedictorian of my high school class, merit scholar, Phi Beta Kappa, MENSA, etc. When I feel out of control or bullied or disenfranchised or abused I can always retreat into my intellect and find comfort.
One of the downsides of a powerful mind, however, is that I can also quite effectively force myself to think along specific lines and avoid others. I can create powerful barriers between what I want to think and what I don’t want to think. That means that I am a genius at avoidance.
Those walls are finally breaking down. The beginning of the quarantine was like turning on a stove at a low heat. It took a while for a simmer to start and as things began to compound and (metaphorically) heat up, the temperature slowly began to rise. That simmer became a slow boil and as I felt that, I put the lid on and tried to ignore it.
I’m terrified of my pressure cooker. I have one – it was a gift about 15 years ago and I have never used it. It sits in my cabinet, pristine and nearly perfect. I read too many things about exploding pressure cookers and people being scalded by superheated steam and I am afraid to even try to learn how to use it.
Well, now I am experiencing the personal metaphysical version of exactly what I fear. I have put the lid on my boiling emotions and they are going to explode unless I can figure out how to gently release the steam – a little at a time – so that I can then remove the lid and examine what remains.
That’s one of my primary goals for the next seven days of my vacation/staycation. I have named my fear and now I have the power to banish it. My emotions will be messy this week and I will have to look into corners of my mind that frighten me. But the alternative is not a good one – and I prefer to have at least some marginal control over how I choose to “release the pressure.”
Maybe I will pull out that pressure cooker today and give it a try.
It’s only Quarantine if it comes from the Quarante province of France. Otherwise, it’s just Sparkling Isolation.