A simple post by a friend today prompted this blog.
“I would rather have peace in my life, than the need to portray myself as perfect to everyone else”
I am not perfect. I am flawed. And I am learning to recognize that. And in that recognition peace is the desired result.
I’ll never forget my grandmother, or Nanny, as she preferred to be referenced.
In some whacked out way she taught me one of the most important lessons in my life and it’s taken me 53 years to finally see it. It occurred in an elevator in what I believe was a department store somewhere. I have zero recall of anything standing out that would assist me in providing more information than this. I think in part because the shopping experience that day turned into a nightmare of epic proportions as we found ourselves trapped behind the gilded cage of an old school lift. It truly wasn’t as terrifying in retrospect but to my tender ears, the sounds of my Nanny screaming and shaking the closed cage was more than enough to make me wary of anything that locked me inside. In fact, I believe I have struggled against anything that holds me back from escape ever since that event. Up until this very moment I have encouraged the threat of heart failure in my refusal to be trapped anywhere. Have you ever walked 10 flights of stairs at my age? It’s no easy feat. I congratulate myself at the very top once I manage to stop hyperventilating. “You did it. You’re free and not dead!!” But…it hit me today….is that freedom? I went back to our gilded box for a moment and by removing the fear of it I am able to see that the inside door had opened. The elevator had managed to creak its way up to our desired floor and all that was now separating us was a cage. Beyond the bars the face of a security guard who looked baffled and fearful that my Nanny might actually rip them from their holdings if he continued to do no more than stand staring. He reached for the outside bar that would release us from our little prison and I was pushed out with all of the speed of a boy blowing spit balls by my frantic guardian.
There was nothing to be afraid of at all. I can clearly see through the bars that life existed beyond them. In her haste for escape my Nanny had missed the obvious handle, that, when lifted, would pull the doors aside. Because she was afraid. Because she was afraid she saw only a box. And boxes have frightened me ever since. And whether from a physical value or a psychological one, I have refused to be caught in anything that would prevent me from breaking free.
Perhaps I was born this way and the experience was no more than a reflection of that. Or perhaps it was intended to become the lesson the entire time. All I know is that I am tired of climbing up and out of uncomfortable places in my effort to not be harmed by them.
The problem with tight places is that you learn to engage all types of escape methods. The first of course is avoidance. If you don’t step in then there is nothing to get out of. Of course life doesn’t allow for us to choose because sometimes we have no idea that we stepped in until we hear the cage click behind us.
The other method is to put one foot in to test it and leave the other in the safe zone beyond the bars. You never get the full experience of what’s inside the space because only half of you is immersed at all times. Do you know that I spent almost 3/4 of my adult life holding the bathroom stall door closed with the tip of my shoe? I kid you not. Trusting no locks at all to release me, I turned the simple act of urinating into an Olympic sport. I suppose the universe prepared me by allowing me to have feet that stretched that far.
The last method is to avoid all coaxing to slip into a box. This one I am incredibly proficient at. This method I learned early, likely long before the elevator incident even occurred. How I learned it is inconsequential at this point in my life. What I do know and now recognize is that I will not be drawn into any box of anyone’s making.
The one box that I have always struggled with is the box that should feel safe. The box that includes love. I have it right here beside me all of the time, but tend to avoid it like a distrustful cat might avoid the carrier. I will come close and sniff the edges but I will circle for days before even considering placing a foot inside. And the whole idea of placing my entire self into that space….well that simply terrifies me. You may after a long period of time get me in, but any indication at all of not trusting the lock and I will arch into the corner and scratch you in my frantic race to escape.
This has made the typical life an uncomfortable one. Especially when you consider that I went the typical route with it. I married at 18 and had three kids by 28. Every single person in this typical family created their own version of what our boxes should look like. My box was a whole lot of loosey goosey. With no less than five exits I knew I had a way out if I needed it. My husbands box included walks on the beach holding hands and making plans for a retirement I wasn’t at all convinced would manifest because in that existed a promise. And I don’t do promises. Because promise represents an expectation and expectation is the most powerful lock to escape from. I have presented quite a challenge for those in my life that love me.
And so the universe presented for me an atypical way of peering into the boxes that I have sidestepped for decades. A chance to see that something beyond fear exists and that it is beautiful. A peek into your worlds, the memories that you hold. The love that I have discovered in many of the “heavens” that I am privy to viewing. And I am slowly beginning to learn that some of you are just as afraid of your boxes as I am. And that others just simply don’t understand my boxes at all. And that’s OK.
I am simply purely grateful knowing that not all boxes are unsafe. And I thank you for that. All that have trusted me with their own boxes. You have given me the faith that I needed to build a box of my own making. Where my own love bounces back at me and reminds me that I am worthy of it. Where I can finally learn to stop scratching on my way out, curl up and know how to not only give love…
But to accept it.
And that right there. Is the secret to life.
Unfurl your wings. Push open the door.
Thanks for listening.
Sending you love….and learning to accept it back…bear with me. 😉