Self-help clichés and positive affirmations can on occasion be motivating, supportive and helpful; other times they can be downright frustrating and reek of total bull. "They" say failure is the stepping stone to success (at this rate I should be a huge star any day now). "They" also say when you're at the bottom there is nowhere to go but up (only problem is, you don't always know when you're at the bottom, and sometimes you think you are and yet you manage to slide a little further in the wrong direction).
And we've all heard these words when we are struggling through a tough scenario: "Trust," "Have faith," "Don't worry, things will work out." Often, these encouraging words make me feel as though I am supposed to have super human powers to avoid any level of stress or fear. That if you have faith you also must not feel fear and if you do then you're just not good enough, not trusting enough, not faithful enough (another way to wonder "where do I not measure up?"). Ascribing to the philosophy that we can be completely free of fear and worry can lead us down the path of suppression and denial (instead of release and transformation).
One saying that I do love is "feel the fear and do it anyway." But now I was facing a situation where I couldn't really "do" anything. I was actively managing my day and my stress. I am not a morning person, yet I was so excited by my new life unfolding and pursuing my passions that I was getting up at 6:45 a.m. three days a week to take Bikram yoga, taking boot camp at the park, juicing fresh vegetables, eating well, cutting back on the wine, managing my time during the day, focusing on my writing, meditating daily and staying busy with events and support from loved ones. I was "doing" everything I could to manage my fear and anxiety and to avoid a meltdown. But deep inside, I was really afraid.
All of my friends and loved ones wanted me to be OK, there was no malice on their part, but underlying my situation was a real fear. I had done "the work." I was ready to move on and be joyful, I was joyful. But information that I was told to me was incorrect and I was left holding a very frightening bag that I didn't know what to do with.
When we begin to awaken, we want to be able to express vulnerability (at least theoretically). But we are inherently uncomfortable with it, in ourselves and in others. We judge ourselves and others when we feel and exhibit these uglier emotions. But as Brene Brown says in Daring Greatly "there is no 'get out of vulnerability free card.'"
What I realized, though, is that from time to time the answer to a tough situation really is feeling the anger, the fear, the disappointment. Sometimes to get to the other side you have to wade through a really tough patch of internal stuff. To change the tapes you need to roll up the car windows to kick and scream and cry before you can create the new tapes and get them playing in your head. This can be true with grief, with fear, with anxiety, etc.
The situation we may be facing now is scary, but it is also triggering all the other times in our life where we felt scared, abandoned, betrayed or whatever else is coming up for us. That emotion has to get out. It wants to get out! Let it out. It's impossible to move forward and FEEL faithful and trusting, unless you let that wild banshee scream and kick. And on occasion after all that effort the banshee needs a Xanax, a glass of wine, and the nearest mattress on which to pass out.
To get back to the place of feeling and being open, we need to meditate on disappointment, on fear, and on angst. These are natural and deep rooted, real emotions that humans have to express. Let's not pretend they don't exist and let's not suppress them to prove the clichés right.
So I let the emotion out -- the fear, overwhelm, the frustration. I cried, I screamed, I got frustrated, frightened, angry, disappointed and hopeless -- for a moment. I released the bottled up emotion inside of me, and felt some relief. I still had no answer to my problem, but I had moved beyond paralysis.
In the end, the greatest gift arose from this experience. When my boyfriend came home that evening (even though I told him to go watch football instead because I felt crappy), I walked up to him and said "I'm scared." He didn't tell me everything would be okay, or to have faith. All he replied with was "I know" and a hug. And sometimes, that's all it takes.