Recently, I snapped at someone important to me.
It happens more often than I’d like to admit.
I’ll have a day that I’ve mentally labeled as “hard” that I feel gives me a free pass to point the finger at anyone who remotely upsets me.
When this happens, I try to take a step back to figure out what prompted my negative words or actions. In this most recent incident, something dawned on me. (Isn’t it interesting that something “dawns” on you? Light suddenly spreads all over your mind and heart and you can understand, for the first time, the truth. What a great adjective, “dawn.”)
I realized that it’s easy to make someone else responsible for our own hurt. It’s much harder to take responsibility for our pain.
We tell ourselves stories about the way that we grew up, the place that we held in relation to our siblings (or lack thereof), and the experiences that have led to our sorrows.
We seal all of these subjective memories and thoughts into a little box that determines the way that we act, feel, and think in the days that follow.
The world tells us to never show this box to anyone, and to never share what’s inside.
To do this, we dig a deep hole—tucking the box away so that nothing can touch it. When something does scrape the surface, we flinch.
All the while, we’re unaware that the box holds a film reel with a point of view that’s limited to one perspective. A film made up of at least partial fiction—a movie in which we are the protagonist.
We remain unaware that this box holds all of our insecurities, limitations, and self-fulfilling prophecies.
We walk through life holding hands with other characters in the stories we all have constructed. If they act outside the script we’ve come to know, we flinch again.
We go on blaming others for our pain because our pasts have made us hypersensitive to the present. And we can’t hold on to the here and now because we’ve identified only with that old film reel in the box.
Opening the box and taking apart the reel would mean coming apart. It would mean digging deep, entering the dark hole, and revisiting the past.
We’d have to examine scenes that we thought we’d forgotten, scenes that were unbearably painful, and scenes that weren’t filmed from the angle that we saw originally.
We’d have a bird’s-eye view.
Once we saw our lives for what they are, we’d no longer be able to identify the film reel as our true experience. We’d have too much power.
Many of us don’t do this because we’re scared we’d lose the most intimate thing we’ve come to know—the identity we’ve made for ourselves.
Living inside our hidden box feels safe. No one can come in, and we never have to come out. No one can even touch it. There’s certainly an appeal to this. But it prevents us from fully being there with anyone else, and what’s worse is that we’re missing the most intimate thing there is: connection and identification with others.
Since it seems like everyone else is doing it too, we feel okay with pointing fingers at others and leaving our box untended.
Outside of the box is an infinite multiverse. There’s pure, unfiltered connection. To truly experience it, we’d have to let go of what we thought was real, see everything for what it really is, and then dive into the unknown. We’d have to go against the grain.
We’d have to go into the deep, dark hole and willingly come apart at the seams. We’d have to revisit all of the scenes.
It would mean taking responsibility for present pain.
It would also mean living each moment connected to the world around us.
We all deserve to dig up our boxes and come to terms with what’s inside. We all deserve to share it with the world, should we choose.
Most importantly, we all deserve to invite the present moment and the people around us into our lives without any strings attached. We deserve a life that flows from one experience to the next, making connections with others gently, lovingly, and without judgment.
Our greatest pains can become our greatest source of growth. The willingness to explore is the only separation between the two.
“The best way out is always through.” ~ Robert Frost
Editor: Callie Rushton