Yeah. What if they’re not out to get you?
To take advantage of you?
To hurt you?
I’ve been asking myself these questions a lot, lately. Maybe you need to ask yourself, too?
I ask them when I’m at my “rock bottom“—that depth of space that so many consider dark and dangerous and weak. But for me, rock bottom isn’t someplace I sink to; it’s a place I dive toward—a place where I rediscover the treasure of my essence—the positive, earthy core of who I am.
Our rock bottoms don’t have to be the stigmatized space they’re sometimes made out to be; they don’t need to be things that we avoid. In fact, we very well ought to plunge head-first into them.
If our rock bottom times feel without anchor, it’s probably because we’ve let go of the solid core of who we are—that energy that sits within us and keeps us weighted and yet soaring toward all that we know we desire and deserve.
And so I’ve asked myself those questions, lately. I ask them on repeat because I have felt untethered, as if I were either a helium balloon helplessly headed up into the atmosphere with no direction, sure to pop and fall into oblivion, or a boat without an anchor and with no fuel or sail to lead me to shore.
It is in these moments of flight or drift from self that we come to a frantic quest for survival. It can seem at times as if everything is out to get us. Doubt, mistrust, and suspicion sneak into our hearts and we begin to shut down. We tell ourselves lies about ourselves and other people.
>> I am a horrible whatever.
>> I am unbearable to be around.
>> No one needs to be burdened by my struggles.
>> I suck at everything I want to do well in.
>> I am not worthy of my past accomplishments.
>> He’s not actually in love with me; he’s gonna see who I really am and leave.
>> I was only invited out of pity.
>> So-and-so is trying to make me look bad; I shouldn’t trust them.
>> They think I’m awful. They’re looking to get rid of me.
And so we begin to react in that form of fear that manifests within us when we might flee from a predator. Do we fight? Do we take flight? Do we freeze, or—my new “favorite”—do we fawn?
I, for one, am a freezer and a fawner. I cannot make a move, or if I do, it is as if it is in slow motion. And then, in an effort to stay afloat, I seek community even if it means that I find it in places and with people who are not legitimate fits for my own personal beliefs, but that seem to “handle” me well enough in all of my not-enoughness and simultaneous too-muchness.
Maybe your survival mechanisms and behaviors look different than mine. But however they look, these are the signs that we have lost it—it being our sweet selves.
These are the signs it’s time to dive toward that bottom instead of instinctually trying to keep ourselves afloat at the surface.
When I look (really look) at my fears of others lately—my suspicioun of them—this is what I see:
I am actually suspicious of myself.
It feels as if I am out to get myself. Self-sabotage.
I am taking advantage of myself by abusing my strengths and running them to empty.
When I do these things, I hurt my Self; I leave my Self.
And so I come to think that everyone else is doing the same. And you know what? From time to time, this is going to be true.
There are going to be people who are out to get us, to take advantage, to hurt, to steal from us; there are going to be people who leave us. Sure. But I think that’s more rare than when we do these things to ourselves.
What would happen if we were to focus not on our suspicion or on survival, and instead focus on authenticity and boundary and goal-setting?
And so, when I begin to think that “they” are out to get me, I keep doing the one thing that I can do right now: I keep questioning where it is I can go out and better “get” myself.