Meditating last night, I found myself chanting “sit” on repeat. Going through my mala beads at least twice, maybe three times consistently reminding myself to “sit.”
“Sit, sit, sit, sit, sit, sit..” and so it went.
Having been born in a house of chaos, it’s been challenging for most of my adult life to sit still in times of uneasy emotional circumstances. Instinct tells me to run away from the feelings, either by moving to another apartment, city or even state. Instinct also tells me to lose all the friendships I’ve made, destroy or abandon them all and start anew. It’s fear-based, it’s fear that people are getting too close, it’s fear that tells me to run.
I’ve moved 20 times in the last 12 years because of this flight-based instinct. I have recreated my life and developed new friendships more than I can count. Only showing people what I want to show them and leaving the rest as the past, fearing judgment, criticism or inability to relate.
Sitting in uncomfortable moments where our anxiety is high, our emotions are abusively loud and our hearts are aching, are signs of true growth. If I can sit quietly with my pain long enough, I can uncover the root of the disturbance. In this circumstance, like most children of alcoholics, my root was and usually is, loneliness.
I was alone in my childhood. My dad traveled 90% of the time. He was home for maybe 1 weekend a month for 15 years. When he was home, he was devastatingly drunk. To put this into perspective, my dad usually drank about a half gallon of vodka a night. So when I say he was drunk, I mean he was terribly drunk. That led to fights, slurs, stumbles, accidents, hurt and eventually him passing out with a lit cigarette in his hand – to which I often put out at the end of the night when I heard it was finally quiet, and safe.
My mom started out as a very loving and doting mother. But, from the years of isolation and an inability to self-reflect or grow on her own, she too began to drink as a coping mechanism. Alcoholism ran in her family as well so it came as no surprise why she married a drunk or why she herself found it easy to treat her symptoms with alcohol. However, that left my sister and I very much alone.
I responded to this by becoming a classic internalizer. I felt so much of the responsibility in my household that when problems arose, I turned the blame on myself and wanted to mediate the entire family until there was peace again. Which, there could never be because alcoholism doesn’t allow that. I often found myself depressed, anxious and drained by the internal voice in my head constantly criticizing and accusing me of things I’d never really done.
Because of this internal monologue, I decided it was probably better for me to just live in the woods, so that’s what I did. I retreated inward, into my dark cave of anger, confusion, hormones, self-hatred and dying light of childhood and went into the woods. I slept under the stars, exhaled the sunrise, listened to fawns gingerly walking towards me on the ever-so-loud crunchy autumn leaves. And in this solicitude, I started to find some semblance of peace. But, I also found loneliness.
It took me another 10 years to figure out how to quiet my mind, sync in with myself and my world and my love and realize that I’m never alone. It took me 10 painstaking years of dating, promiscuity, drinking, drugs, depression, anger, boxing and eventually deep-healing for me to fill that often-referred-to as “God-sized” hole inside of myself.
Now, when I hear myself chanting “sit,” I remember that fawn walking on those leaves. I see the slideshow of grief and moves and echoes of myself – and they all remind me that I am here, I am whole, I am worthy and I am forever surrounded by love because I am love. Fear was only a self-induced mechanism to aid in my survival. Loneliness was just another label for something I didn’t understand, which was quiet.
“Sit, sit, sit, sit, sit, sit..” and so it goes.