Stop! Sucking! Day 9: Put the puppy on the mat

Training progress My heart feels tender today.

I think it feels tender because I am stretching it so much. I'm trying not to stretch too hard, not to pull anything or throw anything out or scare myself into retreating too far, but stretch, I must, and with stretching inevitably comes repercussions.

Change is hard. Change sucks, as one lone Googler fighting the good fight (and landing on my blog, gawd help her) will tell you. At least, it does from time to time. I don't remember it, but I'm told that the most physical kinds of change, specifically that growth spurt that happens around 13 or 14 years of age, really sucks. As in, causes physical pain. Since I never grew much, topping out at a whopping 5'2", I can't speak to that.

But the rest? Oh, yes.

So, this from my shrink, or what I've pieced together from many years of going: we are presented with difficult situations. We are born into a family of drunks or abusers. We are born into places and times where we can't get the love or support we need. These people and circumstances cause us pain, so we adapt to them as best we can with our limited resources. Works for survival in the moment, creates worlds of pain down the line.

If we're lucky, we find people to help guide us of out those tunnels we burrowed down, and even to take a cold, hard look at them, to stare them down at high noon, and see them for the rat traps they truly are. To claim them as ours, recognizing why we chose them, why we continued to choose them and call them "safe", rather than limiting.

Then, we're presented with options, more or less, depending on our current resources and circumstances. We pick up a few new tools and habits to help us hack our way out of the not-so-great underbrush we've wandered deep into. And from time to time, the sun shines on us, and we see how there might be a time when we can live in a place that's clear and open, with running streams and rolling meadows alive with gentle, furry friends grazing contentedly upon daisies and clover.

But the wide open spaces feel weird, feel unsafe and foreign, no matter how beautiful. It's unknown territory, and we've learned not to trust the unknown, so we keep edging back into the thick of things, into the tangle of dense, wild growth that makes us sneeze and itch and feel not-so-great, but that is familiar.

For the past five years, I've been working assiduously on my sense of entitlement. Not on reducing it, but on cultivating it. Because not thinking you should have anything is as unhelpful as thinking you should have everything. (Well, except to the users and takers. For them, we're chum, you and I: a constant source of nutrition and energy.)

So my job, for the past five years, has been to ask for things. And, when I feel myself wanting to give away the store, to stop. To reflect.

It probably seems like an idiotic problem to a lot of you. Hell, it seems like a pretty stupid problem to me. Especially given how difficult it is to root out.

In the past two days, I've had two people try to give me money to hire me. I've had one person ask me to speak on a panel at an event for an organization I greatly admire. I've had several people approach me for (free) advice.

In the past, I would have brushed aside the first, blown off the second and given away the farm to the third. Somehow, through sheer force of will (and, okay, the specter of potential public humiliation for caving), I accepted (one of) the first, actually embraced the second, and dispensed judiciously to the third. All while the sirens were screaming in my ears, but still. I did it.

The way I was able to do it was by stopping when that urge to GO!!!! FULL SPEED AHEAD!!!! kicked in. And brother, that is stone hard. Boy howdy.

What's especially galling is how I seem to have to keep doing it. Over and over again. For what feels like forever. (I refer you to the seemingly endless slog I described a while back. And the backsliding I described even further back.)

Change is teh suck.

It is also inevitable. It will happen, whether you want it to or not. Me? I've been exposed to too many examples of people not getting down with that, and the captivity they create for themselves, to give in to torpor just yet. I'm going down fighting; I'm just trying to make the fighting more like training.

Like, as my old pal Jack Kornfield says, putting the puppy on the mat. Putting the puppy on the mat.

Putting the puppy on the mat...

xxx c

Photo by gabesâ„¢ via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.