Between the plates that make up our planet are massive fault lines; these are the earth’s weak points where the plates rub up against each other. When there is stress, these fault lines erupt, spewing lava, ash and noxious gases. It strikes me that humans are rather like the earth, in that we have fault lines too,
I've felt under increasing stress recently: feelings of shame at not finding a job; guilt at being a financial burden; some surface-level frustration at not finding a home, and trying to start a family – a complex mix indeed…
This week I realised that I was eating chaotically, refusing to go to the gym, becoming sarcastic, and generally feeling fat and unattractive. Ah, how well I know these feelings! These are my personal fault lines. I imagine everyone has there own personal 'fault lines', the unhealed pains and personality traits that we can ordinarily moderate but that erupt when we feel under sustained stress.
When all is well with my world, I feel fairly secure, optimistic and I'm able to see the funny, compassionate side of life. When I start to feel old, fat, unattractive and lazy, I know there's something else going on:* my fault lines are beginning to spew out noxious gases.
I've seen this pattern many times, and yet I always miss the early signs: I see the noxious gases but I only ever stop and reassess my situation when the lava starts to flow... Well, I suppose, on the positive side, at least I stop then, I haven't had a Krakatoa moment yet!
So yesterday, after talking it over with Susannah, I realised that I was sinking under my own lava. I needed to acknowledge that I was feeling this bad, rather than ignoring it. And here's the magic bit - I woke up this morning and I felt amazing! My weird, insatiable eating pattern has disappeared; I'm able to look at myself in the mirror and not hate myself, I feel optimistic.
Nothing has changed, and yet everything has changed. ‘Simply through acknowledgement?’ I’m tempted to ask. Is it that simple sometimes? Just because I focused some care and attention on a deeper pain I had ignored?
If so, this stuff really does work!
*Note: I have noticed that these are also deeply embedded, socially constructed evils in a world where we are under constant pressure to remain eternally slim, young, attractive people who are very busy indeed. But that’s another series of blogs…