You should be afraid of the quiet, not the darkness.

The darkness always gets a bad wrap. It’s a common and well known fear that a significant amount of people have: being afraid of the dark. The dark is scary, you can’t see, you’re disoriented, your normal abilities are taken away from you.

Disorientation is a good “feeling” to explore. I want to call it an experience over a feeling but since we constantly discuss feelings as fleeting and temporary and that thing in the pit of your stomach, disorientation definitely fits the description.

My new job has me feeling disoriented. It is in the same field I worked in before I left New York. This is my third company I’ve worked for in this industry. It is basically the same stuff, yet it is so different. I have very high expectations for myself and expected to be a star in this role. I’ve had two emails from my boss this week which had critiques in them.

The emails were sent very casually with the subject of “so that I don’t forget.” She sends them before I even get to work but when I sit down and begin my day, open my email and see what I equate to as negative performance marks, it rattles me and it shakes me.

Over my 20 years in the workforce, I’ve learned one thing: humility. I am the first person to call out my mistakes, admit that I make them and offer myself to resolve them. A lot of people are unable to do this. It takes a lot of courage, but mostly humility. A person has to learn that they are not everything to everyone, at all times.

I say it in that way for a reason, because people do need to learn this. My brother is a good example of someone that can give literally 200% of himself away to people. That comes at a price, he doesn’t often have to pay the price of being burnt out, but every now and then it catches up.

He and I are vastly different in that regard. I have pretty much always been the – I’ll give you 80% but I need that last 20 for me, non negotiable. And, in addition, you won’t get the 80 if I’m not guaranteed the 20. The first thing that popped into my head was family gatherings. I would call in sick to a family gathering if I just wasn’t in the mood versus making myself go. I would apologize to my family or the host and then just get on with my life. I wouldn’t feel like I let anyone down.

Most of us seemed to be wired to not want to let others down. Sometimes it’s even more of an attempt to save face, though. Not so much about letting OTHERS down, as in the other people in this equation aren’t the issue but simply just how they see YOU.

For instance, I can’t be seen as someone who lets people down, I can’t be seen as a failure. I can’t be seen as ____________.

We wrap ourselves up in these stories, characters, traits and ideals of the people we want to be … seen as.

When you strip away all that or, let’s say you are in a room alone with a mirror. You stare into that mirror. You wonder if it’s a two way mirror and if there is someone behind it, secretly watching and secretly judging.

How would you act if there was someone watching?

How would you act if there wasn’t?

This has been a struggle for me lately, especially since the past 9 days have been a deep and very dark struggle for myself. I tried to remain as mentally healthy as I could, which has included reaching out to whoever I could when I felt my grip slipping. I was blessed to have two very good, very dear friends visit this past weekend and the weekend before.

While they helped, they also helped me put a little perspective on my situation. I felt like I was in a dark hole, alone. Really though it looks more like I was jumping from one cliff bank to another and tried to jump too far, too soon, so reality and gravity happened and I caught the edge. I was holding on for dear life. I just couldn’t let go. Now, not letting go isn’t really the challenge, not letting go is kind of the minimum.

If I don’t let go then there I am, still dangling. What I really needed to do was gather enough strength to pull myself up. My friends, my support group, my positive influences could not physically grab my hand and pull me up, but they can encourage me to not let go and to wait – to wait just a little longer dangling on that edge because all of a sudden the power will come and I’ll have enough to stop dangling and pull myself up.

That’s the shift.

I feel I’ve worked hard over the past 36 hours to not let my boss’s notes affect me in a negative way. To take them in stride. To think to myself “yes, I could make sure I do that going forward, I am in fact not a piece of shit because of this one thing you pointed out.”

I mean, my negative self talk, goes pretty deep and pretty vulgar. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. The positive talk needs to be just as deeply rooted and believed. I don’t mind the vulgarity, but that’s just fucking me.

Same with the break-up-self-talk. I told my girl friend tonight there’s a part of me that feels humiliated because he’s apparently dating someone and maybe even living with her so soon. Knowing him, that’s so unlike him to move so fast especially after getting out of a serious relationship, because that’s just so fast to make those moves.

We broke it down and realized two things. 1) None of this has really been confirmed, so I’m letting my mind play this story of what I’ve pieced together and 2) No person sees me and thinks humiliated. No one feels that I am humiliated.

In fact, most people who hear the story and circumstances immediately feel for me. Like, heart twisting, gut wrenching “ughhhhhhh he did whatttttt” type reactions. I’m the one who feels the humilation for a laundry list of reasons and self blame, including bullshit like why didn’t I see this coming, should I have, could I have… blah blah blah. I am no longer interested in that narrative. Thank you, next.

Circling back now, back to the point in which this blog was started is that darkness is the fear of everything and anything, however in the quiet, all you can hear… and fear… is yourself.

In silence you meet yourself. The real you. The you staring into the mirror, who knows that there is no one watching. The you staring at the edge of the cliff you are hanging off of, seeing your fingers turn pale, cramped and paralyzed. All you can hear is your breath, and your thoughts.

What are your thoughts telling you? Mine never say let go.

Outrageous Fortune, starring Shelley Long and Bette Midler. A must see. You’ll know why.

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