I had a dream last night. In it a man is murdered. A second man is hounded and finally convicted of the murder – never any solid evidence but pretty sure he did it. He escapes with the help of his friends, and then I’m convicted (because they needed someone to pin this on). I begin many years of living under glass, in a house, constantly monitored, same regimen daily. No change. Until one day years later, when my hair has turned gray, he helps me escape back to normal life. We both end up in a community where we simply live out our lives, free of unwanted eyes.
I feel so sad and ashamed when I remember the dream. I’ve always felt the outsider, convinced that I’d done something so terrible that I could never really belong. For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be accepted. To belong.
If you know what I’m talking about, then you also know it isn’t true: It isn’t true that you or I have done anything terrible, or that we in any way deserve to feel such shame. It’s something that was imposed on us by others who felt the same way. We know that. And yet, that feeling persists, causing unnecessary pain. It saps us of our life force energy, and our power.
This shame and pain makes us want to escape – through endless activity, or food, or drugs, alcohol … any thing or activity that numbs us to that unbearable feeling of pain and helplessness. Some of us never wake up to what we’re doing to ourselves. Those of you who are reading this – and who identify with it – you’re the lucky ones. Because understanding what happened, and that you can free yourself of this fake myth, means that you can finally move on. You can take back that power you were born with.
Seth Godin’s blog Fake Wasabi is a reminder of what we can miss if we buy into that fake myth. He notes that most sushi restaurants serve something that looks like wasabi, but is really a mixture of horse radish and other things. If you didn’t know this, and didn’t go in search of the real thing, you’d never know what you were missing.
Time to spread your wings!
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?
-Mary Oliver, The Summer Day
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Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist. To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .