When I went on the Pilgrimage to Teotihuacan, we were presented with four behavioral strategies as context for the process of starting to let go of everything we know. The four were:
- Distractor; and
I considered myself a recovering Controller and have adopted the ways of an Isolator. Mind you, all strategies have their good and bad points. As an Isolator, one can be a very good listener. However, isolating oneself from others can also be a form of escapism. I have used the strategy in both ways. I have become so proficient at isolating that being by myself not only doesn’t bother me, it soothes me. Sure, I need my social doses here and there, but for the most part, I’m content to be with Josie as long as we can be out in nature.
As part of the discussion on the four behavioral strategies, we were asked to assume the pose that represented our dominant strategy. As an Isolator, I chose the fetal position. A powerful surge of grief came instantly as I assumed the pose. I was surprised and a little embarrassed that tears had started, but as I looked around the room, I wasn’t the only one. How amazing is it that the behaviors we learn as we grow up can become a mask for pain that we aren’t even conscious of carrying? These learned behaviors are all a part of “fitting in”, of being socially accepted, yet in the end they can separate us from our own authenticity. To overcome the shortcomings of being an Isolator, the practice of hugging 10 people a day was offered. This scared the shit out of me, but that day I did it. I know it is a part of living with an open heart, and it is something that still challenges me.
Now fast forward to the present in Quartzsite. A couple of months of mostly being alone have been followed by a couple of weeks of non-stop socializing. My friends, Larry and Anita, visited and then I moved to the Wandering Individuals Network (WINs) camp. The WINs is an RV club for singles. After having lots of fun with Larry and Anita, my days were full of meeting new people, hugs, and lots of visiting with the WINs. Once the WINs get together was over, I found myself being completely worn out. I moved again to another camp near Quartzsite with a couple of my new friends, kindred spirits really, and started to recuperate.
As part of this newly formed triad, I find myself looking forward to the stimulating, deep conversations. We all have very different backgrounds so our perspectives are varied. As much as I look forward to our time together, I am grateful for my time alone. Deep, seemingly rewarding conversation at times leaves me very tired. This has me puzzled. Also, I have not felt inspired to write at all. I tried forcing it this morning sitting in front of my laptop, and found the content I was writing to be a snoozer. More drastic measures were needed. Backpack and Josie in the car, we drove to my favorite campsite at Tyson Wash. Inspiration would surely be found there as many times before.
Upon arriving at my spot, I was almost immediately greeted by a rider on a squealing and smoking two-stroke motorbike. I looked up to wave as I got out of the car, and the rider stopped. Something seemed a bit off, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. He was a friendly young guy of “24 going on 25” from upper Michigan. As the conversation progressed, I got more uneasy and decided to grab my pepper spray and whistle. In about five minutes I learned he was divorced, his ex tried to kill him with a hatchet, he owns multiple guns, and he lost his apartment because the feds accused him of robbing a bank. He is temporarily in Quartzsite with his parents who are full-time RV’rs. He commented on my pepper spray and said, “I can see you are always packing”. (yeah, glad you noticed…)
As I parted company, he rode off down the trail and I made hastily for the cover of the trees. I could tell where he was through the squeal of the bike. That was a first for me. I didn’t feel threatened, but definitely uneasy and glad for Josie, the pepper spray, and the people nearby.
Under the cover of a big mesquite tree, I sat on the ground to just be still and see if any inspiration would come. Sure enough, clarity arrived. This is it:
I have not been paying attention to whom of my “Inner Council”, as I call all of the aspects of myself, has been in charge. Here’s where some might think I’m a bit nuts, but I find this to be very effective. I have a vision of a campfire that came to me during the Soulcraft program. My Inner Council sits around this fire and I listen to what the various members have to say. This happens when I am acting consciously in addressing tensions and anxieties that I feel.
I’ve learned it’s better for certain council members to be in charge in different situations. In deep conversations, my analyst can pop up and be so serious in pontificating the deep meaning of what is being said. She can get lost in an endless spiral of analysis which is taxing. What I realized today is that the fun-loving girl, the one who can see the lightness and humor in life has been hushed. I don’t know when that happened, but I realize if my analyst takes over, I get tired. So much seriousness puts me off-balance. In my former career, I tended to dwell in the serious analytical world. I think the fun-loving girl slowly got edged out – death by a 1000 cuts. However, she is not dead. She has been squeezed out of the firelight, biding her time, just waiting for her place at the fire once again.
So, am I nuts??!! Maybe a little, but aren’t we all? I’m going to pay more attention to which of my council has the controls, and make sure that one isn’t working overtime while another gets ignored. My hope for today is that the one who laughs easily at life reclaims her place at the fire. Perhaps I won’t feel the need to isolate quite as much if I laugh more and analyze less.
Now, you can roll your eyes. But the next time you talk to yourself, think of me, and ask which of your Council you’re talking to!!!