There’s a thick rope around my waist. It’s tethered somewhere. It’s dark back there and I can’t work out exactly what’s got hold of me. The rope could be caught on something. It could be a monster. The one I dreamed about as a kid. You know, the one in the cave you can hear and feel and smell but never catch a glimpse of?
The rope is real. It’s always been there and it started cutting into my skin a few years back.
How did it get there?
I can’t remember who tied it to me or why. If I can work that out, maybe I can work out how to unhook myself. That rope is the subject of thousands of pages of journaling. The topic of hours of talks with various therapists.
I don’t talk about the rope with friends. They have their own to worry about and the ones that don’t, well they have no idea what I’m talking about. Lucky bastards.
I don’t know how it got there. Who would have had that kind of access?
Why don’t some people have a rope?
That therapist said most people have one. Some don’t realise it’s there and learn to work around it. Some let it stop them from doing anything. “What rope,” they say. “Oh, this old thing. It’s always been there. My parents had one just like it.”
It was only when I decided what I really wanted to do with what’s left of this one wild and precious life that the rope started biting into me. I’ve been hacking away at the damn thing for years and I have made headway.
Sometimes I hurt myself in my quest to get rid of the rope. Like now, when I think about this huge big goal, this thing I really want. I hurt myself with resistance and procrastination. I’m on a 277 day Duolingo streak. That’s 277 days of procrastination and resistance. Yesterday my resistance had me standing in the art supplies store gathering up lovely tubes of acrylic to go with the canvas I had leaning on my leg. This morning it was YouTube videos about patching plaster and shoes I’d never buy online because I have big feet.
The goal sits there, tantalising me, but I can’t see how I can do it with this bloody rope holding me back. I can’t. I’ve always worked with the damn thing and I’ve had enough. I want it gone.
It’s apparent that the answer is in my shadow.
Overwork is in my shadow. Busy, bizzy, bizziness is in my shadow and it’s part of the rope.
Not being enough but also somehow too much is in my shadow and makes up a particularly strong strand of what makes the rope.
Caring what other people think, like really caring, is in my shadow. Wanting permission, collaboration, and a soft landing is in my shadow. These parts of the rope are getting thinner.
It doesn’t matter who put the rope there or why. What matters is that I can simply turn around, untie it and let it go. I can put down the burden of needing permission, being small so I don’t threaten anyone, the quest for approval, the (admittedly evolutionary) need to fit in.
Note to self: Your comfort zone may not actually kill you but it will make you sad and boring and give you so many regrets and these will make you angry and boring.