I recently ran into an old friend which I hadn’t seen in years. He just seemed to disappear and disconnect from everyone and we lost touch. At the time, I didn’t make much of it. The thing I remember most about him is that he was constantly working on some exciting project that sometimes involved traveling.
So, when I saw him, I was thrilled and wanted to hear all about his “exciting new projects”. We spoke for over two hours as he opened up and revealed his deep, buried secret which he had been carrying for so many years.
I want to share his story with you in hopes that it will move and inspire anyone who might be living a similar situation.
“You’re right about one thing, Antonia, I was working on a new project. Probably the most important and longest one I have ever worked on – Myself.”
I was at a loss for words. I suddenly realized that I was about to hear a whole different story than the one I expected.
He paused for a few seconds, looked out the window as if trying to figure out where to begin telling his story.
It was too much. It had all become way too heavy for me. Then one day, I got out of bed and felt like I was short circuiting. My body was trying to move forward but, my mind couldn’t seem to follow. I was broken up into so many pieces; I just couldn’t put them back together. After a few days of being in bed, I woke up in the middle of the night in a deep sweat with my heart beating so fast, I thought I was having a heart attack.
I was told my heart was fine and had experienced a panic attack. From that day forward, I saw so many therapists and was given so many different kinds of medication, with no improvement.
No matter what anyone said to me, all the analysis of going back to my childhood to figure out the cause of my condition, nothing worked. Knowing about my childhood didn’t make my pain go away.
One day, as I sat with yet another new therapist and he asked the same question they all did, “So, how do feel?” I just burst out, “I am destroyed! I’m so deep under a rock. I no longer know how I feel. I DON’T KNOW WHO I AM ANYMORE!!”
As I yelled out those words, I felt a silence I had never felt before. I looked at my therapist and suddenly wondered, “How can this person tell me who I am? How can anyone tell me who I am?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I knew my name, where I lived and of course ALL about my childhood. But who was I (pointing out to himself)?
I realized that the reason I no longer felt I knew who I was is because I didn’t have some exciting new project and no one praising and acknowledging me. So, I felt I didn’t exist.
For years, I kept piling up and taking on more projects because without them, without people’s praise and recognition, I was nobody.
It got to a point where it was too much. But, I kept going. Until, I became so confused and overwhelmed that I could no longer function. I had shut myself out from the outside world because I was ashamed. I felt like a failure and didn’t want anyone to see me this way. I hated the person I had become; useless and powerless.
Now, I wanted my therapists to tell me what to do, to remove my rock and set me free. The thing is, they could give me information about my past, they could hold up the rock for me but, I was the only one who could crawl out of the hole and free myself.
Anyway, I completely let myself be absorbed with the silence that came over me. That’s all I had left. When you hit rock bottom, at some point, all you have left is a silence. At least that’s what happened to me. Just absorbing that silence was the best thing I could have done.
In that silence, I visualized all the things that terrified me, let them play before my eyes and confronted them.
I finally understood and realized that ‘who I am’ is not what I do and had nothing to do with recognition. It’s funny, because at about the same time, I read a post you published on Papa Jaime. His words, “When you deposit your life on the outside, you have already lost it,” really resonated with me. I had been on an exhausting search for things to accomplish and seeking others’ approval and acknowledgment. I didn’t give myself permission to be connected with myself and passion for life.
I began to go for walks and just be with myself and nature. Slowly, I began interacting with people. I stopped searching and the passion I had longed for, found me! I finally had the energy to live according to my plan and not waste it trying to impress others.
I am still a work in progress, Antonia. Of course I don’t mind sharing my story on your blog, which I love reading (smiling). But, just mention me as a ‘friend”. It is not about me, it’s about everyone’s own self discovery. I wouldn’t dare say I know it all, I’m still learning. But, I will say one thing that I do know for sure. Listen to your body! Listen to the emotions, the pain and feel the silence underneath the emotions. There, lies True Freedom and Happiness that can never be found anywhere else.
“All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone” – Blaise Pascal