This I Believe

Leslie - Eminence, Kentucky
Entered on November 25, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50

I’ve spent two years dealing with my “stuff.” All the things that constitute emotional baggage – things avoided, things denied, things repressed, things ignored – that added up to an oppressive weight that I could no longer bear to carry. I didn’t set out to deal with it all, it just started happening. The catalyst was a panic attack I had while watching “The Aviator”. There’s a scene in which Howard Hughes crashes his plane. It’s a very vivid scene, full of pain, fear, destruction, and helplessness. I felt sick. I broke out in a cold sweat. I wanted to run away. All because I realized that Howard Hughes’ pain was my pain, not physically, but emotionally. I’d been circling in my own plane for years and had finally run out of gas. So I crashed and let myself be wounded.

And I was a mess. I felt totally exposed, as if all of my skin had been burned away – raw, vulnerable, and sensitive to the touch. But instead of suffering alone like so many times before, I decided to seek help, and my doctor was amazing. She’s not a medical doctor, but as cheesy at it sounds, she’s a doctor of the heart, of my heart, a friend to whom I gave my ultimate trust out of both desperation and hope. I shared my soul, and waited to see what would happen. She knew what to say, when to prod, and when to just listen. She didn’t flinch when she heard my thoughts and feelings, all the things I needed to get out of my head and heart. All the things that to me felt so horrible, because I thought they could do such damage to me if I let them out. But the opposite turned out to be true. In hearing my stories through her, I learned a very simple but important truth. The really big damage I had already done to myself by not embracing the fact that there is pain in life that needs to be dealt with. By not treating each cut as it happened, I had allowed myself to become a gaping, seeping wound.

I initially looked to my doctor to heal me, to have the answers, to tell me what to do. But instead, I learned another, imperative truth. I had to heal myself. My friend could guide and support me, but she could not lead me. I had to find the strength to get back on my path, to get out of the mud I was stuck in, and most importantly to stop looking back at where I’d already been. I needed her energy, her compassion, her understanding to build up that strength, and she gave it to me freely. As a result of both our efforts, I now move forward on my path believing that pain must be honored, vulnerability is strength, and a good doctor will still make house calls.