I have a strange sickness today.

It’s called “I’m sick of my ego so I’m crashing it into a large cement wall.”

I could write you an elegantly edited, scripted, neat little post but again, I’m crashing my ego into the wall right now. So this will not be elegant or pretty. It might be spiritual. But you can call my shit on that one too if you want. I may very well be wrong.

Yesterday I had a great conversation with a dear friend about boundaries. I always need that reminder. Pay attention to my internal compass and don’t just get blown wherever the wind takes me. It’s difficult, and I always have to remind myself about it. So anyway my friend said something that really hit me square between the eyes. “People do everything because they want to be everything.” I guess it was a Mark Nepo quote. Ouch. Of all my boundary problems, that is the one I have done the least work on.

See, things easily and quickly interest me. It’s the “ooh, shiny!” syndrome. I am getting a degree in psychology and plan to get a masters in Counseling or Social Work. I play guitar and sing. I sometimes like to paint. Ask me if I’m interested in dance and I’ll say yes. Look through my art boxes and you’ll find framed photography. Am I interested in cars? Sure am. I would love to know the underside of an engine backwards and forwards. Snowboarding? Definitely. You’ll find a 2008 NeverSummer in my closet. Hiking? An enthusiast. Do I climb 14ers? Yes of course, and I should have a goal to climb more. Do I like rock climbing? Yeah sure! The rush is awesome. Travel, you ask? Talk about “ooh, shiny.” My next idea of a place to go changes about every month or so. My newest obsession is doing a trip with the Adventurists, who specialize in crazy trips. Just my thing. Do I like sports? Eh no but I really should pick a football team to root for…

See my problem? My interests are broad.  But SOME OF THEM are only broad because I want everyone to like me. I want to be everything. Yes. It’s true. I’ve even told people that I want to climb Everest. (Really? If that’s not ego-driven… I don’t know what is)

Lately I have been feeling the pull to stop it. Stop being everything and just be what I want to be. The truth is, out of that long list of interests, there are only really two big things that attract my attention and intention. My degree. And Travel.

It pains me though to even think about letting go of some of those interests. I have a lovely voice! I really do like playing guitar. People have told me that I should go on The Voice or American Idol. But you know what. I. just. can’t. do. everything. And I love my music, I do. But my favorite memory of it is not singing up in front of a bunch of people. It was in the back of a decked-out hippie van with a small group of friends, where I could sing a lullaby over them like a gift.

I like rock climbing. Do I love it? No. What if I let it go? Well… then what if… I lose something that could have been awesome? Come on Laurie get over it. When it comes to hiking, hiking is a nice hobby that I can hang on to without really losing myself in it. Maybe when I have more money I can splurge on more gear. Maybe I’ll get into backpacking at a later time, again, when I have more money.

Snowboarding – it’s great. It’s lovely to ride through the trees and hear the swish of a board underneath. Everything is so quiet. But honestly, snowboarding is so damn expensive. “But you’re in skiing Mecca!” I can hear you all exclaim. All the out-of-staters, anyway. A ticket to Breckenridge? $90. For a day. A season pass to a good group of mountains will run you at the VERY least, $200, if not somewhere close to $600. It’s outrageous.

I think one of the biggest problems I’m having with having such a broad range of interests is, I don’t have the money to put into all of them. I really can’t be everything. I have to choose which things are the most important to me and go with that. So far in my life, I’ve prioritized travel. I’ve gone out of the country every year since 2006. It’s a big deal to me.

I feel like my little sister Rachel. When she was two years old, she looked up at my mom and said, “BUT MOOOOOOOOM… I CAN’T DO ALL SEEZ SINGS!!!”

I just can’t. My ego is so disappointed and in a sickening fashion, does NOT WANT TO GIVE THEM UP. Hence, the crashing it into the wall thing. Which yes, is a little extreme. I do feel compassion, yes I do. My little ego is so frail and so scared. But I really can’t do everything and I have to make some priorities and decide who I want to be. Especially when it comes to monetary things. Do I want to take a trip next year? Because if I do, I need to save some money for it. And that will mean that some of my other interests will fall by the wayside. The big question is, can I actually handle saying to someone, “No, I’m sorry I can’t go snowboarding with you. I’m trying to save my money.”

I don’t know. That sounds so painful. Icccckkk. Ego, honey doll, I promise you… everyone does not have to like you for you to be okay. I’ve got you and that’s all you need to know.

the stronger pull.

The past 2 weeks have sunk me. Drowned me. In the best of ways. So much of me never wishes to surface. Rumi says, “An ocean woos a drop.” He goes on to say, and I can’t remember the direct quote, that this is the best deal possible and everything should be sold for such a bargain.

I am the drop.

The past 2 weeks has been dark. A hollow grief dug out a place inside my heart. Inside the hole, I sat quietly. Waiting. Noticing the ache. Henry Vaughan says:

“There is in God, some say,
A deep but dazzling darkness, as men here
Say it is late and dusky, because they
See not all clear.
O for that night! where I in Him
Might live invisible and dim!”

I ached and ached. My heart grew bigger. Stronger. Stretching as if awakening from a very long sleep.

I lit a candle each morning. Burned a stick of incense. Read Ecclesiastes, a Muslim contemplative book, Eckhart Tolle. Wrote strings of words in my journal, wandering between sadnesses. Sometimes I cried. Reaching out for the meaning beyond meaning. The quietude of ego, dying. A wretched, painful, yet so welcome death. The contentment of crawling up into the hollow space behind God’s heart, Its hands cradling me like a baby.

I think it was being in that hollow, aching, beautiful space by that Heart I wanted to be absolved into, that made me realize it.

“I don’t want to be the face of an organization. I want to be the heart. Unseen but beating strong. And touching people.”

I rejected a job today with this reason. A job that any sane person might have taken. Any sane person, but me. I knew I wouldn’t have loved it. Liked it, maybe. And most sane people probably think I’m crazy for declining such an amazing job offer. But it was detached from the stillness that has been a thread in my heart the past few weeks.

I want to fall into the darkness and find myself in Him[It]… invisible and dim. I want to find myself behind God’s heart, I want to be so unseen but so beloved. I want to be like that. Unseen by the greater Others, but loving deeply and beloved.

I want to lose myself in the Ocean. Slip quietly through the waters, away from anything that still reeks of land.

Rumi says: “Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.”

Guest Post: The Amethyst

Today, a guest post written by my best friend, Carly H. She blogs over at http://growingbutterfly.wordpress.com/. She told me a few weeks ago about her fascination with amethyst geodes, and her metaphor that we are not unlike them. Then she recently discovered the links to sobriety and just had to tell me. I joined in her fascination so I asked her to write a little post for you guys, since it was her idea. 🙂

The Legend of the Amethyst: http://blog.earthegy.com/?p=133

I have always been fascinated by amethyst geodes. From the inside, they seem to contain an entire world full of crystallized purple cliffs. They’re hypnotizing with their beauty, mystifying in their origin.

From the outside, they look like nothing. A nameless gray rock, just like the countless ones you’ve thrown into the water at the beach. How did someone finally figure out what was really inside? Was it by accident? Did someone take a hammer and obsessively begin cracking away, determined to find something more valuable?

Whenever I see geodes, I see humanity. I see something that was so beautifully hidden right under my nose, but it took a brutal crack to notice it. I see “don’t judge a book by its cover.” I see the God who put them together like a secret.

According to Greek mythology, Amethystos (meaning “not drunk” or “sober”) was a human who refused the attentions of the god of wine and drunkeness, Dionysus. As centuries passed, people believed that amethyst contained properties you could take to help you remain sober.

I am an amethyst. You are an amethyst. In each of us lies a shell that is rough and gray; beneath its surface, a speechless beauty. To get beneath the surface, I believe we must remain sober. Not just in our blood-alcohol levels, but in life. Let us be awake and aware of every single thing that is happening in our lives. Even if it’s painful, let us not choose the numb. Let us choose the life, the beautifully jagged purple life. Let us be cracked open and put on display, so that the world knows there is more to us than meets the eye. The world, if it’s smart, will thank us and join in.

Assume Crash Positions! It’s a FEELING!!

The title pretty much describes my outlook on life. Anxiety? DUCK AND COVER! Depression? THE WORLD IS ENDING. Fear? OMG IT’S A DISASTER! Brace yourselves, at any time a feeling could come and assault your perfectly sculpted life!

You never know if today will bring…

An unexpected bill…
A communication misunderstanding…
“She loves me, she loves me not” in a friendship…
A reminder of how f%$ed up my childhood was…

Or other sundry reminders that WHAT? FEELINGS HAPPEN? and life is not without them. It could even occur from something such as a quick glance at my planner. I mean, let’s be honest, that’s pretty much a cue for an instant heart attack.

To me, feelings are as dangerous as a hail of bullets, and they seem to assault me in a similar fashion. Even the terms I use to refer to my feeling state are quite revealing. Like I said to my therapist yesterday about an instance that happened last year…

“It was a DISASTER.”

I instantly stopped, laughed at myself, and realized that I equate feelings with “disaster.”  Like this past Saturday at my homegroup. I started crying profusely because TOO MANY FEELINGS. The overwhelming experience of everything I was feeling then caused flashbacks of being shot at. That’s how dangerous my feelings appear to be. That also assumes that I can’t control my feelings. They are coming at me and I can do nothing about them.

But now I’ve thankfully gotten a chance to step outside of all that and I can see the truth.

A feeling is only a FEELING. It doesn’t have the power to kill me. I am not going to get shot at or assaulted by feeling feelings. I am not bad if I am feeling a feeling. I can just feel it, and move on. It doesn’t mean anything is wrong with me. It just means I am human.

I know it sounds elementary, but I am finally just getting this at a heart level. As an addict, I’ve avoided feelings for years while simultaneously being driven by them. It takes a lot to unwind the old way of doing things. I’m used to: “Oh no! I feel a feeling! SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH ME!!! I had better take a drink/talk to a boy and drown that out now, because feelings are BAD, BAD, BAD. And if I am feeling them I must be BAD, BAD, BAD.”

This realization is a brand new thing for me, too. It was yesterday that this clicked – during therapy, of course. One of my therapist’s favorite sayings is a sarcastic, “Well, it’s only a FEELING.” And after my babbling beginning (seriously, I babble at the start of EVERY session) he said, in amusement, “You really hate feeling things, don’t you?” After dealing with that idea the whole session, I left a new woman with a new perspective.

Today has been full of interesting moments. “Wow. I am anxious. Really anxious. Want to crawl under a rock and hide forever anxious. I want to freak out. But this is just a feeling, Laurie. Just a feeling. It’s okay. You’re not going to die from anxiety.

It’s weird.

But everything seems much more manageable this way. Here’s hoping I can hang on to this brave new world where FEELINGS aren’t actually lethal.