“It’s all very well for you”, people say to me sometimes about my philosophies, “you are self-employed / confident / you know how to do this stuff… I have to listen to my boss, deal with my spouse’s demands, I have crippling anxiety / depression / a learning disorder…”
Sometimes it feels like life has us trapped; that we are at the mercy of our circumstance and it feels cramped and powerless and scary. We can’t move, we can’t change how it is…
Or so we believe.
I remember when my first child was born and I was in a total state of overwhelm. Sleep-deprived, space deprived and time deprived. My post-natal hormones were causing havoc with my mood, I was anxious, couldn’t think clearly (though if you’d DARED to suggest it was because I was hormonal I would have killed you just to silence that nonsense – so basically I was mildly unstable.) I was essentially surviving from one moment to the next, not knowing what I was doing, being anxious and depressed and burdened with the huge responsibility of being ok for a new-born and keeping us both alive…
My first born had a bit of a scare at birth so he needed to feel especially safe in the world (a lil’ bit like his Mama). From the start he sought to be in constant physical contact. I remember lying next to him when he was one day old. I wanted to sleep but didn’t want to squash him by mistake so I left a gap between us. I thought that would work but within seconds he had wriggled his tiny little body so that it was pressed against my side. I moved him away again but he wriggled right back. At one day old! I was amazed.
I was even more amazed by how bloody difficult it was to sleep with a small baby pasted onto my side! I mean he didn’t just snuggle gently, he glued himself to me like a tight pressure bandage. I worried he couldn’t breathe! We used attachment parenting methods and kept him in constant physical contact with us during the day and then at night he independently applied his pressure bandage approach to me. Like a heat-seeking missile he found my body wherever I sneakily snuck it – behind pillows, at the other end of the bed… As if that’s not enough to disturb my sleep, he was extremely movement-sensitive so if I moved him in any way while he slept (like by turning my aching body over for example) he would wake and cry for a really long time. So, for my sanity, I would lie glued to him perfectly still for hours, longing for sleep but awake. All I wanted was some space on my own. Some sleep, to move freely, no-one touching me all the time…
I remember lying stock still between my tightly applied baby who was twitching and snoring and my partner, who was twitching and snoring and feeling trapped, trapped, TRAPPED! Angry, frustrated, wretched, despairing… burning up with feeling and lying still, still, still.
I could have done it differently but during the many moments I considered heading for the hills, I knew that it was my choice to lie there still, it was my choice not to put him in another room and let him cry (shudder), it was my choice to stay there rather than run away or mainline hard drugs just to make it all stop.
And then one night, letting go into the dark hole of despair – ah, the gifts of surrender – I had a realisation that I suspect saves the sanity of many a conscious prisoner.
I became aware that within me there is unlimited space. If I look within me I can travel and explore and expand and the outside is irrelevant to my freedom. It was quite exhilarating. From then on I would lie still and meditate deeply and not feel trapped, for I had found myself – and that is true freedom. I used the circumstance to deepen my own journey. And then, of course, my circumstance changed. It was done with me.
It’s something I still have to remember – daily sometimes – and there are many things about parenting that offer me the illusion of trappedness, but now I know what to do with it when it comes (when I remember) and I am actually grateful to the situation that unveiled the illusion for me.
When your boss or company policy or spouse or mother-in-law makes you feel trapped, know that you are being faced with a) the life choices you’ve made (so how do you feel about them?) b) your belief in limitation (as opposed to free choice) c) how you choose to keep yourself small, how you treat yourself, how you give away your power…. And on and on and on depending on your specific circumstance. In short, you are being given the option to deepen your inner journey, being offered the view of what illusions block your true freedom.
Feeling trapped is a time to ask yourself whether you are happy where you are. Is this where you want to be? What do you know in your heart you need to find peace with, in order to feel free again? What will it take for you to find that peace? What will bring deep and lasting joy to your life? What is preventing you from taking that action? Are you ok with that, with staying where you are? How can you support yourself in making the changes you need?
Start with the internal changes. How can I find peace and joy right in this moment where I feel things just SUCK? (See last week’s post)
When you manage to find your inner freedom regardless of external limitations, the external will pretty much take care of itself. I KNOW this to be true. I witness it daily in people’s lives.
So turn within, prisoner. Your freedom awaits you.