Are you as surprised as I am that I’m the only one here behaving myself?

Charles Vane - Black Sails

“Are you as surprised as I am that I’m the only one here behaving myself?”  ― Charles Vane, Black Sails

I’ve been feeling so mellow at the moment that I almost don’t recognise myself. Yet I am more myself at this time than I have ever been. More aware of my own peculiar path and my feet upon it, taking one slow yet determined, although sometimes doubtfully confident, step after another.

I’ve always had an easy-going side to my nature, but it has often been pushed into the background due to my life sometimes resembling one of those gauntlets in a computer game where your in-game character has to run along a narrow bridge over a dark abyss while sharp instruments of death swing with increasing speed across the path ahead.

You can’t go back because the game and life require that you go forward. You can pause and assess what lies ahead, take some time to figure out how on earth you got yourself into this mess, reviewing the steps which led you here, and which steps will take you over there, up ahead, with the least amount of effort and damage.

Pausing is useful as long as it doesn’t become a permanent state of being and home. The longer you pause, the more comfortable you become standing where you are which can make the thought of moving painful and stressful, more so than it may actually be if done.

At some point, either through choice, often through being poked by baddies spawning behind you and jabbing you with their swords in the backside, you have to move forward. So you call upon your inner fighter (or fool) and face what lies ahead as best as you can.

Sometimes you make it across in one go, but if you’re me it usually takes several goes, several deaths, several restarts.

My first attempt is usually a reckless rush to get from A to B as fast as possible while shouting – Charge! – as I go. That occasionally works, and I’m shocked and elated when it does – what a rush! – than when it doesn’t. How the eff did I do that!?! Never mind, don’t think about it, just keep going.

More often than not though the reckless approach meets a swift end before I get to my destination, and I have to pick myself up, regenerate, and start again.

Each restart adding a certain caution to my devil-may-care recklessness. That caution often works against me and I move too slowly, hesitating too much, and WHAM! I’m dead again. Start again, again, again… until the right blend of reckless, cautious, and stubborn determination come together and get me across.

But there is no time to celebrate because up ahead is yet another challenge to be met with deaths and restarts, and baddies poking you.

You get used to fighting, so much so that you forget everything else about yourself and become permanently set to fight mode. This becomes who you are…

 

Captain Vane resume - black sails
…until one day you’re faced with a challenge which is completely different from everything you’ve become used to. The game ends, at least that game does,  and the new one requires you to put down all your weapons including your fighting spirit and pick up tools which are completely foreign to you, the parts of you which may be estranged in some way. Things which require you to grow something, build something, nurture something.

I reached a point a while back when life challenged me to retire my inner fighter for a while, push that side of me into the background and allow the easy-going side to come to the fore. It was actually something I had always wanted to do, an opportunity I could only dream about but never imagined that the dream would ever manifest as reality.

When life is a fight, peace is but a gossamer mirage beckoning from a horizon which moves as you do, never to be reached.

And I have to admit that at first I fought the new way of being tooth and nail, biting and scratching. My greatest enemy was my fear that if I relaxed and went with this new experience that it would make me soft, expose me to being vulnerable and leave me unprepared for an attack. Letting down your guard can be the biggest fight of your life, especially if you’re the sort of person (me) who likes to make everything harder for themselves, and you are suspicious of things which are too easy.

If it’s too good to be true… it must be an illusion, a lie which is transformed into a truth by wishful thinking.

Over time I learned to relax and allow my easy-going side to take over. The inner fighter could finally sleep, and do it with both eyes closed without clutching the handle of a knife or gun under the pillow.

Vane asleep - black sails

Life became very different to how it had been and I got used to it, so much so that the life which had come before seemed like the memory of a vivid dream which faded day by day.

Never relax, my fighter had warned before it fell into a deep sleep, the moment you truly relax is the instant that all hell breaks loose. And that is exactly what happened, a self-fulfilling prophecy which fulfilled itself. But in truth it took a while for it to do so, but still it did… and yet… things were not as they appeared.

When hell broke loose, the easy-going side was out of its depth and tried to rouse the fighter. The fighter found it hard to wake up. The easy-going side attempted to handle things on its own, and mistakes ensued which caused the ground to tremble violently enough to jolt the fighter out of sleep. Once awake the fighter took over, but its weapons were rusty and the rust made them heavier and unwieldy. Never store your weapons in a damp cellar.

It became clear that this new gauntlet required a completely new approach, that no longer was it possible for the bridge to be crossed by a one-sided character, this time both sides had to work together. The easy-going side and the fighter needed to merge their natures. Together they would add depth to each other, to me.

Black Sails 2014

And in essence that is what has happened. Whereas before I relied just on the fighter, then eventually switched to the easy-going side, now I am blending the two, and as strange as it may seem, at least to me, two opposite sides once blended actually enhance and support each other.

The fighter in me has always been influenced by the easy-going side. However its awareness of it was always viewed from the perspective that this influence made the fighter weak and careless. But now I can see that it makes the fighter bolder and stronger. It adds patience and calm where before there was restless impatience and a tendency to fly off the handle at the slightest provocation or hint of a threat.

The easy-going side considered the fighter to be a jailor, but now it perceives it more as a friendly bodyguard. I can enjoy the benefits of being laid back and peaceful because I know that someone has my back, and that someone is my inner fighter.

Of course everything has a flip side, the fighter would not need to exist if the easy-going side did not exist. But then I would not exist either, I would be someone else. And… all of this would be irrelevant.

This time last year I was anything but mellow. A frightening gauntlet lay before me and I did not know if I had it in me to restart should I not make it across. But I did, and now I am here on the other side, with that particular gauntlet behind me and another one up ahead… but things feel different. I am different, I am more myself, more mellow, more at ease with my easy-going side, yet ready to spring into fighting action should the need arise, more at ease with my fighting side too.

 

Vane_black-sails

The reference to Captain Vane of Black Sails, is because I watched the first season of the show recently, and this character was the one I related to the most. His life (at least this show’s version of it) very loosely reminds me of mine.

He allowed life to change him, and he learned from the changes, matured, and while everyone else was repeating the same patterns of behaviour over and over again, refusing to make peace because they were used to fighting, more comfortable at war than trying to make peace, he realised that sometimes you have to switch to a different side of yourself to make progress and move forward. That peacefulness and fighting can co-exist, join forces, and create something new.

And that when you allow those changes to happen, you may surprise yourself so much you wonder if others have noticed… but they probably haven’t.

Or at least that’s my take on his character… and on mine.

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8 thoughts on “Are you as surprised as I am that I’m the only one here behaving myself?

  1. I’m coming home, I’m coming home…your “coming home to the self.” That brought tears to my eyes since I would write in cards to my narc friend that having her as my best friend was like “home.” When really looking back I knew it wasn’t but wished it could be, for her sake & mine too, as I felt she had an emptiness so deep and I wanted to be her homey place to just be. I have learned so much from you and I have found that I too, was unsettled and looking for things outside of myself that could only be remedied from within.

    The peacefulness and fighting and how they can coexist is something I am learning through recovery. I was initially on fight or flight mode and it was killing me more. I didn’t realize it at the time, but during my friendship with the narcissist, I was also in this mode but trying my darnest to dampen it with pleasing, kindness, giving etc. I was scared and didn’t really know it, my senses were on overdrive and trying to calm themselves with statements that were pleasant and homey (like I mentioned above). I am finding more peace & calm. It was always there and I’m giving it back to myself since I was giving it away for too long. It feels more like home. Thank you

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    1. That’s wonderful!

      In many ways when we first meet a narcissist there’s a sense of finding someone who is being truly themselves, and that makes us feel that we’ve found someone who will accept us as we are. Then we find out that what they were actually doing was an act. I think part of what is misleading has to do we what we think being ourselves should look like, we simplify it until it becomes almost like a character in a film, and that’s why narcissists look like they’re doing it, because they tend to exaggerate natural traits until they’re larger than life like an actor playing a character.

      Being yourself is subtler and more complex, it’s often learning about the interplay of opposing traits, and allowing every part of ourself to be and express itself even if it clashes sometimes with other parts. It’s all us, all of us just being.

      So when we come home to ourselves, it’s accepting that we’re the way we are as is with all our experiences, and all our quirks and opposites and everything 🙂 feels like a true home, one which we can take wherever we go.

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    1. I don’t think there is a secret, I think it comes down to each of us to figure things out for ourselves, free will, who we are, what we live and experience, and making something out of it for ourselves, learning and giving it some sort of meaning.

      Have you ever considered that perhaps you know the secret, have it, and are at that point… you are paused on the threshold, trying to decide whether to cross it or not?

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  2. What a beautiful self-examination you have shared with us! 🙂 Thank you! I can be a fighter, as well, literally – ex-army. My natural set-point is easy-going, however. I hate having to drag out the fighter when she’s needed.

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    1. Thank you 🙂

      It only just occurred to me – before the penny drops with me it seems to go through a labyrinth – how much the easy-going side is connected to the fighter. They seem to be polarities which appear disconnected, they are in some ways, and yet they work together, connected more closely than they seem. I think the fighter needs to be experienced for the easy-going side to have power, without the fighter the easy-going side may underestimate itself, and thus lead to others underestimating it.

      This post grew out of several separate conversations with myself. Observing my own nature at the moment compared with what it was this time last year and looking further back, doing a path from A to B kind of analysis. And exploring the life of Norman Finkelstein, how he views his life and how others have viewed it. And some other things which have been drawn to my attention due to exploring this and that.

      It’s useful to know that you have a fighter within you, it adds value and strength to the peaceful side 🙂

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  3. Brilliant, Ursula…reading your posts is often like peering into the reflective surface of water. So similar to my own experiences, but you are able to articulate them in a way I couldn’t (without many days of trying…)

    In many ways, your posts are my affirmations…though I don’t always get to read them on a daily basis, they are always there – almost like my personal journal, written by someone else…lighting my path, offering enlightenment…a torch in dark, ancient tunnels.

    Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thank you very much 🙂

      If you’re feeling as I am feeling at this time, then isn’t it all rather surprising and rather wonderful… almost difficult to believe, yet hard to disbelieve. A coming home to the self, and realising it’s a welcoming place. So much discovered and still to discover.

      Hope everything is going well for you, best wishes 🙂

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