Stuck in a Rut

I wrote this a while ago… I was going to write something new for today, something similar to this, but then my mind reminded me that I had already been there and done that so why not just use the words I had already expressed to say what I was going to say.

This theme of being stuck, whether it is in a rut or a loop or a wound or in the mud… the latter being a game I used to play as a child with friends, which I absolutely hated and only played it because my friends wanted to do so and I loved them… keeps drawing my attention to it. This is partly because I am attempting to break out of a repetitive pattern of thinking, of attitude, and I have almost succeeded but not quite.

Once more around the circular path I must go, to see what it is that I missed before…






Whenever someone tells me a story, especially when it is personal, while a part of me listens to what they are saying, another part of me is searching for the things that they are not saying.

I do it with myself too, especially when I write. I look for the thoughts, emotions, and feelings behind the words. Not the those which are at the forefront of my mind, the ones which think they are running the show, but those which are hidden. Subtle forces at work.

There is something bothering me right now, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. I was hoping that by writing something about it, it would reveal itself, but it is being elusive. My mind keeps blocking me. Intellectualising things. Distracting with mundane distractions.

The night before last, I had a series of dreams, back-to-back clips of almost every nightmare I have ever had. Not scary ones, just frustrating ones. Teeth falling out. Shopping, but not finding anything. Packing, but having too much stuff to fit in the bag I had to pack. Searching for a place, but not having a map, and getting lost. Carrying a load too heavy to carry, but not being able to put it down. Being tired, but not being able to rest. Being pursued. Pursuing. Missing a bus, catching up to it, only to find that I did not have enough money to buy a ticket. Frustrations and irritations.

Last night I dreamed that my shoes didn’t fit properly, they were deforming my feet. And I planted a garden where I knew it would eventually be trampled.

Interpreting those dreams is easy. I’ve had them before. And they are fairly obvious to decipher. But I don’t think that that which seems obvious is the actual interpretation. Not this time.

When I started writing this piece, I was thinking about a friend who keeps telling me the same story, over and over again like a broken record. Each time they repeat it, they seem to think that it is the first time they’ve told it to me. That they are revealing something deeply personal, a secret. They ask for my help in answering some of the questions which the story has aroused. We discuss it. Possible answers pop up during the conversation. They have a moment of realisation, seem inspired, seem to have found a solution, a way out of the rut, free at last from the obsession. They leave full of ideas. A few days later they reset themselves, and the whole rigmarole starts again.



john greenJohn Green


I was confused by their behaviour at first. I wondered if perhaps I was the one who thought I had heard the story before, but hadn’t. But it didn’t take long to know that that was not true, and that they were indeed stuck in a loop. It puzzled me. My friend is very astute, not prone to being so forgetful. What on earth was happening to them. Then I recognised what it was. I’ve done it too, although not quite as blatantly as they were doing it. I usually tell the same story with different clothes, new protagonists, another time and place. It is still repeating the same plot though. The same pattern.

They are picking at the scab of a favourite wound, scared to let it heal, because the wound is safe, familiar, a friend. If they let it go, then they will have to move on, and that frightens them. Life is pushing them to move on, increasing the pressure, which is increasing their desire to stay put and cling to what they know. However uncomfortable the comfort zone is, it still has more appeal than the unknown which lies ahead. They are afraid of being hurt again, being wounded again, worse still, they are fearful that they might end up happy. They are not used to being happy, whereas sadness is their security blanket. And if they allow themselves to be happy, then what. What if it all gets ripped away. If they are going to end up where they are now again, why not just stay put.



fear of happiness


Is that my story too. Am I clinging to the old out of habit and fear, and it needs to be released so that I can experience the new that life is offering me. Is that why this friend keeps telling me the same story, again, and again, and again, because it has a message for me as much as it has for them. And just like them I am not hearing the message, and until I do, it will keep nagging me.



John green - liberating



There was much which I did not say in this post when I wrote it… I was listening to what I was not saying, but not to why I was not saying it.

Sometimes we need to revisit our own words for therein lies our story, a piece of the puzzle of ourselves which we are trying to put together, our own wisdom attempting to guide us.

Sometimes we revisit the story as a way to let it go, so that we can move on.

Sometimes… everything is so incredibly layered.






  1. “They have a moment of realisation, seem inspired, seem to have found a solution, a way out of the rut, free at last from the obsession. They leave full of ideas. A few days later they reset themselves, and the whole rigmarole starts again”.
    I do understand your frustration and I am like your friend.But I can assure you that being stuck somehow is very rooted, and even if you try hard, your defence mechanisms are made of steel, you wrestle with yourself, you fall, you stand again and you are tired; I have no self compassion but but i do have it for my beloved friends. I have just spent one hour writing to her as she is lost, in spite of doing her best, she is stuck in the rut, as you say.
    I know how you feel, please look at yourself with my eyes:you are not wallowing in self pity, you ponder a lot, you look at things with disenchanted eyes to face the truth.You are full of energy and insight, you feel what’s left unsaid and you perceive situations and relational conundrums with accuracy and a very clever, limpid way of thinking.You are so generous with your devotion and time.In spite of all these qualities you feel stuck and your dreams are telling you your are making huge efforts to achieve a view from the peak of the mountain of your experience. You are very strict with yourself and this is precisely the feature which allowed you to progress. Once your have it clear in your conscience, just wait and leave all this pressure out of the picture. I don’t know if i have the right to speak like this, but reading this post urged me to write to you and made me this to Prometheus. Your mind is blocking you and that’s the message, hard to pin down, what in therapy we call resistence.
    Thank you for sharing your feelings.


    • Thank you for sharing 🙂

      You don’t have to worry about things like this – “I don’t know if i have the right to speak like this” – with me or expressing yourself and your views here on my blog. That’s why it exists!

      I decided to post an old post because it sort of touched upon something I was going to write about. What I was going to write about was inspired by lots of separate thoughts, events and discussions which all seemed to have a similar theme.

      I saw the film – La Grande Bellezza – the other night and it was fascinating. There was one scene in particular where the main protagonist is sitting with friends, listening to one of them go on and on and on about how great they are and their life is and how the problem is everyone else. This person manages to insult each of the other people one by one, but they just put up with it with a mild remonstration here and there. And on and on this person keeps going oblivious to their hypocrisy and narcissism. The main protagonist eventually has had enough and says (paraphrased) to this person – you’re not as perfect as you think you are, you’re as deeply flawed as the rest of us but unlike us you can’t see it, because we acknowledge our own flaws and because we know you refuse to acknowledge yours we keep silent when you speak like this. We love you and don’t want to hurt you and disabuse you of the illusion you’re clinging to like a life raft in a stormy sea. The person is certain they are perfect and have spoken the ultimate truth so they challenge the main protagonist to list their flaws, certain that they have none. He warns them not to tempt him. They insist. So he does and he exposes their hypocrisy and narcissism. What he says is all true, and they have no rebuttal so they get up and walk out. Later we see them in their life and see the truth in image, and for a moment they face the truth, then walk away.

      I was contemplating this film, woundoglogy, Chiron in astrology (especially in the 7th), the archetype of the Wounded-Healer, Covert narcissists, the Poor-Me game/complex, and many other things along these lines while discussing with myself the problem of – when someone else refuses to face up to reality, when they cling to a false reality into which they need to drag others because without others their false reality cannot be confirmed for them, when their false reality causes difficulties and annoying consequences for others, and those others can’t just walk away from it all because real reality involves them in it… then what? You can’t confront the person, mostly because you’ve tried and this just makes things ten times worse – saw something similar in an X-Files episode about Groundhog Day – so what do you do – you can’t get out, but you don’t want to stay in either. You can’t run away because you’ve tried that too and it doesn’t work either.

      It’s one thing if the stuck in a rut scenario just involves us alone – then the problem is just ours even if we think it involves others. However if another’s stuck in a rut means you are also stuck in a rut and you can’t just unstuck yourself because the stuckness does not solely belong to you – you may have worked your way out of your stuckness but the other person refuses to do so, keeping you also partially stuck. Then what?

      I’m rambling a bit, but basically I’m dealing with a covert narcissist and it’s a pain in the ass because:

      “Do not be surprised or angry with yourself if you have been fooled by a Covert Narcissist. They are among the most clever of beasts. Their image is impeccable. They can be charming in an arresting manner, unlike the grandiose narcissist who is over the top with his/her delusional visions, bombast and extreme demands of self entitlement. No, these Coverts are so slick they suck us in quietly with their pseudo authenticity. They have been practicing this and perfecting it all of their lives. This is how they survived— by being fake but very believable. They are convinced of being genuine with their pseudo humility, truthfulness and fake empathy that feels so real.” – Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D. Clinical Expert on the Narcissistic Personality via

      You personally may not be fooled, but if others our then it works along the same lines.

      My mind is always seeking a solution, sometimes going over old ground is necessary to find a piece of the puzzle which may have been missed. Always pay attention to your own speech and writing, re-read it, review it, etc. If you don’t listen to yourself… why expect anyone else to do so 🙂


      • I am dealing at present with a “friend” who is a covert narcissist, it took me two years to figure out what was wrong as i kept feeling uncomfortable-they are very subtle and well mannered and whatever comes along with their words is insidious, but if you scratch a bit, there is no empathy, it’s all bogus. And the condescending tone. i am very tired at the moment but my frame of mind doesn’t allow me to stretch to become even more adaptable to others.So guess what? I quit, I had enough. It’s not something I feel at ease with, but there is no exchange and she ascribed me a role i don’t fit in, like your shoes in your dreams.
        You are right, if being stuck doesn’t involve us alone, therefore we can interact to a certain extent, but we can’t change others. i give up.
        What makes so prone to spill our guts out to save a relationship? When we start walking on eggshells as we perceive we are watched over and we know we can’t express ourselves, as you say we are censored, then, what else ? don’t you think all this problem solving and thinking sucks a lot of energy? Do you really think there are situations we can’t walk away from? the only one i can think of is our family of origin until we are in our twenties.
        You mentioned this movie i haven’t seen but someone described it as if nothing happens and this static quality is difficult to deal with-maybe unconsciously they couldn’t deal with the stuckness of the characters.
        I have tried reading your astrology post with attention and then went peeping into astrodienst to get some information about Chiron but i have no access to this kind of vision, i am so curious but I can’t grasp the overall architecture, I would have liked to know about my Chiron-if he’s still there doing nothing!!
        When someone is stuck but they are unaware of being stuck, all I can do is playing Socrates’ maieutics, as you mentioned in one of your last post..The questioning can bring light and they can keep the answer for themselves and it’s all about identifying what is about. Some people can’t listen to the question either as there is no real will to get out.My only positive action today was helping my friend with my questions. I become invisible and i don’t influence her with my view, i am just there to dig something out of confusion, but she is the one who does the real work and she’s the one who is fighting, I am just useful and i am very glad about it.That’s the role i like the most, so i can’t rest from thinking about myself.
        And you, you don’t sound comfortable with that role,I love the metaphor of a false reality to which people cling as a life raft in a stormy sea, it reminds me of that beautiful and powerful picture by Géricault, The raft of the Médusa..


        • With regards to this – don’t you think all this problem solving and thinking sucks a lot of energy?

          I would say that it depends on your approach and on the ‘problem’ which you’re trying to solve, and on other factors such as whether the problem is real or imagined, and whether you actually want to solve it, and things like that. I personally absolutely love solving problems and get very energised by the whole process, even if I hit an impasse, it’s a challenge to my ability to gather multiple perspectives and such.

          A problem like this – When we start walking on eggshells as we perceive we are watched over and we know we can’t express ourselves, as you say we are censored, then, what else ? – is not a problem, it’s a challenge to you to make a change within yourself. Why are you doing this? that’s where the solution lies.

          An attempt to change someone else is futile and not our problem. And in many cases the desire to change someone else has nothing to do with the other person and everything to do with ourselves – we distract ourselves from the real problem which lies within ourselves by projecting it elsewhere onto someone else. They may actually be fine exactly as they are, we are the ones who perceive them as needing to change… but why? For our sake? Then the problem is ours, with us, we need to change our perspective.

          The issue I am having to deal with concerning the covert narcissist is on a practical and legal level. On a personal level I have no problem, in as much as I am not in their version of reality or drama anymore, not from my standpoint anyway. However their version of reality and their need for drama to sustain their identity and false reality is making what is actually a straightforward practical matter into a complicated soap opera. Hence the sense of being stuck because of someone else’s stuckness. I can’t walk away from this situation otherwise I would do so – walking away in this instance would cause more fracas and problems than facing it and solving it in the here and now. But I do have to deal with other people getting sucked into the covert narcissist’s drama and the consequences of that. Which adds to the situation.

          I tend to attract covert narcissists more often than other types of narcissists. I recognise them quite quickly, they have certain very distinctive markers, which is helpful in as much as I stay detached from their BS from the get go, but getting them to go away is another matter, since once they latch on… my life is fairly N free at the moment except for this old barnacle of a covert narc (family, che pizza!)

          You’re right, I’m not comfortable with the roles which other people give me. Sometimes I go along with them for varying reasons (some good, some bad, some whose status have still to be decided), but eventually I rebel. As Cobain (who has a similar astrology chart to mine) said, while channeling Andre Gide and others who have come to the same conclusion – I’d rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I am not.

          Life is a puzzle which is fun to solve even when it is not fun, our particular puzzle of life can only be solved by us as we have the key within us 🙂


          • I have just discovered i can actually walk out of a relationship, or decide not to accept to say no, not to obey…this doesn’t mean i am at ease with it; but i spent my life adapting myself to others, i thought i had no choice.
            When you say that walking on eggshells and being censored it’s not a problem but something i have to change in myself, i find myself too exhausted and I am not very good at boxing.So i have learnt i can quit and withdraw, in any case the others will not change.It took me a very long time to learn to free myself from the clutch of invasive people. So why do i do this? I understand why but all i want to do is to leave and confrontation in my family has always been scary and i had enough of shouting and insulting. explaining my view has always been useless.
            You are a born and bred strategist ! there is a mesmerizing book which sounds perfect for you, maybe you have already read it- Chess Story by Stefan Zweig and his writing is limpid as source water, reasoning flows along with elegant beauty…It’s a story about finding a way out.
            I am not good at problem solving, i am too impulsive and emotional, that’s why i love philosophy, it’s a silent place where i can take a step back and contemplate to understand without noise, I am easilty overwhelmed by life.
            Did you see The Grand Budapest Hotel? I loved it and enjoyed this artful pastiche Zweig’s sense of humour, even the colours were exilarating, it was living in a literary loony bin:).


            • And therein is problem solving. You had a problem and you solved it. Voila!

              We sometimes miss our own skills, because we get caught in comparing them with how we view other people and what they do… sometimes we just need to see how skillful we are in our own lives and not compare, but appreciate ourselves.

              Thank you for the recommendations, I shall check them out 🙂


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