Do you ever have one of those times when your reaction is nuts compared to the situation? I’m learning to pay attention to these over-reactions, for my soul is trying to tell me something that I might otherwise ignore or drown out.
Last week I was doing laundry and my dusting cloth fell in the small gap between the washer and the wall. I felt unreasonably frustrated by this tiny mishap. It was as if my psychic house of cards started to wobble and something deep inside of me recognized that I was in serious danger of losing control. I grabbed my daughter’s onesie pajamas and tried several times to cram them in the space and slowly pull them forward to drag the dusting cloth to where I could reach it before the washer drum finished filling.
Nothing. The damn cloth didn’t budge. I leaned awkwardly across the washer, refusing to quit on this rag, but when I sat up sharply I hit my head on the plastic container that holds grocery bags. All hell broke loose. It hurt like a mother and an overwhelming rage bubbled up and spilled out of me. My poor cats fled in the onslaught of such blue language. There I was, hopping around in my laundry room, rubbing my sore head and cussing the world and everyone in it.
It had everything and nothing to do with the dusting cloth. This grief was a volcano, simmering safely until the internal temperature is finally too high and now the only option left is to explode. When we run from our feelings they find a way to get our attention. They bring us to our knees.
The pressure builds in us and then demands a release. I felt intense relief at the end of my tantrum (mixed in with gratitude that I was alone in the house except for my two surprised cats). I desperately needed to admit that I was not fine. I was hurting, engaging with my own despised human frailty; afraid, alone, angry as hell. It took a hard bump on the head to bring it all up and out so I could finally let go of it.
We can only control so much. Sometimes we reach the end of our desperate agenda. A “T” forms in our path and we must either hang on or let go. Getting honest about this is the first step, even if this looks like swearing and screeching in your basement. Especially then. It’s never easy to admit that it’s not all about you. As Rob Bell says, “There is something else going on here.”
I’m grateful for that dropped cloth and the subsequent bump on the head. When I calmed down I could sense that I was different in some hard-to-define but nonetheless true way. With a flash of insight, I saw that the broom handle would be the solution for my cloth. In two seconds, it was retrieved and placed in the washer, just in the nick of time.
Most of life is like this, provided we don’t catastrophize into the future. Staying in the present helps us find our solution and remain connected to our true selves so we can figure out what it is we actually need.