Sometimes it feels like life only takes us out of the forge-fire to nearly drown us in a bracing cold plunge pool, before putting us back into the fire again. Between the anvil of your leaden mind and the hammer of your pounding heart, you are beaten relentlessly day and night. You melt down to a glowing liquid amber until you no longer know who you are anymore, but then life pours you back into its mold.
No, the world doesn’t stop for us during such times of upheaval: dishwashers continue to break, modems continue to break, relationships continue to break, what little faith we had in ourselves continues to break. We are surrounded by commitments too – solemn promises made to life by a version of us that no longer exists: children, dogs, rent, businesses, loans. Until one day you wake up in the morning gripped by a question like a mouse in the talons of a owl…
Who the hell am I anyway?!
Am I my role at work? Am I my role in the family? Am I my relationship status? Who the hell am I behind all these things?
Do I even care about all the opinions I have carefully developed over the years anymore? Do I even think they’re actually true? Do I have ANY idea about where I’m going and what the hell I’m actually supposed to be doing right now?
That’s when you realize that you are officially falling apart.
This is kind of surprising because in so many ways life continues to trundle along. You somehow get out of bed each day and do a bunch of stuff you apparently need to do before crawling back in on the other side of it all. Neither have the electricity and gas been cut off. So there’s that.
Actually, in so many ways, you’ve actually been holding it together.
And that’s when you find yourself back between the anvil and the hammer: are you holding it together or falling apart? What’s a good outcome here? Is it a return to your old life and your old self and all the things you once loved? Sometimes the answer feels like a ‘yes’, but more often than not it isn’t.
For despite all the goodness of your old life, and despite all the shittyness of your current situation, your old life feels like a book you’ve read, a chapter you’ve finished, a t-shirt you bought and loved and worn to death, and now it’s time for something else.
So it’s official, you’re falling apart then… or at least partly.
You still need to pay those bills though, sadly. So I guess you’re also holding it together. Fuck. Back on the anvil again? No, the trick to falling apart is realizing what exactly it is that needs to burn and drown and be allowed to disintegrate into a thousand little pieces that compost back into the past.
Yes, it’s you sweet friend, but not all of you. Never that.
It’s just the story you’ve been living, that’s all. That’s the chapter that needs to end. You need a new soundtrack is all. The bills and the chores and the broken white-goods and wily wifi will continue to require your attention. The children and the partner and the career and your health all still require care. It’s ‘who’ is doing all that – that’s the question.
Remember this heart of my heart: you are not your past, you are not your failings, nor your gifts, nor your opinions. You are not the roles you play. You are not the paths you’ve walked. You are not the scars you bear. You are not the wound you nurse.
No, those things are all a part of the story that you have been telling yourself, and that is the one thing that definitely needs to fall apart.
So let that all go for now. Not in a big ‘clouds-parting’ enlightened manner though, just push it to one side for today.
You don’t need any big answers to pick up and put into the gaps these old worn-out answers used to occupy in your heart either. And you can continue to do the things that need to be done. In fact, you don’t need to have healed anything, or figured anything out, or transformed or realized or broken through at all.
Don’t worry about all that – the pressure of that stuff was half your problem anyway.
You just need to be open to meeting the world and your Self anew.
So sweet friend that I have yet to meet, we’ve arrived at the end of the story and I have no dramatic realization for you, sadly. That’s all I’ve got. It’s actually pretty simple really, and that’s the beauty of it:
You can actually do it. You the single mother; you the chronically ill; you the burdened father; you the deeply wounded.
What’s falling apart is just a story.
Remember that in moments of hardship and darkness.
Even if it was, or is a beautiful story, it’s not you that’s falling apart.
In fact, ‘you’ may turn out to be finally coming together after all.
Who knows? You’ll have to wait and see.
This article is reprinted from the author’s page here and is used with permission.
Dr Jimi Wollumbin has spent the last 22 years in clinical practice and has had the opportunity to research some of the most respected traditional medical systems; these include the Chinese, Tibetan, Indian and Persian traditions. He has also been fortunate enough to work in a series of community health and international aid initiatives. For more info see: https://www.doctorjimi.com