The Fear of Falling Apart
There has been a theme in my practice in the last two weeks, and that is the fear of falling apart. It's a strong fear that can drive us into seclusion and feeling alone. It's a fear that has it's own story that goes something like this...
If I fall apart then other people will judge me.
If I fall apart there is nobody to catch me.
If I fall apart then that means I am weak instead of strong.
If I fall apart then I really don't have it together.
If I fall apart it will be too lonely and dark.
If I fall apart then everything will get worse.
If I fall apart it means there is something wrong with me.
If I fall apart then everything around me will fall apart too.
Do any of these thoughts ring true for you? I know I have played several of these belief systems over and over in my head like a broken record that won't stop.
However, what if falling apart was the place where the diamond was being created, under the forceful pressure? There is real wisdom and knowledge to be gained in allowing those parts of yourself to fall. Holding it all together can use so much more energy than falling apart. It can feel soul sucking and crushing. There is an idea that keeping "it all together" means that you are stronger. But the container, the heart of hearts, the psyche, the emotional state is all suffering because it's like a crowded subway during rush hour. It always feels so much better when the doors open and people get off the train. Ahhh...I can breathe and turn around, I can stretch my arms, nobody is crowding my personal space. How much are all your feelings and ideas of "I should" crowding you from happiness and joy?
Holding yourself together can be your only means of survival. I don't discredit the need it serves if you are threatened. Sometimes you are your only support system. If that is the case, then its more challenging to be the keeper and the supporter simultaneously, yet even in that scenario, falling apart is inevitable. How do you do it mindfully and effectively? I come back to the fact that what you are holding ARE FEELINGS, and they are NOT you. You are not all of these things inside. You are not the bad person, the weak one, the angry and frustrated, the neglected or betrayed. You are an intricate being that processes these feelings.
The feelings come and go, integrate and shed, transform and sometimes die. It can be a real struggle to fall apart, however the repair can be so magical. Allowing yourself to fully embrace and feel the pain of something gets you in touch with a deeper part of yourself. It allows you to contact a missing experience, grief, resentment of whatever it may be and acknowledge it. Do you ever remember doing something you were proud of, and nobody noticed? I have and it made me sad. I didn't understand why it wasn't as important to others. I wanted to be seen! Those parts of yourself that you are holding onto so tightly, they need to be seen and acknowledged. They want to be understood. It's not possible to cut them out of your life or wish them away. Sometimes they serve a purpose and sometimes they become too familiar, that letting go is scary because you don't know what's waiting on the other side. The pain you are feeling now, you know it. You don't know what you will feel like on the other side. You are holding yourself back, out of fear.
I want to take the stigma away that falling apart means weak. It is vulnerable, yes, but it isn't weak. In fact, I think it is brave. It takes courage to welcome those feelings, as uncomfortable and scary as they are, and meet them. The body often is aching to express as well.
Allow yourself, in a mindful way, all apart. Let it go. Let the feelings come to the surface. Pushing them down only creates more pressure. The subconscious is so beautiful in bringing things into our awareness. It does so because it wants to be in the "whole" of who you are.
-crying is not a "girl" thing, it's a very therapeutic tool for the mind and soul for boys too
-exercise is a great stress reducer. I personally love kickboxing and bootcamp. I enjoy punching things and moving aggression, pushing my body to new limits to gain confidence.
-meditation helps guide us through the maze of internal chaos
-writing flushes out the thoughts
-reflection teaches us where we have been and where we are going
-connecting with a trusted loved one can provide support and strength
-vulnerability deepens the connection with ourself and others, which allows for authenticity
-change the narrative by experiencing true letting go and rebuilding. Hopefully you will find agency, choice, resiliency and compassion for yourself and others
-Eventually the container will burst through an emotional breakdown, loss, retreat into oneself, deep depression, isolation or other forms of pain. How great would it be if you started allowing yourself to go deeper before that happens.
Falling apart isn't a bad thing. It's a process of self-exploration and renewal. We are human, and being human is complicated. In your mind, imagine what it would feel like to fall apart. Imagine what it would be like to release the energy. Imagine what it would be like to take deep belly breaths and exhale. Imagine what it would feel like to be lighter in mind and body. Falling apart is actually a way of loving yourself and others. I welcome my clients, friends and family to go through this process. Personally, I am learning the deep value for this process, and instead of beings ashamed of it, I am strengthened by it.
"Everything worthwhile in life is won through surmounting the associated negative experience. Any attempt to escape the negative, to avoid it or squash it or slice it, only backfires. The avoidance of suffering is a struggle. The avoidance of struggle is a struggle. The denial of failure is a failure. Hiding what is shameful is itself a form of shame."