It’s 3AM and these life experiences are trying to get my attention again. Lately, my mind has this sneaky way of attacking me in the middle of the night while I am sound asleep. It attacks me by waking me up and sticking a thought in there for me to chew on. It’s never a deep thought, just a simple one that my ego can grab hold of like, “Why did she have to post that picture on Facebook?” You know, important stuff like that.
The problem is, a thought like that attaches to deep-seeded issues centered around trust. These issues are hard-wired in my brain from the past and once the thought starts down that pathway, all the emotional pain from those old experiences comes rushing up to the surface.
It’s like I’m back in high school. I’m seventeen and I go away to Mammoth Mountain on a ski trip with my family over Christmas break and when I come back, my new girlfriend, Pam, has a new boyfriend and not only that, everyone knows about it before I do. Or even junior high. My eighth grade girlfriend, Chrissie, shows up the first day of high school holding hands with a tenth grader she met on one of those student trips to Europe, only she neglected to tell me and of course, again, everyone else knows.
We all have this stuff. It’s part of growing up, of experiencing relationships and life. I get to see where I made old agreements not to trust and ultimately how I became untrustworthy myself. It hurts to look inside and discover these truths and also to face the pain that comes when my mind connects new experiences with old ones. Sometimes I’d like to do what Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet did in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”. I’d like to just erase it all. Erase those old experiences, erase the new ones which are triggering the same emotions. Start fresh with a spotless mind.
But the reality is, I’m in this life to grow and I know through my experience that when I feel pain, it means I’m growing. I have a choice in these moments to run away from the pain or to walk through it. I’ve done a lot of running in the past. There are so many things to cover it up: alcohol, drugs, work, sex, food, shopping. The problem is, when I run, the pain just gets covered up and pushed down inside, only to come out again with more intensity later on or perhaps create illness and disease.
So instead of running, I do my best today to face pain by dealing with it in the moment. In times like this when it strikes in the middle of the night, I write, get it out of my head and onto paper. Lately, there have been pages and pages of stuff and I’m carrying my journal with me everywhere. At other times, I call friends and talk it out. I have a therapist. I have a spiritual advisor. I have learned that I can’t do this by myself and as hard as it is to ask for help sometimes, I feel a great sense of relief every time I do.
I guess this path I’m on is my own version of “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”. This is what it means to be a 21st Century Man. By facing my issues head on, I am attempting to re-wire those old pathways in my brain with new thoughts and beliefs. In doing so, the old thoughts like, “women can’t be trusted” are slowly fading away each time I recognize them. My new experiences can be just that, new. They don’t have to be connected to the painful ones from the past. The pain suddenly becomes the admission price to a new life.