Post Day 1
It was a bit odd not carrying the chair today. It IS in the car and came up to the studio with me this evening (I painted the underside of the seat. See the 30 in 30 challenge on my page. It's my "Day 18" painting.)
Had some good conversations about it. Realized I really am finished carrying it. But had a challenge to the lessons...
I went to a networking gathering for people involved in the arts and artists. Someone asked me about the Chair. She'd known about the Project and wondered why I wasn't carrying it. After explaning that it had become such a powerful metaphor for Fear that it began to anchor me to my Fears about the past and about the future, she asked "which do you find you are more burdened by, the past or future." I didn't really have a clear answer. In the moment, I don't feel burdened by either and I stated this. I was so new to my realization that to then put myself into moments of Fear about past choices or Fear about the future was beyond me. I fumbled a bit and then we were interrupted. This fumble was later exacerbated by my making a thoughtless comment upon saying "goodbye" to this same person.
I drove the 20 miles home wrestling with my inner critic who so very much wanted to make me suffer for being a buffoon. Wow. I got home. Painted the underside of my Fear Chair with a huge rose and rewrote the word "Love" there. Then wrestled my inner critic some more until I finally asked myself "What am I afraid of that I so readily beat myself up for this?" I talked with my husband about this. He listened patiently as I wandered my path of thoughts until I saw the Fear. I was very visible tonight. Not hugely but certainly more so than I have been recently. And in my visiibility, I blundered. I made some mistakes. So, first there was the vulnerability of visibility, which was fine but hey, I am still very new off the Fear Chair. Then, I fumbled in the presence of someone I admire. But not only that, I risked dissappointing them. THAT is a big trigger for my Fear of abandonment. If I show myself to be dissappointing, I will be deemed unnworthy of further attention. That's the root Fear.
So why beat myself up? Because it pummels me. It makes me small again. Invisible. Beats me down actually. I used to use this one a lot in earlier days but never really understood that it was actually a tool I for some reason learned to use to make me feel safe when I felt too visible. Wow. Like a tiger being whipped back up on its tiny platform after it stretched out and let out a roar at the wrong time, I put myself back in my place so to speak so that I wouldn't be sent out of the circus.
Ok. So I am still afraid of dissappointing people. I am still afraid of abandonment. I am still vulnerable in my visibility.
This reminds me to write just a bit about something I posted a week or so ago. It was my encounter with the woman who is Budhist who said she was asked once if she could have a super power what would it be and she answered "invisibility." I mentioned the John Hodges story for "This American Life," in which he asked people this same question but it was between "flight" and "invisibility." I recall a good percentage of people chose invisibility. I wondered about that tonight. At the networking function, I saw others seeming to shrink at times or fade in moments where visibility may have been challenging for them. I mean we all were there so visibility must be SOMEWHAT comfortable for all of us. And I think it was/is. But I also saw that everyone has moments when they say something "wrong," or "too much," where there is just a moment's hesitancy, or a very slight physical pulling back, or even a longer actual verbal apology. I think perhaps we all have times when we wish we could take back our visibility.
I don't know what the Fears are driving others' retreats from visibility but it IS good for me to see that we all do it. And it is good to know at very long last why I do it and how I do it.
I am no longer carrying the Fear Chair but it will forever be a metaphor for me. Too it is a permanent tool by which to draw out my Fear so it can set on the Chair while I examine it. This is I think why it was very wise of me from the beginning to paint "Love," on it somewhere, because Love IS the antidote for Fear and if the Chair can hold all my Fear/s, it damned well better be reinforced with a strong antidote as well. The two are inextricably related for me now.
Perhaps, if one believes Roosevelt, that "All we have to Fear is Fear itself," though I am maybe still afraid of many things because of the Chair Project, I am not-so-much afraid of Fear. I am finding Love is FAR more powerful. And so, again tonight I am feeling grateful.