Chop Wood, Carry Water, Shut Your Trap

AttributionNoncommercial Some rights reserved by Arno Arno

“…All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” ~Julian of Norwich

Litany Against Fear from the Bene Gesserit Rite

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total   obliteration.

I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.

And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
~Frank Herbert, Dune

What can I say about silence?

As a person dealing with codependency issues, silence is a currency I cannot make change in, withdrawal a tactic I am ill equipped to employ. I tumble words out of my mouth just to be reaching toward something…toward you, toward us, toward understanding, toward reconciliation, toward a continuation of connection, even if that connection is painful. Painful connection is, after all, still connection…right?

As a little girl, if someone I cared about (let’s get fancy and call said person the Other) needed space due to anger or unhappiness or just a need for time alone, I felt abandoned. I would spend great amounts of time trying to reengage, trying to be entertaining enough/conversational enough/loving enough/witty enough/smart enough to be returned to grace, to be loved- heck, to not be ignored or spoken to with a harsh tone. I felt if I could just do the right thing, say the right thing, be the right person, etc. I could fix that disconnected moment for the Other (who, let’s not kid ourselves, was generally my mother at that very early age) and thus for myself.

The above paragraph is not written to be a ground-breaking revelation; these patterns are pretty common. Still, common behavior patterns are just as difficult to untangle as their exotic brethren, and are easier to ignore/discount/look past due to their ubiquitousness.

Today, I find myself looking down the barrel of the same old gun, but I’m trying out different responses. In trying to shift to a different way of being, I’m admittedly pretty damn awkward. Someone close to me withdraws, and sometimes I reach out, and it works…or it doesn’t. Sometimes I don’t reach out, catching myself operating out of woundedness, and it sometimes works…and it sometimes doesn’t. Sometimes I catch myself halfway, and stop engaging out of fear in the middle of an interaction, and sometimes that diffuses the weirdness and sometimes it escalates it spectacularly. Nothing is easy here anymore. The old comforts are no longer comfortable, the new shoes are giving me blisters. Throw in other individuals and their issues and their expectations for my behavior and we have a carnival of fun times sprouting up almost randomly and without warning. Oh, the joy! (Ahem.)

But, this is the Work, right now. I was just having a conversation with J about a quote I’ve heard again and again in different forms:  if you want to find water, dig one deep well instead of twenty shallow ones. To me, this speaks to the way in which sustained, difficult work changes a life. The temptation to stop five feet down is great; 10 feet down, even greater. Right now, I feel like I’m rather deep, and I’m getting some water. The work is getting harder and more subtle. The ground is wet and heavy and I can’t see where I’m going. Still, my payoff isn’t the water. The payoff is right now, in this moment, choosing to keep at it. The payoff for me is becoming, a little more every day, a person who gets up and does what needs to be done, a person who puts her money where her mouth is, a person who is guided by Will in the face of fear.



  1. Thanks, Marjie. It's hard to remember that sometimes, but really all I have to do is show up. That's better than a lot of people can do.

  2. Ah, yes. The balance — when is silence golden and when is it withdrawal?All in the intent. Which, as you know, is All.Love you, honey.

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