February 18, 2003

Hide and Don't Seek

During one of the exercises at the last Gathering, the question was asked, “Why are you here tonight?” I answered truthfully, “Because I am supposed to be here.”

This answer was honest. I attended in great part out of a sense of duty. A voice in my head says that I am the leader of this group, Shalom Seacoast, and therefore I should attend all Gatherings. They are not a choice for me. I must attend unless I am out of town. Add this to the list of “shoulds” in my life.

The truth is that I was not in a very loving space that night. Fear had been ruling and running my life. I was in a lot of pain and the last thing in the world that I wanted to do was go to the Gathering and reveal that I was hurting. So I had to go, but hide. The closest I could get to the truth during check-in was to say that I was feeling “vulnerable.” Such an understatement. I was a riot of feelings, mostly pain.

I make no apology for being dishonest at the Gathering. I did the best I could that night. That night I needed to stay in hiding. Fortunately, others at the Gathering were not in hiding. They showed up with honesty and true vulnerability. They gave me hope for me.

I am sure that I was not the only outlaw in hiding that night – not the only frightened soul on the lam from the truth. I bet that some others at the Gathering were also hiding. And others were hiding at home in front of their television sets or tucked early into their beds. I believe that all of us were doing the best we could that night, wherever and however we were.

By the end of the Gathering I was glad that I went. It gave me something. I walked out into the brisk night air changed, carrying some small shard of new possibility. I received that just by being in the presence of others.

I long to really show up. It is so hard. It is so hard for me to put out my real self – beautiful and nasty, ecstatic and in hopeless desperation. I want to be all together, but I am not. In fact, at times I feel more unraveled than ever.

I am glad there is a place I can go on a regular basis, even if it is only to hide. Maybe my self-imprisonment is moving closer to the barred door which I have erected and locked from the inside. Maybe I am moving out.