The mountains have always been there to calm me. Today, as I walked out of the community cafe, shortly after my old friend had told me about my bitterness, my edge, and my meanness, they were there, standing up to calm me. In that moment, I knew that my intolerance to his analysis was not, as I had thought, a symptom of my deep sadness or my emotional weakness, but rather, one of developing emotional health.
Something like this had happened last month, where a trusted friend began to unearth my emotional struggle and shame, and I thought then that my impulse to shut down and leave was because I didn't have my usual emotional strength about me.
But it was not, and it is not.
The mountains reminded me. I am not up for debate, or analysis, or any type of uninvited behavior that turns me inside out and leaves my guts spewing on the table top.
I grew up in analysis. Both my parents were social workers, and as luck would have it, after they split, they each married social workers, so I was regularly on the table for dissection, often without being aware, and I became accustomed to it. This was not without its rewards, but generally speaking, it created a lot of anxiety in me and prompted me to question almost everything I did on a regular basis. Then at the age of 13, I discovered pot and alcohol. Glorious intoxicants of numbness and silence to get me through my teenage years and beyond, where no one and nothing could touch me, or at least, numb me enough so if they did, I would not be too keenly aware of it.
When I turned 21, I emerged from this semi-paralysis and moved far away, to be near the mountains and the ocean, and a good distance away from my dissectors.
Living near the mountains, natural geographic boundaries effortlessly dividing space whether visible or not, has subtly influenced me over the years I think. It might be the reason I am always happy to see them. But more to the point, and finally, after a good bit of soul searching and inner work, I see how I have put myself on hold to serve the needs of others. I see how I have sat silently as others dissected my behavior in order to explain away their own. Or simply sat silent so I wouldn't make anyone else uncomfortable.
But the mountains are always there to remind me. I don't need to explain my actions, nor do I need to put up with the bad behavior of others in favor of a relationship. Leaving a painful situation is okay. Not putting up with people who don't respect my boundaries is healthy. It is not that I have not known these things, it is that I have not behaved in a way that reflected this knowledge.
It is a happy day when the mountains are in view, happier still when they reflect back to you how beautiful it is to stand up.
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