You know the scene in that truly gripping edge of your seat film (spoiler alert), where Denzel has landed the plane with jaw dropping awe inspiring heroism, but shit-ass drunk, and he is to be interrogated at a tribunal hearing because someone somewhere gets a hold of an alarming tox report? Then he finally gets his shit together and gets off the booze and you’re feeling good. You’re feeling optimistic. A bit of sunny house painted yellow open the windows kind of hope. It’s as tense as legal dramas get and ALL he has to do is just show up sober to the hearing and life as he knows it as the heroic pilot he is can continue…And we the audience are all sweating blood BECAUSE we feel what is coming. We feel, IT. Even those of us who don’t know what IT is, are squirming in our seats, averting our eyes, grabbing our movie buddy’s shirt sleeves and twisting with twisty squirmy anguish.
Denzel is in the hotel room. The world is quiet. Nothing is wrong on the outside. Nothing is wrong on the inside. Except we see that single bead of sweat. And there is the rub, friends. That single bead of sweat.
Denzel is waiting it out. It’s just him and some minutes, and the presence of the locked mini-bar lurking in a seed of awareness, someone forgot to take out of his way. The mini bar — the weapon of choice. HOW he’s gonna take himself down. Crash the plane.
The itch to light it all on fire, when you get close to safety. Close to yourself. Close to love.
Sabotage is extremely painful to watch.
And it’s staggeringly painful to be on the receiving end of.
When it’s not Denzel, but your beloved. The one you have cradled in your arms. Sunk deep into. Been intimate with. Bared your SOUL to. Confided your secrets in. Loved with giddy hope and reckless abandon. Stripped down naked for, I mean naked. Physically and emotionally and spiritually, let yourself be seen by. And then TRUSTED. To embrace you, and all of your shy, secret places.
You feel it trickle. You smell it. You taste it. It wrests you from slumber. It creeps into words, familiar words, words that we know and welcome and sharpens them at the edges, pushes them a little farther apart, carves something out of the warm middle so that they ring with a barely discernible echo. A little quicker to hang up, a little slower to text. A phrase, dangled mid-air that could just be a phrase, harmless, meaning a thousand different innocent things. But you detect it. It’s acrid, sour. It twists the face of a loved one into something different. It erases. Kills even. Traceless dissonance. Poisonous pulling away.
You don’t want to see it. You oh so gawd awfully don’t want it to be true.
And so you do the thing that we all do.
You try to outsmart it. You go to war.
Not just any war. The war of your life.
Because you are fighting for the person you love, with the reckless beautiful love that is the stuff of relationships. You are fighting for them, against what I call “LESS THAN” them.
You are fighting against the voice of their abandonment, an escalating silent scream, that is sounding at the place they were left in the lurch, the roadside, the schoolyard, the empty hospital room. Small and alone.
You, little one, are not worthy of love.
Love, little one, is an unsafe place.
And that voice is insidious. It speaks in riddles.
It looks to DIVIDE, DISTANCE, MAKE DIFFERENT, VILIFY.
It veils love with fear.
It lies like a bitch. It is in their ear like a gossiping friend:
She doesn’t have time for you.
He needs too much attention.
It will never work.
She is making a fool of you.
You are in different places.
She’ll home in on your guy time.
He’ll want to change you.
He expects too much.
You are destined to be alone.
She was never going to fit in with your friends.
He doesn’t see you for you.
It hurts, willfully and skillfully and without mercy. It goes for the jugular and rips at the throat, because your hurt proves its evil, it’s right to run like fucking hell, to outrun the pain of seeing its worthlessness.
It takes stupid actions. It blocks and deletes. It calls up an ex lover. It flirts and plays games. It disrespects and deprioritizes. It sanitizes all of those scary feelings with SPACE.
It kills before it exposes itself. Wields the machete at the first rustle in the jungle dark.
You know the bill of goods it is selling your beloved. Because you LOVE THEM. TEARS OF JOY kind of love. You could probably hand them the script, of all painful ironies.
And so you see, with the ugly curse of foresight, what no one else around you can, the car spinning out of control. The switch flipping. The sweat dripping.
It’s not you. It’s oh so perfectly NOT you.
You may know that, friend. With your super smart braniac head you may know it.
Even if it triggers your shit.
But I am going to remind your heart.
It’s cold comfort in your living room. I know, but you need to hear it. Play it on a podcast. Sprinkle it on your breakfast cereal, because this shit hurts. Kicks us in the back of the knees kind of hurt.
It’s not you.
If you’re healthy, you’re going to move on, and you’re going to be loving someone else, the day they wake up and the sun pours in and the sheets are soaked with sweat and they know what they have given up. Stevie Nicks is not wrong; Dreams of loneliness like a heart beat will drive them mad. You see this too. And if you’re like me, you are already holding them, that scared self. Cradling them in your arms one last time, telling them it’s not their fault, and that you are SO very sorry they lost it, and how worthy of love you know they are, even though it won’t be yours.
Or maybe you get lucky and win the war this time.
Maybe you lean into the curve, and outcrazy their crazy, you Jennifer Laurence bad ass bitch (Silver Linings Playbook in case you’re not up on the box office hits).
I get it. Denzel is a babe in that story.
The hero who needs a little saving. We all want to sweep his tox report under the rug. Just a little bit, come on admit it. Not that we want a drunk pilot. We just see past it. We see his good.
And we see yours. Our saboteur (If this is YOU and you are Denzel please call me up and I will help you).
If you are going to fight their instinct for flight, if you are going to war, you need to be the sage commander. You need The Art of War and A Course In Miracles in a blender with some added protein.
If you are going to take your enemy, take them whole.
Don’t hurt them. It will hurt you.
Don’t attack. It will diminish you both.
Don’t cause them to defend themselves. This is like handing ammunition to their “Less Than” voice.
Don’t diminish them. Because you love them and your goal is to heal.
Use your environment to your advantage. Stop trying so hard and let the rock roll itself down the hill.
Confuse and distract them with kindness.
Let them defeat themselves, aka, the voice of pain and loss, defeat itself.
Don’t give the crazy power. Pretend to, but just don’t.
Be willing to SEE past their “Less Than” to their Whole self. Wrap your arms around them until the hurt has quit kicking and screaming and collapsed in your arms.
And forgive the IDEA that somehow you are not enough.
You have ONE shot at this. ONE.
To “outcrazy their crazy”.
But beware that plots are for twists.
You need to believe in your bones, but be prepared to kill (do I need to emphasize that this is a metaphor?). And for your ego to die and that is never pretty my friend.
Many of us aren’t ready for that.
If we are unhealthy, we get lost at battle, and the war drags on for 8 years.
In other words you can take a flight risk head on, but never twice, or you are codependent and you’re both going down with the plane. If your “LESS THAN” gets in there, if ego corrupts your vision, well Silver Linings can get Jerry Springer in a hot five minutes.
If war is not your art? Or your daytimer is just too full for ninja level shit?
The alternative is to hand it all over to your holy holies, and do what I do.
Apply as much love as you can, recklessly, in the face of fear. Pour it on. Saturate the place.
Fill all of those tiny airline bottles in that god forsaken mini fridge with one hundred proof LOVE.
And thank Heaven that you don’t have to land that plane alone.
— Love Erin.
P.S. You’ve been asking me how to get your friends and loved ones the help I’ve been able to give you. We can do that. Contact me and we’ll talk details.
P.P.S. One of the kindest things you can do for me is to share my writing. If you enjoyed today’s Monday Musing and know someone else who would please forward it to a friend.