If you’ve been following along you’ll know by now that during Covid I’ve been doing a lot of traveling back and forth to B.C. for stints of taking care of family. You’ll remember such blogs as my van suddenly unable to accelerate on the Coquihalla, or my fascination that summer with the teenager books about the girl who could go into other people’s dreams and heal them and how that was a metaphor for the work I do with you! Or the gem I wrote to you from my heat induced delirium on the patio where it was 46 degrees Celsius at 6 in the evening in the shade and the gals at the next table were dropping ice cubes down their shirts while I dreamt of sliding across a rink of ice on my belly (hockey was on). Wow, we’ve been through some times you and I. And now that my sister’s in B.C. taking care of my cute little Mommy, the trips keep on coming. While a long drive can be meditative and fun once in a while I don’t have that kind of time these days, so I have found a hack that allows me to work while driving. It’s called finding someone else to drive me!!! Then it’s just a regular day at the office, only with mountains racing by and the occasional sighting of a mountain goat, although those sometimes hang around my home office as well. JK.
Anyhow the dear soul who was my most recent driving support person, let’s call him Frank to protect the innocent is someone I have known for a lot of years and is just generally a warm and cheerful, happy to help a friend in need kinda guy. Is he a good driver? Well that is not for me to decide, and obviously NOT a matter of speculation that it would have been kind for me to chime in on while we were cruising at over 100k/hour down the 93 in avalanche season.
And yet, dear Reader, I wanted to live.
Oh I had so many lovely lovely reasons to live, it occurred to me white knuckling the door handle as my good warm helper attempted to pour coffee from one cup to another while somehow, maybe keeping like one of his two eyes on the road? I’m not a scientist you do the science!
My reasons to live included:
I was 4 days into not having a headache or skin pain after 14 months of Long Covid which meant dying would just be sort of be rude.
I have to keep paying to keep other people alive, so like my demise would mean a sort of dead people dog-pile.
Who would make sure the inside of the fridge gets wiped out regularly?
I don’t like GORY things, like broken bones and shards of glass jammed in inappropriate places and all the terrible gruesomeness I used to read about when I was writing quantums *legal memos quantifying car accident damages. The moral here is don’t think that being a lawyer is for the ‘too faint of heart to be a doctor’.
Also I plan to save the world from toxic dating and relationship practices and I am NOT FINISHED YET. I am so close and in fact this passion has moved to the top spot on the to do list I started at age eleven, remember from last musing, the one that read “write book, lose weight, save money”. Now it reads, you guessed it, “save world from toxic dating and relationship practices, write book, lose weight, save money”.
Basically I am too busy for death, duh! Do you hear that BIG NARRATOR IN THE SKY, LIFE MOVIE DADDY, HIGHER ME VERSUS EGO ME? No Bueno dead-o. Plus also I promised my sister that if there’s gonna be a WW3 we’ll take a wine tour right off the bluff in a shiny convertible our hair blowing in the wind and a naked 30-something Brad Pitt waiting back at the hotel room #thelmaandlouise
Which means I’m a gonna need some diplomacy. Like my life depends on this. Deep hostage rescue level skills, UN peacekeeping level shit. Realistically, if I don’t die I had better be honouring my existence by getting my work done, so I can’t be praying and eulogizing myself for 732 km now can I? It’s not efficient.
You can’t say to a really nice person who is helping you out, hey man did you get your license in a Cracker Jack box? Or by class five did they mean Kindergarten class, age 5?
Instead I tried a lighter touch, like “Oh you seem kinda busy right now please allow me to open that tightly cellophaned sandwich and pass it to you,” while in actual fact thinking I’m a mom and It would be no trouble at all to like cut it into bites too small to be a choking hazard and feed them to you at properly timed intervals.
How about I operate the GPS, balance the phone for you, answer your texts and calls and if you don’t mind could we veer a bit left from the ditch we are currently targeting?
Sooner than later, thankfully for my future and that of your love lives, it all came to an epic pinnacle as we came round a curvy bit, one of those where they put the big flashing yellow signage that says “hey we really mean it this time” (if you ask me there should be some colour coding involved like a gentle blue for the suggested slow downs and then maybe NEON YELLOW WITH BRIGHT BLOODY RED LETTERS for those places where going past 60 is going to toss you like a sardine into the mouth of that semi coming east and now your sister is number 350 000 and 1 in line for a session with that TV medium so you can tell her the password to the safe and why she should stop dating that jarhead from the FB app. It was at that moment the 25 years I dedicated to understanding the emotional self and practicing non-judgmental communication rose to my mind and out of my mouth as the music of my life movie changed from discordant to jubilant – ahhhhhhhh!
“You have to go SIXTY here Frank because I HAVE THE FEARS!” I tried not to startle him by yelling. “I know it might be fine and you have driven for a gazillion years not saying that you’re old but just that you’re probably a good driver and if it was me driving I might even drive as fast as you although definitely not on the corners but even on the corners where the driver’s ed teacher in my head is saying lean into it I need you to NOT LEAN INTO IT because I have THE FEARS!”
There it was. The cat was out of the bag, and she was making that low strangled sound.
We slowed down.
At each winding curve. Each snowy patch.
Saying “I have THE FEARS”, allowed me to right f’n now ask for what I needed in a harmless way.
It allowed me to by-pass all of the tempting evaluation of who was right and who was wrong and whose driver’s ed teacher was more studied about shoulder checking (hint mine was not google). All of the inner negotiations around trying to be fair; well if I was driving I might go fast here too.
It allowed him to be sympathetic and supportive.
It didn’t throw him or me under the bus.
It didn’t make me controlling or him defensive.
It wasn’t about ideas or perspectives or judgments.
Because we have ALL had THE FEARS.
There is no place for logic when they come on like a Malaria fever on a sweaty night in the deep jungle of Batswana.
And if you think that small flashes of gliding off the new Highway One Golden bridge in a box of silver tin are something fear inducing, you should try opening your actual heart to someone who may not appreciate the way you chew your cereal (devastating) or who may make you feel all ooey gooey with love and hope and then announce one day that it was always THEM and now you’ll just have to hit unwind on all those feelz, plans, basic joy and will to live. RIGHT??!!
Look I know your fears. I also know how to get you to a super better place wherein they are both less likely to be realized and also won’t leave you so ruined if something does temporarily segue south. AND, you won’t have to be living them out in your imagination daily in hopes of protecting yourself from feeling them later. You’re welcome.
But mean time, naming THE FEARS kind of takes the piss out of them.
It allows you to tell your partner “It’s not you, it’s not me –it’s that thing that happens to us”.
To switch immediately to collaboration against the intruder.
Being able to communicate about THE FEARS without judgment or attack makes having THE FEARS so much less scary.
It means that I don’t have to worry that your fear of sharing your closet means you don’t see us getting married in the future.
It means that you don’t have to worry that my fear of not being understood means I’m gonna trade you in for the hottie who flirted with me at the meeting.
It’s probably not the first time you’ve heard that it’s better to say “I feel sad, bad, not glad” than “You’re a jerk”.
But really separating fear from what it means about you or them or your potential to live and love together? Well that is next level shit.
I mean you don’t have to use my exact language, though come on it’s pretty endearing.
It’s kind of like a safe word.
Today I share my safe word, my oh so worldly travels, and my true confessions in order to make your ride, oh that much smoother. Like Lamborghini smooth, but with better gas mileage.
Collaborate. Have a sense of humour or at least reach for one. And ask for support against the common enemy that is fear, ego, past hurt, unmet need, that shitty thing that happened.
Together we’re bigger than that terrifying chasm over the guardrail and beneath the bridge at the very bottom of the very big mountain. And heart break.
P.S. It’s very important that you don’t label me as a back seat driver, because I have a lot to do and so many places to go and I may just need YOU to drive me to Montreal, or California, or you know, ITLEE someday soon. Come on it’ll be so much fun. I’ll buy the coffee and chips and even sing some car pool karaoke!
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.
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