Something strange happened today. After we came to Spain, I have decided to get a driving license as I regretted not getting one in Ireland. I spent several weeks studying for a theory test in which not a single question was correctly translated into English. Many questions seemed to focus on what I would do if my herd of cows got out of control while I was walking on an interurban road. Once I passed the theory test, I started taking driving lessons to prepare for my driving test. The lessons are in spanish and on a car with a manual transmission (as is mandatory in Spain).
Today I was sharing a lesson with another student. She drove the car to the town next to ours, and I drove it back. My driving was much more agitated than what the instructor has gotten accustomed to, as I was intimidated by how calm and smooth my fellow students technique was. I stopped too suddenly, I slowed too much, I changed gears too aggressively. Instead of getting irritated, my teacher seemed to realise that this was related to my temperament much more than to his instructions and my driving skills. He told me not to worry, that I was doing fine. He reminded me that there was no danger, that nobody was in any danger, that I didn’t need to react to everything so fiercely and that I was doing great.
After the lesson I couldn’t help but think of how my driving today has resembled my approach to life over the last several year. I’ve been reacting to everything, changing my mind after any new input, worrying about everything and feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders. Every wrong decision has felt like a personal failure and betrayal to those I care about.
I asked myself, why am I this neurotic? I didn’t use to be. I didn’t use to take the world so personally. And then I had a moment of clarity. It suddenly made perfect sense.
Thirteen years ago my father was abducted and killed. After this tragedy my life and family fell apart. Even though I was only seventeen, I felt deeply responsible for not saving him. Every day for years I would think back to the four days during which he was held captive and I would imagine all the things that I could/should have done to save him. Most involved ruthless decisiveness and a disregard for my own safety.
Over the years, I have programmed myself, on a subconscious level, to become hyper reactive to any outside stimulus in order to never let such a situation occur again. In order to never fail to perceive danger and save someone I love.
While I don’t know whether this has served me well in any way so far, I know that is has led me to feel responsible for things that always have been outside my control and to deprive my family of a certain stability.
The realisation made me cry. As I did so, I felt parts of my heart and head activating. The parts that I have been struggling to activate during my meditations. Those where the tissues in which I have stored my pain, and which I have learned to avoid in my day to day thinking at the expense of my authenticity and of living in my heart space.
I let the pain flow through me without shutting it off or removing myself from it. It was still a part of who I was, and if I avoided it I would be betraying none other than myself.
I thought of how absurd the things that I have come to prioritise were. Ambition, financial success, image. None of these were me. All I used to care about was creating love. Where was that person? I missed her.
As I calmed myself I knew that I had to let go. Let go of trying to predict and foresee everything. Let go of always blaming myself. This is all just an experience. This isn’t even real. And above all, I am still here to create love. Whatever else I do in the meantime will always come second.