At a recent gathering of Arkitekt groups, I had the honor of sharing a small piece of my story. It was with great gratitude that I talked about how my relationship with fear has changed as I’ve done this work of Deconstruction, rebuilding and reintegration.
I wept as I spoke because I have finally learned to share the naked truth; I wept because of what I’ve come through to be able to say these things; I wept for the great joy of being seen.
Here is what I shared.
Since I can remember, I’ve lived with this dread that the other shoe is about to drop.
I don’t have all the answers as to why yet, but in short, I think it has to do with some deep anxiety in my ancestral history and a religious upbringing that was preoccupied with Armageddon and whether you’d be on the right side when it all went down, compounded with the fact that the world actually is a scary place that often feels like it’s getting scarier by the minute.
And so anxiety has been my constant companion since childhood – this conviction that, at any moment, everything could fall apart – either on a global scale or on a personal level. That I will end up alone, uncared-for and suffering, and if those things happen, it’s because I deserve it.
I coped with my fears as best I could by shutting down, by ignoring the scary feelings and hiding from the parts in me that I believed were ugly and deserved to suffer, by letting “alone” be my default so I couldn’t be abandoned.
Numbness was my friend, and I held on to it so tightly. I knew that if I put a crack in the dam, the whole oceanic reservoir of pain and terror I had stored up would just burst out and drown me.
But there was also something in me that was starving for that release.
I had a primal knowing that hiding from the ugly was keeping me from seeing the beauty.
I had started to take small steps out of hiding, but around the time Arkitekt started I had become exhausted with holding it all up, and I honestly just had no more fucks to give.
It was time.
So I just went with it – I let the dam loose and dove into the brutality, the pain, the terror. Instead of avoiding and fighting and running, I started to speak it aloud to my sisters.
To let them walk beside me as I began to name the darkness, and give it a shape, to lean into it and go inside it.
And once I let it be exactly what it is, I learned to let it teach me.
And I got to be with my sisters as they walked into their own darkness, and to see them meet it like a friend.
To witness their hero’s journey has been one of the most powerful experiences of my entire life.
If you’d told my pre-Arkitekt self what I was signing up for, I would have run the other direction. If you’ve been through this process and done the work – you know what I’m talking about.
You can’t know about journeying into the deep soul, the ripping, the breaking, the burning down, the running headlong into everything you’ve been avoiding your whole life.
Because if you knew, you would never start.
And you can’t know how worth it all of that is until you come out the other side.
This past year and a half has been by far the most difficult one I’ve ever experienced, to an almost hilarious degree, and I’m not even talking about my internal work, I’m talking about my actual external life.
But I’ve found that I have this new delight for meeting things head-on, and a curiosity about what I can learn.
I am still scared, but I’ve discovered that only when you open your arms wide to your deepest pain can you experience your wildest joy.
Sarah Neubert is a mother, fiber artist, and grateful participant of Arkitekt since summer 2016.
IG: @s.neubert and @theweavingkind