what’s next after I get rid of all the stuff? What does my life look or feel like, what do I want it to be?
This blew my mind. Rather like a few other times when people have asked me something or told me something that made my emotional head spin.
The first time this happened I was working in a college bookstore and we were also the bursar, so we handled 1000’s of dollars sometimes daily. I said, “I must be a terrible person, I keep trying to think how I could steal this money.”
The woman working with me said, “Would you?”
I said something like, “Probably not, but I keep thinking about it!”
And she replied, “We all do that, it’s what you do that counts.”
I’d always assumed that my thinking about it was what made me awful. It fit with what the abuser said and with the whole thing about having a “Godly thought life” that my ex-fiance had talked about. For years I’d used the nasty thoughts as “proof” of how awful I was. The trickle down from this woman’s comment was enormous.
The next time was probably my PTSD diagnosis. When I was told that I had PTSD by a therapist, I said something like, “No. I was traumatized, but I don’t have PTSD.”
She replied, “Look it up.”
I found the laundry list of symptoms somewhere and went down the list: “Did that, do that, never did that — wanted to but didn’t, did that, did that, used to do that . . .” And the quantity of things I had done or still did overwhelmingly said yep, I had PTSD.
And today someone asked me to describe what living without shame, without all the stuff would feel like. What happens next? My first answer was a blank wall. I literally got almost a blank page in my head. I had NO idea.
Then, I thought, What do I want to do? And the answers weren’t so hard: art, cards, writing, and giving parties.
Sometimes questions can be dangerous (and useful) things!