I make no bones about it: My mind can be an awfully scary place sometimes. Sometimes, it feels like I am trapped in the forest. My intentions when I enter the forest are always good: I enter it looking for the peace, the calm and the refuge from the noise, hustle and bustle of the outside world. I start walking along the trails, I hear the birdsong overhead and the babbling of the creeks and streams, the trees are all lush and green and beautiful, the sun is bright and warm, and all cares are tossed to the wayside. This trip into the woods is delineated as my thoughts, cares and love for my friends and those around me.
But inevitably, invariably and ultimately, time gets away from me. The dark of night slips up on me, and I find myself without a tent, flashlight, food, blade or any way of communication, to say nothing of my lacking a lighter for a fire. And the howling is distant but growing closer. The yellow dots of light in the far woods begin to draw closer. The wolves are on their way, looking to claim their most fool-hearty victim once again: Me. But these wolves aren’t just any pack of them: They are my fears, anxieties and worries coming back to ravage me one more time.
This week, I found myself once again being held torn apart by my over-revving, overthinking mind. Silence from friends on Facebook when I checked in. People near and dear to me snapping or giving me cold, hard responses when I spoke to them. Overthinking how my friends were reacting to events going on in their lives. Feelings of not being where I think I should be in life. Fearing I had overstepped my boundaries and overstayed my welcome in my friend’s lives. Fearing about over communicating and being a pest to my friends. Worries about other friends and when I will be able to see them, if I can. Worries about moving and money. Losing sleep. Not eating right or hydrating properly. This week, I was lost in the woods. The wolves in my mind were showing their teeth, growling, ready to pounce on the ill-starred and helpless wanderer that had entered their forbidden territory.
Several nights this week, I found myself pinned to my bed with cold sweat rolling from my brow and my stomach turning flips over scenarios, real and imagined. And I couldn’t reach out. Most everyone I could turn to was sound asleep. By day, I could fend off the wolves fairly effectively, but by nightfall, I was tired and beat, and they pounced, each taking turns biting and ripping chunks of me away to keep as their spoils.
Once again, I let my mind get the upper hand on me, and I was a battered and bleeding pile of bones once again, emaciated by the lostness of I in the forest of my mind, and decimated by the voracious lobos that my thoughts, fears, anxieties, etc had manifested themselves as. I had to once again use what few morsels of strength I had remaining to drag myself out of the woods somehow and either crawl back to my safe place, or try to flag down someone and have them bring me back, despite the silence I had endured.
One would think surrender would be the only option, to just lay down and give in and let my mind have its way with me. There has been times in the not so distant past that surrender sounded like a very tempting and viable option. How much more of me could the wolves take before there was absolutely nothing remaining of me? How much more of my blood had to spill before I realized enough was enough? How many more times would I have to stitch and salve my wounds and go back into that forest to search for the light?
But then I re-realized a very important thing, something that, in my fight for survival, I had let get away from me:
Strength in numbers.
I do not have to keep letting the darkness and the wolves catch me unsuspecting. I have near and dear friends. I had only focused on their silences this week without any context behind them; I had in my scared and myopic state hyperfocused on the silence, when I know that these people would drop everything to help me, if I need it. If I do not have the tools and resources of my own, I can call on them and they can lend them, or better still, I can take these friends with me into the woods. I can take comfort in knowing they have the tools to pitch a tent, build a fire, cook a meal and keep those ugly, leering wolves at bay for the night. I do not have to go into the woods alone. I know that, if my fears and worries and anxieties were founded about them, they would reach out and let me know and would give me options to help them. I know these people have my back. I have strength in numbers. And I don’t have to fight alone. It’s taken me 26 years to realize this, but strength in numbers is something that overcome most anything.
I hope this blog finds you well, and in the comments, tell about some of the people who helps you fight off those wolves when they appear in your own mind!
As always, take care, much love and may God richly bless,