The Great Shutdown

The hospital room was dark. The walls were cold, grey concrete, there was a single bed, one small window and a white porcelain sink.  Above the sink was a small, streaked, low hanging mirror which when gazed into revealed a sallow, lonely expression. When it was time, I wandered the halls, doctors passed by, others passed by but at that point no human presence was able to penetrate the wall that I had constructed. It wasn’t until I took a chance and really looked into the mirror that I realized that I had failed.  I spent many years trying to damn up a huge ocean of feeling in order go about life in total apathy, only then would the trappings of life and chaos of other’s be of no consequence to me, or so I thought.  This magical place of numbness would then allow me to rest, even if it was just for a moment. But when I looked, and looked and really looked I realized something, which was that I felt nothing and in this state life wasn’t peaceful, it was empty. The great shutdown had failed.

I spent the next few years unknowingly constructing new walls that only appeared healthier in act but were as equally ineffective. These acts involved mostly idealistic people with charming faces who would hoard enthusiastic followers.  I followed, I rebelled, I read books, I threw them away, I listened to people, I denied them, I searched with my mind and then one day someone gave to me some of the greatest wisdom I have ever heard. He said “Ann, without a profoundly deep spiritual experience, you are fucked…” I am grateful to the authentic, unselfish teachers of my life who took the time to tell me the truth without sparing my feelings.

18 years later, there is no in between for me. I am either dead or fully alive and the only way I have become so completely awake and alive has been by taking full responsibility for my life, all of it’s ebbs and flows, up and downs, joyous and sorrowful circumstances.

Responsibility is self rule and the growth of the Will. It is no longer allowing myself to be governed by others, not achieved by outward actions but by navigating my inward landscape to discover why I give others so much power. For many years how I had hoped that my state of being was the result of another’s action and I deduced and put into practice that if I could only gain control over the past, present and future actions of others then everything would be okay. The never ending roller coaster of chaos and drama finally slammed me into a wall so hard that I was able to understand that my interpretation of my attachment to others was ruining any sense of me gaining stability.

Neither a great shutdown nor total control was going to set me free. So then what is left? If I can’t numb it away and I can’t control it, what is there to do? What’s left to do is face it. Facing the story I had created around everyone that I knew. Because that’s all it was, it was fiction. Fiction that any given person was here (on Earth) to dictate how I felt and provide for me what I thought I needed. Fiction that a person’s behavior could be linked to how I was feeling inside, to how I was experiencing my life. No wonder there was so much disappointment.  I had put everyone in my life in charge of my psycho-emotional self.

What a horrible and amazing thing to discover that we are ultimately responsible for our inner state of being, that we have total ownership over all our actions and reactions. The mark of an advanced being is one who is fully committed to taking responsibility of themselves, in totality.

I often still will have a gigantic finger pointing at others, I however catch myself now before I fully act on anger and blame. I am willing to look into any dark places that show themselves from the pain that is triggered.  I am willing to experience unspeakable amounts of turmoil, grief and pain and I actually relish these times.  It is because anytime I use another as a scapegoat I am trapped, paralyzed, shut down and wasting precious minutes, even seconds that I could be evolving my consciousness allowing light to flow into my being.

I have enjoyed the best of it but I am truly grateful for the worst of it, it has only been then that I have known my strength, my heart.

“Man has places in his heart that do not yet exist and into them enters suffering in order that they may have existence.”

-Leon Bloy

Ann TeppermanComment