The journey traveled had been promised to be an exciting one, filled with adventure. Exciting it was – of the heart-stopping variety.
Adventure? Well, the Traveler learned to call it that once she realized that there were no storybook beginnings or endings.
At least, not the kind she thought there would be.
The deeper she walked into the wilderness the darker things seemed to become as bandits rushed her from their hiding place in the bushes. The dragons that rose their angry heads were The Traveler’s greatest challenge and as various travel companions dropped off the path to go their own way, she withdrew inside of herself.
Periodically a welcoming beam of light would break through the darkest cloud cover, but often, the weather was uncertain and constantly changing. So too, were the obstacles, enemies, food supply, and travel companions.
As the journey grew longer, her optimism, health, energy, and heart began to give out. She didn’t notice it at first, it was the little things that eroded away at me that eventually brought her to her knees. Crawling in the desert, with no water, no shade, no help, slowly inched her way forward until The Traveler collapsed in a weak, exhausted, and unrecognizable heap.
Metaphors are a wonderful way to describe life lessons on a level that bypasses the brain and goes straight to the heart.
Experiencing something visually or audibly helps the observer to relate on a level that bypasses the logical mind. How do I know? Because at that point of collapse I found an unexpected source of “water” to bring me back to life.
First a drop on the tongue. That’s all I could handle, then two drops, then three, until I couldn’t drink fast enough and at times had to pause and cry … letting out some of what I had taken in.
Reading books, watching informative videos, listening to experts, and getting therapy is like that drop of water. But first, you must be willing to open your mouth. Just like the person dying in the desert, though, it’s possible that to open the mouth takes more energy and willpower than one can muster.
This is not something that can be rushed. The mind and the soul have been programmed to believe the negative. The default setting is to negate what is read or to think that it applies to everyone else but you.
When I am working with a client who is at the stage where they can barely receive information or conversation on what they’ve endured, I will reflect on my own journey to identify which stage of “dehydration/starvation” they are in.
One such client was a woman who was in an abusive marriage and did not want to believe it was as abusive as she felt. I had heard of the book, “Why Does He Do That?” by Lundy Bancroft. I began to read it and then send her very short sentences that were like drops of water to help her familiarize herself with the cruelty of what she had surrendered to in order for life to feel normal. All the while, she was collapsing and falling to her knees.
As our conversations have lengthened and she’s grown stronger, she began to regain her strength and, like me, drinks in every bit of information she can in an effort to understand her journey and continue to grow and heal.
With other clients though, I’ve seen that it doesn’t matter how close to “death” they may be, without force (not recommended) they simply can’t take information in because the mere topic is too painful. However, because of my own reading and viewing habits, I now have an arsenal of encouraging and enlightening words to offer when there is an opening.
Their journey is their own and until they are ready, they will not be able to comprehend what is being told to them.
For this reason, when a potential reader shudders at the thought of completing a book, I suggest that they not worry whether they finish or not. In fact, if all they can get accomplished is to read a paragraph or even a sentence, that is better than nothing. It’s that drop of water. The body and the mind have to adjust!
Another trick that I have discovered for myself and share with others is that listening to an Audible book is my first go-to when discovering new information. It’s like I’m building a relationship with the author and the content. If it’s a very close relationship and I’m resonating with the writing, I’ll buy the Kindle version. I listen to the audio while reading the Kindle, and can insert notes, and highlight quotes and phrases that jump out. Then, when reviewing my notes and bookmarks, I have a quick snapshot of the information which I can access easily at any time in the future.
When I’m absolutely committed to the content and need the physical book in my hand to love and hold, then I’ll buy the physical version. (I know, this seems excessive, but I’ve given myself permission to take in the information in the way that is best for me.) See, that is the key. It’s giving yourself and those you are helping permission to read at their own comfort level. This is not school; this is real life. Just giving permission to not be under someone else’s control, but to read or watch videos as it is necessary and wanted, is very freeing.
It’s not just gaining information in this exercise of obtaining knowledge so that there can be understanding, it’s a series of therapeutic moments where we give ourselves permission to be in control of our experience. Imagine that! No guilt, no shame if the book isn’t finished.
There is more to lacking water in the desert, there’s an understanding of how much one can take and where to go for safety. Learning where to find water, and how to engage with it … the water of the word … while giving us grace and mercy to pace ourselves, accordingly, is life-giving.
ONE FINAL NOTE
I’ve discovered that as I gained knowledge, I began to find understanding. When I understood something, revelation happened – and then deliverance! It has always followed that pattern. Those things I received deliverance and healing from, were forgotten until a client would share their story and I’d remember. It is then that I can give them their first drop of water, with love and patience because I’ve been there and done that, and I know the glorious outcome.
“This is a season, it won’t always be like this. Let me walk with you. I’ve been on this journey too.”