If we’ve ever lived in homes dependent upon well water, we’re quite aware of the importance of the aquifer, the permeable rock which lays below ground, unseen and invisible, and which holds the key to existence above the several layers of soil that serve to hide it. Ideally, the aquifer never runs dry, and continues to faithfully and dependently serve fresh, cool waters on demand. While we can’t control the flow of the water below, we can control its flow at the surface, turning it off and on at several junctures along the line.
Our emotions flow freely in much the same fashion as water through the aquifer, although for some, the water isn’t pristine or toxin free. To make matters more troublesome, our emotional “plumbing” may not function as we wish it would, allowing impure and polluted “water” to surface at times in our lives, especially when we are ill-prepared to deal with it. As for me, I always feel the presence of the water flowing underground, and am keenly aware of that which has tainted it. Instead of finding a way to purify it, I continue to let it flow unabated, while doing my best to keep it from flowing at the surface. The energy required to accomplish this can be draining, even exhausting. I remain puzzled at times, unsure if my focus should be on cleaning the water or preventing it from flowing, at times unable to do either well. This may be my life’s work, and I am at peace with that thought.
In the worst of times, I feel imprisoned by the idea of what I have to feel, as allowing myself to feel completely is akin to letting toxic waters flow freely where others can see. I question what I’m afraid of; am I afraid others will see who I really am, and all that I’ve endured? And then what? Will they be afraid of drawing close to me? Then there is the consideration of my professional life. Who I’m expected to be and who I’m known to be. The real me lies just beneath the surface, in those troubled waters I so valiantly struggle to hold back with valves and faucets that are in part damaged or worn out.
I’ve seen and read numerous stories of alcoholics and drug addicts and know what we have in common. We’re searching for something to help us escape the prison of pain that we feel. We at times drown in our own poisonous emotions. Or we may believe we’re strong and beyond the reach of the past we haven’t fully dealt with. Regardless of the lies we may tell ourselves, we desire to be soothed. The drink or the drug cradles us and tells us it will be okay, and whatever love we’ve missed out on as children is replaced by the comfort of addiction, of knowing the bottle will still be on the shelf when we get home or the pills will still be in the drawer the next time we open it. What love we never received as children may cause us to deny our adult selves the love we richly deserve. Round and round we go if we don’t consciously choose to jump off the carousel.
I didn’t write this to make the reader feel bad or to make me feel better. How we respond to what has happened in our lives is up to us. We can seek to purify the water below or let it run its course. If what I’ve written makes you think more clearly about your own circumstances than I’ve done nothing more than hold a mirror up to you. May that same mirror be one you reflect on as you strive to become the best version of yourself.