For Paula, Chris, Gee and Ben.
I have a lovely house. It is full of light and people I love. But there is a part of my house I do not like to visit. I am not wholly sure where it is. I wake up there in the night, when I am alone. It is always there, a dark presence even on sunny days.
I think it is up the stairs and down the corridor. We can take a look, if you come with me. It is colder here, and darker, and more damp. There is a door. Can we stop here? I do not want to go in. I can put my hand on the door. It is cold and smooth. It feels like it might be colder still on the other side. I do not think I can go in. I am scared.
We are in. I have never been anywhere this dark. There is nothing here. My hairs are on end. It goes on forever. I am losing myself in here. My heart is racing. I am breathing quickly. I can hear whispers. I cannot tell where they are coming from. I cannot make out what they are saying. They are not friendly. They mean me harm.
I let out a breath, and then another. My heart is slowing. I am feeling less panicky. The whispers have gone. Something has changed in me. What is here now? Peace, I think. Gratitude.
Using guided meditation, I have visited rooms like this with many coaching clients. I have also been with my coach to the part of my house that I don't like to visit. I got there by falling through a trap door in the floor. Those malevolent whispers? They were in my basement. I know who they are. They are from my childhood and, yes, they do mean me harm.
It can seem counterintuitive to move towards our fears. But if we learn to acknowledge them and be with them, if only a little bit, we find ourselves being less run by them. A coach can help us find the courage.
From time to time, my clients find gratitude behind the door. It shows up like a little miracle, out of the darkness. My guess? Underneath all fears is the fear of death, and hanging out with death creates gratitude for life. Without one, the other cannot exist.
Each week I explore a life metaphor that has touched me in my coaching. Subscribe to get my scribblings every Sunday morning. You can also follow me on Medium, or on LinkedIn. Feel free to forward this to a friend, colleague, or loved one, or anyone you think might benefit from reading it.