Walking in Cuckoo Woods with Daisy we are with my sister’s own four dogs. Daisy loves to be with “the pack” and hurtles backwards and forward through the melee making sure that everyone is present and correct.
As the path runs alongside the fields there is a stream which meanders through the trees. It’s mostly tranquil and shallow apart from one short stretch which is fast running and very deep with steep sloping banks either side. Daisy has never ventured in here, until now.
Most of us, at one time or another, have resisted asking a question to which we have no stomach for the answer. We think we are keeping ourselves safe from hurt and disappointment but really, we are only making it a certainty, through vividly imagining an outcome often worse than the one which transpires.
Uncertainty is only a place of suffering if we doubt our ability to deal with the truth.
Once, when a relationship was falling apart, I stopped asking if it was falling apart so that I didn’t have to deal with the consequences. But it was a deeply flawed strategy because refusing to look doesn’t stop anything from happening. If anything, it hastens.
As time passed and I remained in a state of denial I felt smaller and more feeble, convincing myself all of the time that I definitely couldn’t cope with the truth, because if I could why had I spent so much time fearing it?
We have considerable ability to convince ourselves of our own shortcomings.
I remember the point at which I finally found an acceptance, and I sunk like a stone. But after the realisation that this was as bad as it ever needed to get days started to get easier.
When you feel as if you’ve hit the bottom it’s remarkable how much energy you can find to start swimming back to the surface.
Variously people tell me they won’t challenge their partners lack of interest, they don’t listen to the news, they don’t think about the amount they drink. This conscious avoidance feels to them to be the best way of dealing with dissatisfaction and the anxiety which comes from it.
For us to combat anxiety effectively we have a tendency to target the wrong aspect of the problem. When we experience the feeling of anxiety it is this which we try to rid ourselves of, but if we instead concentrated on our proven ability to cope with whatever eventually transpires it would be harder for anxiety to stick.
As Daisy was hit by the shock of no longer being able to walk along the bottom her instincts to paddle kicked in. But the panic kept her rooted to the steep bank which she could not climb. She scraped desperately and started to cry as I reached out, my arms woefully distant from her soaking collar.
As I jumped in, fully clothed, the water lapped up around my waist. Hauling her six feet to the left she was clear of the deep and able to hop onto the bank and race off in pursuit of the pack.
Further down the stream, I could hear her splashing back in the water as I squelched my sodden body down the path.
If Daisy had known how deep that water was perhaps she wouldn’t have jumped in, but even if she had her discomfort would have been soothed by reminding herself of her inherent ability to swim.
Only with full sight of the problem are we able to use all of our resources to steer ourselves through the deepest of waters.