Friday, July 29, 2011

I'm Stuck

"Dad, I'm stuck!", drew my attention to the left on the playground as I was pushing my squealing daughter on the swings.  My mother's instinct to attend to the needs of a child and tendency to be nosey, even if it is just visual, drew me in the direction of what I heard.  My eyes found the little boy that I heard perched on top of a large jungle gym made out of a maze of ropes and pulleys anchored to large wooden poles.  He looked like a cricket with a baseball cap sitting on top of the world's largest ball of twine. 

His father called out to him from across the playground as he started walking toward him.  "Just start climbing down, son."  Even as the words came out, the little boy started shifting back and forth on his perch, holding on for dear life.

"I can't.  I'm stuck."  My heart rate picked up as I watched him.  The more his father yelled out to him to just come down the more he seemed to dig his feet into the ropes he was standing on.  It was as if he was frozen in place.  His father stood at the bottom, looking up and him and shading his eyes from the son as he tried to coach his son down from the top of the jungle gym.

"Just put your foot over there and grasp on to that rope and climb down!"

"I can't."

"Yes, you can. You got up there and now you can get yourself back down."

"I can't."

"Son, why can't you?"

"I'm scared."

Isn't that it with most things we are paralyzed by?  I don't know how many times we remain stuck in the same place, same relationships, same job, same situations.   When the pace of my heart quickened as I listened to the little boy tell his dad that he was stuck, I wasn't worried about his safety.  My body was remembering what that kind of anxiety feels like and responded.  It was familiar. 

I remember one relationship I was in that made me miserable.  I lamented to my friends often about how unhappy this person made me.  I didn't see any hope for a happy future with him.  Despite the tension of misery followed by gifts and promises to be better from now on, nothing changed.  I knew it was not going to but I continued to play the game.  On more than five occasions, friends told me to end the relationship.  Just leave him.  I couldn't.  I had reasons, I had excuses.  We shared a house, we shared bills.  What about our friends?  What about the dog?  No, our lives were too intertwined.  It wasn't that though.  None of the reasons were valid.  I wasn't imprisoned by this situation.  I was afraid to change it. 

Fear of change seems to be something most people suffer from.  I am no different.  Change equals new and feels scary.  I know.  I am learning too but I feel as though my life has changed so much in the last two years that maybe I am just getting desensitized to it.  Maybe it just takes climbing the jungle gyms of life enough times to know that we can do it without falling.  Hands and feet could slip.  Maybe our baseball cap falls to the ground as we make your way up or down but we can pick it up later.   We see other people climbing on the same jungle gym too, they seem okay but when it comes to us we can envision cataclysmic disaster in an instant.  In an effort to avoid calamity we don't move.  I know I've made mistakes, big ones too but I'm still here to tell you about them.  Funny thing is, the more we fall down, the better we get at climbing. 


  1. Great Post Brit. I encountered one of these situations a few years back. It was a catalyst of my learning to define and redefine myself and my innate nature. I don't want to distract from this poignant post but I would like to share it.

    My friend was running a road race in our neighborhood and so D and I drove over to the baseball field where the ending festivities were. D was head bound to get there and I was watching some of the runners come in. This man was in front of us with a toddler (maybe 22-28 months). Well, the wife came running up and the dad being all excited said come on, let's go get mommy. Very cute...but dad ran a little ahead of her and there was a small (but giant to her) embankment trench. He ran down and said same thing as above come on you can do it.

    She was paralyzed, this hill, these strangers, dad down there. She looked up at kept encouraging. She wasn't budging. D kept now telling me mind my own business. How could I? Should I? kept running through my head. I saw the dad wanted her to overcome this herself but he didn't see the look in her eyes. I put out a pinky finger. She barely held on and bravely climbed down the mountain. I walked away, the dad smiled, d scowled.

    So the question is - Altruism, Empathetic, Control Freak or Busy Body!!!!!!!!!!! All of these things define me in some way but in that instance I was driven purely by the desire to offer what I have when I can and I think my little girl learned a bigger lesson of trust! But I could be wrong :)

  2. Wow, remind me to tell you the significance of the I'm Stuck post today (of all days!)