I took a walk with my sister back the trail today. We got a heavy wet snow and neither one of us could resist being out in it. It was gorgeous, what you would expect, a tunnel of white beauty. Cold enough to wake you up, but not obnoxious. Enough snow to cover everything but not too much to make walking hard. We have had some serious wind over the past few days and apparently the trees had felt it too. We came across several fallen trees and branches. As we walked and caught up with each other, we would clear the sticks that we could and what we couldn’t we went over, under and around as we needed. The further back we went, we noticed that there were trees that were bowed over the trail, heavy with the weight of snow. We began to shake them and watch as the trees sprang back to where they should be, unburdened by the weight. It became a thing, we started to pick and choose which trees we felt could handle the weight and which needed a helping hand- a little shake. As I type this it strikes me that this is probably reflective our helping natures and chosen professions, she’s a midwife and I’m a social worker. Both trained to be attuned to the moment, the individual and how to best help that person on their path but not to get in their way.
Some of the trees looked absolutely beautiful under the weight of the snow, others looked like they weren’t going to be able to bounce back. I think it is easy and predictable to make the analogy of stress and how stress does this to us- the getting the groceries, the running the kids here and there, the making it to to work on time, the turning the crockpot on before you leave- all of it weighs us down and it is true, if we don’t have meaningful self-care in place, like exercise or meditation or other skills like that, it will absolutely break us. We all know this…..but what about the the harder analogy? The weight of shame, guilt and regret that we have carried around for so long that we don’t even notice is there? The weight of the secrets that we acknowledge and the secrets that we don’t – the ones we keep from ourselves? How do these things weigh us down? And more importantly how do we do anything about it if we don’t even know it is there? We are so used to bowing to the pressure it becomes part of who we are?
Honestly, I don’t know the answer. Not all of us wants to shake the weight off-we aren’t sure who we will be if we don’t have it, or we are not ready to or we don’t know how. I get that and I respect it. I also respect those that want to shake the hell out of the tree and watch it all fall down. I respect the courage and vulnerability it takes to have that kind of self-reflection and honesty. I think we all have to make those choices as they come along- to shake it off-expose it and let it fall or to bear it. It is ours to decide.