I’m Beginning to Hate this Closet

Hi, blog friends.  I had quite an experience last week after I published my last blog post.  I don’t know why, but as soon as we make a stand against something or for something, that very thing becomes tested. 

With encouragement from my muse, I came out of my closet with a drawer full of fear.  I had been storing up my fear of man in a bottom drawer in my closet for years and it was keeping me from doing the very things I felt I had been “called” to do.  I had stuffed it full of my unmentionable terror:  the fear of what people think.  When my muse asked me to take the drawer out, I couldn’t believe it was light weight.  It slid out of the dresser almost effortlessly.   I was shocked.  All this fear I had hidden away for years, out of the sight of my closest friends, my earthly enemies and myself (for that matter,) was as light as a feather.  Empty fears?   I opened up my closet door and walked into my bedroom.  With the muse walking behind me, I was fearless.

I opened the back door and walked out onto my porch. It was dark outside and the moon was full and bright, illuminating my backyard in a silver haze.  I took in a deep breath, smelling a mixture of beach marsh and sweet pansies- what my yard smells like on a cool November night. It cleared my senses and a dream-like fog left me instantly.  “Muse” opened the screen door and held it open as I stepped out onto the dew-dampened ground and turned the box upside down. To my amazement, fear took the shape of a lifeless, worn out, dirty stuffed animal…a puppy, I thought.  For good measure, I kicked it over to the side of the yard, between the crape myrtle tree and the fence.  “Good riddance!”  I hissed at it, shaking my head.  I couldn’t believe what I had just done. It was that easy.

My muse congratulated me on my coup.  I had routed the one thing that had held me captive for years and tossed it out like a bad dream.  I was on the way to a quick recovery.  I could write anything I wanted …look anybody in the eye with a sense of equality…heck…I could pick up a car, a house, The Empire State Building.  Who needed Superman?  With a sense of relief and a little bit of smugness, I thanked my wonderful muse and headed back into the house.  It was chilly outside and I couldn’t wait to get back into my warm bed.  I went to sleep and I dreamed of writing a book to help people overcome their deepest fears and go on to do great things.  It was a confirmation from my muse that I had done the right thing.

All was well for a few days.  I didn’t have to post another blog immediately and I was enjoying the lull and the responses and comments you guys had sent me on my last post.  One afternoon, after lunch, I was putting away the dishes in the kitchen, thinking of what to write for the next post.  How could I come up with something clever to “top” the last one?  Oh no, I needed to stay away from those thoughts.  I didn’t have to fear “that” thought again.  Right?  All of a sudden, I heard a dog barking.  We have neighbors that have a Chihuahua and its bark is aggravating.  The neighbors aren’t home much of the time and they leave the dog outside with their two bull dogs.  It yaps, constantly and bullies the two bigger dogs.  The instant it hears any voices on my porch, the back screen door slam or senses that I am walking in my yard, it commences to yap its head off.

I thought that Yappy had started in again.  The barking went on for half an hour or so and, as it did my fears began to build in my mind too.  How could they come back like that?  Between my fears and the blasted dog barking, I could hardly concentrate.  I had to shut the dog up so that I could think.  Slipping quietly out the back door onto the porch, I went out to confirm my suspicions. I wanted to throw a rock over the fence and scare it.  Anything to stop the barking!  But the barking wasn’t coming from next door.  It was coming from my yard.  There was a little, bitty dog barking at my screen door.

Keeping the screen shut, I peered out at the skinny, scruffy dog with the bugged eyes, enormous ears and a huge mouth.  I know that cuteness is in the eye of the beholder and a yappy dog that isn’t mine is just downright ugly. The closer I got, the more it reminded me of something…could it be?  It looked more like the stuffed animal I kicked to the side of the yard in the moonlight a few nights earlier.  I couldn’t believe my eyes!  Had the lifeless creature I so easily dumped and kicked out come back to life to torture me?  Was it my fear???  It wanted me to let it back in the house!  His eyes were telling me it wanted to go back to his home in my closet drawer.

I didn’t know what to do.  I decided to ignore it and go back into the house. I turned the TV on, turning up the volume to block out the pesky noise.  It yelped all day, never letting up.  I went outside, yelling at it, pleading with it to go away.  It was relentless.  The high pitched bark began to wear on me.  I went to bed, putting the pillow over my ears.  What had happened?  I had gotten rid of it three nights earlier.  Why was it back to torment me?  What had I done to deserve this?

I got up and resolutely went to my computer.  The dog was barking, but I was IGNORING it.  I sat and looked at the blank screen.  I begin to type, the fear subsiding a bit and the dog took a breather.  I typed out the first paragraph.  No, No, No!!! It wasn’t right.  The words weren’t coming to me easily.  I erased the words.  Fear began barking.   I wrote.   Erased.   Wrote.   Erased.   Time.   And .  Time.  Again.  No one will like this!  No one will “get” this!  I can’t do this!  The barking made me crazy.  If only I could make it stop.  I felt as if I were being tortured in a prisoner of war camp.  Maybe I could let it in for just a second.  Stop the insane barking….I didn’t call on my muse to help me.  I was ashamed for letting the fear get hold of me.  Ever so slightly I nudged the door open, just an inch…another inch…Yappy was in like a flash and ran through the open back door, through the living room, to my bedroom and then through  to my open closet.  He pulled out the drawer with his scrawny paw and jumped in. 

I felt defeated.  I wanted to cry. All of a sudden, the barking stopped.  Aaaah…Sweet relief.  I ran to the computer.  I would try while it was quiet.  While the fear was quiet. 

I had an idea.  I wrote it down, pleased with how it flowed on the screen.  I read it back.  No, No. No!  It wasn’t right!  Once again, fear over took me!  What if I can’t write another thing again?  What will people think of me if I start a blog and not keep it up?  They’d think I was a loser!  A big, old loser!  The dog started barking again.  It was muffled but it was in my closet.  Was it going to be like this forever?  I put my head down my desk.  I was miserable.  I needed the super hero now to rescue me from myself and this new, old fear.

I felt air stir behind me.  I turned around and Muse was sitting in the rocking chair.  I hung my head and asked him a rhetorical question.  “Do you hear that?  That stupid lifeless dog, my fear, came back and tortured me until I let it in.  It’s back in the drawer in the closet,” I whimpered.   “I know,” Muse answered.  You were so confident the other night after you got rid of the fear.  I didn’t warn you that it would  likely come back time and time again, to trip you up and keep you off course.”   “Why didn’t you?  Why didn’t you warn me?”  I cried like a child, all the while hearing the aggravating barking coming through the walls into the office.  

“Well, first of all, you had to learn a few things on your own.  It’s what y’all call the School of Hard Knocks.” he answered.  “Think about it.  Fear can drive you crazy.  The barking was incessant.  You gave into it and now it’s back in the drawer.  We’ll take it out again and this time, we’ll throw it over the fence.  It will be harder to come back.  If you give into it, even after that, we will take it and throw it across the street.  It will be harder for it to find its way back to you.  One day, it may never come back and bother you again.  You will learn how to say ‘no’ to it.”  I thought about it.  It made perfect sense.  “So what you’re saying is that every time I let fear in, all I have to do is throw it a little bit further out, until it may never come back to torture me?”  “Yep, that’s right,”   he answered.  “And make sure you call me to help you.  Why didn’t you call me before you let the fear in the door?  You can’t get rid of something like that by yourself.” he kindly told me.  “I guess I was ashamed.  I didn’t want you to think I was weak.  Deep down, I wanted to please you, too.”  My confession once again embarrassed me. 

“Think about that,’ the muse answered slowly.  “What you’re really saying is it’s not just that you worry about what people think.  The bottom line is this.  If THAT is what people think of me, then what does it make me look like?  A loser!”  I could barely say the word out loud it was so painful.

Once again the clarity of Muse’s reasoning cut across all of my excuses and struck down my irrational thinking and I mused out loud… “So, after it’s all said and done.  It’s not just that I’m a flirt, a people pleaser and a person terribly afraid of what people think of me…it’s also about the bottom line…my pride?”  I looked at him this time as a child who is totally repentant, hoping to be freed from time out for bad behavior.  “That’s right,” he smiled back at me. 

Was this entire episode about my pride?  Isn’t pride the instigator of almost everything painful?  I smiled weakly.  “Do you think I have a special hiding place in the closet for pride?”   He laughed, “Let’s go look.”  As we walked to my bedroom closet, he turned to me and said, “Now pride is like fear. It will try to come back, too.  Many times.  It’s worse than fear.  And if you get rid of pride, fear will leave you alone.  But, today we will start by throwing them both across the street.  The further away the better. But remember, I’ll help you if they get out of hand again. No doing this on your own. I need to keep you straight on these issues so you and I can get some real writing done.”   We stepped into the closet one more time and started looking.   I picked up the drawer with the whimpering fear stashed in it and then began looking for a good place I would have hidden the pride.  I was beginning to hate the closet.


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