Meeting your dragons
I am writing this on my mobile, sitting on a bench, with my back in the sun. In front of me the massive mouth of the cave, like a giant cathedral, opens up wide.
I just came out, my heart is pounding.
I am still in flight or fight mode, but calming down slowly. I want to capture these feelings, I tell myself it’s important.
I’ve been 3 min in this cave.
And that is OK.
My friends and I waited patiently 30 min for the guide to come and take us on a tour. The guide arrived and about 10 of us walked in.
It’s large, tall, enormous, darkish. The path is sympathetically lit low to protect the bats. As we walk through, the lights go off behind us. We walk through a gate, the guide locks up behind us.
I don’t like it already.
I want out. But the gate is now locked! Why even lock the gate?!? ( I understand why, it’s just my nervous system getting angry at the locked gate behind me screaming out this question in my head)
“What if I want to come back half way through? How will I get out? “
I feel panic rising.
I want to feel free to stop and turn around anytime I want.
My heart beat is speeding up some more.
“It’s like in a rollercoaster, once you bought your ticket you are committed. I hate roller coasters! I want off”
My fear monsters are popping up one after another. Like dragons with multiple heads!
The tour is made such that you have no option to turn back, only walk forward, complete the tour, keep moving ahead with the group and the guide, about 40 min.
I follow the group but I am fretting now, I don’t think I want to be in here anymore.
I know and I tell myself there is nothing to fear, yet all my fears are rising!
First we climb, lots of steps. We pause to admire the ceilings and the spectacular walks, before we have to climb another flight of steps.
It’s clear to me that I have to decide now if I stay or go.
If I wanna go out, back, I must speak up now.
I consult with my friends. I tell them I am not sure I want to do the tour anymore. I tell them I feel anxious. We are now lagging a few meters behind the group. The guide realises there is a problem, she is asking us if there’s a problem.
I sum up my courage and I speak up; I tell her about my doubts, about feeling anxious. She is at the front of the group, me behind. Everyone can hear me and I don’t mind that. I apologise, I tell her I want out.
She kindly tells me about the route, she tells me that we go up a bit more, than we’ll go in deeper and deeper, then down. Then we are back where we started. It’s all large spaces, gently lit. I’ll probably be ok, she says.
I don’t want to go deeper and deeper into the cave.
I don’t want to be here, fighting my anxiety for 40 min. I am suddenly so tired of having to fight dragons.
“What will happen if I walk around with shaking knees and fast heartbeat?”
“I don’t like it” “ I don’t want to!”
“If I am here I want to enjoy it”
“ If I am anxious about being here, why be here, why put myself through this?”
“ You can’t run like this, be strong! You can do it! You’ve done caves before, it’s Ok“
I have a big inner process unfolding and I have to make a decision, fast. The group is waiting for me to decide; will I turn back or go with them?
“Later I will find it harder to turn back, to speak up” “What if this anxiety will keep on growing as we go on?”
I look around, the cave is like a cathedral, tall and beautiful. There are lights, we are going higher and higher up.
I wish I had time to ease myself into it.
I wish the door was not locked… So what if the door is locked?
I am pushing myself through anxiety enough times I don’t want to have to do it this time too.
All of a sudden I decide: I am giving myself permission to bail out. Now.
I get the keys from the guide and I turn back. Alone, which is fine, that doesn’t bother me, I know my way.
I am out in the sunshine again, thank Goodness!
What a meeting of dragons! What a meeting of this cave!
The cave is thought to be connected symbolically with the heart. In popular legends you’ll find dragons live in caves. Also treasures can be find hidden in a cave, sometimes, you must walk past a sleeping dragon to reach it. Sometimes you must look for hidden clues.
I chose to do this exploration so I can find the treasures hidden in this experience.
As I sit on the bench and write all this up, I can feel a ball of fire in my back. Same area where I cramp when I am given a massage.
I ask the pain what it wants me to know. I get no answers but the burning slowly subsides.
Out here, at the entrance of the cave, on my own, in the sunshine, I wonder what was this about.
Inside there, in the dark, in a confined space, many of my fears came up.
Dragons showed up one at a time.
I know I had a precious experience.
I know I want to explore what going deep, into a cave, means to me.
I know I want to explore all this some more. One day. Soon.
I want to go into the cave again and explore all these fears, these dragons. Slay some, maybe befriend some. Maybe just walk past the sleeping one.
Today I needed to feel compassion. I actually gave myself permission to have to slay no dragons. It’s Sunday, I wanted a break. And I gave myself a break today. I feel proud of myself.
Meeting dragons is the work I know I’ll have to do and I want to do someday. Today I got a taste of it.
I’ve visited caves before and none of this came up then. I imagine I was not ready for that work then, it was not relevant. Now somehow it is, the time is right. I am ready.
I am going now back into the cave to wait for the group, they probably completed the loop by now and I want to make sure they can find the key we agreed I have to leave for them once I got through the gate.
And I completed my inner process for today.
To be continued…
(Photo credit skytrip)