Thursday, January 21, 2010


"If I take refuge in ambiguity, I assure you that it's quite conscious."
-Kingman Brewster

Many years ago, I used to retreat into this deep and very dark hole when I felt insecure or immensely stressed about a situation. If there was a question, I'd hide. If faced with doubt, I'd dig and dig until buried deep within self-involvement. I'd drag myself into a very uncomfortable place because that is where I felt the most at home. No rationalization. Little insight. Just a deep hole that required little from me. Blinders on. Heart closed. Life stopped. When faced with any possibility other than what I considered manageable, the only solution would be to block out any kind of emotional response. Not so good for the soul. And definitely not conducive to communicating or learning about anything emotional.

I attribute this to being a very black and white thinker at times. When faced with ambiguity, run like hell, crawl into the hole and shut out any possibility of gray. It was really that simple. To do anything less would mean being open and vulnerable. To allow one moment of stepping OVER the hole would be blasphemy to the self-imposed code I had painfully instilled. Again, this thinking and subsequent Alice in Wonderland like fall down a slippery slope really never yielded any positive results. But boy it was a place I gravitated to consistently for the majority of my life.

At this moment, I feel ambiguity. I have been feeling it in some larger sense since we began our lovely economic roller coaster as has the rest of the world. It's unsettling. Scary. Lately, in the wake of changes that have been both amazing and frustrating, the need to run from the unknown has been overwhelming. I feel open. I feel incredibly vulnerable and scared. The gray has been splattered EVERYWHERE. The voice in my heart keeps encouraging me to RUN LIKE HELL AND JUMP into that "safe" place.

My choice: Run and crawl back in, digging deeper and deeper into the safety of a place I no longer consider healthy. Or learn to appreciate and accept ambiguity for what it is.

First option...not happening at this point in my life, unless I feel like undoing almost a decade of serious work and this would likely lead to a three year bender.

Second option. Define ambiguity as it applies to the moment and embrace the hell out of it. Learn to live with it and maintain an open-mind (or as open-minded as one who regularly sees things in black and white terms can be). Look beyond what makes me uncomfortable. Be prepared to fail. Be aware that no proven model has yet to be developed for life, particularly my own. Expect the unexpected and maybe ambiguity will turn into superb clarity. Or perhaps not.

I do know one thing, I am no longer comfortable retreating. No longer complacent with running away from the elements in life I fear the most. If I have to live an ambiguous life, I accept and get that.

There's some strange beauty in the unknown. Some prolific grace that I find much more enticing than no growth at all. And for that, I'll gladly give up the big shovel I've been carrying around.


Mike said...

Thanks for the post.
Gosh I used to do dig and dig to find the answers. Being an addict and an ACOA I find I am trying work out every scenario so I know EXACTLY the best way to act. Time and time again I need to check myself with this behavior. It is like an old tattered shoe; comfy until I have to walk in it

Marci @ ESPECIALLY FOR YOU said...

I am also Black and White and feel ambiguity. Mostly about myself.

This past year for me, has been extremely difficult in more ways than you listed.
Economically, I run a Flower Shop with 3 employees, Run a small retro shop and my husband runs a small wholesale business, all greatly effected. Do I throw in the sheets? Am I holding on when I should let go? All these questions loom. Should I dig that hole? Highly unlikely after 23 years, nine of them sober. But I do feel the doubt and in turn, I do want to run. Running is what I used to do best, running right to the bottle.

Personally, ambiguity has been huge. The doubt creeps in and grabs a hold of me and causes me to dig that hole, the one you talk about, and in the past, it included drinking.

Instead, I've given myself a break to pout a little then pull myself up by the back of my pants and stand up right in the middle of it. Do what I do best, stay positive, optimistic, ask for help, and whatever else comes my way, don't drink.

I know it will all work out, maybe not the way I would like, but it will work out and I'll take it and work with it the best I can.

The only sure thing is that I will have to do it outside the hole and without drinking. So I know that I am available not only to myself, but those around me.

There can be no ambiguity about that.

Thanks for your wonderful gift of writing and bringing my soul to where it should be, on the outside shining.

Syd said...

I see many shades of gray in lots of things. I suppose that I always have but am much more aware that life is not an either/or situation.

Olive Tree Guitar Ensemble said...

Hi, it's a very great blog.
I could tell how much efforts you've taken on it.
Keep doing!

Elizabeth Fry said...

I have been allowing myself to be sucked into a black hole lately. It was good to read your post.