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            Scared. Anxious. And lonely.
            These feelings go deep. These feelings go old.
            I know this, because they don’t require any conscious thought to surface. Like a big old maple tree in the back yard of my mind, they have been present for as long as I’ve drawn breath.
            Fear, anxiety, and loneliness took root right out of the womb, when I was separated from my twin brother and stuck in an incubator for he first three weeks of life. Like the maple tree in the yard that’s always been there, those feelings have created a formidable presence. They show up in the corner of my emotional eye even when I’m not looking at them. Like the tree, they can feel omnipresent, even when I’m not playing in them. Even when I’m not near them. They cast a long shadow. It sometimes feels as though no matter what I do, or where I go, or who I become, I can not get out of that shadow.
            If I look closer at that tree of fear, anxiety, and loneliness, I understand that it has a consciousness. And just like a real maple tree, we’re not always aware of this consciousness because, as humans, we can’t understand it. Or we don’t believe it exists.
            But It does. Just like a real maple is saying something to me when I look at it, my tree is communicating to me as well.
            What he’s saying to me is that, more than anything, he needs something. He wants something.
            He wants Connection. Community. Love.
            But he is deathly afraid that he will never get it.
            So the tree grows himself bigger and stronger and more beautiful. Because he wants to attract people. But at the same time, because he doesn’t believe he will ever get true connection or community or love, he’s trying to prove to himself, and to everybody else, that he’s so big and strong and beautiful that he doesn’t need or want any of that from anybody else. He can give it to himself just fine, thank you.
            That tree is the part of me that never knew what I wanted because to know what I wanted was synonymous with not getting it.
            As long as I kept myself in the fog of not knowing what I wanted, or as long as I consciously just didn’t want it, there was nothing to worry about. You can’t worry about not getting something if you don’t want it. That was me, my whole life.
            But by finally acknowledging that I don’t want to play life as a game of solitaire, that I don’t want to be a lone warrior anymore, I become vulnerable.
            No shit.
            Excluding material possessions, which were always plentiful, as a kid I learned not to want or need anything that I couldn’t give to myself. Perpetually lonely, anxious, and sad, at some point I stopped asking for what I needed and wanted because I wasn’t getting it. Unconsciously, I decided it was better not to want or need much of anything. I also decided that I better learn to give to myself, because nobody else was going to.
            So I set myself up for a troubled existence. I was created to give love, to receive love. To connect to others and build those connections into all types of intimate relationships. I was created to share what was inside of me, and to welcome what was inside of others. I was made to be part of communities that serve their members.
            When I was a kid, that’s all I wanted. That’s all I needed. And quite frankly, I didn’t get much of any of it. So I went the other way. Not socially, but emotionally. Not on the outside. On the inside. I blocked off all those precious things I wanted because I didn’t believe I could ever have them.
            And those walls came tumblin’ down this summer. So now, what I’ve always needed and wanted is staring me right in the face saying “It’s about time you saw us, and heard us, and recognized us. We didn’t go anywhere. You did. You’re back. Welcome.”
            But now I’m petrified because I want again. I need again. And I’ve spent most of my life running from that and denying it. And at the same time, a part of me doesn’t believe I can ever have what I really want or need. That part screams to me, in a voice so loud sometimes it’s all I hear; “You’ve been that route before! It didn’t work then! It won’t work now!”
            But now I can’t do what I used to. I can’t fight what my heart truly wants anymore. I can’t fight that part of who I am anymore. Not because I’m not strong enough. I’m stronger than ever. Emotionally. Physically. Mentally. No. It’s because I’ve experienced the most profound shift of my life. The shift to fully embrace what I feel. To live from my heart and not my head. I don’t want to run away anymore. I want to run towards.
            And maybe it takes even more strength to embrace all of who you are, what you want, and that which you were made for, than it takes to fight it. Fighting it certainly takes strength. In fact, it’s exhausting. But embracing it takes strength and courage and faith and trust and belief. And it gives me energy, rather than suck it from me. Embracing takes a true warrior spirit. It takes more. So I have to be more. And I am more.
            And if I can own that I am more, I can speak to the tree in my mind. The one who’s scared and anxious and lonely. I can connect to that kid in me who’s cynical about ever getting what he really wants. What he really needs. I can connect to them and say “Trust me. I won’t let you down.”
            And I won’t.
            Because my heart knows better. My soul knows better. And that’s what I try to listen to now.

    ©2008 Clint Piatelli. All Rights (and a tree full of Wrongs) Reserved

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