I spend an enormous amount of time alone, here in this crammed and mildewed basement. It’s just what I do, what I have always done since I was very, very young and I learned that the only really safe and affirming place was in my own head.
Through all these decades, though, there has always been one friend I can count on to be there for me at any time of the day or night, ready to listen to my woes and comfort me. I knew that when nobody else was available, at least they were, engaging and affirming.
Yes, my friend the bear has always been here in the closet with me, taking hold of my problems, understanding my pain & frustration, and affirming my choice to try and get out of all the shit other people dumped on me.
I am lucky to have a very smart bear. He knows that I don’t take to threats or to ideas of separation, so he never mentions that. By simply reminding me that most people will never get the joke so I will just waste my energy if I try to engage them, he helps me remember how comfortable I am here in my little bunker.
Bear knows just what to say to take away my confidence, to cramp any belief that even if I do turn my thoughts into action that I will have a chance of success.
We love the bear in our closet. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t keep letting him run our lives, wouldn’t keep letting him ruin our lives. The bear is the only one in our lives who always understands just where and how we hurt, always respects our fears, and never asks more of us than that we indulge whatever sensation that will distract us from getting on with life.
The bear just wants you to put your feet up and do what you enjoy, putting off the things that you need to get done. He convinces you that you are passionate about staying hidden and doing your own thing more than you are about making your world better and betting on tomorrow.
The bear always treats us like the scared child we were when we first met him. He knows what mommy and daddy did to us, how other children were cruel and inconsiderate.
Who wants to be told to put on their big girl panties, get out there and try again, again and again and again until you succeed and start to build confidence that you can turn thoughts into action? Other people have high expectations of you, seeing the possibilities in you, and encouraging you to reach for them, but the bear is much more reasonable, agreeing with you that there is nothing more important to avoid discomfort and loss.
You are right to be frightened, right to lay back, right to focus more on how bad the world is, your bear always assures you. The world is one big hole and the doughnut around it is beyond your easy grasp and probably stale & sour anyway.
The bear loves us just as we are and knows that growing up, gaining mastery and getting mature stuff just isn’t for us. It’s all more trouble than it is worth, and besides, if you begin to get rewards of connection, affirmation and respect in the world, you won’t be able to spend time with good, old bear, right? After all, you and the bear have been besties since junior high school when between your family and social idiots you first learned to hang back, play small and stay in the closet with the bear.
I know my bear well. He speaks to me in the voices of all the people who ever told me I couldn’t. When I try to find people to help tame him, telling me that I can, they tend to slide away from me.
My bear knows me well. He knows just where my buttons are still, even after I have worked for so long to unwire all the simple ones. He’s smart and sensible, always having recognizable and resonant seeds of truth to share with me, truth pulled out of my own experience.
To move beyond him I must be confident that new and surprising is possible. I must have hope that ignoring him is worth the effort, that changed choices can bring changed outcomes. This hope has to be so strong it gets me through the inevitable bumps and thumps of failed attempts to claim the new, opportunities to learn and get stronger, chances to become more vulnerable, more integrated, more actualized, more powerful and more happy.
That sounds like work, work I might fail at, work that I and others have failed at in the past.
Only bear understands how much despair and loneliness I really feel. My bear loves me just as I am, small and broken.
Isn’t that enough?