Behind the Curtain:

Life Backstage Tells a Different Story

The front row has nothing on the real drama backstage.

The other day I was venting to my sister about pressing financial matters.

“I guess I’ll just be working well into my 70’s.”

“You could be like those older ladies I see at Macy’s. They are at least that age and so adorable working there.”

My sister’s tone was genuine, making the delivery of her words sting that much more.

“Great idea! That’s always what I wanted to do late in life.” My voice dripped with sarcasm.

“I think it would be fun.” 

Now the gloves were off. Like a water hose finally unplugged, I unleashed my anger her way.

“Fun? How can you say that? Why the hell would I want to work at some meaningless job in retail out of necessity in my 70’s?!”

Behind the Curtain of Anger

My sister hadn’t done anything wrong. The anger I unfairly threw her way stemmed from a genuine fear of which her words had, inadvertently, fanned the flames.

Fear is the backstage entity often cloaked in anger. When we aren’t in alignment with ourselves, the slightest comment or action of another can be perceived as salt on a wound.

My sister had genuinely tried to comfort me. She, of course, could only do this from her own vantage point:

“I’d love to have a job like that someday. My career involves so much responsibility. I can’t imagine not working even after I retire, so doing something in retail part time would be fun.”

Wearing Someone Else’s Shoes Hurts

When we look for comfort from someone else, we need to remember that they:

  • only possess their own vantage point
  • are not responsible for the other person’s inner alignment

My sister can hear that I’m experiencing a fiscal crisis, but that is not the same as experiencing it. Likewise, I can hear my sister express her potential enjoyment at working in retail later in life, but I can’t make myself share this sentiment.

Asking someone to feel what you are feeling is like shoving your shoe onto someone else’s foot: it’s not going to fit and can be downright painful.

It’s important to know what you are asking for from that person in the first place. My sister was only sharing her thoughts on the idea of working in her 70’s.

 But I had never been clear about where I was standing: blazing, unfiltered fear.

Say Where You Are

I hadn’t acknowledged the intense fear and instead danced in front of the figurative curtain with haughty anger.

My attitude had been a defiant “Can you believe this bullshit?” but inside, behind the curtain, I was peeing in my pants.

How could we expect anyone to be there for us emotionally if we don’t tell them where we are emotionally?

Spend Time Backstage

After touring the backstage area of my psyche, I got real with the fear. 

When we spend time in the discomfort of fear, acknowledging its presence, and facing it head on, the fear itself dissipates. 

The fiscal situation is still there, but my spiritual awareness of the bigger picture has kicked in, and with it, I know that my health is the most invaluable gift there is and not worth sacrificing to the external (and temporary) reality.

Backstage is where fear likes to lurk; it is a stealthy entity, hiding behind anger. But when we face our fear head-on, peeling back the curtain to the what-ifs that plague our psyches, light pours in, leaving no room for fear to hide.

When to Take Your Pants Off: A Spiritual Lesson on Dealing with a Difficult Person

Got a figurative Pit Bull chomping at the bit?

Our greatest teachers are often the ones that bring the hardest lessons to learn. Their lessons require us to lean into discomfort. When we walk through them, we emerge stronger, kinder, and more resilient. I guess there’s a reason we refer to them as growing pains.

Signs of a Toxic Person

You know those humans who make you feel like you are walking on eggshells? You know, the ones who make you feel like you’re going crazy, accusing you of the very things they do? The ones who are never wrong, who lack empathy, who attempt to control everything and everyone? Those humans make Life’s greatest teachers.

Why Toxic People Make the Greatest Teachers

Contrast is what propels us forward in this thing called Life. We would not appreciate sweet without bitter nor salty without the sour. Likewise, contrast provides the conduit for our growth. The greater the contrast, the more opportunity for our growth.

When you experience control, gaslighting, manipulation, or any other form of emotional/mental toxicity, you learn about the importance of setting boundaries, speaking up, and saying no.

Why You Want to Remove Your Pants

So there I was, on the phone, with a dear friend of mine who, like me, has experienced a lifetime of toxic people. He was helping me work through one particular toxic person in my Life who has used repeated (5+ at the writing of this piece)litigation and financial power to manipulate and control. This toxic person was now threatening another litigation. Up until this point, I had fought back. It wasn’t vengefulness on my part; it was self-defense. It was using my voice — something this particular Toxic person didn’t like.

What do I do?

You fought the good fight. You stood up for what you knew was right. But when there’s a Pit Bull chomping at your leg, you gotta take off your pants.

And there it was: my greatest lesson. Sometimes, when dealing with a toxic person, the lesson is to simply let go, to accept where you are and what the Pit Bull is doing.

The Pit Bull and The Pants

So, the Pit Bull (aka, the Lover of Litigation) has my “pants” (i.e., another day in court). Here’s the gem: I am not the pants. I am free to live my life however I choose. The Pit Bull may follow through on Litigation #6, but that doesn’t stop me from living in the gift of the present moment.

We can’t control the way someone else will behave in this Life. We find peace when we surrender our figurative pants to a Pit Bull. The Pit Bull wants the “meat” of us — they want a reaction. Emotion feeds the Pit Bull; to starve them is your ticket to inner peace and happiness.

Sometimes, we need to surrender our pants in order to unearth our Zen.

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