You discover that you have made a serious error of judgement. There is a huge discrepancy between what you thought your life was and what it actually is. As soon as you discover your mistake, you feel shaky, very shaky. Something inside you is falling apart. As the implications of your mistake become increasingly clear, the shakiness intensifies. Anxiety turns to fear, and fear to terror as you feel that you are shattering, crumbling, even disappearing.
It is a very strange experience. Our body is not falling apart but inside where ‘I’ resides crumbles like a wooden house caught in a hurricane. What is actually falling apart is some of the ideas which make up your sense of ‘I’. These are the guesses that you created about your life, your loved ones and your future. If you understand that, you know that these terrible feelings will pass, and that after a period of uncertainty you will become whole again. If you do not understand this, you are overwhelmed by the greatest terror.
Dorothy Rowe, Why we lie, pp xi, 48-49
Perhaps one of most serendipitous thing to happen as I struggle with disappointments in life is to read Rowe’s book, Why we lie. Various paragraphs explain what happen as we experience this falling apart inside of us. It’s like another side of the brokenness that I tried to understand as a Christian, where the image of who you think you are disappears. As the sense of being a person falls apart, one has to rebuild this in a way different from what it had been before. But there are those who are too afraid to lose that sense of being a person, too terrified to be annihilated as a person, and that’s why people lie.
I thank God that even as a part of me falls apart, I know that I don’t have to continue with a lie to preserve my sense of being a person. It’s a sad but liberating feeling – sad because you know that a dream dies, liberating because you don’t have to live a lie anymore. My greatest comfort is that this period will pass, and I know that God’s presence has never left me.
post-script: my previous post Landslide (Fleetwood Mac) is a song on ‘the avalanche of everything that had come crashing down’. Just like falling apart.