When I’m going through a rough spot, I journal more. My morning writing sessions stretch out and I often add an evening session. This isn’t because I have so many answers to explore.
It’s because I have so many questions.
So many times, I’ve written a weighty, important question in my journal, and followed it with, I don’t have the answer to this. Please show me the way. And in the spirit of What the #$*! Do We Know!?, I ask the Universe to make the answer super obvious because I’m a little dense.
Asking big questions is an act of bravery. It’s one of the hardest things we can do as humans. Humans like the status quo: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But there’s a big difference between “not broken” and “working sublimely.”
The opposite of love is not hate – it’s apathy.
Is it Good Enough?
Several years ago I was struggling in a long-term relationship that was no longer working. It was a difficult situation because everything seemed fine on the surface. We got along, we never fought. There weren’t obvious signs of a problem — no infidelity, no slamming doors. He wasn’t hitting me or wearing sweatpants in public.
But neither was he building me up, supporting me, or even really seeing me.
It wasn’t bad; it just wasn’t good enough.
I felt guilty being unsatisfied. Everything in society tells us we should be lucky to have anyone, and no relationship is perfect — how dare you want something more. So I quietly put those misgivings to rest. Buried them beneath all sorts of industrious activity. Overworking. Overeating. Buying furniture. Trying to fix my environment. Trying to fix myself.
Once in awhile I would journal the questions that crept through in quiet moments.
- Am I right to deserve more?
- Shouldn’t I be grateful for what I have?
- Am I being unrealistic?
- What about myself can I change to make this relationship work?
Asking the Right Questions
During this time, I was blessed to have this amazing massage therapist who came to my workplace every other week. Dawn was a wise woman and she acted as my guide during that rough period. We had just met, but I trusted her implicitly. I felt safe with her. Embraced by her supportive energy.
She asked me questions as she worked on my back and neck, putting me into a receptive state of total goo. I told her everything. I told her things I wasn’t saying out loud to anyone, even my closest friends. The combination of her massage and healing energy brought out these truths. I often cried on the table.
A few sessions in, I told her, “I keep asking myself – shouldn’t I be grateful? Am I being unrealistic? Is it about my shortcomings? Do I need to change myself? I just don’t have the answers.” I could feel her smiling behind me, sending rays of healing energy into my body with her fingertips.
After a minute, she said quietly,
“Maybe you’re not asking the right questions.”
I left that session on a mission to find a safe place to let loose in my journal. I was a ticking time bomb, walking gingerly, careful not to bump into anyone en route. I couldn’t be stopped or interrupted. I searched for a quiet spot to write like a mama cat seeking a dark corner to have her kittens.
I opened my journal and wrote a new question:
- Am I thriving in this relationship?
I didn’t even need to write the answer. I moved out the next day.
Two weeks later, having ended the relationship, I had another session with Dawn. I told her what happened. I told her about writing all the questions all these months, about not having the answers.
She said, “You weren’t ready to ask that question. You just needed time to ask the other questions, time to not have the answers. Asking those questions allowed you to finally ask the last important one.”
Having witnessed that amazing process, feeling so grateful for her guidance, I ask a lot of questions these days in my journal. I see writing them as a complete act. I don’t need to have the answers to benefit from the asking. I’ve learned to trust the process, mysterious as it is.
Many times the answers are revealed later on. Sometimes they are not.
Sometimes you’re given the courage to ask a different question. One you already know the answer to.