Honoring the Fallow

by Dian Reid-Jancic· Follow Dian on

I sat in the car sharing my experience of the previous two months and Mynde listened. When I finished my story, she simply said, “Sounds like the fallow’s been important for you.” We continued to talk, while I silently pondered the meaning of fallow and how it related to my current state in life as she drove us up to Santa Monica for lunch with Alana. That would not be the last mention of fallow that day, nor the last time I thought about it over the week to follow.

fal·low

[fal-oh]

–adjective

1. (of land) plowed and left unseeded for a season or more;uncultivated.
2. not in use; inactive: My creative energies have lain fallow this year.

The Uncultivated

I sat across the table from my friend and listened. The words coming from her mouth were enough to give me pause, but the tone…it was her tone that cut the tendons in my throat, rendering speech useless as my mind spun, stunned from the whole experience. I wished I could think clearly enough to fling a zinger across the table and give her pause to what she was saying and the manner in which she was saying it. Instead, I remained silent. I waited until she stopped talking and excused myself to the restroom.

My legs wobbly, I almost tripped down the stairs and held tightly to the railing as I scaled lower, tears welling in my eyes while I slipped around the corner and out of sight. As soon as I locked the stall door, the silent tears turned to audible sobs and I was grateful for my momentary solitude. Mind racing, swirling, tripping, falling, stalling, numbing, I tried to pull myself together. A creak of a door opening, and I was no longer alone. I exited my stall and immediately washed my hands and face. Three deep breaths and I headed back to the dinner table to remain mostly silent for the rest of the night.

::

I’ve never been great with confrontation, and it’s usually worked out just fine for me. My mother was a great manipulator, and I learned at an early age that it was better to adapt to her needs than to enter into confrontation with her. She would win the battles and wars, while I didn’t yet understand that learning how to stand up for myself if an uncomfortable situation with her would teach me to handle uncomfortable conversations and situations with anyone. But I was just a kid, so I left the winning and the wars up to my mother.

Now in my mid-thirties, when confrontation strikes, I listen. I take it all in. I digest. I do not react with words or actions or zingers I will regret, which has both benefits and damages. The benefits involve built-in hindsight, preparing for thoughtful (future) conversation, not allowing emotion to dictate the conversation on my behalf. The damages include not cultivating the art of speaking my mind in the midst of conflict; allowing a moment of passion and real life to pass me by by staying silent; and missing out on an immediate opportunity for conflict resolution (or at least discussion moving toward it).

In my past, fear of my mother’s (and other family members’) reactions kept me silent. Survival in my youth depended upon my mastery of silence and invisibility. These skills served me well in childhood and adolescence, but rarely prove empowering in adulthood.

I tend to keep my thoughts to myself until I figure out what I really think about something. Until I know for sure that something is an issue. Until I figure out every last detail and path to reasoning. Until I’m sure I’m dealing with a valid issue rather than a moment of irrationality.

The problem with ignoring the issue—yes, taking time to think through the issue is usually a sign that I’m ignoring the issue–is that oftentimes the real issue buries itself in fear and silence. Once the moment of confrontation passes, I can talk myself out of the issue entirely. I wish I would’ve said something at the table… Probably a reason I didn’t… Maybe I just don’t need to feed that energy… Too much time has passed to bring it up now anyway… It doesn’t matter anymore… It’s fine now… What was the issue in the first place? Until the issue surfaces again and I sit silent and stunned again.

On the surface it appears that leaving the art of speaking my mind in confrontation uncultivated served me well in my youth. But looking at the aftermath, I see it as a great disservice to my well-being in adulthood. Most recently, it’s played a part in the dissolution of a friendship, which may have dissolved regardless, or possibly shifted in a healthier manner for both of us.

The Inaction

I’ve long been of the mindset that everything happens for a reason. Not necessarily that there’s divine connection to every action or experience, but that there is something to learn from every action and experience. Now that I’ve moved through it, Reflection finds herself sifting through February Funk 2011 for pieces of learning. I learned almost immediately that the Universe had not failed me, nor is she working against me; she is dancing with me, and teaching me (when I will listen).

I’m realizing that leading into February I was in so much action to avoid confrontation that the Universe had to step in to slow me down. Step in to say, Dian, be still, honey. I had body work done in early February that released toxins from my muscles, which had probably been dormant for years. Toxins of built up resentments and words unspoken from my thirties, my twenties, and surely my entire adolescence. I wanted to believe that drinking exorbitant amounts of water would easily flush the toxins out of my body, but reality crashed that party and left me with the flu to help with the flushing.

I wanted to believe that my funk was isolated to February and the bodywork that had caused the flu. Hindsight parts the fog and I see clearly that my funk was directly related to the uncultivated practice of speaking up for myself, and the subsequent inaction.

I cannot wish the fallow away; it is here. Courageous and mindful and lovingly in my face, the fallow sits me down and asks me to be still. To listen. To learn. If I’m going to be inactive, I ought to learn from it.

::

I’m reminded of a late night video blog post from the wise and wonderful Dyana Valentine.

You will survive from Dyana Valentine on Vimeo.

::

I may never be one to fling zingers across the table at the hint of confrontation, but I am committed to practicing, to cultivating this voice inside me that has a right to be immediately heard. Fear has been in the spotlight for long enough, and it’s time for me to move forward. It’s time for me to honor this fallow, to learn from it, to live through it—fear and all.

I will survive. And so will you.

  • There is so much richness here, Dian. I am going to take my time with your words, to allow them to stand in my face, over time, breathe them in… not with the prickly form of confrontation but with the “see, look at me, see into my eyes… breathe with me… there… presence… presence… presence…” form of gentle confrontation.

    LOVE! LOVE! LOVE!

    • “see, look at me, see into my eyes… breathe with me…”

      and so it is, Julie. Thank you for taking your time with your words. I have this idea that confrontation is ugly, that it’s hurtful and senseless and useless. I prefer this gentle form of confrontation you speak of and will take this in as I continue to honor this fallow and myself.

  • Beautiful listening, witnessing, noticing and naming. Can’t also help but wonder if this fallow’s about regaining fertility for a really really healthy crop.

    Love to you in this time of rest. And the next phase, and the next and the next…
    TG

    • And now I wonder, myself, if this fallow’s about regaining fertility from a (really really!) healthy crop … I think it must be part of its purpose, because your intuition resonates with me so well. Yes, I will honor this question and digging and fertilizing as I move forward.

      There is always a next phase. Part of what I fear and love about life, I guess.

  • Whew! I know this one: “Survival…depended upon my mastery of silence and invisibility.” AND I know a bit about coming out of silence and invisibility (good heavens, i used to be quiet!! lol), but I never thought about the fallow — this is gorgeous.

    Love what Tanya said about the fallow: “…wonder if this fallow’s about regaining fertility for a really really healthy crop.”

    • I used to be quiet, too. I speak up when I’m comfortable, and that didn’t used to be the case, so I’ve grown in that arena. Now it’s time to focus on the uncomfortable, on the fertility, on the really really healthy crop.

      What does my really really healthy crop look like? What’s it made of? Where are its roots? What are its desires? Dig, cultivate, honor. Oh, and BREATHE!!! =)

  • Anonymous

    Gosh, I’m reading this and left with a feeling of “ouch” after reading this. I’m re-reading, and listening in, and noticing the space of wanting to honor the fallow and yet a hesitation – maybe in the trusting to see what happens with it. Valuable land you’re playing with and on right now.

    • Hesitation in honoring the fallow…I believe there must be. Like stepping out from the shadows, taking my time to open my eyes to the brightness of a blue or silver sky, whichever is to come. I think I must have confidence in myself before I can trust the fallow. Honor myself, then the fallow.

      Thanks, Karen … so much to play with here =)

  • What I didn’t say earlier – what was in my heart from the beginning (which is one of the less-fun things with not being so quiet anymore – the fact that sometimes my mouth, or fingers in this case -jump ahead and forget to say THE thing that’s sitting there…)

    is:my heart went out to you as I read this…I wish your friend had not hurt you – (EVEN while I respect your ability to learn from the experience, to go and grow and reap a marvelous harvest)! xox

    • Thank you for this, Karen. This friendship unraveling thing has really created a huge shift in both me and the way I see myself in friendships. I’m realizing how much of my life I’ve unconsciously accepted blame for things that were not my fault because I lacked self confidence or listened to my fears. I allowed both to be “easier” than saying, “Hey I disagree with what you just said to me, and here’s why…” It’s like I had no idea that confrontation could be gentle, to use Julie Jordan Scott’s word

      I think what’s important for me is recognizing that I do this, owning it, and then taking active steps to use my words (gentle and otherwise) so I don’t end up with this behavior and its consequences for the rest of my life.

      Hindsight also gives me the space to see that I held my part in the friendship and its end, too. I know there’s so much more to come from this, and I’m so appreciative of all the conversation here today. You make my heart smile, friends.

Previous post:

Next post:

© Authentic Realities 2009-2013 (All content unless otherwise noted). All Rights Reserved.