ambivalence! so many feelings!

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I never really liked being ambivalent, and I didn’t trust anybody else’s ambivalence. For a long time, ambivalence to me felt too much like uncertainty. For me, was that queasy sway of not-knowing, of holding onto the future’s coat tails and wishing hard
and focusing intently without pause. If I relaxed for even a minute and unwound the tight tape inside my head, my connection to the future would  turn to fuzzy static.

The every day of life has it’s own resonance, and the quiet hum or the dull roar will echo back to you. It’s resonance or dissonance with thecthings you want, the direction you’re moving, and the unanswered and emergent truths are your answer. At this point in my past, my dissonance was so loud I could hardly hear anyone, and I was trying to strap life down with bungee cords so that I could figure out where to direct my enthusiasm and everything seemed to be moving eight directions at once.

Sometimes I would lecture destiny out loud to tell it what my plans were. My plans were mostly an iteration of a fierce desire to be loved and a manic insistence that I be allowed to take up space. I did all this to remove myself from the present tense, in
which I did not want to sort out my sense of loneliness and wild uncertainty. I used “manifesting” as a verb a lot. I read my tarot cards almost every day to predict my glamorous future.

To a certain extent this was really important-because it gave me a sense that my relationship with the universe and the outcomes of my behavior were part of an interconnected eco-system of intention, action, and uncertainty. I did not have complete control over my life’s wandering path, but I was going to take the universe by the ear and insist that she listen.   I did not know how to make space for ambivalence because to stray from the singular focus of my vision, I thought, diminished the imminence of the things I wanted touching ground.

But along the way I think I learned my relationship with the universe didn’t have to be quite so forceful. I could lean into love, and wait for an answers, and hang out in the present.

These days I am less fraught with uncertainty and more preoccuped with ambivalence. I think many of us are challenged by ambivalence. It is the tension between two contradictory truths or desires- which can be an uncomfortable place to live, but a necessary one in finding which way is your north. I think we are given to extremes, to hard ground, inflexible truths and a discomfort with fence-sitting. A friend describes this as “holding complexity.” It acknowledges the sincerity of our own truth and process without undermining the existence of other truths.

I think ambivalence is also an important pathway to healing. People talk about the process of therapy reconciling “cognitive dissonance”- which is essentially an experience of living multiple contradictory/complex  truths, but the dissonance between the two becomes so loud that it makes it hard for you to live/focus/be a person. By naming your ambivalence, and unraveling it, it gives you a chance to suss out the space in between. These days, I don’t coming to fisticuffs with fate or have a single insistent story I have to tell everyone I meet.  I try to hold the space between two fearful extremes, and lean into the quiet truth that lies between. Of allowing that brief inhale, that narrow space in between two severe points, there becomes a space for healing and transformation. See, if you can, make that space, in this moment, in your heart and in your lungs and the space between your ears, between your shoulders and hipbones and legs in the hinges of your jaws. Open that space with your breath, and with the hinges of your body that can be eased. See what you find.


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