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The bonds from our unresolved inner conflicts restrict us far more than limitations from any situation or physical handicap or financial lack.

Our fears about our unlovableness may have (unconsciously) led us to construct defenses against intimacy. Our attempts to appear intellectual hope to impress others. We realize they don’t quite obliterate the vulnerability that bubbles in the depth of our hearts, but maybe no one will notice. We really don’t want that insecurity seen. Not intimacy! No, just look at the parts of me which my mind likes — my wit, my figure, my snappy repartee. And that’s all I will look at, too.

We pretend the sea of shadowy roiling lurching feelings doesn’t really exist or isn’t really so bad or is really a thyroid problem. Certainly work and TV and drinking and socializing distract us. After all, everyone has something to complain about, right? Life’s not perfect for anyone, so we stop our grousing and act “practical” and grown up and try to fit in.

But at such a price.

The controller we have developed to silence our inner world woes also limits our aliveness and spontaneity and creativity and pretty soon we say, “I’m going through the motions and I look appropriate, but I don’t feel completely alive.” And we’re not. Grabbing that aliveness means committing to complete intimacy inside — being willing to feel every tiny little insignificant decades-old wince, being as passive as the sand on the shore when the waves of hurt or anger or fear wash over us. Freedom is not fighting them, not judging them, not trying to control, not evaluating, not even reacting. It’s freedom to say, “Yes, thank you. I accept this moment.”

The controller whom we constructed to keep us safe has instead kept us dead. And mid-life is the time to embrace life and to experience — anything at all, really. Just experience it deeply and loudly and celebrate the opportunity to experience. Feeling anything at all has come to be such a gift.

And when we attend to our feelings — watching them and experiencing them — we don’t act them out. We have funded such a reserve of strength inside ourselves that we use our best judgment about healing our wounds by being good parents to ourselves. Holding our hurt children not silencing them. Giving them the care they need so they don’t need to look to others or to addictions. Being present to ourselves deeply and compassionately and wisely.

In mid-life we can be unwavering in our presence to our inner worlds. We are available and attentive and we are not attached to outcomes. We relinquish all restricting controls and we say, “I am here.”

We are free because anything that happens, anything at all, is okay. We practice acceptance and our practice is more important that what it is we are accepting. Our freedom is internal. We are free to just be. And that’s enough.

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