26/40 Side of the Road


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26/40 From Rabbi Brian

NOTE: The story in this article might seem familiar. I wrote this, gave it to my editor, and she pointed out that I had previously published this story in 2009: 28/40. Still, the moral is an important one.

Side-of-the-road experience
Before we were married, Jane and I were traveling, and I had what I call a “side-of-the-road experience.”We were driving to Las Vegas from California. We reached a steep hill, and as the car moved up the hill, suddenly the engine quit working.
Right there in the middle of morning traffic, our forward velocity quickly decreased to zero. Jane, the one driving, panicked. Cars swerved around us, honking. (The honking didn’t help.) She started freaking out.
A large truck stopped behind our car protecting us from traffic behind us. I sprung to action.  I jumped out, told Jane to put the car in neutral, got behind our car, and started pushing. With the truck as a shield, we got to the side of the road, out of traffic.
Once safe, Jane calmed, we waved goodbye to the truck, called for a tow, and talked casually.

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Rabbi Brian is the CEO and chief columnist of Religion-Outside-The-Box 

– seeking to empower adults to find and be with (the) God (of their understanding).


His “day job” is instructing high school in mathematics.
The rest of the time is with his family.

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When the emergency vehicle arrived, I lost it.
I started to convulse, my whole body shook. All the fear and anxiety I’d been holding back now appeared.
That’s what I mean by an on the side-of-the-road experience.
In stressful situations, many of us “hold it together” — either consciously or unwittingly and usually out of sense of necessity. We hold it together, under wraps, but we can’t hold it down forever.  That energy we’re sublimating needs to go somewhere.
Just because we can look like we’re holding our traumas in check doesn’t mean we are fine.
It is a spiritual-religious self-violence to not be ‘real’ to what we are experiencing.
It is not uncommon for the wedding couples I counsel to find their past traumas surface soon between getting engaged and getting married. Usually, this is because one of the individuals finally feels so safe, so loved — it’s as if they’re finally on the side of the road, free from danger; they have someone who loves them completely for who they are, and this allows them to deal with some past trauma. All the feelings they’ve held back for years can now be fully expressed because of their non-threatening relationship.
Many people have experienced an “on the side-of-the road experience” this after the death of a loved one.  They can hold it together, from the loss and through the funeral, and they’re “fine” — or at least “not a complete wreck.” But a week or so after, after they have “held it together,” they start losing it: “I don’t understand. I was fine at the funeral, how come I’m not fine now?” They finally feel safe enough to really feel.
I hope for each of us that we will all feel safe enough to truly be the messes that we are and need to be.  And, that this sense of safety happens for us soon so that we can feel and give ourselves permission to deal with our traumas. We must allow ourselves to fully express our lives.
@wisdom_biscuit: Sometimes it’s only when you are relaxed that you can feel the anxieties you thought you got away from.

  With love,

  Rabbi Brian

   Rabbi Brian   

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