The Power of Withdrawal


Recently, I made painful choices to withdraw. Instead of engaging in a whirlwind of drama thrust my way, I found a way to let it drift past. I didn’t answer. I didn’t respond. The chaos did, however, catapult me into an internal spin. Meditating didn’t come easily. My balance was off in yoga. And, I couldn’t even enjoy a budding flirtation. I ripped that off, like a bandaid, too. Why? Because chaotic Life events had suddenly, and unexpectedly, seemed to grab both my arms and threaten to tear me in two directions. It was just. so. heavy.

There was a time, just four or five years ago, when I would have responded. I would have engaged. I would have defended my position or  entered the fight. In many ways it’s so much easier to do this. And … it continues the chaos. It allows for more drama and an exciting illusion of self or ego. It allows the dog to keep chewing on the bone that isn’t good for him. But I’ve decided that peace is really the only goal for me right now. And with my internal compass slightly off, I have to let all the drama go—quietly—and do so alone.

So, as I enter this new year, I aim to find out just what life is like as Laura, with no entanglements or distractions that hurt … or drama. I aim to focus on that which brings harmony. To do that, however, I have to find a vantage point from a distance. Once the dust settles, in a bit more time, and with a renewed sense of hope, I’ll be ready to re-engage. A friend sent me this wonderful poem, by David Whyte. If you, too, have the feeling of being drugged by drama, I hope this inspires! Till our paths cross again, I wish you peace, harmony and calm.


can be a very positive way of stepping forward and done well, a beautiful freeing act of mercy and as a human behavioral art form, underestimated in this time of action and engagement. So much of what we are involved with, in even the highest cause, becomes involvement at the busy periphery, where the central conversation has been lost to the outer edges of what was to begin with, a very simple central invitation. Withdrawal is often not what it looks like – a disappearance – no, to withdraw from entanglement can be to appear again in the world in a very real way and begin the process of renewing the primary, essential invitation again. Though life does seem determined to be a beautiful, and entrancing distraction – just as we ourselves are a distraction to others, testing them as we test ourselves and our mutual sincerity – our participation in this dance of distraction also makes more real, and more necessary, our ability to return to essential ground, to an essential person or an essential work.

We stick to the wrong thing quite often, not because it will come to fruition by further effort, but because we cannot let go of the way we have decided to tell the story and we become further enmeshed even by trying to make sense of what entraps us, when what is needed is a simple, clean breaking away. To remove our selves entirely and absolutely, abruptly and at times uncompromisingly is often the real and radically courageous break for freedom. Unsticking ourselves from the mythical Tar Baby, seemingly set up, just for us, right in the middle of our path; we start the process of losing our sense of falsity, of ridding ourselves of illusions, of letting go of our self manufactured enemies, and even our false friends, and most especially the false sense of self we have manufactured to live with them: we make ourselves available for the simple purification of seeing our selves and our world more elementally and therefore more clearly again. We withdraw not to disappear, but to find another ground from which to see; a solid ground from which to step, and from which to speak again, in a different way, a clear, rested, embodied voice we begin to remember again as our own.

Leave a Reply