Wednesday, July 27, 2011

0010 - Hope and a Spider's Web

When I was a child, the thought of suicide never occurred to me, no matter how bad things were.  Hit me, beat me, rape me, lie to me, use me, and abuse me… I always felt like there was hope; that I was here for a reason.  Victor Frankyl said of concentration camp survivors that as long as they felt like they had a reason to live, they would live, but the moment they gave up hope, they died.  For whatever reason, I never felt like things couldn’t get better. 
Then, I met someone who introduced me to a world with no hope.  It was awful.  I remember sitting on my porch in the rain one night, lower than I had ever been, crying sobs that were wrenched from my guts.  Life was meaningless.  I had taken a wrong turn and found myself with nowhere else to go.  I could not see past the pain and loneliness and darkness.  I wanted to end it all.  I thought about ways to do it.  I would have killed myself that night, where it not for a spider.
I remember the rain was pounding on the tin roof and coming down in sheets over the edge of the porch.  The sound of the rain drowned out all other sounds and a mist blew with the wind onto the most sheltered side of the porch.  I sat crouched against the siding, arms wrapped around my legs, as broken as the flowers beaten into the mud by the storm.  The spider was on the porch railing, spinning a web between rungs.  She worked non-stop, methodically creating a pattern that time and time again was torn down by the wind.  Each time part of the web was damaged, the spider simply repaired it and kept working.  She worked for hours.  I watched for hours.  Raindrops formed on the strands and disappeared, the web stretched and moved with the wind, it broke and was fixed.  The spider did not give up.  Sometime before morning, she finished.  Sometime before morning, I decided if she could keep going even when it seemed hopeless, so could I. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

0008 - Sadness

I came up with a solution that will likely keep my staff out of the unemployment line.  It doesn’t change the reality of my situation much, but should radically help them.  It’s amazing how much better I feel knowing that they have options now.  If I were cynical, I’d be asking why it still matters, but it does.  They are good people and the work they do makes a difference.  Now they will have an opportunity to become responsible for their own growth, learning, and success.  Whether they succeed or fail will now be a direct reflection of their choices instead of mine.  I wish I had thought of this sooner, but I know there is a reason for everything.  My ego and need to lead probably would have interfered had I thought of this in the beginning.  It would sure be nice if it didn't seem like I was walking backwards through life, looking at what could have been if I'd only seen things clearly sooner. 
My child and a handful of others now know most of the truth of my situation.  It is so hard to see the pain in their eyes.  My child says it’s not disappointment, but sadness.  That is a good way to describe it – bone deep, weary, gut-wrenching sadness.  I fell asleep the other night thinking of tears, but unwilling to shed them.  I didn’t want to alarm my boyfriend who was spending the night.  I found myself crying in the middle of the night and was able to truthfully tell him that I had a nightmare.  I dreamed that I was flying low to the ground and couldn't remember how to float higher up to where it was safe. I was captured and abused by a gang of children who caught me because I was so low and bound me with ties that I could have escaped, but didn’t.  I was intrigued by the nightmare; it didn’t really make me cry.  Rather, I cried purposefully because I feel so strongly the need to heal.
Clarissa Pinkola Estes says that tears lead to exhaustion, to the disassembling of defenses, to the facing of oneself, and the to desire for both knowledge and relief.  She says that tears change people, remind them of what is important, and save their very souls.  I want a simple, sane, stress-free life.  Can’t I have that and get where I am going, too?  Must I sacrifice one for the other?  I know that the answer to this is that I can have both… but I wonder if I have traveled so far down the difficult path that it doesn’t make sense to turn back now.  Surely, I am almost there?  If I still have a long way to go, please, God, let there be a fork ahead that leads to an easier path, one not so full of sadness.

Monday, July 4, 2011

0007 - Independence Day

Yesterday I rode along the coast on the back of a Harley.  It was a beautiful day and the scenery was breathtaking.  I went with the expectation that it could be one of the last times for a long time that I had the freedom to just experience the joy and beauty of life, to share the moment with friends and loved ones, to feel the wind in my hair, the sun on my face, and to taste a frosty cold adult beverage as we hopped from one quaint watering hole to the next. 
Yet running like a current underneath the experience was the fear and rejection of what my life has become, the knowledge that this was all borrowed time and that my house of cards has already started crumbling.  I smile and I laugh and I take the next sip of the poison that will help numb the cry of rage that threatens to surface at any moment.  How did I let this happen?  I feel the heaviness in my chest, the lump in my throat, the self-pity that threatens to distract me from the fact that I caused this, that this is the reality I’ve created.
I look around.  My present moment is filled with birdsong, the lazy sight of horses grazing in the distance, stillness, peace, perfection.  Why can’t I live in this moment, enjoy this moment, without feeling the ominous presence of doom just on the horizon?  Why must I constantly try to make my life look right, to cover the faults, to conceal the messes?  Why must I compare what I have to a beautifully prepared, perfectly packaged life?  Why can’t I accept that my life is perfectly fine just as it is?  Surely, I can find a way to attain that Zen state where I accept my place in the tapestry of the whole and can come back to just where I am.  Surely, joy, ease, simplicity, courage and the freedom to care and not to care is possible even when all appears to be headed to hell in a hand basket.
Today is the Fourth of July.  Independence Day.  Can I claim my freedom today?  The freedom to dissolve the labels I have put on my experience?  Can I let go of the shoulds and should not haves long enough to accept that this is my life, my complex, topsy-turvy, unfathomable life?  Can I become at peace with the way things are?  No longer struggling against the world or lost in it?  Can I simply rest?  Can I accept the love that others offer me?  Can I accept and love myself?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

0006 – Fast and Easy

In the Buddhist tradition, there are four potential paths to Enlightenment: fast and easy, slow and easy, fast and hard, slow and hard.  Most of us spend our time on the last path.  We live in a society that has conditioned us to believe that fast and easy is somehow inferior to hard work over a long period of time.  We’ve blamed our unhealthy lifestyles on a “fast-food” culture associating quick and easy with obesity, laziness, and poor choices.  Taking “short-cuts” tends to be equated with shoddy workmanship, and the desire for instant gratification is blamed for most of our generation’s ills.  We expect people who experience sharp, fast rises to success to have equally sharp, fast declines, certain that they haven’t earned the right to be at the top.  We tell ourselves that failures are the stepping stones to success and that out of our greatest tragedies come our greatest triumphs.
I realized recently that I was tired of doing things the hard way and decided to pursue the fast and easy path.  You can take a rowboat overseas or you can take a plane.  Although other people will be more impressed if you make it in a rowboat, you have a much better chance of getting there in one piece taking the plane.  I reasoned that quick and easy was simply a thought process.  If I fed the belief system that encouraged the fast and easy way to success, joy and peace, then I would create a reality that reflected fast and easy growth and learning.  I reasoned that the only thing that created resistance to getting there quickly and easily was a belief system that supported slow and/or hard.  Change your thoughts, change your life, right?
I decided to experiment.  I gave myself roughly three years to remove resistance to achieving a life that I was satisfied with and that did not require blood, sweat, and tears to achieve.  I figured I would chart my progress, take note of the beliefs that interfered with and the beliefs that supported my new direction, and make conscious choices that enabled fast and easy success.  So with my resolution, I announced to the Universe my intention to achieve personal growth and learning along the fast and easy path.  Two weeks later, my business had failed, I received a letter stating that I was being investigated for fraud, two other letters stating that I was being sued, and I realized that I was approximately $500,000 in debt with $19 in the bank and no way to pay back what I owed.  Um, wow.  I think there’s been a mistake.  I’m pretty sure this isn’t what I asked for.