Whether "expecting" a life to begin,
re-defining one's life purpose
or pushing through the canal of existing pain,
life is scary, life is ever-changing and
life is a challenge worth the risk.
By: Erin McDougald
Expectation and the unexpected, interestingly enough, can have similar psychological impacts that blur the vision from the reality. I lost two pregnancies this year. Nowhere as devastatingly close to term as Cyndi and Ron experienced, but the loss of the unborn left me with the loss of self... the loss of something I neither knew to expect or how to grieve, per se. The loss of two fetuses left me with the loss of understanding, reason, and perhaps even loss of purpose. It left me in a loneliness that usurped the partnership I cherished but, ultimately disavowed through (unknowing) self-sabotage. I was always told pregnancy was near impossible or implausible given the circumstances of my long-endured medical complications; I expected no pregnancy, let alone two lost pregnancies in one year. Sometimes being given the knowledge of something you never had a chance to even revel in, before it is "taken" from you, is a loss that feels two-fold. There is a sense of feeling "duped" by the universe, or, worse, betrayed by your own body, that leaves the "unborn" a constant but ghostly presence. The haunting questions of "If I knew, could I have prevented this loss?" can be enough to drive one to edge of sanity in the quietest moments of unshared self-doubt. But, life goes on.
I found the lessons in temperance more pertinent than the source of his beliefs. Ira is a spiritual guidepost for me, not a religious zealot; he is a person whose life exemplifies his words of wisdom. His behavior, re-born from decades earlier when a very different life on the road as a jazzman surrounded by the temptations of substances over substance dictated his decisions. He became Born-Again. In more ways than the liturgical definition suggests; Ira, an octogenarian who has seen more of the world than most people in the world could imagine without their technology in-hand, is still infusing the ideals of re-birth with his concepts of healthy dieting, his interest in reading, mind-enhancement games of scrabble, political interests and of course musical excursions into the new, rather than the bebop era that helped make him an icon of the genre. Ira inspired me to find a new dimension of existence-- not one pertaining to god, but, instead, one that elevates me as a human being above all other aspirations.
The harm in such "compassionate thinking" is a tapeworm that feeds from the inside out-- a needful hunger that can never be satiated because no amount of self-sacrifice can create self-acceptance. It has taken me [insert age] ... this long... to metabolize the defective thinking which poisoned the balance (if there was any to begin with-- many cases, not, as the codependent personality is intrinsically attracted/drawn to/addicted to the emotionally unavailable/addicted/with-holding/controlling personality) of any connection born from the hopeful place of "finally- real love". That real love inevitably reared it's familiar, dysfunctional face that morphed the imagery of healthy-communication into toxic-discord. The more the spiraled decline ensued, the stronger each personality clung to our crutches of defense against it. There comes a time (usually rock-bottom is in-sight), when the ability to recognize a problem is no longer the issue; the WILLINGNESS TO CHANGE THE SOURCE of the problem (AKA: yourself, not the other person) is not born from your capacity to research the psychology of it all (though that helps tremendously-- to a point), but, instead, it lies in your tenacity to experience the pain of new birth. I'm not suggesting labor pains. New birth, to me, means, having the courage to push through the painful source of what existed long before the other person was in your life. New birth, for me, is my idea of new thinking. We cannot deal with our pain and our mistakes in thinking the same way as when we committed them. I think Einstein said something to that effect, but I digress. The newborn brain must teach the ever-vulnerable heart how to implement healthy boundaries AND healthy vulnerability and how to in fact, expel the necrotic beliefs and diseased conditions --ever-shifting standards which no person will ever fully live up to.
Like giving birth, this life-adjustment is a process of inner growth, maturation, dedication and yes, separation. Even a newborn is "cut" from the umbilical cord of it's mother in order to live outside of her and grow independently. There is a difference between a nourishing connection and a smothering confinement. We can be completely committed to each other without losing our autonomy. In fact, it is only through separateness that we can in fact choose togetherness. Space is not abandonment, it is breathing room. A baby sleeps in it's crib so not to be smothered or accidentally crushed in the night by the nursing mother. Partners in life can have different "emotional rooms" to retreat to and yet a home with one another exists just as strongly. The separation anxiety a codependent feels is much like a toddler that misinterprets the parents' leaving him/her with the babysitter for a night the same as leaving... forever. The toddler must learn the difference between abandonment and separation. I, too, am learning this in a similar context-- the wounds of some unmet childhood need or misinterpreted behavior have tethered my anxieties to my sense of love. And the caregiver I aimed to be (for anyone but myself) was the subconscious role-playing of my inner-child.
The Unborn never go away-- that goes for childhood tragedies, lost opportunities or dreams deferred; they should be remembered and honored through self-healing --not used as an excuse to recede from potential loss. The Born-Again choose to change direction; sometimes it's healthy, sometimes it's just another addiction replacing the last. The Newborn, which can be a perpetual state, if the will to renew and rejuvenate oneself is always at the heart of evolution, is the resilience of life incarnate, in spite of pain, discomfort and risk. Life goes on, but how we choose to live is inevitably how we will experience love, peace and true security. Nothing worthwhile is free of growing pains.
Yes... Life goes on... but only until it does not.
Make the most out of it, not by avoiding what you fear, but by facing it, learning from it and conquering it.