Exploring the discomfort of Life…More of That

Walking on the edge, and not fitting in, that would be me.  I became a student in the art of fitting in, just enough to make life work. But that meant living a life of discomfort: a life of separation from myself that came from the attempt to connect with others at the expense of losing me.

Life seems to be made of discomforts; the discomfort of not getting what we think we want, not getting responses we want, the discomfort of a break in a friendship or partnership, the discomfort of not knowing, the discomfort of displeasing people and trying something different, taking risks, the discomfort of being on FB or other social sites and starting to feel pangs of envy, and a sense of being left out.

These discomforts unsettle my soul and teach me.  “What’s learnin’ ya?” my teacher Angeles Arrien would say.  Well, I have learned a few things about these discomforts.  I have learned about my completely unconscious and automatic ability to turn away and become distracted from them.  I have also learned about the power of listening and turning towards the discomfort, pain or fear. I have learned that doing that, actually makes the discomfort less uncomfortable, less potent and more manageable.  When I see the turning, my soul looking, there is a too tall dark shadowy being and I am saying, “I see you.  I know you.  I hear you, you are there”.  The darkness gains a small bit of light, the shadow fades just a bit.  The discomfort and the barely acknowledged fear subside for that moment.

“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” ― Leonard Cohen, Selected Poems, 1956-1968

A lot of my life has been about turning away from all the discomfort and fear that has met me each day.  I am an expert at distracting myself, I think I am not alone in this.

The distractions are innumerable; for each and every disquieting thought, every discomfort, pain or fear, I dare say that there are at least 6 distractions and some aren’t even articulated. They just show up and I find myself somewhere else, not feeling what has caused me distress and that lasts maybe a second, maybe more, until I resurface in the land of discomfort again. In this country, I can distract myself again or turn and face it, stare it down, let it know I am not afraid of feeling the discomfort it brings. At least for that moment, I am not afraid, I am courageous.

As distractions go, they are often made up but seem very, very important and needing my attention. Needing me to turn to the story and/or drama that is much more urgently demanding of me, than the discomfort that I am afraid to face.

The White Queen in Alice and Wonderland was an expert at distractions:  “Alice laughed, “There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.” “I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Alice_a-dressing_the_White_Queen

Maybe she should be called the Queen of distraction.

I guess the complicated part here, is that some things we turn to are creative, and do need our attention.  The question is when do we do that and why, at that moment, is it appropriate timing?

Sarah Blondin has a way of speaking to my soul, deep and clear.

Listen to her PODCAST – EXPLORING THE WILDERNESS OF YOUR DISCOMFORT

 

The Chaos of Personal Change: An Unraveling

At first, things seem impossible…

This is not a how-to, this is just what has happened. Choices I have made, where I have been and what has happened.

This story started too many years ago but I will spare you and only go back to Dec 26, 2016, at about 9 am. As we started to make the bed and ready the room for the next Airbnb-er, my youngest adult daughter started to talk to me about how unhappy I seemed. The conversation continued at the Cerrito Grocery Annex with my eldest daughter joining us.  Both beautiful, with different versions of wondrous blue eyes–my daughters, spoke from an intrinsic beauty that is not about hair length, color or cut, not about clothing or make-up worn, how skinny or fat they are, or how pretty they are. They spoke to me from those hues of blue found in their loving souls, “Mom, you are so unhappy. You need to do something, don’t stay here for us.” Tears welled up from a place I had forgotten resided in me,”We hate seeing you so unhappy. We have seen how strong you are, how you’ve changed.  We want to feel inspired by you, you have lost yourself.” The inside pain informed me and I knew they were saying some things that were true.

Later that day, my eldest and I went shopping in SF and as I parked the car, I had a sense that my wallet was going to be stolen.  Though I heard that voice in my head, I did not act on my intuition. As the day went on, my wallet was in fact stolen. Pickpocketed from my purse which hung too loosely from my shoulder, in that casual, chic stupid way.  Panic shot up inside me like an explosion. My thoughts were like fireworks, shooting around about identity theft, mug shots of the hundreds of people who’d walked past me that day, and wondering why. Thinking of the poverty that lurks in every corner waiting to steal what it needed. Wishing that I had listened to that voice, going over and over what was in my wallet that I needed to replace. What was I forgetting?

My identity was stolen, my finances were at risk. I couldn’t help but miss the ironic meaning of this timing and intrusion into my life, into my psyche, into my soul.

As a good and proper adult would do, I went off to the DMV  first thing the next day to get a new license only to find out that there was a tie to my ex-husband I wasn’t aware of. After much hunting, and searching, I uncovered that there was a photo citation of a female, (supposedly me) driving through a red light in my ex’s truck from 3 years ago. But no one could show me the evidential photo. I ended up in the Wiley Manuel Walk in Court Jan. 3, at 8 am and by 11 am I found that the photo no longer existed. The citation was dismissed due to lack of evidence.  Identity returned with required searching and suffering.

Words like the victim being victimized came to mind. My wallet was stolen and I was treated like a perpetrator for a crime that was no fault of my own. I felt that I was working so hard to not be a victim in my life.  But here it was, official, in my face, undeniably the victim, twice, at least twice.

The conversation with the girls that morning had time to cool in my heart. The stolen wallet distraction was useful, allowing the thoughts and concerns from the talk to find a place inside where they could be attended to with care. Having let my girls down, feeling so exposed, still, aches in my gut and makes me teary. It is a good reminder of a responsibility  I hold for my daughters and my daughters’ daughters and their daughters. The responsibility to keep waking up, showing up and saying what is so (thinking respond-ability…yes I have been in California too long).  The girls became the agent of change I was needing. They spoke a truth I had to listen to. Another layer of unraveling since my divorce 8+ years ago was offering up an opportunity, or as I would joke with my sister-friend, another opportunity to experience pain.

I was not happy where I was living. Though beautiful with green all around, it was not right for me.  These truths were daunting.  But I knew I needed to sit with it knowing I wasn’t happy, knowing I didn’t want to live where I lived and knowing I had not one answer about what to do next.  Finally being pushed so far, I could not even consider forcing an answer, I could only sit with what I didn’t know.

At first, things seem impossible, then things seem improbable…then…