This post has been forming in my head for a while, but once again I didn’t want to share simply a frustrated vent. I’m committed to making my life, and this blog, more than that.
Thus, I didn’t write it for a while, until the thoughts were better formed, more expansive, and there was at least SOME sense of growth from the experience.
As it turns out, life is just full of growth experiences!
Recently, I had been feeling a bit blue about this tendency I was noticing in myself to keep repeating old habits and emotions. I mean silly, old, stupid shit that I thought I was done with and then suddenly, out of left field reared up again. I started feeling this deep sense of despair, as if the changes I thought I had been growing into were not real or would not be lasting.
I don’t usually feel very impacted by the end of the year holidays (“holidaze”) but this did all take place during the last two months of 2013.
SO – I sat in a funk for a while; knowing I was a different person now than pre-Mid-life Crisis, yet not able to find that person and just sitting with the “old me”. I didn’t like the feeling, yet I felt completely unable to call upon all of the tools I’ve learned over the years to be with and move through something. The depth of the despair would come and go and some days almost felt manageable, just like a low-level cold where you don’t really feel yourself and wonder when you’ll get better.
Don’t get me wrong, I was still pretty functional and from the outside I’m sure it looked like I had it all together; it always does…
I even got to a point where I felt like it had mostly passed, although I didn’t really feel any wiser for the time.
And all this time I could SEE what was happening; saw myself trapped in an old cycle, reacting in old ways, pouting a bit about it, and feeling like the victim in life. It was almost like I was watching an old movie I had seen hundreds of time before and I just sat and watched it.
Then, a dear friend posted a link on my Facebook page that made her think of me. And can I just say – don’t you LOVE it when friends think of you and they actually tell you that. Or something they see reminds them of you and they send that to you. I believe it is one of the easiest and potentially most touching things we can do for each other.
And that’s what happened. My friend Kanna posted this on my Facebook page from Tara Brach, who I consider one of my most resonating spiritual teachers.
”Each time you meet an old emotional pattern with presence, your awakening to truth can deepen. There’s less identification with the self in the story and more ability to rest in the awareness that is witnessing what’s happening. You become more able to abide in compassion, to remember and trust your true home. Rather than cycling repetitively through old conditioning, you are actually spiraling toward freedom.” – Tara Brach, from True Refuge
And sure enough, it was like the light bulb that went off in my head. THAT is what I had been going through; I WAS witnessing the whole process. I had almost felt like it was happening to someone else – or maybe I just wanted it to be happening to someone else… yeah, that’s probably more like it. But no, there I was, just me, myself, and I watching the old movies…witnessing.
The length of this funk had surprised me; generally they last a week or so at most and then I snap out of it. A couple of months felt like a complete set back and like I had lost myself in the process. Thus the despair and thus the feeling of hopelessness, like none of the work I had done was worth it. (My heart knows better than this, but my head was playing ALL sorts of tricks on me…)
At any rate, these wise words helped me to finally see the benefit in, or least the understanding that was possible from, the whole process. Since seeing this light at the end of the tunnel I can honestly say that I AM feeling more compassion and find my residing in calm abiding (as the Buddhists like to say) more frequently. This in turn has made me radically more able to offer this to others, which is the biggest external benefit of any spiritual practice as far as I can tell.
I’m also reminded of the Rumi poem that I love to quote and then sometimes forget to remember. Paraphrasing badly: ‘let in every guest that comes to our house; they ALL have something to offer and teach us!’
So here’s to old emotional patterns and bad habits. Welcome to my life’s path – I hope you enjoy the ride! J
Love. Love. Love.