I just heard Pema Chodron tell an audience of listeners that she lives with chronic pain. Her words were so very cleansing. She said, “At first there were no reference points. It was completely groundless.Pain posed a major threat and undesirable emotions came with it.”
Fascinating. I have undesirable emotions too. Ongoing for months, maybe years. I recently discovered one emotion that had been lingering around, pulling me down. How it came to be at the root of most of my suffering was not so obvious or easy to see.
My daughters used to ask me why I was napping in the afternoon. They didn’t want to hear that I awoke in pain well before sunrise or that I carried it on until I could rest. Not only was it undesirable to hear that I was in pain, it was even more undesirable if I was expected to drive them somewhere or do their laundry and plans changed. What they heard was that I would not. What was true is that I could not. That was much harder to grasp for them. I understand now looking back.
The hot breath from their father (my ex) these past months just might fill a hot air balloon sailing to the moon. Shaming me for not managing pain better and for not performing above my physical limitations is like hearing someone whose angry about clouds in the sky. I’ve been yelled at for needing to heal. Imagine that.
Undesirable emotions and misunderstandings of others placed upon the reality I am living matters not so much. I know this territory better and the complaints that entangled me before don’t touch me now. I live with physical pain, but my life has less and less suffering in it without carrying guilt that belongs not to me. The wonder of my body doing what it does daily, and how far it has come through endless sleepless nights, nudged awake to walk in the dark has been well worth the while. The irony makes me smile.
I let me be.
Expectations are often at the root of many problems. It need not be so.
Think about it. If we didn’t have expectations of people and situations we’d never have cause to be upset about anything. We expect our friends are going to show up for lunch, that the business contract we signed will come to fruition and that no one will cut us off in traffic. But truly, we can have all the expectations we want of people; it doesn’t mean we’re going to get what we want — even if they promised.
Every person is doing the best they can from their current point of view and level of consciousness. Measuring others against our personal yardsticks is never productive because other people don’t think or have the same beliefs we do. When we impose our beliefs on others, the result is pain and suffering on both sides.
I hear others say that we have to have expectations or no one will do anything. However, think about this for a minute. When we say that we’re making an assumption, without a contractual arrangement, whether it’s verbal or written, people won’t be inspired to follow through on their own word. If we need the threat of retribution to force people to do what they’ve promised, this means we’re not a very responsible bunch. However, if we are impeccable with our word, we will do our best to follow through with what we’ve said and not create pain and suffering in others. (By impeccable, I mean speaking without going against ourselves or the intent to do wrong.)
We live happily and most successfully when we all operate from wanting to do our best because we enjoy doing so and it makes our heart sing — as opposed to being under the whip of a feisty belief system filled with expectations telling us we must perform in a certain way to be good enough. In one case we are living the will of the Creator moving through us; in the other, we are living the will of our domesticated mind. One way of living is fulfilling and limitless, and the other is limiting, controlling and rigid.
Rita Rivera and Meghan McChesney-Gilroy, co-creators of Life Mastery, share this powerful advice: “When life doesn’t meet your expectations, be aware of your emotional reaction and the way your physical body feels in the moment. Imposing our expectations on others and/or ourselves can only lead to disappointment. We experience disappointment as an uncomfortable and disturbing sensation within our bodies which steals our happiness and sense of inner well being. Suddenly our quality of life is altered because we believed our expectations about the way someone or something “should” or “should not” be. In fact, becoming aware of when we use the words “should” or “should not” in our internal dialogue is a great indicator that we’re about to set ourselves up for pain and suffering.
Whatever the situation: It’s not about us. People do what they are going to do and it isn’t always what we want, wish or hope for. If we could just remember this one statement, we could be happy for the rest of our lives. Let’s forgive others for their side of the situation and forgive ourselves for imposing our beliefs, values or meanings on them, for not understanding and for using their actions (or lack thereof) to get ourselves upset.
Bonus remix: choose your mind and respect your self and others on the path. Some will promise with words and not act upon it — that’s what they offer.
Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been thinking about how I can add enjoyable activities to my days to help me feel more alive or more relaxed, happier and healthier overall. Life is not just about a “to do” list of tasks or activities; it’s the bigger picture. It’s about nourishing and honoring myself.
Listening to my needs is becoming more of a barometer for living my life. So things have improved. (insert a wink) Some days my body yearns for more rest, yet I drag it out there and perform what I will regardless of how little rest I have had. I spend a lot of energy trying not to dwell on lost sleep and its affects.
I stopped doing that; now I embrace it.
Just laying there, while my body is screaming, makes my body scream all the louder. I’ve learned how pain makes you move. I’ve recently learned how to gently remind myself that I need to stay physically active to relieve anxiety.
It feels like there is a bolt in my left shoulder, and every time I move my left arm the bolt screams. I tried not using my left arm for several months which imposed interesting limitations. I’ve never navigated these waters before. I’m a virgin.
Sometimes, at the end of the day, my energy level is much more than completely spent. Pain demands your energy, like a newborn infant that cannot be satisfied or sleep. Lately I’ve noticed that my body yearns for a delicious home cooked meal and intelligent conversation. My usual habit is to cook for my children and I, then Twitter or read. I just noticed that I want/need more. I spoke to Lynette last night about these interesting moments. So good for my soul.
Obviously, I’m working on listening to my wants and my needs and relinquishing the shoulds, mine and other’s too. It’s a continual process. I’m listening from the forefront of self-care, recognizing that I need replenished. And it’s not an annual thing nor a want, like a vacation. It’s a frequent need, like a thirst for water. My life coach gets what so many others can’t. I love him for riding out the waves on days I feel quite beside myself.
And for today, I remember that all I need to do is listen to me.
Something is calling me, and it’s me.
Not everyone wants to know your interior, especially if it’s in turmoil.
I’m in pain and I can’t put a lid on it even if others wish that I would. And good God, so many people wish I was my former self.
I’ve spent nearly a year learning how to cope with chronic pain and degenerative spinal issues without pain killers. (Wait, I have had 16 vicodin — it helped me decide just to wing it) It’s been a year of bone spurs and slipped disks. The changes this last year have been significantly humbling. At my core I
think know these changes are deeply profound no matter how completely annoyed impatient I am — I know how impatient others are with me at times too. This is worse than the physical pain I tell you.
My body doesn’t work the same. My left arm is completely useless some days. I just met a nice lady named Carol from Durango Colorado who has the same problem though it affects her right arm. I met her last Saturday. We laughed and cried for an hour.
Isn’t it awesome how some people can help you feel good about the truth.
It may be months until I regain the ability to reach for a door knob with my left arm without feeling like collapsing over the pain. I’m willing to wait and trust chiropractic care depending on how long I can afford it. Six to twelve months longer seems like a real fucking stretch. I just might be more raw than I am right now, then.
There are no easy answers. It’s really hard to put a lid on pain or pretend it isn’t happening. I tried that. My kids just read my face as angry. Wait, maybe I am angry. Yep, that’s a part of this whole thing too.
It’s true. There are plenty of days I struggle with feelings of fear, anger and doubt. I took so many things for granted; like keyboarding, washing dishes, and folding laundry, and sleeping all night too. Also, it’s really messed up when you pay someone to do your job, to take ‘your place.’
I am completely self-absorbed at times. I cry a lot. It’s better than pain medication. I’d rather feel it all than to be knocked out. The option to drive a car and take care of other regular stuff is not an option at times. You know?
Mostly I love talking with those who’ve walked in the same trenches. There’s only a handful of people in the whole world that I’ve come to know who completely get it. But no one more than Carol from Durango.
Seems my move to Colorado last summer made perfect sense before I even knew it. Total badassery.
With love to Jen! “It shocks me how I wish for…what is lost and cannot come back.” ―Sue Monk Kidd
“They call it the “quarter-life crisis.” It is when you stop going along with the crowd and start realizing that there are many things about yourself that you didn’t know and may not like. You start feeling insecure and wonder where you will be in a year or two, but then get scared because you barely know where you are now. You start realizing that people are selfish and that, maybe, those friends that you thought you were so close to aren’t exactly the greatest people you have ever met, and the people you have lost touch with are some of the most important ones. What you don’t recognize is that they are realizing that too, and aren’t really cold, catty, mean, or insincere, but that they are just as confused as you.
You look at your job … and it is not even close to what you thought you would be doing, or maybe you are looking for a job and realizing you are going to have to start at the bottom and that scares you. Your opinions have gotten stronger. You see what others are doing and find yourself judging more than usual because you suddenly realize that you have certain boundaries in your life and are constantly adding things to your list of what is acceptable and what isn’t. One minute, you are insecure and then the next, secure. You laugh and cry with the greatest force of your life. You feel alone and scared and confused. Suddenly, change is the enemy and you try and cling on to the past for dear life, but soon realize that the past is drifting further and further away, and there is nothing to do but stay where you are or move forward.
You get your heart broken and wonder how someone you loved could do such damage to you. Or you lie in bed and wonder why you can’t meet anyone decent enough that you want to get to know better. Getting wasted and acting like an idiot starts to look pathetic. You go through the same emotions and questions over and over because you cannot seem to make a decision. You worry about loans, money, the future, and making a life for yourself … and while winning the race would be great, right now you’d just like to be a contender. What you may not realize is that everyone reading this relates to it. We are in our best of times and our worst of times, trying as hard as we can to figure this whole thing out. And really, this is an acknowledgment that you are not alone in this.” It’s all part of the glorious rollercoaster of life Bill Hicks talks about.
There are just as many dark hours as there are sunny hours, and by the time you’ve reached fifty, I kind of like to think it’s the sunny hours that you think of the most.
Have you ever tried to convey a thought or an experience with someone, and you can tell that they did not comprehend what you said? You know, because they responded with a conclusion or assumption that had little to do with what you communicated. Have you ever wondered how it happens? Until now I’ve only considered these instances had something to do with inexperience, poor listening, disinterest, rudeness, manipulation, or other such things.
Listening to a Terence McKenna talk, (The Tree of Knowledge) and he tells how it is that the ego sometimes communicates in a manner that goes like this:
I have a thought, I look into a culturally sanctioned dictionary which I have copied into my head, I translate the thought into an acoustical signal using my mouth. Which moves across space which answers your ears. You rush to your interior dictionary and you construct my meaning out of your dictionary. Now notice this process of communication rests on a shaky assumption; it rests on the assumption that your dictionary and my dictionary were published by the same folks in the same year. If your dictionary is different than my dictionary you will not correctly construct my meaning and we will have what we call misunderstanding.
It’s the most bring down thing, because you realize the communication is very provisional. The amount of noise in the the circuit is huge.
BONUS: Most people think that telepathy is seeing what another person is thinking, it’s not. Telepathy is the ability to see the meaning of what another person says, it’s a unifying language. That’s what a telepath is.
I have cat naps. It has been this way since I became a mother and began to realize it was essential that I carve out time for myself. It’s been this way since I began working with others in different time zones. I do upside down hours all of the time. It began nearly twenty-seven years ago.
Among all of the things I love, I love living up to my own beliefs about life and how it is so that I keep my own flame lit.