Letting go of outcomes

When

There is a profound passage in the Indian spiritual text the Bhagavad Gita that says “you have power over your actions but not the fruits of your actions.”    Tonight I have been also thinking of Steps One and Two of the 12 steps in AA   (1) We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol (or others) and  (2) Came to believe in a power greater than us (or our limited will).

It is interesting that the planet of will, desire and action, Mars is very close to a conjunction or meeting with the powerful planet Pluto at the moment.  Mars is at 19 degrees of Capricorn and Pluto at 21 and today the Moon in Cancer opposed both planets around the time I met with my brother.   I have been thinking tonight that I must admit the limits of my power over others.  I had an experience of connecting with someone who led me to believe we had the chance of a relationship but when I admitted my fear of being left and my need for quiet time as a sensitive person he broke contact and it hurt me deeply last night.  But I also know I was honest and real about my limits and scars and he could not meet me in that place and reassure me, he wanted something else I could not give.  I let him know two sisters had attempted suicide when their husbands left them and that was the end of any connection.

I had power over my action of telling him the truth and no power over the fruit of my actions.  I am in a similar space with trying to deal with what is happening for my older sister right now.  I don’t have the will to call her and have to hear all the confusion inside her.  I have spent at least 12 calls over past months staying on the phone with her for up to an hour and a half each time, just being with her and trying to connect, to give her encouragement to embrace life and move foward.  I offered to make dinner, I offered to take her to a movie and other things but she was not interested.    I did not call this week, after the call she made to tell me a friend’s wife is dying of terminal cancer.   I could not breathe well during that conversation and felt at the limit of my tolerance and my good mood was destroyed by the news for that night.  I know it might sound resistant but at times it all gets too much, all the illness, suffering and pain, all the loss and emptiness and endings.   They just dont seem to stop and I felt I needed time out so I just let go.  And tonight I realised that is what I have to do with the relationship promise offered and then withdrawn,  for now I have to accept I am on my own.

I have been praying to my dead relatives alot today. After dinner was finished I just sat and cried and admitted how scared I feel and helpless, powerless really.  But in the 12 step programme powerlessness is not the ending, we do in step 2 and 3 come to believe there may be another force at work (an underground force) that may have different intentions for us than the ones we wish for or choose.  It may be that we have to let go of something we really want, long for or treasure and there may be no way around it.  There may be a time we come to realise we have done all we can and the outcome is now out of our hands.  That is how I am feeling tonight.  Over the next few days as Mars meets up with Pluto in the sign of Capricorn which is about perseverence while crossing a stony landscape I will just hold myself in the intentional mindset of letting go and surrender, not in a hopeless way but in one that accepts that so much happens in life I have no control over.  I know when I try to control outcomes that are out of my hands I end up in insanity.  I will only go crazy or end up hurting myself or others more if I try to control what I am powerless over.  There are other things I do have some power over, how I react and what I expect from a frustrating situation.  I can choose to let go or take another healthier course of action.

After you left

Shine

After you left My heart it broke it two But also there was relief As my darling I knew then your spirit had flown free From this place of suffering

My darling sis You were so beautiful and so strong But stubborn too It was not always easy to love you But the love you had in your heart And your kindness to others Well it just shone through

Today I found a card you scrawled in the illegible hand of the brain injured Expressing your love for your caregiver Annette I had a smile As I thought of how strong and positive you were Despite all of your heartbreak and loss

I thought of you too as I watched those later leaves clinging to the branches of the tree Not yet ready to fly free I remembered that last night time vigil by your bed on Easter Saturday As you lay in a coma and I held your hand

Please don’t leave me I cried And then If you must go please go free

In the movie A Monster calls The truth demanded of Colin when his mother is dying Is just this For him to cry out his words of protest and admit his vulnerablity at an inescapable fate rather than defend against the pain with anger

So it is when those we love are torn from us As much as we wish we could hold on Or turn back time In the end all we can do is surrender and open our hearts to the grief that comes As the spirit of the one we love leaves its earthly bond bodily home And finally flies free without us

Really really gone

Vista.jpg

When the one you love has gone

There is no longer a spirit at home in that body

Hands have grown cold

And the heart that used to beat love’s blood

Is deathly still and silent

As the lifeless corpse greets us

Or is hidden in a box

Shielding from us

Such a stark and painful reality

Blocking the full onslaught of our grieving

And if you think about it

Is not our grief

Just another kind of shedding?

From the cold body

Spirit has taken wing

Flown off to nether regions

Like breath that is surrendered

Becomes the air

And wind

And rain

Around us

Last night

I felt your spirit in the thunderstorm

That brought relief after weeks of dry heat

In a dessicated place

The deep hole left by your absence

Slowly filled

Becoming a pool of tears

This is where I sit now

As images and memories of you

Rise from the depth of it

To the surface

My heart opens wider

To encompass painful realities

Of how sometimes

Life with you hurt

And I realise

You are really really gone

And yet too

As long as my heart beats

And my eyes see

Even inwardly in imagination

Your essence still

Lives on

Giving Back Responsibility to Others

For the good guy, taking responsibility for other’s emotions, well being, finances, etc., is a way of breathing.  This comes from a deep seated belief that he can only call himself a good guy if he is always being there, being present, being attendant to the needs, desires and happiness of others.  Changing this belief is vital.

Beliefs change slowly over time due to experimentation with an alternate belief.  Generally speaking, the belief that we are not, and indeed, cannot be responsible for others comes slowly due to the lifelong bargain with trying to take responsibility for others.  Eventually the body and mind begin to scream their exhaustion and the person begins to listen.  When that happens the person might be willing to begin to experiment by deliberately choosing to give responsibility for other’s lives back to them.

But if we implement a practice meant to lead to a process, perhaps we won’t have to wait to get to exhaustion before we can yield the floor of responsiblity for someone else’s life to them.  Therefore, the practice goes something like this.  Every time you find yourself worrying about someone else’s stuff, you say to yourself, “I’m giving that back to them for them to carry.  It does not belong to me.”  Every time you feel guilty for saying no, for thinking no, you say to yourself, “I’m giving that back to them to carry.  It does not belong to me.”  Every time you realize that you are carrying someone else’s stuff you say to yourself, “I’m giving that back to them to carry.  It does not belong to me.”  In this way you are training your mind to accept the belief that it is not possible for you to be responsible for someone else’s life.  You may also come to understand and therefore believe that when you take over someone else’s responsibility, you are actually robbing them of one of life’s most precious jewels – for it is in taking responsibility for our lives that we give ourselves permission to become whole.  As you practice this more and more over time, it begins to become a process in which you recognise immediately when you have taken on someone else’s stuff and you surrender it willingly to them as a precious gift of love.

Creating Boundaries

The practice of ceating boundaries starts internally.  First you recognise that you are doing something or engaging in something that is not authentic for you.  Then you can decide where to put the boundaries so that you can stop betraying yourself by violating your own boundaries.  So many times we think that we put up boundaries to keep others out. But actually, we put up boundaries to keep ourselves in – within our own bodies, our own authentic life structure, our own power to respond, and our own personal responsibility.

The practice of creating boundaries begins by checking our energy levels, desires, passions, and compassions against our patterns of behaviour.  When the thought of doing something for someone makes us feel a deep sense of exhaustion or tiredness, that is a signal from the Self to say no to doing that thing.  When being around a particular person trains our energy, that is a signal from the Self to stop being around that person.  When we are asked to do something but our compassion is not in it, that is a signal to say no to doing that thing.  When we are charged with a job that we have no passion or desire to do, that is time to delegate that task or to talk to our boss about reassigning it.

Making these kinds of decisions on a regular basis means that we develop a process of being led by the internal messaging system rather than by the shoulds, have-tos, ought-tos, obligations, and loyalties of the culture, family, or social agenda in which we hapen to lve.  This procss is genuine and it offers the potential of manifesting an authentic life.

Andrea Mathews : Letting Go of Good : Dispel the Myth of Goodness to Find Your Genuine Self.

Its not easy for me to take on board the advice above.  I read this out to my therapist today in session and she clapped her hands, she told me it is what she is hoping that we are working towards in therapy.  It seems in my family I have always placed myself in the position of emotional caretaker.  I did it with my older sister who died and then with my Mum and now at times it could also happen with my sister who is the only one remaining here in my home town following my mother’s death and is struggling with depression.  I just know as much as I love her I cannot take on board her suffering as mine.  I feel for her, I try to ring her every second day but more than that I cannot do and I have finally made the tough decision that I will no longer sacrifice my life in caring when that care goes down a drain of endless sadness.

Believe me I know how much suffering there can be in life.  I see how much we live as a culture divorced from deeper values of self care and care for the feminine as well as the natural environment, but I also know that its up to each of us at some point to make a strong choice for solid values to invest our energy and time in.   I cannot live for another person.  I can feel for their problems but often I am powerless to do more than just care and over caring when it drains me leaves me in an empty place.

Today I was thinking of the line from a poem of T S Eliot “teach us to care and not to care”.  I dont know if I can ever ‘not care’ but I can detach to a degree with love.   I can make an active choice to say that I am human and this is my limit over which I cannot cross.  It doesn’t mean I am abandoning you, I am here if you want help and will take the steps to help yourself but if not, there is no more I can do.  I watched my Mum overcaring at times and struggling to keep her boundaries and failing at times.  Often she was punished by my older sister for that care.   I dont want to travel down the same road so my new years resolution is to care for me, and my dog this year.   I know I am now an adult enough to do it.  And its not anyone else’s job.  If you care for me that is wonderful and I am so grateful but care is only a given and cannot in the end be demanded.   I am going this year to work to take the advice of Andrea Mathews which I quoted above.

Taking responsiblity for other people’s feelings is often learned in a childhood in which the parent’s needs came first and/or took priority.  We learned it wasnt okay to have needs and desires of our own.  We end up not knowing what we want and need or feeling guilty if we do want or need what runs counter to other’s wants and needs. We then suffer anxiety if we dont think of others all the time.  We then learn to chronically self abandon.  It may be a long road to learn to know, value and champion our own needs but if we want to regain our emotional help we must learn this, or else we will suffer much anxiety and depression in our lives.

Making our lives harder : the value of simplicity

I look at the way our world is becoming more stressful and complex and breathe a huge sigh at times.  Just going to my local shopping centre over the past week has been a concern.  People are in a frenzy of buying.  Why?   In Australia over a billion dollars will be spent on Christmas tat while homelessness increases.  What if every family or person just donated 10 percent of what they are spending to those in need?    Its crazy!

I watched what my mother went through in the hospital too, just before her death.  They were jabbing her endlessly with needles and her poor flesh was all bruised.  Medical intervention helps to a point but what if that prevention is adding to the stress and lowering immune response and health.

Today I started the day pottering quietly in my garden in order to be close to the breeze and soft green leaves.  Here I could draw close to my dead Mum.  I had the hankering for a coffee so went out and got it then a lovely quiche for lunch which I came home and had with a nutritious salad.  I thrive on salads in summer as well as half an avocado.  Good nutrition is also something that works best when we keep it simple.

I am also glad to be back to AA meetings surrounded by slogans such as Easy Does It.   Simplifying life may be going against the flow of how things are these days in an exceedingly complex and highly driven world but its the only thing that makes sense to me lately.  How well we are present, how soft and kind we are towards what warrants that softness and kindness is surely more important than running round and round in circles trying to amass more of things that only leave us feeling emptier, tireder and more frazzled.   Surely at this time on the planet more of us can wake up to this fact and just learn to keep life simple and take things easier.  How much more of our busyness and over consumption can the planet handle?

All in the past : a prayer

Flying with Birds

Dear Higher Power and Higher Larger Self, you see all and know all of me.  You know all of my past pain, you know my body remembers, you know what a torment past pain can be.  Help me remember that today is today.  It is a new day.  I do not have to carry that past pain with me all the time.  Surely there has been so much that has happened to us all that would cause us to break down weeping and never get up, but surely all of that is now in the past.  Please I would love a life that is free, one in which I could be lighter, one in which suffering would not endlessly weigh me down.   Please help me today to celebrate what is good and healthy and beneficial and hopeful in this day.  Help me to open and keep reaching out and to keep love in my heart.  Let me be soft with old pain but dont let it hold onto me for too long.  Today Higher Power set me free to live and learn and love again.

Being sad and not sad, moving on from grief.

A post from Friday I didn’t post then :

After a tough morning (inside my mind with all kinds of thoughts revolving) I went down to sit in the sun at our local fruit and veggie market and read the final chapter of my novel  This Must Be the Place, by Maggie O’Farrell.  I have been lingering with it for over a month now as I love it the story so much, ending it will be like losing a good friend or heart companion.

The story encompasses all kinds of emotional themes that really resonate for me, and the following excerpt really put into words something I could not fully articulate with my brother last week when he told me Dad’s death was so long ago now it should not be an issue any more.   I share this kind of stuff more for me but since others may struggle in similar ways I hope it speaks to some of you too.

In the novel (spoiler alert, stop reading here if you want to read the book) there is a death that takes place and the threads leading to it are multifaceted and complex.  Guilt is involved, earned or unearned for the central character, Daniel who was the father of Phoebe, Niall was her brother.  Anyway here it is :

“Can Niall come, like last time?” asked Marithe.

“We can ask him.  I’m sure he’ll come if he’s not busy.”  I go over to the sofa and take her by the hand.  “Come on sweetheart.  Time for Bed.  I think.”

Marithe stumbles to standing position, leaning on my arm as we move up the stairs.  “Does Niall still live with you?” She asks.

“Not any more.  He has his own place now.”

“Have I been there”

“No.”

“Can we go?”

“Sure.”

At the bathroom door, she turns to look at me.  “Is he still sad?”  she asks.

I reach out my hand to brush the hair off her face.  “Niall is a lot better.  You musn’t worry about him.  It’s nice that you do but Niall is OK.”

My daughter looks me in the eye and says devastatingly, “Are you still sad?”

I swallow.  “Am I still sad…. about …. Phoebe?”

She frowns, concerned and nods.  And I look at her, this perfect being, her skin so vital, so pale that you can see the life blood coursing beneath it.  I am besest by twin sensations: that I am luck, the luckiest man in the world, to have this daughter, these children, and that I would kill, main, destroy any person who tried to harm them.

“I will always be sad about Phoebe,” I say with an effort to keep my voice even, “and so will Niall.  But what happens is that after a few years, you slowly realise its OK to be happy too.”

She looks at me for a moment longer, as if checking the veracity of this idea.  Then she turns and goes…..

End of extract

Grief is part of us, it seems to me.  Those who find later happiness may have more protection and insulation against being permanently beseiged by the ghosts of lingering grief and loss, something arrives to take the full on agony away a little or provide some kind of relief.  Others of us fall down into a deep well and it takes longer to touch base with our grief and move foward, realising the longing for full engagement in a life left by the loved one .

For some of us being happy again may feel like an abandonment or a betrayal, but really I guess in the end it is a saying that in the end the life we are left with has value and that who ever we have loved and lost still lives on in our hearts, forever.   There may be times we cry, times we are grateful we knew them, we may rue the day, if that ‘someone’ was a someone who hurt us deeply, but maybe even then we learned lessons, and realised after a time we deserved happiness and that that happiness it could co-exist with the sadness, nostalgia or melancholy that we sometimes still feel on the darker days.