Always in Transition
I am, once again, backing away from my family for my own sanity—not to mention legal liability. I know way more than I care to. I have a brother that drives a city bus for a living, who has already had a heart attack, and still drinks, smokes and eats everything he wants. If he has an attack on the job and lawyers call me regarding if I knew he had had a heart attack, I will not lie for my family’s protection. I will not volunteer the information, but neither will I withhold it.
When Barry passed, I saw it as an opportunity to “get back into life” and participate in family functions. I went to Florida to visit my parents. I started attending get-togethers at my brother’s place. I had bowed out of the family because of dysfunction and not wanting to watch my brothers self-destruct. Then Barry got sick and I could not participate even had I wanted to. Taking care of him was all-consuming. I desperately wanted to get back into the flow of the real world and not feel so isolated. Seeing other humans felt really good at first.
But very slowly, I started feeling the same old feelings. Being patronized. No safe topics of conversation. Witnessing destruction and being expected to say nothing. And now there is a new generation heading down the same damaging path. I was right back to being the baby in the family. That shit got old thirty years ago. I was right back to having zilch emotional energy. If insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, my family should have been institutionalized generations ago. Actions that had small consequences thirty years ago are now causing immediate devastation. Like the Celine Dion song said, “It’s all coming back to me.”
The difference today? I’m in my fifties. And I am in a massive stage of transition. I am going from being a wife of almost thirty years to being a single woman. I still wear my wedding ring. I call it my “creep repellant.” Any guy that would hit on a woman with a wedding band is not worth talking to. No desire to date. Can’t even imagine it.
Reading the latest issue of Buddhdharma, there is an article called “Packed and Ready for Whatever’s Next” by Tenzing Wangyal Rinpoche. It is about phowa, a practice of transference of consciousness upon the moment of death. The gist of the article is that everyday has opportunities of transition to practice letting go of something, even just walking into a room.
Here’s the paragraph that really impacted me:
“Often, at times of transition, we behave without awareness. We behave with condition, with pain, with fear. We feel we don’t have a choice. Just knowing we do have a choice can make all the difference. We practice not doing, not saying, not thinking…. Once we have calmed down, we find a new space from which can do and say and think, and what we do and what we say might be different from what we originally would have said or done. One thing that we want to be able to see clearly and to say to ourselves is, “If it’s not good I will not make it worse.” Leave it as it is.” [emphasis mine]
My question: When are we ever not in a state of transition? As individuals, our lives are in a continuous state of flux., like it or not. As a nation, we are transitioning from a more predictable state of politics to one of inciting hatred and violating every imaginable norm and calling that “normal.” Everything changes all the time. That’s what is actually normal.
Problems occur when we try to prevent change. Flow is normal and healthy. It’s when something stops the flow (stagnates) that danger soon ensues. Pretending it is still 1985 is not good. Pretending you are young and healthy when the exact opposite is true is not good. Sitting is the new smoking. Non-movement is far riskier than movement. And while we are not changing, the world goes on without us. We get left behind. I saw that happen when I was a Protestant. When I got out of that world, I was shocked at how far behind I had fallen in terms of intelligence and awareness of the world at large. I had not changed. The world had. Getting left behind is very painful.
And now I am trying to “leave it as it is.” My awareness level has increased. I want to participate with less fear and conditioning, if I do participate. If I re-enter that world, I will do so on my terms or not at all. Just like the lesson I learned while dealing with Barry, if I am exhausted and sick, I have nothing to offer anyone. Self-care is the ultimate lesson. To deal with transitions, we all need some reserves. I am building mine up again.