Our Power Isn’t in Our Ability to Fight

What’s great about being pregnant is that my raging hormones have amplified some neglected feelings. Maybe I’m just using the pregnancy as a push to actually deal with some ignored issues. Exaggeration is often the universe providing opportunities to reflect on what’s really beneath the surface.

I really have a problem with control, perfectionism, and anger.

I read today: “It’s letting go of the need for control and realizing that, whatever happens, we will be ok!”

Did we ever get that message when we were young? Or for that matter, even now as adults? Not really.

Lots of times we are rescued by mommy and daddy, food, booze, sex, entertainment, or pills. Most of the time we have external things push in and fix everything before we ever have time to figure anything out, let alone decipher our true feelings about the situation. We need time to sit and actually FEEL.

I’ve been afraid to feel the hate, anger, rage that I’ve held on to for so long – perhaps the knots in my body are daily proof of the burden I carry, proof that I can’t let go.

I don’t know how I’ve developed this need for perfection. Perhaps it is in all the ways we are schooled by the non-stop media, by institutions like grade school and church, or by the social communities and those values they promote as acceptable.

Lately, I’ve tried controlling people, outcomes, parenting styles- even my son’s birth- everything has to be just so. But I’ve tired of this reality. Is it that hard to break free of the ubiquitous message that perfect is perfectly attainable?

I think so because we never get the message that NO MATTER WHAT, WE ARE CAPABLE! Why would we buy things if we are full, complete people?

This seems the root of many resentments and dissatisfactions: We can’t go to war with our own feelings, but we constantly try.

Yet, we are capable to sit with the crushing feelings of perhaps a child’s death or not being able to conceive a child ever. I don’t say this lightly or say that it’s at all effortless. But we think the way to prepare ourselves for bad things is the same way we prepare for a hurricane- board up all the vulnerable places and place sandbags to block flooding.

But what if we can accept it, confront it, actually feel the pain – sit with it- cry our eyes out- wither in our soul with it – and then find a shred of peace, knowing we can’t fight life and all the sad, depressing, anguishing moments that come with it. Can we ever truly fight our feelings?

I’ve been a little emotional baby. I’ve cried, squirmed, and fought with my whole body not to feel the “bad.” I can’t seem to articulate all this anger.

But I’m worried this stagnation also affects feelings of joy, happiness, and optimism.

Does holding onto the bad suppress the good?

I think so. I miss my joyful, lighthearted, laughing soul.

There’s something that feels unsafe when I let go of the anger and resentment. Will I forget the stupid mistakes? Will I forget how I’ve hurt others? Will I forget how they hurt me?

Letting go means not having control, not being perfect, not being protected from criticism and judgment. It also means opening to actually feeling, actually undergoing the experience of unpleasantness.

I’m scared to be vulnerable. I’m scared something bad will happen. It already has several times in my life easy life. Have I clung to those bad things, not truly letting those feelings break in?

Those troublesome situations crushed my soul. They left me feeling alone, scared, and incapable – fearful of circumstances and people. Those hard times undermined my confidence. Bad things do happen to good people.

Things happen- why do we have to label them good or bad? We think they’re bad when we are right in the middle of them, but then later, with better clarity, we may see they taught us something, they made us who we are today. And I really despise that cliche line, but do we truly let that idea sink in and believe or do we just chalk it up to some silly self-help phrase? Isn’t it interesting that we do hear all these positive remarks just as much as the fearful, negative ones, but only the negatives stick?

I know this all sounds very zen and therapeutic, but I am not ashamed. I need to hear the message of capability, I need to embrace it, to feel it, and ultimately, to live it.

I need to imprint these on my soul:

•Perfection may simply be translated into it’s ok to be a work in progress.

•We are resilient. We are capable of living a joyful life after tragedy. We can’t prevent horrible things from coming. While we will be forever changed, we deserve to feel joy even after these things happen- without the pressure on ourselves to live with grief and regret daily.

•We don’t have to make ourselves continually pay for hardships or mistakes of the past. We can sit with horrible feelings and not have to be stuck.

Some of us think pain is a badge of honor, a big statement to ourselves and the world that yes, we know something horrible happened or we did something stupid and we will never forget it.

We think we have to keep rolling that huge rock up that hill only to be destined to trip and fall and have to start the uphill battle all over again in the morning. We wear our anger, rage, resentment, regret, grief as proof that we know we were wrong, flagellating ourselves like slaves, hoping this is the way to purge ourselves of this pain.

Where have we learned this masochism is the path to freedom?

Are we so fearful of not paying the debt, that we will forget this pain and suffer it again, that we force revenge on ourselves for playing a part in these negative situations or just making a stupid mistake? Aren’t we really just choosing one type of suffering over another? But at least we are feeling something when we make ourselves suffer. We are feeling. It feels resolute; therefore, it feels like we are processing our vulnerabilities. But are we really?

Or maybe it feels like we are outwardly crucifying ourselves so that other people will recognize we know we made a mistake. Then, we can feel a little better because now someone has judged us, told us how pathetic we are, following right down the path that when we make mistakes or get caught in a bad situation or something terrible happens to us, we deserve ridicule and contempt. Is this what we have been taught as the way to pay our debt for not being perfect? Puritanism at its best.

This makes me think of the Sept. 11th catch phrase- “We will never forget.” It’s ambiguous for a reason. We may think this slogan means we will never forget those who died. Or we might think it means will will never forget what you did to us.

Or maybe it’s there to remind us that some days we will forget what happened, we will begin to move forward, and that we can’t depend on our feelings since they fade. We must remember that commitment to our anger, rage, and hate so that we will make those people pay or ourselves suffer. We must remember in order to not forget.

Maybe there’s a mixture of vengeance and survivors guilt in all of our actions that infects our day-to-day life.

I seem to have a combination of these. I seem to think I must sear these into my soul. We have to burn these into our beings so we won’t forget and this not forgetting is a daily payment plan that we gladly accept since it allows us to appear like we learned better and are living a better life.

If we live in a society that holds these warring ideals acceptable, think about how hard it makes it to truly forgive others or ourselves when we are surrounded by enforcements and self-directives to never forget.  How does this affect our emotional processing, and our accountability to our human selves to feel joy?

At what cost does this reality do damage to ourselves and our larger community? Living in a country with high depression rates, how do these ideas impede our mental stability and emotional connectedness?

“It helps when we remember: Our power isn’t in our ability to fight life. It’s recognizing when we don’t have to struggle.”

It’s ok to be a work in progress. We are resilient. We are capable of living a joyful life after tragedy. We don’t have to make ourselves continually pay for hardships or mistakes of the past.

It’s ok to be a work in progress. We are resilient. We are capable of living a joyful life after tragedy. We don’t have to make ourselves continually pay for hardships or mistakes of the past.

It’s ok to be a work in progress. We are resilient. We are capable of living a joyful life after tragedy. We don’t have to make ourselves continually pay for hardships or mistakes of the past.

I’m making these ideals part of the world I build around my family and myself. So be it.

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