Loss and Gain; Death and Life

Today, as yesterday, I am struggling.

Well… there’s no point only writing about what works, is there? The value is only there if we can openly discuss what doesn’t work, too. Isn’t it?

I think so.

So today, I am struggling.

As I did yesterday.

For personal reasons that I have gone into before and do not wish to go into again, I feel despondent. I am sitting on the edge of my bed, my baby climbing small-gorilla-like around his cot making happy noises, and I am torn between two courses of action: curl up on my bed in a foetal position, close my eyes and hope it all goes away, or try to find a way out of this quagmire.

Hiding is no longer an option – it feels too self-indulgent – so I turn to the books in my ‘to be read’ mountain, and pick out When Things Fall Apart: heart advice for difficult times by Pema Chodron. It is a book I have already started: the obligatory used envelope marks the spot I got to, and I pick it up and start again.

I haven’t got far before I realise that the fog is already lifting. This Buddhist nun’s words are resonating deeply and I have already marked three or four paragraphs worthy of coming back to and meditating on.

But it is these words that struck me most deeply:

Basically, disappointment, embarrassment, and all these places where we just cannot feel good are a sort of death. We’ve just lost our ground completely; we are unable to hold it together and feel that we’re on top of things. Rather than realizing that it takes death for there to be birth, we just fight against the fear of death.

Reaching our limit is not some kind of punishment. It’s actually a sign of health that, when we meet the place where we are about to die, we feel fear and trembling. A further sign of health is that we don’t become undone by fear and trembling, but we take it as a message that it’s time to stop struggling and look directly at what’s threatening us.

I have work to do. And no one can do it but  me. This is a larval time, a chrysalis is forming, and I am being called to sit quietly inside it and face it. It hurts because it is supposed to. The pain is a trigger to action.

And in the meantime, I face a paradox. Examining this despondency, it is a lethargy brought on by not feeling loved or, more specifically, loveable. This feeling has been ever there, but more recently emphasised by a set of events and circumstances that are now longstanding and, I fear, here to stay. So it is a feeling, a sadness, I must somehow accept, assimilate, own, allow to become a part of my make-up, my life, my past.

Because as I found my computer to start writing this, a message appeared from an old friend. A message, essentially, of love. And she, in turn, was commenting on the massive outpouring of love I received this weekend on the occasion of my birthday, all organised without my knowledge, and all for me. Unloveable me.

The spiritual journey involves going beyond hope and fear, stepping into unknown territory, continually moving forward. The most important aspect of being on the spiritual path may be to just keep moving.

Don’t curl up on that bed.

Look around.

Examine the evidence.

Take a fresh perspective…

…through loss, in spite of loss, I have gained.

We all of us have a story, and our story changes with each passing day. Don’t be distracted by the story. Instead, take a good look at the truth. And:

Just keep moving.

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3 responses to “Loss and Gain; Death and Life

  • Jen

    Your courage in facing the pain inspires me. Thank you for exposing your vulnerability so that I can learn from you. You are an amazing person. (Pema has helped me through more than once too.)

  • Susannah

    Yes it is important to show when things aren’t working. I think that it helps others who can sometimes feel they are the only ones who struggle occasionally. So many bright and happy faces shown to the world can leave others feeling ‘that it is just me’.

    The pema quote really struck me, especially “Rather than realizing that it takes death for there to be birth, we just fight against the fear of death.” – Oh, how true is that! It takes surrender and trust to allow ourselves to move through the process from one state to another.

    “Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.” – Kahil Gibran

    Another thing I have learned just lately is the power of ‘reframing’ things.

    It is usually our thoughts about things that cause us to feel a certain way, and the way we perceive things is usually a learnt response, and as such, subconscious and automatic.

    By reframing the thought in a positive way, it then becomes a very powerful thing and can change our perception. I am trying to think of examples from the article I read…if I remember correctly, one was “my husband never talks to me” was reframed as “my husband offers strong and silent support.” – Not a very good one, but you get the idea!

    That thinking has really helped me just lately to look at situations more holistically and see all the parts rather than the one I had been focused on. When I widened my view like that, I was able to reframe, my thought and that eventually seeped through to my emotional level.

    Anyway, I don’t want to fill your comments up with my ramblings! lol

    So, let me say a belated happy birthday to you! x

    Here are (((a big hug))) lots of love and some virtual cake and balloons for you! 😉

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