Last night I watched Bruce Almighty on ASN. I had never seen it before. It’s typical, but there are some funny parts. When Jim Carrey says yes to everyone’s prayers giving them exactly what they want, chaos overtakes Buffalo. There are riots in the streets and the city falls to pieces. I got to thinking about how true that is, if suddenly everyone’s prayers were answered and they got exactly what they wanted, the world would break apart. This fits in with something I’ve been thinking about lately and talking over with my sisters–that often when we pray we ask for the wrong stuff. We ask for money or good health or for this to happen or for that to happen, when really what we should be praying for is the strength to handle whatever comes our way. That’s all any of us really wants anyway. We just want to know that we’ll be okay, that we’ll get through it, whatever it is.
I didn’t always get this, it was a long time coming and I’m not sure what was the final thing that gave me the a-ha moment, but it’s been a few years now of relative peace and calm as a result. I have been through the wars–emotionally, physically, spiritually–on all planes. And I’m still here, still chugging along. Yes, I get stressed out by stuff, but it’s different kinds of stuff now it seems. Most of my stress results from the fact that I’ve taken on too much, it’s impossible for one person to finish it all. My stress (just like yours) is self-induced. I’m still working on achieving a balance so I don’t have too much going on and I’ve got just enough in all the key areas to bring joy into my life. This is all stuff in my power, I have total control over this and I can work it out.
What I don’t get stressed about anymore is the stuff I have no control over, the stuff that depends on other people. Because I can’t control other people, no matter how much I might like to or how much smoother I think things might run if they’d just let me pull all the strings for awhile. For the last few years (you know it may have happened when I released my father issues, which after a lifetime of agony was solved in seconds with a simple flick of a switch in my brain) whenever something happens, or threatens to happen, something I don’t want, something that hurts, whenever I get that old familiar feeling of heartache, I will cry my guts out. And I mean REALLY cry, Oprah’s ugly cry, with sobs wracking my ribcage, the snot dripping off my chin, burning throat and eyes, blinded by big old tears, no subtlety whatsoever, let it all out kind of cry. I release every ounce of crazy irrational hurt and emotion into this cry. It lasts no longer than 5 minutes usually, many times it’s all over in 1-2 minutes. It doesn’t take long at all to get it out of me.
As the sobs subside and my vision clears I start talking to myself. And I tell myself only one thing. “Trust yourself. You are strong enough to handle whatever happens in this situation. You’ve come through worse and you’ll come through worse again. No matter what happens you can deal with it. You are a strong independent woman. You can handle anything that comes your way.” I keep saying this kind of stuff over and over in my head, sometimes out loud. I don’t know why but I usually sit indian-style and weave when I’m doing this and I’ll gradually start to calm down, my heart will stop pounding, and I’ll find it difficult to keep up with the self-talk because all these ideas will start to form, start intruding on my conversation with myself, all these things that I can do, that I can control, things in my life that are going very well, things I’m thankful for. It all happens very quick. Within 15 minutes I make the transformation from crushed sobbing broken women to strong determined woman with a plan, a destiny to fulfill.
This is such a long way from the girl who used to lie to her mother, telling her she was going to a party with friends, so she could be alone, turn off all the lights, load up the jukebox with gut-wrenching songs like You Must Love Me and The Dance, lie on the pool table bathed in the soft blue glow of the jukebox to wallow in self-pity and loathing, and drink until well after dawn. That girl is dead. This other girl didn’t just happen overnight. It took a long time. When I first started doing the self-talk I didn’t even believe it, but I did it anyway. And I kept on doing it, until one day I did believe.
Yes, I still have blue days. Yes, I still wallow from time to time. Cocoon. Stay in bed much too long. Turn the phone off. Not answer email. But oddly it’s never about anything big anymore. The big stuff I’ve got covered. I can handle it. Most of my blue days are hormonal-induced. I can plot them on my calendar, you can set your clock by my cycle. Yes, I’ll feel down, weep at every show on television, feel lonesome and sad, but it’s more of a general depression, with no root cause. . . other than the hormones. I’m not pining over a boy. My heart hasn’t been broken. I’m not afraid to move forward. I’m not having a fight with anyone or facing a huge life decision or questioning my spirituality or wondering how I’m going to pay the rent or losing someone I love. Nothing big, nothing life altering. My blues are chemical, physical, cyclical and I’ve got the big stuff covered. I really can handle it, whatever it might be. And so can you.
I mean think about it, people survived the nazis, they came through the concentration camps having seen terrible things, having lost their entire families and they went on to live, to do things, to have moments of joy, to create something new. Everyday the human race endures. Family members are murdered. Children die. Incurable diseases are diagnosed. Horrible crimes are committed. Unthinkable terrible disasters happen. The inconceivable happens. And people get through it. They handle it somehow. And they’re not special, not unique, no different or stronger than you or I. It’s the human code, it’s our make-up, we can handle the worst that is dealt to us and still persevere. That’s just the way it is. You can witness it on the news everyday. Every minute of every day somebody somewhere is getting through something so rotten we can’t even imagine.
And this is not in any way trying to diminish whatever it is that’s going on in your life or mine. Nowhere in my self-talk do I say I have no right to feel this way about something so insignificant when compared to what’s happening to people in other parts of the world, the kind of stuff you see on the news. Because the things that happen in my life are important. They mightn’t be important on the world-scale, but they are damn important to me. Nothing in my life is insignificant or diminished because it’s not going to make the six o’clock news. It’s real and it hurts and for me it might be the most devastating thing I’ll ever have to endure. Everyone has their own journey, and some are more radical than others, but none are insignificant. The point of bringing the world’s devastation into the discussion is just to show that we’re a species of survivors, not to make light or diminish my rent worries or broken heart by comparing apples and oranges.
And the big point is that once you believe (and I mean deep-down honest to god truly believe with every fibre of your being) that you will be able to handle anything that happens, that you will get through no matter what, that you will be okay. Once you believe this, life becomes a little bit easier, and more peaceful perhaps. So the next time something’s going on in your life, instead of praying to win the lotto or that the boy will like you too or the test results will be negative or the vote will go your way or whatever, pray for the strength to handle whatever happens. Then trust that your prayers have been answered.
Drinking: coffee, the super cheapo stuff, with cream . . . look for black and instant tomorrow as I clean out my pantry in preparation for trip departure
Listening To: rain thrumming on the skylight
Hair: thinking it should do before and after shots for the blog this thursday