Tuesday, December 8, 2009
A shaman once explained that when you choose to heal, you accept that you die on different levels, and just when you think you are done, you die again. At first I found this explanation a bit morbid. But I realized that no one who is going through a major transition, is really afraid of death. They are however, afraid of dying. In fact, we all are afraid of dying. Sometimes it is the unknown, a lack of understanding of what it might be like. Sometimes like watching a loved one die, it is the fear of pain, the waiting, the hopelessness, the loss. These are all emotions we go through when we are going through a major life transition. So maybe, it is like dying over and over again. How do we get through it?
Transitions are the moments in between what once was and what is yet to be. If we are awake enough and aware enough, we might be excited about the future because we think we are done with the past. So, we want to rush into it. No one, likes to be waiting in the waiting room of change. It feels like nothing is happening there. Worse, yet, you are alone because everyone else is either where you used to be or where you want to be, unless you have joined some kind of support group or better yet, have a close friend who is going through a similar transition. Even then, there is a tremendous sense of loss, because you have lost your identity. Take divorce for example, until the divorce is final, who are you? You used to be someone’s wife, you had a certain last name and now, you are still not divorced, so you are technically married, but … I hear so often the words: “I just want it to be over with”, like removing a band aid. I don’t know of anyone who would rather have the band aid be pulled off ever so slowly lingering every moment of the sensation of the hairs being pulled off of their skin. And yet, we don’t seem to have the choice, time becomes our enemy and we feel sentenced to our waiting room. Is there a wisdom to any of this?
To the one in the waiting room, there is no wisdom. We have heard and even repeated the concept of being in the moment or being present. But being in the moment, in this case is excruciatingly painful. Being aware of being in limbo does not make it any better. In fact, it makes it worse. Because in that present moment without hope for the future, it is gray , lifeless and lonely. So, once again, what’s the wisdom, what’s the gift of this situation?
When we are in between two worlds, or dying we have the opportunity to consciously experience the transition. We can feel the past and its hold on us, its unfulfilled promises, its hopes, its good times, its bad times, etc. We can feel this and feel into the unknown, the future, what might be, a new experience, new people, etc. And we can feel this now moment that is empty, an empty, lonely place to self-observe, accept, make peace with, say goodbye to, grieve, surrender, and rest. Does it feel good? No, it doesn’t. At least, it doesn’t have the sugary feel good high that we are so accustomed to and enjoy. It feels like the end is here, the end of something that you were so familiar with, and endings are sad. Yes, the optimist in me is nagging me to write, “but with every ending there is a new beginning”. True but this statement is not helpful for the one who is experiencing the ending on bloodied hands and knees. The ending needs its own place of honor. We honor those who pass on and the same way we need to honor the part of us that died in our extreme transition. Waiting rooms of life are opportunities to respect the gravity of the moment. We can remember the good times and that may make it feel lighter, but let’s release judgment and the need to make it better by hanging on to the good times. Let’s let go of these polarities of good vs. bad. Let’s just let it all be, like a quiet moment in a funeral service. It’s ok to be quiet, it’s ok to feel hopeless, it’s ok to feel lonely, it’s ok to feel angry, it’s ok to feel whatever it is you are feeling. It’s our desire to feel what we are not feeling that grips us and squeezes us painfully in an attempt to drag us into the past or push us into the future.
So, if you are in the waiting room of life going through your extreme life transition especially at this time of celebration of the upcoming holidays, don’t fight it. Don’t avoid it, don’t deny it, and don’t make it be what it isn’t. Honor your journey and where it has brought you. When you feel what is, even if it feels like dying, feel into it, so you can once again fully engage in what is yet to be.