Friday, January 4, 2013

How to Corrode Everything in Your Life

I've spent the afternoon reading an amazing book.  It's one of those books that you want to immediately put down, look around you for anyone who gazes your way and shout, "Hey! You really ought to read this."  Not every book is for everybody but I am sure that everyone suffers the effects of loss to varying degrees.  The chances are, you thought of your most painful one as soon as you were through reading the last sentence.  Don't worry, I'll tell you its title. Be patient.

If you are wondering why I seem to write a lot about loss it's because how one deals with it be it the loss of a spouse, a career or a child through death or otherwise is the linchpin for everything else going forward.  I have also lost much in a short time span so loss is a daily part of my life.  No matter what kind of day I have, no matter what new things come my way, there will always be a quiet moment that brings them to mind.  I don't however, dwell on them.  Ever. 

There are times for mourning, grieving, asking "why me?" and thinking life is too hard or or not fair.  I have had them all and more than 100 times.  Believe me, I've shed tears and felt excruciating emotional pain.  Don't get confused, my current disposition has nothing to do with lack of severity in dealing with anything I've been through.  But there is a big difference between me and some others who burn with sadness and despair even years after their life has changed.  The polarity is not a coincidence.  The opposite of me is a decision or rather an assumption.  That thing is "if only".

"If only" tries to sprout no matter who you are.  In those quiet moments I talked about earlier are the conversations I have in my head that leave me asking, "I wonder what Greg would think about this?" or other things like, "I wish he could deal with this." The trailing, silent phrase that always gets stated in parentheses in mind is "if only..."  There are moments where I wonder if I really could have been mentally capable of being a single parent of two.  My wondering would paint me as a happy mom "just doing her best" and imperfectly, yet happily making the best of life with two smiling, giggling little girls.  Lie.  Taking any time to sit with those fantasies in my mind of a perfect world in which everyone behaves without flaw, everything matches up in just the right way and no one seems to bear any ill effects of a life with a single mom who works full-time with two children, neither of who have a father in their lives is a ridiculous delusion that needs to be stuck in a food processor until it is emulsified into the blundering mess it would have been.  Yes, I am better now. I am capable but the damage I would have done to two little lives besides my own could have been scarring.  No better efforts I could have made in the future would have erased those marks on the psyches of my children.  I am grateful that neither one of them knew that trauma.

I can't take any time at all to go about thinking that something would have been better another way. No matter how much I wish that certain someone(s) could be in my life and that I would be "happier" or more complete is a dangerous notion that will eat away at my soul until reality becomes trivial and my fantasy becomes the only thing worth pursuing. The harsh truth is this. I don't really know at all if person "X" back in my life would have any effect at all on my level of life satisfaction, never mind bliss. There is always an allure for the things we don't have. There is a place in our brain that kicks in when we aren't happy with life in general that boots up our database of things lost that wants to tell us that they are why we are not happy. Wrong.  Even if it were so, they aren't here.  Do I then throw up a flag in defeat and live a life of desperate waiting in vain? What about the people in my life now? What about them?  Do they deserve to be left with half a person who can neither be truly grateful that they are what I have because I am always silently wishing for someone else nor present because my mind is living in constant fantasy of what my life should be like?  What a tragedy. 

No, 'tis better to admit what is.  The situations cannot be changed no matter what.  To not accept reality and move on robs me of any true sense of well-being and burns away at those bridges to other people in my life.  I could think of nothing worse than to hear from my daughter after years of suffering with a mother who longed for the ones that she lost that she never felt truly loved or wholly appreciated for all that she is because she wasn't "Alex".  How could I stomach to hear from a frustrated future mate that he could never live up to Greg.  If I want to release myself and let others love and enjoy me then I have to be unafraid to let go of "if only" because it will never be. 

There is such freedom in letting go and being okay to say I can be me again.  I look forward to the future with an eagerness for what can rise from my ashes.  In fact, I have already experienced much healing and triumph. That which does not kill you will make your stronger, of this I am sure but "if only" corrodes the soul.

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