Saturday, January 16, 2010

Acceptance includes letting it be this good.

When I was younger, I spent a lot of time waiting for the other shoe to drop. I knew that however good something was, the hurt that would follow would be equal and opposite, and I guarded against feeling that hurt. I felt, at that time, like the hurt was punishment for me indulging in what had felt good. Yes. I was Catholic. What's your point?

What I didn't realize at the time was that I was spending enough of my energy knowing that pain was coming, that I could never live clearly in the present.

Tonight, Bodhi projectile vomited all over me. We are packed into a small bedroom right now, making it work, and my twin bed is on the floor next to the bottom bunk. He has the stomach flu and hasn't thrown up in two days, we were planing that he would ski tomorrow. He hit me in the face from three feet away in his sleep.

My beautiful friend Alissa came in, having heard the retching from her room, and got right to work, wetting towels and wringing them out, bringing in garbage bags and hauling soiled linens out. We got Bodhi cleaned up and transfered into my remade bed and did a thorough scrubbing of his bed and the floor.

For some reason after that, we were both wide awake in the middle of the night, and we wandered out and made some tea, and got to chatting about life.

We were talking about my mom deciding to move here, and what an incredible gift that is for all of us, and I told Alisa that I felt like it was another door opening on my path. And then I had this little epiphany that things have changed materially for me in the last fifteen years in the way that I view the world, and how I move through it. Now, I knew that had been happening, because it was a purposeful focus, but it was interesting to try to share in words how differently I felt now.

Amy has said to me, "Wherever you are is right where you need to be to learn the lesson that you need to learn. And where you need to be is not always pleasant or comfortable." I love these words, they have helped me clearly open the door to the mantra, "Where is the lesson" when things are difficult. And right now, things are difficult.

I feel that I needed to learn to be willing to face the thing that scared me the most before my mom could be part of my path. I had to decide that I wanted something more from my life, even though it was scary to my ex. I had to decide that I was going to stand on my own two feet and trust myself. I had to decide that i could be enough for my boys, that I could earn enough, and I had to decide that I could live in an apartment without a TV or all their toys and that that could be enough for them, as well. That us together without the destractions that I couldn't afford would be enough. That books from the library and sharing a small space would be not only enough, but good for all of us.

I had to decide that it was okay that I drive a truck with no windows, and bald tires and a transmition that is falling out, although i was worried about how to get the kids around, because I won't drive them in that truck. And then my friend Alissa agreed to come make it work with me, and I thought,this is good. This is how lots of people do it. You make do with what you have. My mom told me stories of her and her seven siblings growing up during the war, and how things got tight, and they got creative, and ended up sharing a room, and raising chickens in their attic to pay the bills. Is it ideal? No. Did she get close to her sisters and her mom and learn the value of a dollar and an incredible work ethic? yes.

This could be a blessing. This could be the lesson. A lesson I enjoyed learning when I was in Nepal. That this this enough. That we need each other more than we need our stuff. That left to their own devices, kids will get a paper and pen and make up a game and play it sitting on my lap. That hot chocolate makes a great desert, that its valued when its a treat we make together.

I had to face a lot fo fear, fear of failure, fear of being alone, fear of inadiquacy, and I felt very naked. And I had to let go of that fear actively over the first two months that i was here. I remember calling my mom in tears on my way home from Target one night. The kids were coming for Christmas. I wanted them to have a room that they felt like was their room, that felt like it was set up for them, so they would feel continuity between their old, large home with a huge dedicated playroom full of thousands of dollars of toys, and this cozy little cabin in the woods. I called my mom and I cried because I could afford to buy a bookshelf for the bedroom, but i couldn't afford to put anything on it. I was afraid the kids would come here and not be happy because they didn't have all their things.

And in the past I might have borrowed money or used a credit card to do what I thought was necessary, but when I moved out away from Tom, I decided that this was a chance to live with integrity, to begin clean in a place where I felt like I could be proud to be me without apologizing for who I was. And part of who I was was very poor. And so I had to sit with the fear that i wouldn't be enough. And I talked with mike, who has been through this himself. He had a great house in Red Lodge. He made the choice to live more humbly so he could be financially responsible. In the process, he taught his kids to love to play the guitar to fill their time, to be outside, to be creative, to be a family. I was scared. He thought I'd be fine.

And we were. The kids didn't miss their stuff. We had books from the library and a few toys that they'd brought with them, and no television. They haven't asked to watch a movie since they got here. They don't' see the TV so it doesn't even occur to them. They engage themselves in all kinds of creative pursuits, and we are rich in our relationships, even though we are in a tiny house.

I feel like I had to do a lot of letting go to get here. I had to let go of my idea of the perfect home through the boys eyes, I had to let go of worry about what people would think if I drove a truck with a cardboard window (I got a tailgate, thanks to Uncle Charlie, but the hinge didn't match, and now I'm not in a place where I have the time to get it fixed), I had to let go of thinking I needed my mom, that I couldn't do it alone, I had to let go of the things I believed that Tom had said about me and my capabilities. I had to just trust, and be flexible, and fluid, and open to the lesson as often as I could be.

And when i let go, my mom asked me if I'd like her to live here. And she found a place on the ranch that is twice the size of this one, with a dishwasher and a washer and dryer and microwave, and I'd grown accustomed to living lean and rustic and it was enough. And I think, because it was enough, for me and for the boys, becuase I know we would have been fine, working through it and taking care of each other, another avenue opened up.

I'm booked more than I thought I'd be. I was able to take myself off the schedule for both my massage jobs, because I am splitting rent with my mom and Alissa, who wore capes with the boys the other day playing bats. I still drive a truck with a cardboard window, but I n o longer feel like one day, that's going to change. I feel like that is changing. I've paid off my credit card. I bought the boys new snow boots and a new coat. I got Bodhi some new skis and boots, and Ethan got poles today. They hgave ski passes and lessons, they are in the chess club and theater. This all costs money. But there are groceries on the table and the rent is paid. No, we don't go out to dinner or the movies, yes, I have one pair of bluejeans, and not enough money to drive down valley. But this is changing. Now. not sometime in the future when I graduate, but now, as a result of the last three years of hard work.

There's not a light at the end of the tunnel, we are standing in the light. And the other shoe dropping is just part of that life, its the lesson that needs to be learned in that moment. And now, rather than waiting for it to drop and the repercussions to reverberate through my life and wreak havoc, I look for that shoe in the form of a lesson, see it's opportunity, and am grateful.


paul macfarlane said...

Fear is the opposite of Love. Love is the opposite of Fear. Fear is impossible with Love. Love is impossible with Fear.

judyanne said...

Life is like a blanket too short. You pull it up and your toes rebel, you yank it down and shivers meander about your shoulder; but cheerful folks manage to draw their knees up and pass a very comfortable night. ~Marion Howard

Russ said...

The Oak and the Reed, By Jean de La Fontaine
Translation by Eli Siegel

The oak one day says to the reed:
—You have a good right to blame the nature of things:
A wren for you is a heavy thing to bear.
The slightest wind which is likely
To wrinkle the face of the water
Compels you to bow your head—
While my brow, like Mount Caucasus,
Not satisfied with catching the rays of the sun,
Resists the effort of the tempest.
All for you is north wind, all seems to me soft breeze.
Still, if you had been born in the protection of the foliage
The surrounding of which I cover,
I would defend you from the storm.
But you come to be most often
On the wet edges of the kingdoms of the wind.
Nature seems to me quite unjust to you.
—Your compassion, answered the shrub,
Arises from a kind nature; but leave off this care.
The winds are less fearful to me than to you.
I bend and do not break. You have until now
Against their frightening blows
Stood up without bending your back;
But look out for what can be. —As the reed said these words,
From the edge of the horizon furiously comes to them
The most terrible of the progeny
Which the North has till then contained within it.
The tree holds up well; the reed bends.
The wind doubles its trying;
And does so well that it uproots
That, the head of which was neighbor to the sky,
And the feet of which touched the empire of the dead.

Be like the reed.

Windy said...

Kate - it's good that the situation you live in has become more comfortable; but, why leave the massage?