Over the last few weeks I've taken some time to reflect upon 2014 and what it brought to my life. While I experienced plenty of wonderful, easy and joyful moments, the year was heavily laden with personal growth for me. I'm trying to make that sound positive, because in every challenge there is always a helpful lesson, but to be honest, it was entirely difficult to navigate. If I could sum up what I learned from it all into a sentence, it would be, "I learned to live into the answers."
I've always been a goal-oriented person, and I love making lists of tasks I can neatly check off as "complete" on the way to achieving the results I desire. This has been my personality since birth. When I was in high school, I wanted to be a foreign exchange student, and my mother had to fill out a form describing why she thought the experience would be good for me. I remember she wrote that I was "tenacious." You know, persistent, not giving up and really good at completing whatever I started. In the midst of my 2014 fog, my 20-year-old daughter said to me, "Come on Mom, you are a survivor. You're scrappy. You can get through this."
I questioned her, "I'm scrappy?"
"Yes! You fight for what you want, you don't accept failure as an option and you always take care of the people around you. You are so loyal, you are a survivor. You came out of the fire wearing Prada shoes!"
I love this girl; her sense of humor always lightens the day.
It gave me pause to consider how unbearably defeated, how truly lost I had felt. I had been without a survival plan. There just wasn't a road map available. My emotional GPS was broken. And I am terrible at being vulnerable and allowing other people to help me.
In the middle of all of this, my intuition was always whispering to me that I was experiencing a great lesson in grieving and loss. Are there other lessons to be gleaned from the experience? Surely. And I'm positive that five years from now, I'll be able to look back and list them for you. But right now, I'm still in the rebuilding phase.
This lesson had nothing to do with survival, the attainment of a goal or reaching a destination. It had everything to do with living in a state of trust. Basically, I had to live into the answers, one moment at a time, as they unfolded in front of me.
I was really uncomfortable in this state of not knowing. Anyone who has been thrown into a situation of loss or grief unexpectedly can relate. One minute you're on solid ground, and the next you're being swept down a rushing river over turbulent rapids. There's no swimming against the current to get back to where you were. The only the option is to let the water carry you.
During a recent conversation, a friend offered some words of wisdom: "Don't argue with reality." This was powerful to me. While I have never spoken those words, I've always had to live that truth. Years ago, I was a young mother with meager employment, no funds and two toddlers. Sitting around ruminating over why I was in that position or looking for someone to blame didn't put food on the table. Like my daughter said, failure has never been an option. My practice has always been to buck up, and get to work no matter what. No matter what. There was never space for me to feel sorry for myself and there was no job that was beneath me. Need your toilet scrubbed? Awesome, I have hungry children.
Living into the answers for our lives goes back to the simple premise of being present with the present. One day at a time. No matter which school of spiritual thought you follow, pretty much all of them teach this same principle. Get comfortable with reality, learn from the past but let it go, and don't waste energy worrying about a future that may not materialize.
Rebuilding a life is not an easy task, but there are steps you can take to make it more manageable. The first one is to give up your need to know the answers. If the situation calls for it, plan the next 12 hours. What are you going to eat? Do you have a place to sleep? Can you bathe?
Eventually you'll get a little stronger and can start thinking of longer-term goals. Maybe you can plan the week. Then you can look at the next three months. The real objective is to realize that when you are in a crisis, you have to live into the answers. While all of us are touched by experiences that seem fated, what we do with those experiences is wholly, completely and truly up to us.
Devastating losses catch us unaware, and it is so important that we not argue with reality when are head-to-head with a crisis. We must take each moment as it comes, and honor ourselves, knowing that feelings are simply feelings. They change and pass. And they may not even be the truth; though they may feel true in that moment, feelings borne under the heavy storms of crisis are frequently clouded. Though in the midst of upheaval you may feel stuck, know that you have the ability to choose new things for your life. New, supportive friends. New places to live. New careers to explore. New thoughts to think.
When the answers aren't forthcoming, release the panic and anxiety, and deal with what is right before you in that moment. When you take one step forward, the Universe sees your willingness to participate, and it conspires to help guide your next two steps. Live into it.
When things fall apart, remember they are often falling together in a more authentic arrangement for you. Trust. My children are in their 20s now, and looking back over the crisis years I can tell you this: they never missed a meal, and we never slept on the street. My lesson has been to trust. If all I can do is sit and sob, then that's all I can do. But when I am actively doing all I can, the rest falls into place. Through my tears, I have learned to believe in pronoia: the Universe is conspiring for my wellbeing. New experiences will be waiting for you, for me, for all of the suffering to embrace, once we allow our tears to dry.
©Mollie Morning Star 2014 Short excerpts of this article may be shared on the internet provided a live link back to this original source is used. Reproduction in print is prohibited.