Photo by Mary H Peret, 2013. Coyote sets a good example for people who need to learn to depend on themselves.
Owning your feelings, actions and results can be so challenging at times. Before I began to learn about how to be self-dependent and not co-dependent, I would find myself mired in thoughts of how things would be better if only other people would do something. I thought healing was something other people did for you, that if I simply received enough bolstering at the hands of caring others that I would be OK. Clinging to that expectation was actually one of the things that prevented me from really healing at all.
Its not that love and compassion don't help. When I'm having a hard time it feels good to know that other people are thinking of me with love and concern. Its uplifting to have a friend or loved one reach out. Other people can be so helpful, but ultimately I'm the only one who can do what's necessary to heal and grow.
I think I will always be learning this process of sitting with my feelings and letting them happen instead of trying to avoid them by any means possible. Feelings can be huge and scary and sometimes they feel like they're going to swallow me whole. That's when it seems easiest and best to just avoid them altogether. Distraction can wear a thousand faces -- a drink, a movie, exercise, getting together with other people to talk about things NOT related to feeling bad. The list is long. Distraction isn't always bad -- sometimes you need a chance to back off from that big dark emotional weight and let a little light into the room. Eventually, though, if you are going to truly get to a place where that feeling no longer controls you, you're going to need to sit down and get cozy with it. Let it happen.
Once I was able to start letting feelings happen I found I was also able to start letting circumstances happen, and then...my whole life changed.
But it started with the kernel of an understanding: No one else can fix me. It isn't their job.
Believing that, I then began to understand that I also was not able to fix anyone else either.
I wanted to keep doing that, and so I argued with myself that not fixing other people meant I didn't love them or that I didn't have compassion for them. So I had to struggle for a while to learn that in truth, having compassion for other people meant caring for them while they dealt with their own struggles, not trying to solve their circumstances for them. Which is more loving? Assuming another person is incapable of handling their own problems, or loving them enough to give them the freedom to find their own truths?
I often wonder what my turning point was, when it was that the scales fell from my eyes and I realized that my struggles were my own responsibility. I remember the very first time I was talking to someone who was having a crisis and when they told me of their pain, for the first time instead of offering myself as a resource, I simply said "I'm so sorry this is happening to you" and left it at that. I resisted the urge to do or say more, and let them continue to talk to me about how they were feeling, continued to listen and offer empathy and made no offer of solutions. After I hung up the phone I had to sit quietly for a little while. It was a big change for me, and it felt simultaneously amazing and awkward. I experienced some humility, because it finally occurred to me that I was NOT such an amazing person that I was the answer to people's problems. I realized that when I acted in that way what I was really doing was trying to be important. That stung, a little. OK, maybe a lot. It was a big first step, swallowing the fact that I was not the good person I imagined myself to be.
That was the rock that fell down the face of the slope that started the landslide, that started my journey.
Today, in my life right now, I have lots of emotions that I'm dealing with. Anxiety, fear, loneliness are there. But they are intermingled with joy and love and contentedness. I can't avoid being lonely, but I can talk to that feeling, invite it in for a sit-down. I can acknowledge it, touch the pain it brings, let it move through me. It is a wave - it comes, it peaks, it passes. Fighting the waves makes the swimmer tired, makes her gasp for her breath, drains all of her energy. When she lets go and allows herself to float on top of the wave she is no longer in danger of drowning.
A lot of lovely friends and family have expressed concerns over how long SG will be gone on this job. I hear them, and I cannot be dishonest and claim this will be easy. But I know who my husband thinks I am, and that is the woman I want to be. The woman he sees when he looks at me knows how to take care of herself both physically and emotionally. The only reason (other than money) that he could feel OK taking a job out of state for such a long period of time is because he believes not just in himself but in me. He's not immune to my feelings nor am I to his. But he loves a woman he sees as strong and self-reliant. I need to let that fact sink in and remember it during the times when I'm challenged by my loneliness and fear. He can't fix it for me whether he's here or not -- I can only fix it for myself, believing that I have everything I need within me.
And I do.