I’m late with this entry because I was and am tired. I fell asleep and woke up past midnight, thanks to one of the dogs needing to go outside.
Like last night, I feel strangely out of words. In a few hours, I’ll see my counsellor for a one-on-one for the first time in about two months. I have so much to say, yet so little. How can one talk to a happy resolution of such general experiences as “I’m afraid.” I’m afraid my words will dry up, and yet I know too, with my counsellor that will be okay. We will find things to talk about. After that, the dentist, then working with my friend for a few hours. I’ll be tired again from all the interaction. Again, I’ll probably sleep several hours to recover, and wake up in the small hours like this.
I’ve been reading more of Tara Brach’s Radical Acceptance. I’m into the meat of the book – techniques and methods to try. Like my writing, there are many new things to try. Some of them reminiscent of the earlier cognitive therapy techniques that saved my life. Instead of a stop sign, Brach advises one to take pauses, before or during the activities of daily living. I tried some pauses during my walking meditation earlier (what I’ve come to think of as cleaning up after the dogs!). I observed the endless commentary running through my head. It wasn’t as clear as that other crisp morning of my walking meditation, but there were moments of clarity, and the moments are the spaces where we truly live.
Sometimes, I tricked my mind, by singing “walking, walking” to it in a little lyrical meditation. The word forced out the flow of the other words for a few moments, as I breathed and walked and paused at my task.
Brach next talked about unconditional friendliness to the self. I read it, and confess I’ll have to re-read it. The next part talks about inhabiting one’s body – my Achilles’ heel – after so many years of living in the confines of my head, or indeed, on the outside of it, looking in.
I love the simplicity of the night. There is no one here but me, myself, and I. There is peace (especially after turning off the incessant humming of a neighbouring computer). There is spaciousness. Outside, cold delight, a distant moon and stars, safe and unable to burn me. Right here, there are gathering thoughts, and creeping in on the edge of my experience – tired as I am – patience and compassion for the self.
Recent days have seen me spending time with my friend as she experiences her grief fresh. I am immensely grateful for the experiences that mean I am able to offer some words of comfort, and the wisdom to know when to be still with her and just listen. I find my compassion for others so easy then – and in a way, I travel back in time to my younger grieving self, as I deal with the loss of my father. At a time when no one could adequately reach through my sadness, and others misinterpret it in the light of my then complex feelings for my father, I can now send back that same compassion to my 28 year-old self.
I know how alone you felt, ironically in a dissociated/compartmentalized self where the voices of criticism never really left you alone. You were very brave, making all those complex decisions to fly home to see your father, to call a cherished friend to ask a favour as you never had before, to have this dear friend say yes, and drop you at the hospital door. To find that ward, and that bed, where your father lay dying, unconscious from the morphine but something of his life there, even though he couldn’t talk to you, as he waited for you to arrive, so he could die.
Dad, I’m so grateful you waited. Some 16 years later, I know how different my life would be, how difficult my grief would have been, if I hadn’t made it. I know you were there in soul, even as we let your physical self go. And over time, my thoughts and compassion have become ever more tender for you, even for the human mistakes you made. As your little girl, I thought you to be beyond human. You were a kind of god to me, you and Mum – perhaps the Greek kind, with your private foibles and sometimes rare outbursts. I see now, you were human, and you finally taught me, so long after your going, what it means to be human and to try your best, and sometimes fail. I appreciate how hard you tried, and how difficult it was.
I’ve been trying to call Mum for New Years, and keep getting the machine. I wish I could get her online, but after some ten years, I’m accepting that it isn’t her thing. The immediacy of it would be so cool though – to be able to talk to her of as Lewis Carroll said:
“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings.”
There are so many wondrous things in the world, and I’d love to have Mum as a pen-pal again – a closer correspondent as we did when I was young, before the complexities of depression, madness, autoimmune disease. The things she couldn’t understand, that I was sure I would somehow be able to explain, had I the time. And now, fully grown, I realize it doesn’t matter whether she understands or not. The real issue iss whether I understand or not. And with each year that passes, I do a little more.
So now, in still and quiet, I accept what is, just as I’ll accept what unfolds. I’ll keep trying, and then, showing compassion, I’ll keep allowing myself time to be still and dream. And let that younger me dream of all that is, and all that is to come.