When I left work on Friday, I anticipated a light-hearted, easy-going weekend. To be fortified by seeing new babies and old friends. I was optimistic, despite also feeling, as Laura Munson says, like my life has become a bad carnival and I can't find the exit. I was really, really looking forward to the freedom of a 3-day weekend and new experiences. I felt bolstered by what I had learned and excited about the prospects. Hope is a very, very important thing in the midst of a crisis. It's the only thing that keeps you going on most occasions. The idea that we can find beauty and create our own happiness both in spite of and because of unfortunate circumstances (remember: they are not obstacles but opportunities!) is a profound one.
So, it's funny, then, that the universe decided to send me something different. Decided to play the role of a carnival ride operator who said, "You want to exit the carnival? Well, you ain't seen nothin' yet" and then put a gun to my head, made me get on the utterly terrifying roller coaster, and laughed hysterically while I cried and he refused to stop it. In other words, it dialed up the horror.
Just hours before my friend was to arrive in town, I got a phone call from an estranged loved one. The one whose personal pain brought me to this point of non-suffering, the one whose pain I wish I could quell, the one who has tried to hurt me, the one whose antics I can't take personally. This is, in that same Laura Munson vein, his own crisis. And I have to get out of the way and let him go through this while creating my own happiness. Him.
It was a moment of currently temporary but soon-to-be permanent humility. He had put his guard down. Would I see him? Could we talk about what he's going through but not talk about our relationship?
And so, while en route to our meeting, I took stock of where I am and what I can offer him (hint: very little but the time and space he needs to get through this) and gave thanks for the opportunity to see him and engage him after many, many weeks. It went as expected on my end: I was calm, cool and collected, holding This Is Not the Story You Think It Is in my purse and reciting its lessons over and over in my head. But if my behavior was as good as I had hoped it would be, what he said was nothing short of surprising. He didn't say, "I love you! I was so wrong! Forgive me for this!" He's still not on the other side of this. But he did share his heart, and he did in a number of ways confirm all of my suspicions. And I left there, relieved that I have taken the strategy I have taken. Remembering that if we "come out the other side, together, still in love...and unsuffering, then this summer will have been worth it... And even if we don't, then I know I will be a better person for living this way." That is the goal in this: to be unattached to outcome and committed to creating my own happiness.
But the rest of the weekend was a whirlwind. It made creating my own happiness quite challenging. Issue after issue arose, and I was left trying to clean up the mess in its wake. Strapped in to my roller coaster seat, pleading for the mean carnie to "just let me off!"
I am thankful, then, for a good friend who never left my side all weekend. She was my angel; the 4th angel to visit in 5 weeks. Patient, kind and loving. And funny. So, so funny.
In spite of the constant drama, disappointment and pain of this weekend, I have never laughed harder or more often. Constantly, every five minutes, laughing uncontrollably. At every.little.thing. The delirious feeling of sleeplessness is a gift in and of itself (even if the sleepless isn't), but it was the laughter that allowed me to take stock and give thanks at the end of this weekend. All is not lost. We're miles from the end of the journey, but that means there's still hope. There's still time to make the most of it, to learn from and grow in the midst of it. And that is to what I am committed.
Stay with me...the ride ends eventually. And in the meantime, I'm trying to focus only on internal non-suffering so that I don't get dizzy when I realize what's going on all around me. And I'm trying to focus on the positive. The instructive. The gifts. And to both feel them but remain unattached from the form of their resolution.
As Cary Tennis says, "All therapy can be boiled down to 'Trust me' and 'feel this'."