Wednesday, January 30, 2008

what about not freaking out?

when challenging situations arise, i have often freaked out. i fly quickly into panic mode, try to take some action. no matter how ill-conceived, i start damage control and try to stop the crisis.

we all do this, right? except for the enlightened folks, who don't freak-out, they tune in. do you know anybody like this?

like lots of 21st century people who've embraced tons of therapy, strive to live healthy and aware and consider themselves on some sort of spiritual path - i think i am pretty well adjusted, pretty sane.

perhaps i am.

but when you hear it's cancer, when that sinks in, when you think about what it will mean? i freak out. you've all been witness to that, i've been telling the story here with all the honesty i can muster. it's quite helpful to have the story as reference. i can go back and see exactly what that freak-out looked like.

on good days, this is helpful, it keeps me humble and honest. and on bad days? it also helps. reading about what i was feeling facing the worst thing, then the next worst thing, helps me see that it gets better. not that the situation even changes, but i get over the freak-out.

we've all heard the saying "you can't always change a situation, but you can change your reaction to it" or something similar (insert control for change if need be). wise words, often hard to live by. i talk a good talk about this, for sure. i'm the queen of offering helpful advice to others in crisis. but then my own shit hits the fan and i'm thrashing on the floor just like everyone else. angry as hell about this crazy thing happening to me. it's ugly.

generally, i am an over-achieving control freak. (granted, i'm much better than i used to be and even my family would now say freak is way too strong a term here). being out-of-control (like having cancer for instance) is about as shitty as a fan can get.

the gurus say when the student is ready, the teacher appears. they fail to mention the teacher might just be cancer. (it could however, also be your asshole boss, a sick loved one, a wacko on the bus). it's become crystal clear that this turnip came when i was ready to finally, fully get some deep lessons. i had been systematically, very consciously, cracking away at my protective emotional shell for some years now. i used tools of all kinds: therapies from east to west, from meds to magic. all those things worked to the degree i allowed them.

that's the key piece. listening. allowing.

i am learning as i go. you all are reading it as i live it. we are all holding this. it's important to me for you to see that the things i am learning are offerings to all of us.

so, here it is.

i freaked out last night. my computer went black and there was no reviving it. i spent the night thrashing, utterly miserable. couldn't see the lesson, i was lost in the fear. this morning, i woke up early, took some deep breaths and called up the image of my circle of light (yes, you there, and you and you and you). i brought my precious laptop to the mac store hopeful and expectant of a outcome that would ensure that: 1) i would retain all my data, which i have not backed up, ever; 2) it would not require replacing the computer or cost me thousands of dollars.

i'm happy and relieved to report that i was lucky. it was the adapter on the power cord and the battery. minor, considering. the universe sent me a little reminder to buy the external hard-drive and back up all my stuff. i didn't need to lose the computer to learn this lesson.

now i am not saying that my change in reaction this morning changed the outcome. a happy smile isn't a universal band-aid for every situation. but it did stop me thrashing.

and the thrashing freak-out didn't change the outcome either.


emily b. said...

it's hard not to be angry at the body sometimes. i find it comes and goes in waves. but i have started to think that anger is as powerful an emotion as anything else. while i don't want to be angry all the time, sometimes i just need to give it space to exist and feel it and then move on to something better.

Tay said...

thanks emily. it's hard to be gentle and accepting of even the ugly emotions. give it space is a comforting way to put it, thank-you.

Maryam in Marrakesh said...

I freak out, too. I gasp for air. I wake up in the middle of the night worrying. I snap at people I love. I see everything as dirty brown when really, there are hints of a lovely pink. I try to see the lessons that the universe is offering me, and sometimes I do. And sometimes I don't. I must learn to be more graceful under duress.

Catherine Chandler said...

I freak out when I lose things. Instantly. I get angry and start stomping around, getting more upset by the second. Luckily, my other half has learned the patience to just look around quietly and find whatever it is and hand it over :) And I have learned to delay the anger a bit by asking him to help me look, because sometimes my eyes just can't see what I'm looking for amidst all the clutter! As far as anger towards the body goes, I have lived with chronic back pain for 12 years. It's become less about anger and more about frustration that sometimes I can't move my legs or I fall down when trying to walk because my hip gives out. I take a deep breath and try to push through the pain to make that step forward, but sometimes it doesn't work, and I have to accept that.