The Next Chapter: Recommitting to Giving Away

It's not an accident that the road is foggy.
It’s not an accident that the road is foggy.

 

Well folks. It’s time to put the pedal to the metal as they say (have you ever noticed how that isn’t even a proper rhyme, it’s an off-rhyme or something?)

When I began this blog, the idea was this to give things away, to let go, and to see what would happen as a result.

“There is the obvious: too small clothes, outgrown toys, dishes we don’t use anymore.  There is what`s past: a photo of my law school graduating class, love letters from my youth, every school art project my kids ever made. There is the intangible: expectations, control, hard feelings. Thought patterns that serve no useful purpose. Control freak methods of household management. That kind of thing. It’s an exploration and a divine quest, because on the other side of holding fast, of clinging, there lies the opening of a clenched fist. A place of letting go, of open space and freedom.”

I wrote that in March 2010.

Four and a half years later, I believe it more than ever. I believe it with an urgency that has clamped its bony hand around my throat.

It is a divine quest.

Hey, I’m almost fifty! I tell everyone I meet. When they realize that I’ve only just turned forty-seven, they respond with an eye roll or a shake of the head. That includes my sixty-five year old husband, who still looks at me like I’m a teenager (maybe that’s a good thing?)  My daughters sigh and protest, “Oh, Mom, you silly lamb!” And the cats, well, the cats just don’t care.

I will cross the half-century mark in three short years. And I’ll tell you something: I really, really do not want to live the second half of my life, or even one more day, plagued by the same crap I’ve been carrying all these years.  Those expectations, control and hard feelings. Those thought patterns that serve no useful purpose and that are triggered by the same predictable events over and over again.

What am I talking about?

Running away from my emotions – literally getting into my van and driving as far as my leash will allow – or stuffing feelings down (cheese puffs anyone?). Instead of sitting down in the midst of an emotional reaction and facing it head on, I live in a sort of rampant stuckness. It’s like the gerbil Wheel of Fortune: That’s right, dear, you’ve won another trip to, well, you name it: Anxiety? Depression? Generalized irritation?

I imagine the Buddha sitting under a tree somewhere balmy, saying, “See? I told you so.”

OK, so I have let go a lot of my control freak methods of household management and now let the dust bunnies reign. I stopped hosting giant parties that exhaust my introspective self. I don’t take other people’s bad moods or behaviour personally, for the most part and I process triggered moods more quickly than I used to; I recover better, faster. But really, I just want to be done with this backpack of emotional boulders I’ve been carrying all these years. Done. Unrealistic expectations about other people, most notably, my dear husband. Done!  The work colleague who I’d like to kick right out of my inbox? Done!  The driver of the transport truck who sits on my tail on Highway 400: is that really necessary? We’ve got all kinds of road here. DONE!

Some of my neuroses seem to have become even more entrenched than they were before. Neuroses you ask? Lisa, you’re one of the sanest people I know, a friend said to me lately. Maybe, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t make emotional mistakes, errors in thinking, and that’s what neurosis means to me. You think your husband should buy you a gift on your birthday? Neuroses. The guy in the Porsche shouldn’t cut you off in traffic? Neuroses. Other people shouldn’t judge? Neuroses. The cool thing about errors in thinking is that they are a whole lot easier to work with than other people.

So enough already.

Enough.

It’s time to move along.

Some would say that I shouldn’t write such personal things out loud. You know what? I’M ALMOST FIFTY. I DON’T CARE.

So here’s the deal. It’s time to clean up my act. I know who they enemy is, and I know where she lives. She’s got a penthouse apartment in my head, and she shouts so loud that I can’t hear what my instincts have to say, the clear view my heart and soul offer. I have studied. I have the Manual. It’s not as though I don’t know the way out. I do know. There’s the Buddha, again, sitting under the same damn tree, and smiling: “You know the path, but you’ll have to check it out for yourself. I can’t do the walking for you”. I wish I could take him out for a pumpkin spice latte, just by way of thanks.

There will be mistakes. That’s okay. There will be mistakes for the rest of my life. That’s okay, too. That is life.

And just for fun, I will probably clean up the house while I’m at it, because there is bound to be some treasure amidst all the material clutter. Why is it that I still have those stuffed animals from my childhood, that Christmas tree that pre-date my marriage and possibly my birth and, why is the living room configured exactly the way it was by your husband’s first wife? Is that really necessary? I am also going to clean up a few other things: my terror of the highway, for instance. Yes! You can look forward to a few reports on my driving lessons and my return to driving on the 400-series highways in the face of a 15 year history of panicked hands gripping the steering wheel. It takes courage to drive in a state of terror; it takes courage to face difficult emotions, too, to sit with them and not run away, to look habitual responses in the eye and see what can be done. This much I know.

So hold on tight. And if you find this uncomfortable reading? You have my official permission to unsubscribe. Only brave and forgiving souls will want to share this journey.

Onward!

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