(Song Dedication: Complainer by Cold War Kids)
If I reflect upon some of my most suffered moments of the past 40 years I believe they have this one thing in common, attachment. The idea of how things “should” be rather than how things actually are in this reality-based plain of consciousness. I’ve written about this before in more singular contexts, but I think I am finally starting to see the bigger picture of how grievous this mindset is and how it has been a deep root of perhaps dare I say, all of my anxieties, all of my self-doubt, all of my vices I’ve developed as distraction, all. of. my. suffering.
For example, death and loss. These are some of the most excruciating afflictions us humans must all face at some point in our lives here on Earth. When my Father-in-law passed after an aggressive virus took over his body whilst on his annual trip to Palm Springs with my Mother-in-law a few years ago, it was the shock of the entire situation that made his sudden passing so traumatic for all of us left behind. It was meant to be a couple month getaway from the cold Canadian winter. It was something they had earned as a long-married couple, who had paid their dues and were suppose to be enjoying the next few decades of retirement chasing warm weather, golfing, laughing, enjoying their friends and watching their grandson grow, together. It brings tears to my eyes as I write this because I mourn what “should” have been.
When our 12-year-old, faithful Wheaten Terrier Lucy became debilitated from a stroke, a few weeks after having a growth removed from her neck which was meant to improve her later years quality of life, boy did I feel my body fill with heart-ripping agony as I sat with her heavy head in my lap, as we waited to get her into an emergency vet clinic on a early Sunday morning. She “should” still be laying next to me now as I write this post, avoiding Scout like the plague. Or perhaps they would have learned to be family by now.
Fast-forwarding to a week and a half later, my estranged, but recently reconnected biological Father passes in a hospital bed in Hereford, England after some complications with dehydration at the age of 72. My son said it aptly, “…but I only just met him 2 months ago…I only got to see him one time?” It didn’t make sense because it wasn’t the storyline we had plotted out in our minds eye.
When I returned to Wales at the end of July to attend his memorial, I went for very specific reasons, I went for myself, for the closure I felt I deserved. This expectation helped me organize the journey in a short amount of time, get on that plane alone, put one foot in front of the other to get to where I needed to be going. I suppose that parameter also assisted greatly, when things didn’t go as I had expected with my Uncle. It was a difficult time that has carried on with me back across the Atlantic, as I continue to navigate a relationship that morphed into something that I believed “should” not be what it is right now. This pains me because again, someone else’s choices and other external forces are not aligning with what I had attached my own mind and heart to.
Nine years ago, my greatest rock bottom was touched. It wasn’t just my tippy toes that skimmed the bottom for a moment either. I had sunk so deeply below the surface, that my whole being sat like a stone, immovable, at the bottom of a deep ocean. It was 2 and a half months after I miscarried. After throwing myself, voluntarily, into the most challenging class composition and school I have to this day ever worked at, I busied myself with work and doing and fixing other wounded kids. I completely neglected to honour the shock my body was still dealing with over the lost pregnancy, not to mention the psychological fall out that requires acknowledgement after a Mother miscarries.
My thinking mind told me stories from Parenting Magazines and other publications, and well meaning humans that miscarriage was normal, it happens to many women, you will get pregnant again when your body is ready. It was dismissed as a hiccup as I bought into this status quo, until no amount of dismissal could provide refuge; the elephant in the room sat silently at one of my student desks in a seemingly never ending detention. Likely the elephant was being squeezed into a spot that was far too small for it to exist, so it became beyond restless until it finally got up and shattered the insignificant allocation I had stuck it in, trumpeting that I pay it some attention, like now.
That was a November nine years ago. I was miserable because that wasn’t the story I had attached myself to either. This was not suppose to happen to me. I was so busy making the outer exterior look impenetrably perfect, that a miscarriage did not only misalign with this narrative I had formulated, not being able to get the fuck over it, was even more shameful.
I was in dire need of a new narrator, non?
But that is what happened eventually. The narrative did shift, because if it hadn’t, I was so low that the story may have ended suddenly and tragically. I finally conceded. I asked for help. First from my husband, then from my Doctor who then referred me to an amazing psychologist who opened my eyes to a different observation of how I could perceive my current situation and how my past had contributed to this skewed current vision I was constantly at odds with. She made me see how amazingly well I had turned out considering my circumstances, I had overcome so many obstacles, I could continue to do this if I chose to. I could heal. I needed to learn how to process trauma through acknowledgement and healthy release, for me this liberation came through writing, at the time just private journalling, shared only within the four walls of her office once a week. That’s changed a bit for me now!
Why this walk down a very sad, heart stinging memory lane? Because I guess I just needed to today. Thanks if you are still here too. I hope you have faith in me that I have a revelation to share in closing…I think I do. But if that’s not how it turns out I ask that you release your attachment to what you expect of my blog and be with it anyway to see how it resonates for you.
I’ve had a few close calls with the deep end this past few weeks. I experimented with my boundaries and allowed myself to become quite consumed with “work”. It felt all too familiar to feel swamped by my own choices and intentions. I had multiple photo shoots I was juggling. I had taken on far more teaching on call days than previous weeks. I was hit with the flu. I was diving into the leftover Halloween bowl of refined sugar armed with justifications of my hard work. I was short with my husband and son and then Apple happened.
It is now day 7 of Mac Book Pro/Photo Application/Photo Library operation recovery. I will NOT bore you with the details because I don’t want to waste time or space in this write to recount the litany of cascading issues I am facing, but ultimately I have lost a large amount of very important photographs, which 5 Apple support techs, including 2 Executive Creative Techs are working with me by phone to try and recover these images, apparently a few engineers are also “working on it”. This began with my simple misinterpretation that Apple is SOOOOO intuitive. Apparently I should have been able to intuit that the circle icon is an App and the square icon is the actual library.
Technology is a trigger for me. Sorry, I mean glitchy technology is a trigger because here we go again, but when I believe in something to be optimally working for multiple reasons like say, what I spent on this Mac Book PRO (it says Pro, does this not mean professional?), or the Apple brand, or the relative newness of this product, or the functional expectations I have for a pretty standard application like Photos I could go full-psycho when these aren’t working as they “should”.
I majority of my early suffering of this tech saga was rooted again in the narrative of what I think should be happening here. I have talked to three different advisors, we have tried many different things, Ive spent over 10 hours of phone calls trying to solve this, now my photos will be recovered. Nope. It’s Apple. Now I am working with an “executive advisor”…they are genius. They can fix anything. Nope. I have a “Time Machine” set up on my device, this is fool proof, it will save my ass if something like losing all your precious photos happens. Nope. With every fail, with every phone call, with every click, download, upload, repair, reformat and a bunch of other shit I have no clue about, this time surely, a full week later and hours upon hours of troubleshooting, my photos will be restored. No sorry, actually Sarah, this is not the reality that seems to be playing out right now. It’s time to detach from the ideation that this time-consuming, challenging process coupled with the fact that you have tons of self-love to draw on and the idea that you are karmically a good human being that attracts positive energy makes you for all intents and purposes, immune to this particular drama ending with failure. Nope, it does not.
I breathe and I let go a little bit more, every phone call. I have trained my survival response to rest in what is rather than go into a frenzy mimicking (I mean, hopefully its just a mimic?) of what initially felt like a jammer rising in my chest. My husband is also worried this whole thing might be my demise. Death by Apple, full cardiac arrest.
Attachment is difficult, when you’ve clung to it like a life raft for so long that you believe you will sink to the bottom again should you let go. The thing is, I have to remember I am an incredibly strong swimmer, I’ve been building my endurance, my strength, my efficiency for nearly a decade. It’s time to let go of how I think things should be. And just instead, be.
The silver lining is, in all the sad things I shared earlier, there has been a silver lining. It has sometimes taken a while to shine through, but each and every story that seemed like a sad one in the moment, that parts of me still mourn and feel deeply even now today, become my greatest teachers and then I grow a bit more, I awaken further, I see things differently like an updated prescription in my glasses, sharper and keener mixed with reverence of what I had been missing to this point in my life.
We have healed as a family with the losses of loved ones. This I can’t underline, bold and highlight enough. Our relationship with my Mother-in-law is loving and supportive and all we want for each other is happiness and well-being. Because of that, she is thriving and finding a new way to be in her world. My husband and I have forged a deep, loving and accepting relationship with each other because of the trust we’ve built in learning to be vulnerable with each other. He just shared with me yesterday that although he may no the able to release emotions the way I do so readily, he appreciated the way I cried for the both of us when we talked about his Dad the other night. I am yet to see the full benefits of how these relationship models will affect how our son perceives his world. And Lucy can no longer lay next to me while I write, but Scout already knows how to do this because I had space in my heart and life to teach her. As soon as I began my first words this morning she laid down ready for the long haul, with patient hopes to get me out for a walk this morning once the rain stopped. And perfect timing, wouldn’t you know, it has. It always stops eventually, that’s not an attachment I’m ready to part with. Sorry Noah and your Ark of stranded animals, just sayin. Work in progress.