I open my eyes and look at my phone. 4:30am. I didn’t get to sleep until around midnight but my body is clearly not in the mood to be rational about the situation, as evidenced by the fact that I cannot seem to fall back into a comfortable slumber.
Today is Saturday, which is farmer’s market day in my little beach haven of Puerto Viejo, so I decide to slowly rise and shine so that I can make my way to town and get first pick of all of the goodies.
I haven’t visited the market in several weeks, due to the catching disease known as SML (Saturday Morning Laziness). I am not sure why this morning is different, but there has been a strange energy surrounding me lately. I feel as though I am at the cusp of waking up after a long sleep – an ironic metaphor, considering the fact that I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in days.
I get dressed and leave the house. It is chilly outside, by Caribbean standards, but I relish the feeling of cool air against my skin as I bicycle down the main road. I notice the calm of the sea as she glimmers under the rising sun, the smell of the salty air welcoming me to the day.
As I arrive at my destination, I see that most of the vendors are in the process of setting up their treasures. It is now 6am – still a bit early – so I decide to take my bike two blocks further east to the sea shore. Here I will watch the waves, using up time until I am certain that the market is in full swing.
As I lay down my towel and rest my bottom in the cool sand, my mind goes back to this unclear feeling I can’t seem to shake.
It started with the phone call with my dad and one of my brothers a few days ago, on the 25th anniversary of my mom’s death. I had entered the conversation with the desire that it be deep and meaningful so that we could really honor her spirit. However, as usual, my dad didn’t have much to say that wasn’t related to the weather or what my grandparents did today. At first I felt frustrated that we couldn’t connect on a more conscious level, like I do with my friends in Costa Rica. But then something shifted in me. This just isn’t who my dad is. He doesn’t want to have deep conversations in this manner and if I push him, it will only cause frustration for both of us.
I had a choice: I could either pull away further because he wasn’t showing up how I wanted him to show up OR I could accept him for who he is and alter my own expectations accordingly. Sure, it wasn’t necessarily the choice I wanted, but it was still a choice. With that, I let my own agenda fall away and we spent the next hour talking about the latest movies and actors and dumb commercials from childhood. We laughed uncontrollably at times and, sprinkled in between the laughter, my dad would share a story or two about my mother – stories that he wouldn’t have been likely to share under pressure. In short: I gave up control and I got exactly what I didn’t even know I truly needed – connection with my family. Sure, it didn’t come gift wrapped exactly how I thought it should be, but this was even better. It was natural.
Despite a happy ending, this phone call tipped me off to something rather disturbing that I thought I had a handle on – my control issues.
25 years ago, as a response to something completely uncontrollable (the death of my mother), my defense mechanism was to become controlling. Only a few years ago did I realize that this mechanism was not serving me but working heavily against me.
Since that time, I discovered my very own version of spirituality, allowing me to surrender to something greater than myself. This new way of looking at the world reminds me that, while I certainly have choices about how I want situations in my life to evolve, I am not completely in charge of the outcome. This brings me peace, for it reminds me that I am not all alone on my journey, but in a constant dance with The Universe.
You can imagine my disappointment in recognizing that all of these lessons that I have been learning and practicing over the years seem to have been put on the back burner to my old default control issues as of late.
For the past few weeks I have been struggling with something that I haven’t wanted to deal with and so, in order to avoid it, I have, unconsciously, been speeding myself up, trying to stay busy and in control. I have been breaking commitments to activities that might slow me down (because then I might actually have to see what is going in instead of what I WANT to be going on). I have also indulged in my most personal classic and self-destructive behavior – I have gained weight. When that happens, I feel a sense of shame and unworthiness which further separates me from any interest in investing the time and love in myself that it takes to actually get to the root of the whatever deeper issue I am experiencing. Thus, I have only gone to yoga a handful of times in the past month, made up excuse to stay in bed and eat, and have allowed my meditation practice become almost non-existent.
IN SPITE of all of this, there is good news: These aforementioned saboteurs are slowly but consistently becoming less beastly. The self-destructive episodes are becoming farther apart and even the beasts themselves boast teeth that are not quite as sharp as they used to be.
You, reader, are my witness. After the years of writing this blog and all of the comments and personal messages that I have received during this time, I know that I am note alone. The human condition is to be flawed…happiness and fulfillment come from never giving up on the belief that whatever struggles we face will become less charged when we work on them.
The struggle might never be completely gone, but that’s where we get to dance with The Universe. We give up some of our expectations of being perfect, work on what we want to change within ourselves and then let the natural balance of our actions take course.
The fact of the matter is that I am now called to put more effort into my behavior. So begins the practice of changing the habit from running away to slowing back down and becoming curious about what is going on for me on a deeper level. For only when I feel the pain can it pass.