The Wisdom To Know

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It seems like a lot has happened since my last blog post.  A lot, yet nothing much at all.  There were no significant, life-changing events, but yet I feel a certain sense of change.  Christmas has passed.  It is a new year.  I am another year older, having celebrated a birthday during my blogging absence.

I apologize for temporarily shutting down both blogs for a period of time.  It was not my intention to cause alarm or concern.  I simply needed a time to hibernate.  I needed a time of quiet reflection.  I suppose I needed solitude.

The holidays were filled at times with deep sadness while other moments were shining with a kind of joy that I have not allowed myself to experience fully in a very long time.

I had ten days of no work, time with all four kids home, happy and getting along well.  I ate too much.  At times, I drank too much.

T and I  rang in the New Year with old friends.  For the first time in years, I was not on stage playing music, but I was one of the crowd enjoying the entertainment.  That made me sad, and it felt odd at first.  Eventually, though, I was out on the floor dancing up a storm.  That night, I belly laughed for the first time in over two years.  The sensation caught me by surprise.  At first, I didn’t recognize what was happening, and it made me laugh even harder in wonder at the privilege of having the experience of happiness and joy flash into my life for a brief moment once again.

Acceptance.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

Those were words I heard my dad repeat hundreds of times.  My dad lived those words.  They were written and framed in a variety of places in his home so he would never forget.  He was reminded over and over to accept with courage whatever life sent his way.

I have never had a problem with courage.  Many times, I have faced down my fears.  The word CAN’T, the word NO, those were words that offered a challenge to me.  Being told that something was not possible only spurred me to try harder to prove the possibility.  Fighting for what I wanted or what I believed in was never the problem.  It has taken me two years to learn an important lesson.  There are some things in life that I cannot change.  Can’t.  No.  Some things are beyond my power to control.  I know that concept may seem like a no-brainer to some, but not to me.  I thought if I fought hard enough, tried hard enough, I could make practically anything go MY WAY.  Of course, I have always understood that there were things, like death, that were beyond my control, but beyond that, I stubbornly, bull-headedly believed that there was very little else that I could not sway, or fix, or influence.  I was wrong.

While I may have not lacked courage and conviction, something else has been lacking.  A great, gaping hole stood in the middle between me and acceptance.  That gaping hole was wisdom.  “…the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”  Two years of struggle, and an unwillingness to admit acceptance into my life, has taught me that WISDOM does not come easily.

Along with wisdom comes acceptance, and acceptance brings with it a sense of calm.  For the first time in so very long, I have had moments of calm and peace.  I have had moments that have allowed me once again to recognize myself, the woman I once was, the woman I hope to be again someday.  Acceptance does not take away sadness or loss, but it has allowed me to occasionally step off of the hamster wheel.  This wisdom has allowed me to stop punishing myself.  Yes, some things are beyond my control.

I now understand why my dad found it necessary to keep the words of the Serenity Prayer near to him.  Like me, he needed to be reminded.  It was a lesson that had not come easily to him, but once learned, he never forgot the value of that lesson.

Resisting Closure

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For the past year and a half, I have fought closure; kicking and screaming, heals dug in, eyes squinched shut.  I have seen closure, and I have looked at what lies on the other side.  I could see it as if I were looking through a big picture window.  I wasn’t sure I liked what I saw on the other side.

Closure:  1.  bringing to an end; a conclusion.  2.  A feeling of finality or resolution, especially after a traumatic experience.

Finality after a traumatic experience.  Yes.  But why wouldn’t I want that?  Why wouldn’t I want “finality after a traumatic experience?”  That seems like something I should want and desire; to finally bring a traumatic experience to an end.  So what was stopping me?

To be able to walk away from a situation, whether that means to physically walk away, or to simply disallow a situation to take up real estate in your head, you have to be able to have acceptance.

Acceptance – the mental attitude that something is believable and should be accepted as true.

I resisted acceptance, too.  Actively and blindly, I resisted seeing the things right in front of me that were “believable and true.”  I clung to a fantasy that was my perception of reality.  I now know why.  If I let go of that illusion, delusion, fantasy, I was going to be forever changed.

Closure has been right in front of me for a very long time now.  Closure was a gate, and all I had to do was enter.  Instead, I circled around and around.  I pretended to ignore it.  I refused to look in that direction.  I shuffled my feet and whistled a tune, all in an attempt to avoid acceptance.  Acceptance meant letting go.  Letting go meant that I had been WRONG.  Letting go meant that I would be forever changed.

Letting go meant that my illusions turned into disillusionment.  Letting go meant that my optimism and belief had been unfounded.  My trust turned to distrust.  My happiness turned to anger and resentment.  The truth had been turned into lies.  What once sparkled and glowed was now a crappy blob of dryer lint.  Of course, I didn’t want to accept all of these things!  I knew what acceptance meant for me, too.  Acceptance meant that something essential about myself was going to be forever changed and not in any good way.

I’m not sure if I am making myself clear.  I liked who I was “before.”  I imagined who I would become on the other side of all of this, and it scared me.  I liked trusting people.  I liked believing in the good side of life.  I wanted to be an optimist.  I didn’t want to be wary.  I didn’t want to distrust.  I didn’t want to be cautious.  I wanted GOOD to prevail over EVIL.  I wanted a fairy tale.  Mostly, I didn’t want to be forever changed.

I have taken that step, and walked through the gates of acceptance and closure.  Yes, I have changed.  No, it doesn’t feel good.  It feels empty and sad.  I do distrust in the simplest moments of happiness or kindness, but there is something else.  This is important.  Who I was inside has not changed.  The essential ME has not changed.  I do still want to believe in good.  I still see good all around me, but there is a new dimension beginning to emerge.  Maybe it is a new depth of empathy, but I’m not really sure.  I am recently equipped with something, as of yet undefinable, that feels gentle and sympathetic.   I look at the people around me and I wonder.  We all have a story inside.  We all need kindness and love.  Some of us deserve it.

This past weekend, I took steps back into my life.  I reconnected with old friends.  I listened to great music.  I spent time with people I love and who love me in return.  No, acceptance and closure are not easy things, but they are so very much better than the gray, stark landscape of denial.