It's been a big week for us all. We are, once again, reminded that the world can be a scary place. People walk around with hateful thoughts in their heads. Sometimes those dark thoughts turn into actions that hurt people. We want to change it all for the better, but how?
During moments like this, it can be easy to run away. Running away might be pretending you don't care or telling yourself that big racist issues don't affect you (They do. They affect all of us way more than we even know).
Running away might look like having a few extra drinks at night for a few nights in a row so you don't have to feel how much you care. Of course, this doesn't stop your feelings but it does turn the volume down for a while. When you sober up the next day, you will be again presented with all the confusion and grief. Running away doesn't fix things.
If we aren't running away, the other option is to try to fix the problem. Specifically, we want to change others so that we can have the peace and happiness we sense is possible. Wouldn't it be so amazing to reach out, rearrange the dysfunctional thinking of those who want to hurt others, and then watch as the world comes together as one?
Unfortunately, as wonderful as this vision sounds, it just doesn't work to change people in this way. If it did, I would have succeeded in fixing all of the sad, angry people that have come in and out of my life. I would have saved myself so many moments of stress and hours of sleep. I might have even learned that I was allowed to be happy.
Change does happen, but often not in the way we hope it will. It rarely comes from trying to "fix" the problems that are blocking our path. As logical as that tactic sounds, the adage of "what we resist persists" usually triumphs. Think about the war on terrorism, the war on drugs and the many wars we have fought overtime. Aren't we always worse off after going to battle?
So, if avoiding the problem doesn't make it go away and trying to fix it usually makes it worse, then what are we left to do? The best answer I've found is care. First, we have to admit how much we care. We have to cry about how much we care. We have to come together with others who are willing to admit that they also care.
Then, we have to start listening to the other side, even if it means silently repeating to ourselves that listening doesn't mean agreement. It just shows care. And when people are listened to and feel cared about, they tend to act more positively. Not always, but usually. So many of us are starved for love and even just a little understanding can go a long way in opening minds. I've seen in happen with myself and in others. I really believe in it.
With this intention, this morning I recorded the last video in the ongoing relational self-care series. Over the past weeks, I've been recording one video a week while waiting to have my baby. And although I may not have delivered the child by next Wednesday (I am due on Monday but who knows?), I think sharing these final thoughts will bring us to a good place of pause.
In this last relational self-care video, I talk about:
-how to make peace with being single when you want to be in a relationship
-how to shift a relationship that feels stuck (without "fixing")
-how these skills might help us branch into working with larger societal issues
As I share this, I realize that I haven't said enough about the bigness of what we are dealing with as a culture during this time and that my answers might feel too simplistic. Alas, I hope you can take the meanings that are useful for you and begin working them into your life. And then please let me know where I am falling short in my vision and/or sensitivity. It's important for me to know.
Closing this post, I feel a real sense of grief. I am grieving for everyone who feels afraid for their well-being. I'm grieving for all of us who are asking such big questions and feeling such immense feelings without relief. I am grieving the ignorances I have that I can't see.
And very personally, I am grieving for my the part of myself that must pass away as I become a mother. More than ever, I don't know what the future holds. I don't know how I'll do in the process. I just know that I really, really care.
However, within that grief there is a lot of goodness. I am so excited to become a mother, even though I know it will be so hard and I'll make a lot of mistakes. I am so touched by all the acts of solidarity and kindness that have emerged from Charlottesville. I'm heartened by the idea that we are going through our own societal contractions, in the name of rebirth and hope.
It's our job to stay present to both -- the pain and the pleasure, the darkness and the light. Holding both, we can be grounded light-bearers. We will begin to bridge the gaps for others to walk toward greater tolerance, when they are good and ready to take those steps on their own.
In the meantime, we can continue taking care of ourselves. We can sleep when it's late, eat nourishing food when we are hungry, and communicate our feelings with honesty and gentleness. As we do our practices, we become role models for greater societal care, even if that was never our goal.
By caring so beautifully for ourselves we will change, from the inside out, the world we hope is possible for us all to live in.
PS - I'm not sure what this newsletter will look like for these next weeks of postpartum time. I'm hoping to post a thought + a photo each Wednesday. We'll see what happens! Thank you for your support as I take these scary and exciting new steps in my life.