On the last day of the year I’m reflecting. It’s been a good year. And a hard year. A year of surrender, and surrender is often both painful and relieving.
I could easily write about all the beautiful memories, of gratitude, of new friendships and plans for the future. But I rarely write to paint a one-sided picture of life. Hence the words that come to my mind as I’m watching the snow fall silently outside are anger, regret, acceptance and family. I’ll tell you why:
2018 has been about anger
2018 reminded me there’s no way forward but through whatever feeling we’re deeply resisting. And for me, it’s always been anger. Finally, it was time for anger!
Anger was not part of the emotional repertoire as I grew up. I did not ‘learn’ it – learn how to release it, learn that it was acceptable. Instead I learned to judge it, to suppress it, to fear it. Anger is negatively charged uncontrolled passion, and I learned control.
This year I lost it and screamed my truth at someone for probably the first time in my life. This year I allowed myself to be not sad but angry about the meaninglessness and the fear and the uncertainty. I let childhood anger out, and I let adult anger out. This year I finally felt safe enough to let go, giving the finger to tabus and social norms and yoginess promoting calmness and control.
Anger is electrical discharge, as necessary as the lighting in the sky. Directed into the ether, it does no damage. Hence we should not suppress it, but rather learn how to steer it in a safe direction. Not towards revenge, not towards causing pain to ourselves or others, but into the safe ether. When no longer dangerous, it becomes but a beautiful flash in the sky.
As I toast the old year, I toast also anger, with gratitude.
2018 has been about regret and acceptance
In 2018 I finally realised that I will never ‘heal’ my wounds. That what I’ve put all my stubborn positive focus towards for almost a decade will not happen, cannot happen, has not happened to anyone around me – not even the wise philosophers and spiritual teachers I’ve been fortunate to meet on my journey.
At first, I felt deep regret. I felt it had all been for nothing, that I’d waisted my precious time. For even on the other side of forgiveness and approval, my wounds STILL hurt, simply because they are wounds. I had expected them to heal and fade away. I had expected the pain to disappear at some point, forever.
Eventually though, acceptance creeped in.
we are all emotionally crippled
and most wounds will never heal
all we can do
is gain awareness
and channel our pain into something that feels purposeful
Being crippled is disabling, whether physically, mentally or emotionally. Pretending nothing is wrong is denial. Believing limbs will grow back is self-deceit. Adjustment is the only loving way forward.
As the stubborn optimist I am, I expected my crippled emotional limbs to grow back. Regret was the key that opened the door to acceptance. Yes, it hurts like hell when life puts its finger right on a sore spot. Yes, I need adjustment because certain limbs got pulled off already in my childhood, or maybe never developed at all. But I’m not broken. Lost limbs, cuts and bruises is what happens when we live. And hence life is about constant adjustment.
As I toast the old year, I toast both regret and acceptance, with gratitude.
2018 has been about family
I’m writing this blog post from my brother’s apartment in the Swiss alps. I was supposed to return back to Australia for New Years Eve, but on the day before my planned departure I took a stand: I chose ‘family’. And I made the conscious decision to always, from now on, choose ‘family’.
‘Family’ is where you feel safe to be yourself. Anxiety eases or disappears. You fall out of your mind and into the present moment. You feel naturally part of. You’re seen, accepted and appreciated for who you are. It can be your biological family, or a family you’ve chosen yourself. Some of us have many, some of us none. ‘Family’ is a feeling. A happy, safe feeling.
My coping mechanism in life has always been withdrawal. Like an alcoholic choose the bottle, I’ve chosen secludedness. It’s been tasty and calming, but not always good for me. It’s made me strong, independent, introspective, but also very lonely; I’ve withdrawn also from ‘family’. I’ve denied myself belonging.
I have often felt unsafe with people. I have usually felt judged. I have rarely felt seen. The opposite of ‘family’. In 2018 I’ve actively chosen the families I have. I’ve re-committed to my old company, to people that I truly appreciate and trust. I’ve chosen to spend more time with my biological family. And I’ve opened up to finding new family around me.
Tonight, I will toast with family, with gratitude.
Both to the old and to the new.
And as for 2019, I wish for lots of anger, more regret that opens locked doors to acceptance, and – above all – more time surrounded by ‘family’. Surrounded by unconditional love.
Happy New Year!