Saturday, February 08, 2014

What a Difference a Word Makes

After quite a long break, I am once again feeling the need to write. Although about what, I am not so sure. A lot has gone on in the past few months. Some of it good, and for some of it, it’s just too early to know. I last wrote about a month after things ended with David and I. After that, they took quite a downward emotional spiral, which I mostly just kept to myself. There was a lot of thinking and self-analyzing. There were lots of questions and many hours spent trying to see the bigger picture and yet focus in on the details that mattered or might have made a difference. I cried the big ugly cries, went through the depression, wanted to run away and hide, go someplace and restart my life where nobody knew anything about me. But I stayed and waded through the emotional sludge that was bogging me down.

A few months earlier, just prior to David and I coming to an end, I came across a concept called One Word. The idea is to take a word that really resonates, and focus on it for a year without any preconceived ideas of what it is “supposed” to mean and instead, just focus on it and see what emerges and what lessons are learned. Immediately, the word “surrender” came to mind. After the past four years in which I lost almost every material possession I owned, had a few relationships come crashing down, survived a stroke, learned to walk, battled depression, and so on, it seemed to be what I most needed and wanted. I knew I was carrying all this stuff around and I knew it was weighing on me, changing who I was, making me into a person I am otherwise not. I wanted to let it all go, I just didn’t know how. There was really nobody to forgive, no long conversations that would have righted wrongs.  There were just a bunch of really shitty things that happened that really sucked.

It was mid September when I came across the concept and instead of giving it a year, basically because I knew I couldn't go another year, I gave it until the end of 2013. I didn’t know if I was being silly or if it would work, but I was in one of those places here there really is nothing left to lose and so I just did it. I would sometimes meditate on the word, I would at other times just let it simmer in the background. For me, surrender had always been about letting it all go and giving it up to something higher and not letting myself be involved in it. What I discovered was that, for me at least, it was learning to differentiate between what I can control or influence and what I can’t. It was about learning to make the decision about where to spend the energy in my life. Some things I could easily take charge of, and other things will never be under my influence. I started actively using that knowledge, letting go and dropping the worry about things that I can’t impact, and instead, using that energy to gain momentum and movement in the areas I can affect. I wasn’t always successful in it, and it is probably one of those things that will be a life lesson for which I will often need to bring myself back to basics and ask myself the simple question “Is there truly anything I can do about this?” Sometimes, it is just how I let it affect me. Do I worry? Do I let the actions of someone else bring me down or affect my self worth? Can I make real change or will I just be spinning my wheels?

For the first few weeks, I had all these questions and thoughts racing through my head, and then on an ordinary day, for no reason I can explain, I just felt light. I felt happy. I wanted to cry, but in a very different way than I wanted to cry over the past few years. I was just so full of joy and free from the baggage that I was overwhelmed. And that is when things turned around completely.

I went from not being able to find work, to basically being self-employed, from not having my own transportation to buying a new car. I have spent the past two years living in other people’s homes and in about a week, I am moving into my own place. It happened almost as son as I let everything go. I realized I was not only weighing myself down, I had walled myself in and forced everything else out. That change alone has made all the difference. I even managed to meet up with David not long ago and while I was terrified of being hurt or what might happen or be said, it was truly a great experience and I hope it is the start of us building a friendship. He is an amazing guy and I will always be thankful I had my time with him. And even if I had known in the beginning that it would end, I would not give up the short time we had together.

As of January 1, I have a new word that I will focus on for the entire year. I will keep it to myself for now, but so far, it is an equally powerful learning experience.