February 26, 2010
My new life, created daily, moment by moment, is dedicated to Joy, Happiness, and all the 8 directions in my Life-Long Compass of Joy. These guide-posts are at the 8 direction points: SE, I think about the Joy of Existence itself and I make my intention to “Show Up”; NW, the subject is the Joy of Compassionate Caring and the intention is to “Listen Up”; SW, I imagine the Joy of Creativity and determine to “Open Up”; NE, the Joy of Evolving where I resolve to “Grow Up”; W, the point is to play and have fun, and to “Lighten Up”; E, the Joy of learning and I continue to “Wise Up”; N is the Joy of loving and I “Link Up”; and to the South, the Joy of Work where I “Offer Up”.
So, these 8 Joys are part of my daily meditation. I ponder and think about them with a curious mind as Paul and I do our Tao Yin Fa and Chi Gong. Maybe you can imagine how this spiral of growth works, since there is an immutable law: “Whatever we resolve to do, there will be a test almost immediately.” So, here I am resolved to stay happy, be joyful, and do all those upbeat resolutions every day. Life goes very well when I can pull it off.
But, what often happens is I get the test of my new intention. The test takes me back to my old script, my old habits, my old feelings. I can tell you about it by telling you a story about one more re-entry. Re-entry is when Paul has been gone or I have been gone or any of our loved ones have been absent for awhile. When we come together again, there is the crunch of re-connecting. Sort of like raw stones in a tumbling vat, we bump up against each other and tend to grate or be grated against. That is how stones become smooth. Our relationships do that. We bump and grind against each other with the outcome of shining up or being broken.
So, I came home from my lovely trip to Canada last Friday night. Had to sprint for the plane in Atlanta since we were late due to the snow in the north. For this 81 year old, sprinting is not exactly what I do best any more, so I was tired and really ready to be home. Paul went with me to the luggage carousel, planning to help me with capturing the piece of luggage that was checked, which is not my normal routine but the Canadian clerk didn’t allow my purse being inside the carry-on larger purse as one piece. Nothing for me to do but obey the rule, hence the checked bag.
Anyway, we are standing waiting for the bag, which I am certain won’t be on this flight since the time was so short in Atlanta. Paul asks, “Is that your bag?” I say, “No, mine is black leather.” He replies, “That was a yes or no question.” And, I felt my stomach contract. Now, I have learned in the recent months of my growth to pay attention when my stomach squeezes like that. It is an old familiar feeling. Actually, it goes all the way back to my early childhood, probably starting before I was 2 years old. Some deep voiced male admonished me and I felt the fear of not belonging or being abandoned or being rejected. I felt the fear in my stomach. So, I was “home again” in that split second when he said that he wanted only a yes or no—(he wanted no further information such as the bag is black leather.) Each one of us is convinced of our innocence and our wish to be helpful.
Now, we are at a real important crossroads (and the timing is only a second or less): Will I continue my path of joy and happiness? Or will I be hurt and go into self pity (which I have down to a fine art, of course). Self-pity is the cover-up for our basic belief that we are not enough, and it usually comes out as anger, because we need someone else to be at fault. We want someone else to take the blame so that the self-pity is justified. My old story would have gone down a degenerative path of being angry, hurt, and really picking a fight. Paul would have stone-walled, been stoic, and I would get into my anger-blame-shame-guilt routine. It could have gone on a long time and totally spoiled my home coming.
I decided to continue to be happy. One thing, for sure, I now know that I have a choice about what I feel, how I think, and what I do or say. And, I discovered something that, in all my years of therapy, and all the years of being a therapist, I somehow, had not really absorbed the reality of my childhood. This new realization was that, it was possible that most of my childhood was not really consistently happy. It may have been even worse than I remembered. My father was eternally vigilant and admonishing me, resulting in my super-sensitivity to any remark about me. (Paul’s Mother was the same–always watching him to keep him on the right path.) Each of us had arrived at adulthood with some self-beliefs: I believe I am a burden (to be watched and kept on track but a burden none-the-less); Paul believes he is a disappointment. As we talked about the incident, we both came to clear understanding of one more layer of that childhood hypnosis. We both were able to look at it without any need for judgment of the other. The awareness was like a breath of fresh air and one more ah-ha of discovery into the psychological games we play. Our conversation was exhilarating. We made new discoveries. Paul talked about how we create moments in our marriage, especially during these re-entry periods, when we fall back into those old beliefs and reinforce them yet again. He said, he made his remark about it being a yes or no question as if he was telling his mother to stop controlling him.
This is fine-tuning work in a relationship. It starts with awareness—awareness of feelings, sensations, nuances, nudges, intuitions, and all those invisible signals that are coming at us every moment. Being aware and choosing to stay “on-course” is the greatest way to take charge of our life story and create it according to our highest, grandest, most abundant success, our most loving possibility, and our worthiest expansion into our true selves. Authenticity is the goal. Joy is the choice. Happiness is the by-product of our joy-filled authenticity.
Life is good. All is well. Feeling of happiness are possible. Joy is our Birthright.