For a long time, I lived in a state of perpetual confusion.
I oscillated between:
“I can do it my self!!!!!” (Dammit!),
“I can do it myself.” (A gentler version of ‘I am woman, hear me roar.’),
“I can do it better than you,” (So don’t bother trying to help out.),
“I don’t need you!” (Fine! I’ll do it myself.)
“I can’t do it all!” (Someone please take care of me.)
Indignation. Confidence. Self-importance. Righteousness. Victim. All of them danced within me and created what I experienced in the world around.
With these internal scripts blaring in my head, I would look at the characters in my life and become repeatedly disappointed when they didn’t do what I wanted, when I wanted, or live up to my expectations. My beliefs played out before me daily. My parents, although generally fantastic, would say or do the wrong thing. Why couldn’t they just be less dramatic, less opinionated, more helpful? My husband, incredible guy that he is, would fail at some husbandly duty and I’d be left feeling unloved or unsupported. The customer service rep on the other end of the phone, oooo don’t get me started on him. Why couldn’t company policy bend to my will? Over and over again, I would become frustrated over what I perceived to be a lack of love and support around me.
I became quite adept at navigating from a place of will. If I couldn’t get what I wanted from others, then my solution was to do it myself. I was smart, capable, savvy, good at most anything I tried. I was raised by a feminist on a healthy diet of Free to Be You and Me, which insisted that girls can do anything boys do (except be a daddy, brother or uncle.) I generally translated this to mean, I should try to be as good as if not better at being a boy. But that’s another story. So I walked around with a superiority complex, looking down on mere mortals as my way of covering up that I didn’t feel good enough or loveable enough or just generally enough enough to get whatever I wanted in the world.
This strategy worked until I started k-i-s-s-i-n-g. First came love, then came marriage, then came Bodhi in a baby carriage. While I desperately tried to take care of myself, my husband, my stepson and his girlfriend, our son, our home, the dogs, my career, and every other detail of our life, I got fed up with trying to “do it all.” I was tired of being Little Miss Independent Career Woman so Jamie and I agreed that he’d make the vast majority of the money and I’d take care of the rest. I flopped into a “you take care of me” (at least financially) role that was born partially of years of overcompensating on the “I can do it myself!!”
For a time, all was well. Until Jamie and I realized that neither one of us was particularly happy with our traditional, divide it down the middle relationship. Last year we exploded that structure by taking a leap of faith and shutting down his lucrative business (that had accumulated a lot of debt) and moving to the mountains where neither one of us had an income. That meant everything was up for re-negotiation – who cooked, cleaned, cleared snow, made money. Life became unclear and messy and sticky and stressful – and also calmer and full of beauty and family time and nature and love.
Once I discovered I was pregnant, whew! All the safety and security and feeling loved and supported and taken care of issues rose, okay, roared, to the surface. Since my marriage, my career, our finances were all on shaky new ground, should I just take care of it all myself? Should I, could I rely on others around me? I was majorly confused (and hormonal).
Then, as I was sobbing my way through a session with my dear friend and spiritual mentor, I had a vision. I saw all the people in my life floating around me, like stars or planets in the sky. Each of them was separate from me. I was used to looking at Jamie or my mom or dad or whomever to provide me with what I wanted. If Jamie didn’t deliver a stable income, I felt disappointed. If my mom didn’t deliver emotional support or understanding, I was annoyed.
And yet behind all these people, was Life herself. Call it God, source, Divine Mother. There were beautiful streams of light emanating from her fingertips. Life herself was orchestrating my whole life! A grand puppeteer on the spiritual side, making contact with the physical world. Sometimes she would point to Jamie and money could spring from his hands. Yet at other times, she’d pull back from directing flow through him and point to an unexpected refund or selling a vehicle, or one of a multitude of other ways for income to come into our life. The same was true with my mother or father. Sometimes mothering or advice or support would come through them. But sometimes it would come through a dear friend or mentor.
While I breathlessly watched this scene play out, I knew in my marrow: Life has always supported me. I have always been loved, supported, nurtured and taken care of. This love and support may not come in the manner I expect it to, but it does come. When I can drop my expectations and attachment to “xyz needs to come through this person in that way,” then I sink into a state of trust.
Wow. What a breath of relief.
I wish I could say that this vision instantly transformed my world.
A few hours later, I was on the phone with a customer service rep who basically told me that he couldn’t help me locate gift cards that had been sent to an old email address. He was very sorry but that didn’t change my disappointment and annoyance. Why wasn’t life going my way? How much money was just floating out there, lost to me?
I felt instantly cranky. I was fed up with being cooped up in the house. I was hungry.
Then Jamie and Bodhi walked in the door, buoyant from playing hooky after a major snowstorm. After some “epic” powder, they stopped at the local bakery to pick up a treat and discovered that it was free bread giveaway day. They brought in their good cheer and delicious croissants and yummy (free) fresh baked bread. Here was Life bringing a gift and laying it at my feet. “See?,” she whispered, “I provide for you. I do take care of you.”
We had our snack and I went back to my computer and discovered a co-worker from 15 years ago had sent me multiple gifts for my online baby shower. Completely unexpected and generous. I laughed. While I had been somewhat taken aback when certain family members had not participated in the shower, here was someone who I would never in a million years predicted giving me anything at all, giving quite a bit.
Life winked at me.
So now I’m practicing each day. To sit with whatever feelings arise when I’m feeling un-supported. Then drop below them into presence. Into connection. Into knowing that I am and always will be taken care of – because I’m part of the one, the all, Life. Life may work through a husband, friend, bakery, family member, or unexpected gift. I never know. It’s not my job to know. When I drop thinking that I know the best way for me to get what I want, then I ease into a place of more flow, abundance and support.
I’m in the process of switching over my faith. I’m no longer depending on my abilities, or smarts, or personality or the people around me. Sometimes, yes, they get called upon to play. But my faith is being directed toward Life, that magical genie of a goddess. And I’m being gentle with myself during the transition. After all, for a long time, I thought I had to do it myself, dammit. Now I know better. Thank you. Sorry. All is well.