Night before last I slept 2-1/2 hours. Unlike some prior sleepless times, it was not a tortured night, just restless. It was as though there was something that was trying to bring itself to my awareness and I wasn’t getting it. I realized this but couldn’t put it into words until later in the morning. I just knew I was tense and anxious – could not relax my tight shoulders, neck and body, even through a couple of hours of attempted meditation. My mind was in an anxious muddle, I couldn’t seem to relax and clear it. So I pondered. What the hell was happening. What was causing this stress in me. I couldn’t filter it down.
When this happens to me, it’s like a wonderful intriguing mystery – at least after I’m through the “journey” or “lesson”. Because of these experiences, I really believe Eckhart Tolle, Michael Singer – and others – that we are the observer. We are not our thoughts. We observe our thoughts. Why didn’t I think of it earlier? Of course! Writing. That’s usually how I figure things out – writing words and listening to the message. So early yesterday morning, I started journaling.
I have been surviving some major changes in relationships with my children and grandchildren. Changes from what it used to be to what it is now. These have been painful changes for me because of the loss of my being an integral part of their daily and weekly lives, of being a parent and grandparent who has been distanced by normal life circumstances. Are these Age gaps? These changes were definitely not my choice. On one hand, I’ve been pleased and proud to see everyone becoming… and knowing that they’re healthy, happy and purposeful on their paths. The other part of me has wanted to grab their legs and drag on behind them, saying No! No! Include me. I can’t stand to lose what it was”.
Well, there is a God! I fortunately managed to avoid doing that but on SO many occasions I came very close to saying something (that I would regret). I just never knew exactly what to say…
Needless to say, I finally got “it”. Things really have permanently changed. Over the last year I’ve been working on making a different life for myself. It’s taken a lot of trust. I’ve caused myself a trainload of grief and anxiety but gratefully I’m on the other side of that now. Mostly. So now I can write about it. Much of my life has shifted from the comfortable known of relationships with these young friends who happen to be my children and grandchildren, and all the laughter, silliness, busy-ness, excitement, curiosity, sharing, and more laughter…that the growing absence of that has been way more aloneness than I ever imagined. In fact, I guess it never occurred to me that things would change. It was a surprise. And quiet sudden. Why? Not sure why it was such a surprise. I’m in my 70’s and they’re in their 20’s and 40’s. Big gap in a few ways.
I’ll skip much of what I analyzed over these past months, learned and began to acknowledge. Suffice it to say that I’ve learned a ton about myself. And I’ve created a few nice new friendships that continue to grow. These are women my age and there is laughter and fun and a different kind of understanding, but I recognize that I’ll need to involve myself, maybe volunteering in some way to be with young people. I really enjoy them. Maybe the time that I spend with my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren will be fulfilling enough since I have my new friendships. We’ll see.
Yesterday morning was another major life-changing AHA realization. When I started writing, I realized how I’ve narrowed my “role” to being the Wise One. I feel that’s how my kids and grandkids see me now – at least from their communication styles with me in the last year. Somewhere along the way, probably in a large part due to age differences (I blame it on that), I lost my reputation with them as being silly, shocking (I loved doing that to them), pretty daring, fun and introducing them to new things. By the way, realizing this, I know that I can change this pattern with a little effort – and I’m making my plan.
I realized that I’ve lived my life in resistance – to what is – always wanting more – or different. Not things. I don’t want more things. Life is shorter now and I want more out of life. For me and those that I love before I pass on. I’ve been a searcher and explorer of what more is possible. Always – in fact to the point that inside I had become driven, exhausted and anxious. “What could I be doing better?” Well, now. I got a bit of an idea of how that is most like perceived by my loved ones. Gap?….
Mortality is real now. Mine. And that branches out to include all of those that I love and care about. When I was not as concerned with my mortality, I was more free with my choices. What seems careless to me now was freedom then. I have had a rude awakening as to how much resistance I have been choosing – to what I’m doing – to what others do. Did I not do similar things to what my grandchildren in their 20’s are doing – prior to growing nearer my “mortality”? When I felt laughter, fun and freedom? I’m almost certain that I’ve thrown that net of concern over my kids and grandkids when what they are doing seems “careless and taking unwise risks” in my new perspective. Whew! I don’t like realizing that. No wonder the gap!
And the clinker…I have no control over what they do anyway! Consciously I don’t even want it. But do they know that? Do they interpret my concern for them as lacking confidence in their decisions? I do have a strong sense of wanting to protect them. But I also know that they’re all adults and perfectly capable of caring for themselves. Last week I was stressing about life situations that my kids and grandkids are facing. I wrote what I call a letter to God. I write about my concerns. I pretend – or maybe he really does answer me (I believe he does), with thoughts that help me. I have a running dialogue in my head with God but sometimes it helps to write it.
Well. When I was expressing my concern about my kids problems, God ask me if there is something I think I can do that he cannot. Ahhemm. Chuckle. I confessed probably not. He said, “worry not”. I’m always with them. Your job is to love and enjoy them. Period. Stick to your job and I’ll stick to mine. I didn’t feel scolded. I felt like I’d been lifted out a huge rut that I’d been stuck in, had an overwhelming load taken off my back and was grateful for his love. I felt hugged. I also felt immediate joy in my kids and grandkids. A gift. They were no longer a burden. Is that what they were feeling from me? Gap?
Yesterday morning I realized that I’ve been carrying on the old family trait – one learned from my parents – that there is always a better way to do anything – translated to me as never being good enough and never doing it well enough. Yes, there is some good in that trait but Stop Grasshopper!!!! Balance. I found I was writing about not being very accepting – of much of anything. Always jumping at the chance to express ideas for improving what is, improving whatever….you name it. Has that been translated and heard as criticism? Wow! Does that sound like “old” or what! Intensity, anxiety, driven, tired…. I realize age has nothing to do with that kind of “old”. But I suddenly got a very clear picture. When my thinking exhibits “narrow, critical and old”, the white hairs on my head add to the perception. I have thought that those white hairs simply indicate I probably know more than I used to. Well, yes – this may be true. But its the balance – having the allure of youth – being fun, silly, excited, light-hearted and free that is interwoven with wisdom, sharing fun and interesting experiences that honor our age. I realized yesterday that somewhere that balance had gradually changed in my life – to being anxious and preoccupied, intense, being perceived as critical, perfectionistic, and not much fun to be around. Sounds “old” to me. I’ve missed the laughter, the fun – of being me. And that’s a choice. I got it. The first step in closing the gap a little? Maybe?
I realized that the opposite of being resistant is accepting. Yesterday I made a choice. I wrote about making unconditional acceptance my chosen way of Being. Accepting life, change, loss, and yes – even happiness and joy.
My AHA! moment – Today, I want exactly what I already have. I accept what is. Unconditional acceptance is my conscious, chosen way of BEING. I know that my way of “being” is definitely a choice. The wonder of all of this is…I can stop right now and choose something different…a different way of thinking, believing and BEING! I can rewrite who I am. I can rewrite my story and start fresh and new. Again. And I have.
The moment that I wrote that, my body relaxed. I was released. The power of that resistance was gone.
Last night I slept eight hours! The first time in a long long time. Acceptance. I’m a raving fan!