It's been a good year. My days have slipped past, one after the other, in a haze of routine contentment. More or less.
As usual, I started the year in a regimented way, making very strict plans for myself. I spent a lot of time trying to organize my mind and my year, setting lofty, worthy goals, and carefully modifying the journal. I blogged about it. Looking at it now, it seems like a lot of pressure to put on yourself to expect to get everything perfectly colour-coded and all tasks 100% complete.
I feel I learned a lot about myself in the first quarter of 2009 by reading Eckhart Tolle. I learned about the 'pain body'. (I blogged a lot about that, too). It seems to me I've been doing much better with the 'melt downs' since doing that introspective work. In fact, hubby says this best year I've had since he's known me, as far as meltdowns go. None of them this year seemed to have anything to do with my personal life, but with my driving anxiety and those pesky lessons I was taking!)
Which leads me to my proudest accomplishment of this year: getting my UK driving licence. It took me 18 months of lessons, half a dozen books, a complete set of flower remedies, hours of meditation, chanting and hypnosis tapes, and even a session with an Emotional Freedom Therapist (which I recommend!) to get me there. But I did it!
April and May were very tough months. My Dad died in April, my son graduated from high school in May. That was an unplanned trip home in April, and a planned one in May. Both were fraught with emotion to deal with. Distance has made it easier to cope, but that was a difficult time, which rippled into the next few months. In fact, I'm still not sure I've dealt with Dad's death. Grief takes a long, long time.
I believe, though, that this year I have finally detached from the guilt associated with my son. He is who he is and he does what he wants, and I have relinquished control of the situation. (Control which I never had anyway). This has given me a rather numb sense of peace. Whatever happens has so very little to do with me, and I accept that. I think of him with interest, affection and concern, and what I feel is a healthy detachment. I have learned that keeping my head out of the past is the key to freeing myself from the guilt. He is nearly 19. No longer a little boy. I have given myself permission to let go, and this year, I seem to have finally accepted that permission and begun to do it.
I got rather bogged down in introspection at one point in the year and dropped out of Facebook, stopped posting to this blog, and stopped all reading of self-help or other books. I took a break from all of it until after my driving test and I believe that was good for me. I was starting to get 'magical thinking' about it all.
It's interesting where my exploration has taken me. I've discovered an intense interest in the most unexpected things. Crystals, flower remedies, chanting. None of this seems very Zen--but that's okay. My sacred journey belongs to me. I can do and believe what I want, and I can move through cycles and phases of practice and growth as I want. This is freeing and beautiful.
For years I have lived in fear of my financial future, worrying about my fate in retirement but unable to face the daunting prospect of taking action. Last month, I finally started looking into this. We are making a start toward investigating our options and creating a plan for our future. I am very proud that we are taking this step, looking forward instead of back--although we have to constantly remind ourselves not to waste time regretting inaction in the past, or fearing the future. For the first time, I feel hopeful, I feel positive. Maybe I won't be a homeless old lady dribbling in a corner after all. I have a good 25 years to build up a nest egg, and during that time I also must remember to live my life then and there as well as save for the 20-odd years after work is done. The goal is a pension and savings to cover rent and provide our needs. We're seeing an independent financial adviser in the new year (after Mercury is out of retrograde!) Hubby says he thinks that my releasing the guilt about my family has allowed me to move forward. Before, I couldn't look forward as I was chained to the past. I remember during that Emotional Freedom Therapy session, I kept saying over and over to the therapist, 'I can't let go of the guilt, I don't want to, I can't'--it was because I felt that the guilt was my only tie to my family, that somehow, if I let go of that, my separation from my son would be permanent and complete. But what it actually has done is free me. Not tormenting myself does not mean I don't love him. I can't say I'll never have another meltdown about this. But now I see things differently than I did (or rather, I see them clearly instead of seeing my illusions abou them), and as he becomes more of a man, I am sure I will feel even safer to move on.
And finally, the job. I recently had a job interview for a post I didn't want. Thankfully, I didn't get it, and I've been thinking about why I went for it. Once you get past the surface reasons--it was a step up from my current post, it was in a 'nicer' part of the county, and it is closer to where hubby works--you get to the truth. The real truth is, I am very comfortable in my current post and in my domestic situation. This is the happiest I have been, day-to-day, in my entire life. So comfortable that there is a subconsious fear that something bad is bound to happen to destroy the situation. And so, to prevent the bad thing that you don't want, you try to instigate a change yourself that is sort of what you want, or something you ought to want. At least, if change is inevitable, you can be the one in control of change. It's a fucked-up solution to a non-problem, but I'm convinced it's the reason behind a lot of the decisions that people make. I hope I don't forget the lesson that it's okay to be happy and pointless to try to circumvent the unexpected.
When I first started using the Sacred Journey journal, I chose them because they contained a lot of blank pages that I could paste things over or use to make notes on. The pagan elements of the journal bothered me. I found them frightening and distressing, and I would spend hours in December making them more usable by ripping out pages with references to cards, divination, spirit guides, etc. I quickly plastered them over with exercise rotations, charts for recording my weight, and snippets from the sanitized version of Buddhism that I had selected for its lack of imagery or 'heathen' practices, Zen. (It was the easiest thing for my Christian-reared mind to deal with--sitting in silence seemed so much safer than some of the other stuff out there!)
This year, I've learned to let go of my fear of occult and esoteric practices. I've learned to recognize and avoid what I call 'magical thinking'--which is ironic because as I've learned this, I have been moving toward seemingly 'magical' tools. I used to put so much hope into my spiritual practice--hope that it would somehow magically change me, change my circumstances, change my life. I did that with my Christianity, and later with my Buddhism. I felt that if I prayed and believed hard enough, or later, if I emptied my mind in mediation enough, that my problems would melt away. When nothing magical happened, I blamed myself for not doing it right, not having enough faith, not being worthy. I can see this now. Ironically, as I've moved toward crystals, flowers, chanting of mantras, I've become freer of magical thinking, because I view these practices as tools to explore the subconscious mind, to bring out of myself what is there. Even if that means just accepting the situation for what it is. In fact, especially the ability to accept a situation for what it really is! In and of themselves, these things hold no power or meaning. The only magic is in me.
And so, next year, I'm not modifying the Sacred Journey journal. I am going to use it as written. I have even ordered a set of tarot cards to use with it. 2010 is my year of openness, open to myself, open to all paths. Free of magical thinking--I hope!
- May I let go a bit more of 'control of the universe'.
- May I not make elaborate, detailed plans that no one could live up to.
- May I recognise what's right and beautiful about me.
- May I accept what's backward and dysfunctional about me, and work on it in a loving, nonjudgemental way.
- May I reach out to other people in a way that is healthy and right for me, and true to the person I am.
- May I lay the foundations for a financial future that will meet my needs.
- May I accept that it's okay, in the book of my life, to leave some pages blank, while filling others edge to edge. But not to leave them blank out of fear.
I think as I move deeper into my 40s, I'm getting comfortable with accepting myself for who I am. I'm finding I struggle less and less within myself. I am coming to terms with societal expectations vs what I really want. I find I don't care so much what other people think.
I am whole. I really am.