Sunday, August 21, 2011

An update on surrendering...

In the weeks that have passed since my last post (it's hard to believe it's been weeks already) I've been struggling with the whole idea of surrendering, or accepting what happened to my kids. For the first two days, every time I'd try to get myself to make peace with my kids' death the resulting experience was anything but peaceful. It literally felt like someone very strong had kicked me in the chest, sucked all the air out of the room and then tied a noose around my neck. I'm not lying. I could not breathe. I could not think. I could not surrender.

After those first couple of days I sort of gave up on the plan and instead decided to accept the fact that I couldn't accept the facts. I decided that my version of surrendering would be to acknowledge what has happened and admit that I will never be able to handle it. I have come to the realization that I will never be ok with it. I even came up with an acronym for my condition. FFU. Forever Fucked Up. That's just the way I am and the way I'm gonna be.

I have to tell you something really weird. Even though this is a completely bass ackward way of surrendering, it sort of worked. I started to notice a change. Even though I can't accept something that happened almost two and a half years ago, I can accept the person I am right now.

I can't explain it completely, but in the past few weeks I've started being kinder to myself. Instead of constantly fighting my situation or trying to change what has happened I allow myself to "indulge" in my sadness - if I don't feel motivated to do anything, then I don't do anything. If I feel like feeling sorry for myself then I throw myself a pity party. If I want to be angry and jealous because my friends' kids are growing up and mine aren't, then so be it. After all, I'm FFU so I might as well learn to live with it.

This may sound like a great increase in negativity, but strangely it doesn't feel that way at all. Instead of putting all of my energy into trying to change things that cannot be changed, I have started taking care of myself. I find myself thinking, "well, this is your life now - what can you do to make the most of it (or at least make it bearable)". That thought has proven to be far more constructive that something like "this cannot have happened!"

I think I finally began to understand the changes that have been happening when I took some time to do yoga tonight. Yoga is something that was very important to me a few years ago. When I started freaking about the possibility of getting divorced, a therapist recommended I try yoga to help me stay grounded and keep breathing. Yoga truly changed my life. I became healthier, more confident, more calm and I experienced a peace I hadn't really ever felt before. Since my kids died I unfortunately haven't put forth the effort to do much yoga at all.

Tonight I decided that in order to take care of myself in my FFU condition and make the evening more bearable I would find some Netflix yoga and commit to completing one session. After I stopped beating myself up about how much strength and flexibility I have lost in the past few years, I allowed myself to breathe and actually feel my body. My energy and the energy in my house changed dramatically. I felt a peace I haven't felt in years. I am crying tears of relief as I type because finally, FINALLY I have found a little bit of peace! (non-substance-related peace, that is) It may be fleeting, but for now I'll take it.

I feel that I owe Shirley MacLaine a great deal of gratitude for sharing her idea of surrendering on the Oprah show. Her words really stuck with me and even though I wasn't able to surrender in the way I thought I should surrender, I was able to surrender to something. Just as she suggested, surrendering is very powerful.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


I was just flipping through the channels when I decided to watch the last half of Oprah's most recent interview with Shirley MacLaine. I used to think Shirley MacLaine was a little crazy, but now I'm not so sure (though I'm pretty sure I'm a little crazy, but that's beside the point). She said a few things that really resonated with me. I felt I needed to share.

What first caught my attention in this interview is that Shirley mentioned she no longer attends funerals. When Oprah asked her why she replied with something to the effect of "well, none of us die so why go to a funeral?" According to her beliefs (in a nutshell), souls don't die, they just shed their bodies and move on to another state of consciousness. From there they can decide whether or not to incarnate again.

Anytime someone talks about their belief that souls don't die, I get a little excited. It's like somewhere in my deep pool of sadness a little bit of hope bubbles up. I don't really want to get into a full-on discussion of my feelings about reincarnation right now (maybe in a later post) but, suffice it to say, I've considered the possibility.

At this point in the interview I was somewhat glued to the TV, feeling quite emotional, hoping to hear something helpful. It's not that I think Shirley MacLaine is some "enlightened being" (who knows, maybe she is?) or guru I want to follow, I just believe that we can learn something from everyone.

After more reflection on Shirley's life experiences and accomplishments, Oprah asked her what her biggest life lesson has been so far. She replied that she has learned to "let life happen". Then she used the word "surrender".

It's hard to explain why the word surrender had such a huge impact on me, but when she said it I had a major realization. It hit me that for the past two years, three months and twenty-seven days I have used every ounce of energy I possess to fight against reality. Every moment of every day, both when I'm awake and when I'm asleep, I'm thinking "this didn't happen, my kids can't be gone, there must be some mistake!"

Hundreds of times each day I say to myself in my head or under my breath "I just want my kids back, please give me my kids back, I'll do anything - please!" All I do is fight, fight, fight and I'm getting angrier and more anxious all the time. Just this afternoon I tried to take a nap and woke up in a complete panic. It has to stop.

When Shirley said "surrender" the word sounded like a vacation (I know that sounds strange, but stay with me for a minute). Surrender, to me, seems like a land far, far away in which I might be able to rest. I thought, "if I could just give up this fight and accept what has happened maybe some of the anger, stress and panic will subside, at least temporarily".

I have to tell you that accepting what has happened to Kate and Peter is not something I want to do. It's not right, it's not the natural order of things and I fucking hate it. But I can't fight it anymore. I certainly can't change it because, let me tell you, if I could I would have changed it a long time ago.

So I guess my next step needs to be finding a way to surrender. I have a feeling I'll last all of five minutes and then be back to my usual fighting, but I think that's ok. Maybe the next time I try I'll be able to last six minutes instead. Maybe eventually I'll be able to find some peace . I'm not convinced, but it can't hurt to try.

Maybe if I can "let life happen" something will shift or change and I'll be able to move forward. Despite my best efforts to move forward, I'm currently stuck in some sort of holding pattern of relentlessly negative emotions. Something's gotta give. Maybe it's me.