Lead Me Not Into False Expectations

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end” -Semisonic

It’s another New Year, another time for new beginnings, resolutions (if you’re into that sort of thing) and a blank page in a yet unwritten book. I am wary of making resolutions due to the fact they are usually slightly unrealistic. If I were to make a resolution that I wouldn’t go all Hulk-like in traffic, but I had done nothing to change my frame of mind or manage my emotions, then I’m fairly certain my effort would be met with failure, or at the very least an inability to magically transform my commute from December 31, 2016 to January 1, 2017. When you think about it, it’s really just a change from one calendar to another; from a Sunday to a Monday. If my resolution is to not drink but I have a full cupboard of alcohol that I see every time I reach for a glass, it will be more difficult to not grab that bottle and have “just one” drink. If I haven’t dug deep to find out the “why” behind the drinking then my resolution is dependent upon my mood; if my mood goes dark and dangerous and I haven’t developed any healthy coping skills, then guess what? Chug-a-lug. Another great reason for my resolutions to fail is that I make them based on what I think I should do, not what I really want to do. Making a resolution to lose weight, so that the hot guy I have a huge crush on will notice (and hopefully fall in love with) me. Making a resolution to start attending mass on a regular basis because my parents (God rest their souls) would be pleased, as they look down upon me from Heaven. Or even better, so that I can get in God’s good grace and therefore avoid the fiery alternative. These are all great resolutions, as great as resolutions can be, but they are doomed to be unsuccessful if I haven’t invested in them long before January 1st.

I prefer to set intentions rather than resolutions. They are much more forgiving, loosely defined and honestly, give me an out if things don’t go according to plan.

in·ten·tion
inˈten(t)SH(ə)n/
noun
1.
a thing intended; an aim or plan.
“she was full of good intentions”
2.
MEDICINE
the healing process of a wound.

– Google Search

I love the second definition because the majority of my intentions do involve the healing and recovering from wounds, be it physical or emotional. My intention is to forgive those who have wounded me, but that may take not days, but years. My intention is to forgive myself for the wounds I have inflicted on others. My intention is to accept my faults and failures and love myself unconditionally, which will be my intention for every New Year until my Last Year.

I feel the danger in resolutions is that they lead us into false expectations; by changing my physical appearance, I will find love. By doing things for others, I will be accepted and loved. It’s not the resolution so much as it is the expected outcome. Realistically losing weight will not guarantee that the hot guy falls in love with me, especially if he’s gay, married or simply not interested. Not drinking alcohol is a great resolution, but there is much more involved than just not raising a glass to my lips. Forgiving others is a great idea, but that means letting go of old hurts and grudges. If they have been your constant companion for years and help you to feel righteous in your belief that they are in the wrong, then it will take much more effort than simply thinking you forgive them. One must take personally responsibility for their role in what happened and own up to it. My dad used to say, “It’s not the making of a mistake that should embarrass a person, so much as their failure to benefit from it.”

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Learning from mistakes so that we don’t make the same ones over and over is more helpful (in my experience) than making a resolution that is unrealistic.

So, Happy New Year to one and all! May this year bring you comfort when you’re distressed, company when you’re lonely, a hand to hold when you’re frightened and a safe harbor during Life’s many storms; the courage to face your fears, the strength to slay your dragons and the faith to believe that there is more to Life than just crossing days off the calendar and making unrealistic expectations. Peace and love to you all!

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Out of Limbo

I have been in limbo many times in my life, as I’m sure you all have. The Catholic faith refers to Purgatory, the place between Heaven and Hell, or the waiting room of the Afterlife, as Purgatory (I’m pretty sure they don’t refer to it officially as the waiting room of the Afterlife, but I do). You are neither here nor there, but somewhere in between. When a loved one is sick and when there is a particularly difficult diagnosis that’s more like a death sentence; when someone is suffering from a crisis of any sort, be it physical, mental or spiritual. This is what I define limbo as, in my world. The time between realizing I’m terribly depressed and when the medications/therapy/prayers start to lift the heavy blanket of sadness that is my own personal Purgatory. The time between Monday morning and Friday afternoon and between the first day of summer until winter’s arrival are classic examples. You get the idea, I’m sure.

I have come to a point where I am realizing that I have been in emotional limbo for some time now about many people, places and things. I have been, subconsciously or consciously, holding my breath, waiting for something to happen, for Life to deliver my heart’s desire right to my door and I have been accomplishing absolutely nothing because all of these expectations/desires are based on the actions of outside forces; they are nothing that I have any power or control over. Talk about a guaranteed way to heartache and disappointment! So I have chosen to step out of limbo, out of unrealistic expectations, or any expectations at all; just let it be, whatever that is. It’s great to have goals and dreams but it’s important for me to realize that dreams don’t always come true, people will always be who they are at their core and whatever is comfortable for them is what will always be. Change isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and some have a life-threatening allergy to it, so to “Be the change you seek” I now believe means to change yourself and leave the rest of the world alone if you want to have any friends. Not really, but again, you get the idea. Helping people is at best a two edged sword, so why do I insist on grabbing the stupid thing with both hands over and over again? My definition of helping is more than likely someone else’s definition of torture, intrusion and unwelcome/unsolicited advice. I have to keep reminding myself of that when I think I’m doing something positive.

Life is my classroom and the lessons will never stop. It’s not failure if I learned something and I have learned a great deal in the past year. There have been some amazing times, incredible memories that I will always have and nothing can take that away (short of dementia, of course) so I will put my focus where it makes me the happiest, which is within my own personal hula hoop or sphere of influence, if you prefer.

That is the only space in this great Universe that any effort or intention I set forth will be met with success or failure, but it will be based on only my actions. There is a great illusion of control in that and I like that.

This Someone

As I stand inside my mind

The colors of darkness I do find.

The blackness of extreme depression

Brought about by lack of possession

of clearer, lighter, brighter thoughts

of sunshine, beauty, things I have not.

To see the sun halfway in the sky

Think of it as rising to a greater high

See it not as setting, as to an end,

but rather a new day, ready to begin.

If the colors in this mind

Were lighter, sweeter, more sublime

I believe I would have achieved

the inner peace of which I’ve not yet received

Is there hope for this to be?

Can I ever truly love this person that is me?

Will I ever feel that happy glow from gorgeous dreams

Of touching clouds, embracing sunbeams?

Or will I always be so tightly wrapped

in heavy blankets of gloom; so completely trapped?

I do not wish to feel forever down

To hear only the drumbeats of lonesome sound

But change is pain and pain is growing

I cannot keep this all from showing

In weighing the fears of what is to be

Against the measure of this person that is me.

Can I rise above the fears that bind me

and let the truth at last find me?

The courage to do what must be done

is hidden deep within me,

this someone.

-October 1993, Gulfport, MS