The Ghost and The Phoenix (#34)

I wish that I was one of those people who matures and grows, emotionally and spiritually, during the good times in my life, but I’m not.  For whatever reason, when happy, I often run stagnant.  Instead, it is the tragedy within my life that motivates me to my greater good.  I’m not speaking of enduring because even a drug addict is enduring, just in the most dysfunctional way possible.  What I’m speaking of is the overcoming of hardships that all of us face at one time or another.  Those difficult times that appear insurmountable on the front end, and on the back end, you wonder how you were able to overcome, but somehow you did.

It’s been 9 months since my mother died and the most challenging issue that I have is the isolation that continues to linger.  Being a natural extrovert, I used to feel right at home in a crowd; no longer, though.  I feel alone even in a room of delightful people.  I don’t understand their peace and I’m somewhat envious of it.  I see and hear them laughing and I think, I used to laugh like that with my mom. 

One of the things about isolation is that you don’t need to be grieving to know that feeling.  I was reading an article on a friend’s Facebook page about the intense feelings that one has when your baby is in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit: the awkward things people say, the fear, the desperation as well as the insurmountable pain.  I don’t have children so the fear of a NICU is foreign to me, but the isolation that dripped from each and every word, I knew exactly what that felt like and my heart hurt for her.  Fortunately, this was only temporary for my friend and her babies have grown into beautiful little men aka toddlers- thank goodness!

The most interesting thing about isolation is that when it’s over, good or bad, the world feels different.  For me, I’m no longer the same person.  I feel like I’ve graduated from some life lesson where the learning curve was ruthless.  With my mom’s sickness, I had no control, no hope, no way out and I had never been in such a situation before.  It’s like a piece of my innocence died in the course of all this.

Before her diagnosis, I always knew bad things could happen, but it wasn’t in the forefront of my thoughts.  Now, I’m achingly aware that tragedy is there, always has been, just biding its time.  And, there it is, fear breathing down my neck, not so good for a girl with an anxiety disorder, OCD; its effect is incendiary, boom!  I’m riddled with fear.  I can either become fear’s concubine, worried about what I cannot control or I can overcome.  

Here’s the best part, what is truly the game changer, I see it!  When I used to be scared, I didn’t recognize that many of my choices were fear based.  Today, everything is different.  I see you, fear.  I see how you ignite my fear that the shoe can drop at any moment.  I see that I fear being happy after being sad for so long.    

Granted, I wish that I was more proactive; it seems that you sneak into my thoughts under the guise of my OCD.  There was a time when I had no mindfulness and fear wreaked havoc, but no more.  Because I see you, you have no real power.  See fear, you appear like a child throwing a temper tantrum in the wake of my mom’s death.  I stand over you and watch the spectacle, somewhat bemused for I no longer believe in you.  I believe in me.

I used to be angry at you, fear, yet now, I feel sorry for you.  You’ve become a ghost, a remaining apparition from my isolation.  I know my ghosts will always be there to remind me of the incredible loss that I have felt and I accept that.  I also accept that I’m one of those people who will tear up every time I think of my mom and I doubt time will alleviate this.  The thing is that I’d have it no other way.

As fear is the ghost, I am the Phoenix, for a new understanding has arisen from my isolation.  Healing isn’t about “getting over it.”  It’s about incorporating the pain into a better self.  What I’ve realized is that the pain, the isolation has planted a seed that has flowered into its own beauty: I’m more compassionate, less controlling, less judgmental, more grateful and most importantly, I’ve learned to surmount fear based choices, for the most part.  One day, I’m hoping that it will be all of my choices.  However, I’m still quite pleased with today. 

The reality is that incredibly sad and unexpected things happen to good people.  Nothing can help that.  The only power anyone of us has is to make a choice: am I going to pick the ghost and let it haunt me into bitterness and resentment or am I going to rise from the ash of pain as a better person?  Funny, I always thought that choice aka Free Will was a trick of the devil, but now I realize that it’s God’s way of empowering me.