A few weeks ago the beasts and I were riding in the car listening to the radio and one of the D.J.'s said, "Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger."
"What does that mean, mommy?" my 9 year old big beast asked.
Sigh...I better get this right. I immediately thought of an article I had read a few months before (I wish I could find it now) about whether Nietzsche would have stood by that statement in the end of his tortured life. The man who wrote the article was suffering from cancer and he asked the question, Does what doesn't kill you really make you stronger? Or does it make you weaker and just not kill you?
I grew up living a charmed life. That doesn't mean I wasn't a miserable teen, but really I had this perfect life and because of that, I subconsciously thought my family was special. Almost magical. I had friends whose parents divorced, or even worse, died. I had friends who experienced abuse, who didn't have enough money, who were neglected, but me, my family life it was pretty even keel. So when my dad got cancer, I assumed he would get better, how could he not? I was shocked, horrified really, when he died. Not only did it mean that my family had to experience life just like everyone else's, but my dad was dead too. I took that universal insult very personally.
In the past decade my dad died, I had an early miscarriage, my 19 month old niece died in her sleep, my husband left, and I was fired from my job of 10 years. My charmed life became just a life, like everyone else's. Real life. Did it make me stronger? Yes, it did, but part of that strength and hardship made me harder. It closed my heart, and so in some ways it made me weaker. I do believe that I am a strong woman. I am fierce, but I also have this tough hide that makes it hard for people get to know me (says the woman with a blog). My heart is hidden deep underneath layers of tough lizard skin. Each scale created by sadness, betrayal, and disappointments.
What is ironic to me is that I know that my life is still pretty charmed, yet the small amounts of pain I have felt have hardened me this much. I imagine what I would be like if something worse happened in my life and I shudder to think of the lizard woman I would become.
Buddha said life is suffering. My old therapist says Life is hard and then....it's hard. I know that my job is to be compassionate, to live in the moment, and to LOVE, LOVE, LOVE like my life depends on it, but many days I think, I'll do that tomorrow I'm too tired today. Instead of trying to live a charmed life I have lowered my expectations and I'm shooting for charmed moments instead. Charmed, isn't the right word. Savory. Savory moments are what I'm going for. Those moments when I am truly in the moment savoring life, letting it melt in my mouth and soak into my bones. Letting the taste of it nurture my soul. I only need moments, because right now my life feels arduous many days and I am tired as hell.
However, there is a part of me that knows that if I don't consciously work on opening my heart, if I don't shed my lizardly scales, I will not be able to savor life to it's fullest. It's like wearing a condom on my tongue while eating filet mignon. I've got the texture, but not the taste. A few weeks ago, my beautiful cousin, Hummingbird Queen, invited me to do a Deepak Chopra 21 day meditation. YES! I signed up, because there is such a deep desire in me to open my heart. I know that I am giving my beasts the shaft by trying to parent them with a lizard skinned heart. I know I will never find a partner if I only love through scales of fear.
So everyday Deepak and I have a moment or 20 and meditate. I've been telling everyone he is my new boyfriend, as in, "Yeah, Deepak and I have to spend sometime together this morning. I'm going to be running late." or "My new boyfriend Deepak says...." Through my new love affair I feel my heart opening up, softening up, and my scales are becoming wings. S-L-O-W-L-Y.
So my answer to my little beasts about being made stronger by not being killed was, "You know, life can be hard and you have a choice about what you make of it. You can try to make the best of it, by changing your perception of the situation, trying to laugh, finding the beauty..."
My big beast broke in and said, "Yeah, but not everyone does that."
"I know baby, sometimes things are so hard it beats you down, and you just can't make it better, and that's when people make bad decisions, but I hope I teach you guys to laugh and make the best of it you can." And then there were no more questions. The beasts and I continued on out way to our old house where we would be loading even more stuff to carry up the 15 steps to the new house. They were prepared to complain every step of the way. I was prepared to firmly state that they better get their asses in gear. I said a silent prayer to The Committee, "Please let me have gotten that right."