My friend Kara wrote a poignant note about this sort of rhythm: "I remembered that it isn't so much a circle as it is a spiral staircase. I come back 'round again and again to the same issues, but I'm usually up higher or down lower, the perspective is always a little different." I know this - you never step in the same stream twice. Each time I, or we as a family, step into a grand idea, we are a little more cautious, a little more aware.
I do know this. Intellectually. But emotionally and physically, when we were offered to step into the exact dream-come-true that we've imagined for so long, I headed straight for the tub of chocolate covered mints. I was edgy and irritable and couldn't sleep. Actually, I did sleep but had the most annoying old nightmares. Places and people and issues that I've long since analyzed to mush. Every single one of the worn-out fears begin or end with my total lack of understanding of why the terrible thing had happened and a complete inability to change the painful outcome. Intellectually, I knew this was ridiculous but couldn't seem to stop the reaction loop.
A very smart friend told me not to go to bed 'like normal'. Stay up late. Simple as that. And just like she had an angel accomplice, a new book dropped into my lap for the dark quiet hours. Thomas Cowan's book The Fourfold Path to Healing has much of the wisdom and practical information that I've come to build my life around during the last several years. Statements like: "...the quality of our food determines in large part the quality of our lives. And the quality of what we eat is determined by every step that goes into production and processing - the feeding of the animals, care of the soil, preservation, storage and even cooking methods" wrapped me up in their familiarity, letting me know that I was in the presence of a kindred spirit.
So when I got to the chapter on weight loss, I certainly did not expect revolutionary ideas. My defensive posture was totally relaxed when this passage snuck right in:
"It is ironic but true that the person who is overweight often has a very constricted personal space. When we learn to create an enlivened personal space, then the need to create a buffer of excessive fat between ourselves and the world becomes less...According to one popular book on the psychology of various diseases, overweight is an expression of oversensitivity, fear and anger, all of which result in a lack of ability to call on others for help."Boy, does that seem right! I think it would be fair to extrapolate and say that many addictive, seemingly unconscious behaviors fit this same shielding reaction - alcohol, drugs, tv, sex, even silence. My pattern of hope and effort resulting in fear and anger with no chance of return to the "before the terrible thing happened" bliss had been triggered. My Automatic Eject Button had been pushed and my escape pod was fully stocked with fat-forming sugar shields.
We are definitely going for the wonderful opportunity. There was really never any doubt that we would. However, this time, fear and anger aren't hidden in the baggage compartment. I am scared - this project is what I've wanted my whole life, what I want to do for the rest of my life, and I'm terrified that it won't work. Perhaps the thing I fear most is not failure but anger. When bad things happen, it is human nature to lay blame, to get mad, to let the flame of anger burn away the disappointment and hurt. The central relationship this time, the newly forged team, is too precious to lose.
I can't say for sure what will happen. I can only trust myself and the wisdom I've earned by stepping in this stream so many times I've got webbed toes. This quote from The Fourfold Path to Healing finally called the meeting in my mind to order. Not one of the bad experiences, worst fears, or old wounds has to be dismissed, they'll all get to vote at the quarterly meetings until they finally feel their work is done. Thank you Joanie and Mr. Cowan.
"The word 'health' comes from the word 'whole.' In this holistic view, we can experience illness as an opportunity to generate spaces for transformation, create supportive rhythms and move towards balance. Symptoms of illness, then, are not enemies but friendly movements that guide us again towards wholeness. Constantly ignoring or, worse, suppressing the symptoms is like being lost and closing your eyes to warning signals and signposts. Creating spaces for 'wholing' to take place is an important step in allowing the processes of building up and tearing down to do their work. All these processes are spacial processes that require forms and rhythms for healing to occur. Healing involves re-balancing that which takes place in the spaces between formation and annihilation.