Have you ever uttered those words – “my life sucks”? We’ve all had our moments of feeling overwhelmed, unhappy, and wanting to get away. This past year was a tough one for my family. I had too many irons in the fire. There was emotional upheaval as family dynamics changed, trying to navigate the needs of our children, parents, and siblings all while juggling multiple jobs and preparing for RVing the states. It sucked. Royally.
There were elements where I questioned what else could go wrong. Why was it all hitting me at once? Why can’t we a la carte the drama and just process through one thing at a time? Why do I have to go and get shingles on top of it all? Balance is a hard thing, especially when you’re trying to balance seventeen things at once, and fifteen of them really suck. My mother hates that word, but I feel like it speaks truth.
When something sucks, it isn’t just a pain, it starts to pull something out of you. It zaps your energy. You feel overwhelmed. You may start to shut down to prevent anything else from being sucked out. Because if it keeps sucking, it will take the good, the bad, and the ugly out with it. Just like a vacuum sucks everything up, going through the not-so-great moments sucks all the emotions. If you allow for it, the ones that help you process – love, awareness, openness, gratitude – those will rise to the surface as well.
Maybe what we really need is a full suck – a deep cleanse to pull it all out in the open. Open up the vacuum and pull through all the frustration of what is going on in the present moment and reach beyond that to find the peace way down in your soul that allows you to just process through.
When things don’t go as hoped, my mother’s dear friend Gail loves to say, “What has this made possible?” Think about that – when life throws you lemons, typically our response is how hurt we are from the impact. But what did it make possible?
A literal example happened last week – my daughter found a lemon tree and immediately proceeded to fill a huge bag and bring them into our tiny little trailer. Living with 5 people and a 65lb dog in a 240 sq foot trailer is no small task. There isn’t space for more than one person to pass at a time, much less a huge bag of lemons. I tripped over that bag so many times, and the side ripped out and lemons erupted everywhere on the floor. I’m finding lemons all over our home. But…what has this made possible? The girls have made amazing fresh squeezed lemonade. Nathan made lemon pepper flounder that was incredible. And we even made some incredible cocktails with fresh squeezed lemons. What it made possible was all kinds of culinary treats that made me stumbling over lemons on the floor worth it.
There is something even more powerful about the inconveniences and frustrations in our lives. I love what Pema says here:
“Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know…nothing ever really attacks us except our own confusion. Perhaps there is no solid obstacle except our own need to protect ourselves from being touched. Maybe the only enemy is that we don’t like the way reality is now and therefore wish it would go away fast.
But what we find as practitioners is that nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know. If we run a hundred miles an hour to the other end of the continent in order to get away from the obstacle, we find the very same problem waiting for us when we arrive. It just keeps returning with new names, forms, manifestations until we learn whatever it has to teach us about where we are separating ourselves from reality, how we are pulling back instead of opening up, closing down instead of allowing ourselves to experience fully whatever we encounter, without hesitating or retreating into ourselves.”
~ Pema Chödrön
This is so beautiful to me – what lesson can we learn? What is a pattern you see repeating itself in your own life? Sometimes stepping out of the chaos is good, and I do believe physical space is necessary to process the emotions. However, when the same issues keep rising up, what lesson is there for you? What does it make possible?
I’ve learned that life will always have lemons. I can’t simply barrel through with my head down until it’s past me. I can’t live life where I’m trying to “just get through this.” What can I learn? What has been made possible? I’m thankful for the sucky moments of my life – because they have helped to craft the person I am now, and the path I am on. And for that, I’m eternally grateful.