Saturday, December 13, 2008

Preparing For Death by Letting Go

I got an email from a friend this morning and she was jokingly chastising me for not posting anything new on this blog for her entertainment. She told me that she was bored and that my blog has been a very boring place for her these last many days. Sorry. I told her that I just don't have anything interesting to blog about...well, anything that I feel like transparently sharing with the world at large at least. I guess I've been feeling kinda private and maybe a little vulnerable right now. I'm really doing fine. Mostly. I'm happy. Mostly. Sometimes my life experiences, my relationship dynamics and the emerging insights just need to percolate inside my own body, mind and soul for awhile before exposing them to others. I'm holding many things tenderly right now. I have mommy stuff, kid stuff, husband stuff, lover stuff, friend stuff, work stuff. Me stuff. All my spiritual work. I'm noticing lots of preparing for death work. I've mentioned the death work part to a couple of friends that didn't really seem to get what I meant but I'm very serious about that. I'm looking at abandonment issues, separation anxiety and attachment disorder in myself. Being a psychotherapist I know that these are pathological terms for actual mental disorders but I'm not using them in that way although they are certainly related. Rather I'm just looking at the general human condition and our relationships in this world as well as my own conditioning and relationships and what comes up for me in particular. I've blogged before about the dance of separation and togetherness as well as abandonment and I've also blogged about attachment--as in being attached to people and stuff and things going our way.

A few days ago I was talking to my friend, Ren, about my separation and abandonment issues and she said, "Isn't everyone on the planet wounded like this, with separation and abandonment trauma--isn't this part of the human condition?" I told her that I don't know. I assume that on some level, the answer to her question is probably yes, that most people are wounded in this way, some of us just more than others.

For instance, Mistress Matisse writes about polyamorous relationships and suggests that people who don't deal well with separation and being left alone, those with abandonment issues, shouldn't try to live polyamorously because it will create too much drama and stir up too much pain. I agree with her on this...mostly but my take is a little different. What I suggest is that if people with obvious separation and abandonment issues aren't willing to take full on responsibility for dealing with these issues and therefore take polyamory on, at least in part as a powerful path to self-understanding, self-growth, and emotional maturity, then they are setting themselves up for an ugly head on collision with their inner demons. On the other hand, the path of polyamory can also be walked to consciously confront these demons, pulling them out of the shadows (or doing things that encourage them to jump out of the shadows to scare us) and shining the light of love on them. One cannot live in love and fear at the same time. We can and most likely will, go back and forth between love and fear as part of the process in exorcising (or simply comforting them) the demons of separation and abandonment. So polyamory can be a used as a tool for self growth and healing as well as a lifestyle with all the other wonderful benefits of having more than one sexually loving partner.

I've learned a lot about myself and how I deal with the feelings of separation that sometimes come up with the others that I am in relationship with. These others range from my children, grandchildren, my mother and siblings, to my friends, lovers, and my husband (who is also my friend and lover of course.) These days I'm not so quick to create a story that makes me or others wrong. At least I'm not so quick to believe those stories. I'm learning to allow myself to feel the separation and the panic that sometimes ensues from it and to just be with it, and breathe into it and experience the totality of it in the moment. I have a habit of being attached to connection and want it over separation. I also get very attached to my strategies for connection.

As for my preparation for death that I mentioned-- I realize that I will die someday. Fairly soon, relatively speaking. The years seem to zoom on by and I'm 54 now. I want to make the most of them. I'll be 84 years old in 30 years. That's almost my mother's age right now. I know that unless I get more skilled at dealing with all these little issues of separation and attachment now, dying is going to be one major pain in the ass. That's scary. So I'm practicing letting go. Letting go with grace is my goal. I want to die with grace and I'm betting that the only way to die with grace is to live with grace. I'm seeing life as a practice ground for death. Living it up and enjoying life to the fullest, yes. Definitely. But also, learning to let go of all these little (and seemingly big) attachments now so that when the time comes to let go of my body and everything I've identified with in this life, I will have a lot of practice at it already. Maybe it will be like riding a bicycle.

So I'm paying attention to my needs for freedom, love, sex, a sense of connection and belonging with family and friends, food, air, creativity, ego expression, soul expression, knowledge, living my life's purpose, enlightenment... and I endeavor to take care of those needs interdependently with others. I'm trying to notice when my ego is attached to my strategies and when I'm holding on and getting in my own way rather than letting go and surrendering to life, to what is.

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