A few months back I shared the process I use to deal with life's little lessons -- you know, the things that happen to you presumably for no reason, but typically contain nuggets of wisdom in there somewhere? The universe recently sent me another one of those little lessons -- two, in fact.
The biggest lesson I learned in 2013 is that when you fight against the universe, the universe always wins. So in 2014, I decided to laugh with the universe. That is, when the universe sends another "cosmic 2x4" my way, I laugh at myself for needing another reminder of whatever lesson I'm supposed to be learning. Then I identify the lesson -- if I haven't already - and either deal with it or accept it, whichever is more appropriate for the situation.
Until a week ago. I got hit with two cosmic 2x4s within 24 hours -- my two biggest I-still-really-need-to-deal-with-this issues at the same time: money and fertility.
I pride myself on not spending more than I earn. Other than my house payment and car payment, I have no debt. I have and use credit cards, but I make it a point to pay off my bills each month. Then the water line between the street and my house sprung a leak. $4000 later, I have a new water line, new sprinklers (they had to rip out part of my sprinkler system to find the leak), and have paid off some of my $530 water bill (that's how I knew I had a problem). All that's left to repair the damage is to re-sod my front lawn. Here's the problem: I have nothing left. All of my reserves just went to fix this leak. For the first time in decades, I am faced with not being able to pay off my credit card bill in its entirety. I am spending more than I earn and living from paycheck to paycheck and it's not a comfortable place to be.
Twenty-four hours after I got the news that my water leak was the worst case scenario, I short cycled for the third time in as many months. When you're 40 and your menstrual cycles occur every two weeks instead of every four, that's not good news. Hello perimenopause, goodbye fertility. Having dealt with endometriosis and infertility for decades, I guess my early perimenopause shouldn't come as a surprise. Yet the end of my fertile years couldn't have come at a worse time. We were trying to get pregnant, you see. Yes, it was unlikely, but to learn it's now impossible was the straw that broke the camel's back; especially when any money I could have used toward adopting a child just went to the plumber.
The water works began -- in my front yard and in my eyes. Tears fell as I watched my front lawn being ripped to shreds while simultaneously grieving the loss of my fertility -- for good this time. All the while, I tried to figure out what lesson I was supposed to be learning. And I came up short.
I went back to fighting, wanting to rail against the universe -- why me? Why both of my biggest issues at once? Why now?
In the midst of my melodrama and pity party, I called a good friend. "Maybe that's the lesson," she said.
"What?" I replied.
"That you need to stop judging yourself and just be OK with living paycheck to paycheck and not being able to have a child."
"But that just sucks," I countered.
"Yes," she said.
We sat in silence for a while.
"You know it's not your fault, right?" she asked. "You're not irresponsible with money."
The thoughts floated through my head -- places I could have saved instead of spent, trips I might have not taken had I known this was coming, the new car I chose to buy when my old one finally died for good.
"And the infertility was never your fault," she reminded me.
I can hear my ex's voice in my head, questioning every choice I ever made in my life that might have contributed to it. Months of therapy over this issue flow down the drain as the past comes back to haunt me.
"Maybe that's the lesson. Self-acceptance rather than self-blame," she mused. "Maybe you needed to get hit with both of your biggest issues at once to really get it."
Of course, she's right.
The universe in its infinite wisdom sent me the answer I sought: in the form of my friend, a bumper sticker with the saying "Love is the answer," and then again last night. At a gathering of friends, an acquaintance shared a powerful meditation she had recently come across. I'm not sure where it came from, but it went something like this:
Get comfortable in whatever meditative way you like -- sit, stand, walk, lie down. Clear your mind, deepen your breath, and open your heart.
Place your left hand on your heart and your right hand on your belly, and say to yourself, "Show me your sorrow." And let it all come in. Take it into your heart, let it know it's going to be okay, that it's over, and it's safe here. Keep repeating "Show me your sorrow" until there is nothing left to show.
Then move on. "Show me your anger." Again, open your heart and let it come in. Feel it as though you were back in the moment it first happened. Only this time love it, let it into your heart, let it know it's over and everything is going to be okay.
After anger has nothing left to show, move on. "Show me your shame." Invite it in. Everything you've ever done or not done, said or left unsaid. Let the shame roll in. Love it, accept it, be one with it.
Repeat the process for any negative emotion, anything that might be holding you back. And if one meditation isn't enough, take a break and do it again. This is heavy stuff.
But at the end of the day, you'll realize something: your heart is infinite, as is your love. And there is nothing that you've ever done or said that is so awful that your heart can't hold it; that you can't forgive or be forgiven.
"Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could've been any different." -- Oprah Winfrey
By loving yourself and accepting yourself fully, you are letting go of whatever 'mistakes' you might have made in the past. There is no more shame, no self-blame; there is only love. And as uncomfortable as the process that lead me here might be -- and still is; I have more meditating left to do -- the lesson -- that love is the answer -- was worth the pain to get here.