I wrote myself a letter on New Year's Eve, as part of a ritual I have. Here is the letter, with the most personal details removed:
This year I am spending New Year's away from home with friends. Though I would have liked to, I have looked forward to being alone, at home, and to revisit my earlier ritual of looking back on the year that has passed and making affirmations for the year to come.
I feel hopeful and content right now. Some boys are outside shooting some fireworks (under-aged and without adult supervision, but I find myself worried for their safety rather than annoyed at the irresponsibility of the situation; and no, I don't feel called upon to tell on them or ask them to stop).
Some subtle, yet momentous things happened in 2007: The summer vacation I spent with my mother, the following autumn of restlessness and generally blah feeling, and some incredible constipation, which started on the cruise ship, let up for a bit, then came back full force. And I had some dental work.
I'm trying to wrap my brain around being 47. I am trying to be happy about the years ahead. This year, I was battling the notion of no longer being "young and promising". Though I feel 27 inside, I have to acknowledge I am not 27 to the world. It makes me feel frustrated and like a loser that I don't have all sorts of choices ahead of me.
But maybe I do.
During this Christmas break, I went for a walk, trying to sort out the one insight that made my constipation stop: It related to my mother's not hearing me when I visited with her. She wasn't deaf; it was just an odd not noticing I had said something. My constipation eased up a little after an exchange on my birthday, due to a comment in a letter from my mother included with my birthday card. What I saw as a lack of communication, she saw as giving me space because she could tell I was annoyed. So I told her it was because of the weird "hearing problem".
I realized a number of things during my walk: Constipation is about holding on, a fear of letting go. I was holding on because I felt there was so little to go around for me. I was severely constipated as a child, too, which is why I had to revisit my childhood.
A couple of years ago, I tripped over a way of sorting out my childhood memories that turned out to be very effective (and very moving): I talked to each of my childhood selves. During this walk, I approached my 5-year-old self. I told her I was very conscious of the 6-year-old and even of the 4-year-old, but not of the 5-year-old, and why was that? My 4-year-old self was very talkative, and could tell me: They keep fighting, and they don't see me; they don't have time for me. My grandma told me that this was the year I had some peculiar health issues. The pressures in my family of dealing with my heavily handicapped baby sister were getting to us.
But even now, talking to my 4-year-old self, I cannot sense any resentment toward or dissatisfaction with or hatred of my sister. She never bothered me. Sometimes I'd be annoyed, of course, but I never wished she wasn't my sister. I loved her too much. I always wanted us to be treated equally. I enjoyed when we were dressed up alike.
I then tried to talk to my 5-year-old self who at the age of discovering the difference between real and make-believe, discovered something else: Mommy couldn't hear her. The 5-year-old wanted to tell Mommy she loves her, but Mommy never responded, never answered back, so the 5-year-old thought Mommy hadn't heard. Ah. Here is the clue: Not being heard. Feeling not heard. OK.
This is no longer my mother's issue. This is between me and myself (my selves). My mother can't fix anything. I now have to be the nurturing adult who makes everything all right in my life. My mother is not responsible for how I feel, nor for how I react to her.
I talked further to all my selves. I acknowledged that I had been playing it safe all these years. Now the question is: Could I let go of safety and let in love? Could I open up, share more of myself, approach others and stop worrying about any possible wounds? My 18 selves thought so, but they are huge admirers of me. :-)
So I face another new year, filled with the energy of fresh starts, unused calendars, and the dream of brighter days to come (literally and figuratively). What do I want for myself in 2008?
I currently have this combination of affirmations (both relate to the bowels) from Louise Hay's book "You Can Heal Your Life" as my desktop:
"I release all that is unlike love. There is time and space for everything I want to do. As I release the past, the new and fresh and vital enter. I allow life to flow through me."
I really like what those affirmations say.
I watched "What the Bleep Do We Know?" with half an eye (as the Norwegians say) since I'd seen it before, and at one point, one of the interviewees gave his definition of addiction: Something that you can't stop.
He explained further: "We bring to ourselves situations that will fulfill the biochemical craving of the cells of our bodies, by creating situations that meet our chemical needs. An addict will always need a little bit more in order to get a rush or a high, what they're looking for chemically. So my definition really means that if you can't control your emotional state, you must be addicted to it."
My temper is back. I do let it get the better of me.
I must be addicted to it.
And it reminds me of another "epiphany" I had. As I was falling asleep one night earlier this month, I was suddenly jarred awake with the question of what I would do if my mother died. And to my surprise, my response was that I would feel awful because it would mean she'd never know I forgave her.
I've been sitting on that one for a bit, and now that I write it, I realize there's nothing to think about. I had forgiven her already, in that jolt that night. I just need to act on it.
Another affirmation I want to work on this year, and to remind myself of and start saying every day, every morning, is the one about peace. The one I used to help myself with the situation at work. I am backsliding and it's not what I want to do. I think it will help me with my addiction.
I'm also getting more curious about taoism, and I want to read more about yoga. Also, I want to try meditating again, because I've been really ditzy lately, even at work, even doing things I don't normally err in doing, and the notion I keep getting is to meditate, not to check hormone levels. So I'll meditate.
So for 2008, I want to be addicted to peace, love and joy. And to do more "reaching out" things like I did today: I found myself getting in the way of another woman shopper, zigging when she zigged. So I finally moved to one side and apologized for making hurdles. She gave me a big smile and said that we finally worked it out. (I do blame hormones for that.) At McDonald's, after a long wait for my food at the cash register, I said as I was leaving to the young girl whose station it was, "Have a Happy New Year." And for the first time she actually looked directly at me and my eyes, and with a slight look of surprise and wide smile, she wished me the same. I found myself hoping my smile was as warm as hers. As it was, I was rather surprised, too. Her response was so genuine and unexpected. I didn't know my words would have that effect. But I'll bet in her busy day, nobody had thought to wish her or her co-workers a happy anything.
I think I learned something today.
There is something else I must include: I have made the experience, during this Christmas vacation, that it is important to me to nurture myself. I'm not much of a housekeeper and I had been putting off changing the bed sheets. I finally did and that night slept like a baby. Because I was in clean sheets, not smelly. And this is something I need to remember: That I do feel better and function better emotionally when my surroundings are kept clean and tidy. I am rather pleased with and proud of myself, because I have done all my laundry and have put it away. I tidied off the coffee table to make a clean area for my New Year's meditation. I instantly feel better. I can do this. I can say "I love you" to myself, and respond to it by showing love through action. I can be and I can do love.
So, for 2008, I want to be friendlier and warmer with people. I want to inspire love and joy, including to myself in my own home and heart. I am grateful that I do have the time and space to do just this.