waking up on the good side
Yesterday Rose’s little friend Fawn explained, chirpily, from the back seat of my car, “this morning I woke up on the good side. Sometimes I wake up on the grumpy side, but not today!”
It’s hard to wake up on the good side every morning. It’s actually a practice to choose to see the luckiness in our lives, to meditate on gratitude, to banish the negative voices that beckon from dark places.
Last week was hard. Every day I pulled up my chair to the table and choked down a big plate of doubt. Soon doubt was the stuff running through my veins as if that was singularly what I was made of.
My Christian friend explains those voices (which are the verbal equivalent of rotten tomatoes hucked at your face) as coming from the outside. My psychotherapist friend calls it our super-ego. Buddhists refer to our delusions. Jewish tradition claims irksome dybbuks can inhabit our bodies. Navajos have ceremonies to excise evil spirits that take hold of people. And artists speak of their inner critic. Oh my, we can be a complicated, self-sabotaging group.
The Dalai Lama, Durango Public Library
My friend Marlena, a brilliant life coach, says that when people are launching into new endeavors, the super-ego (whose role is the critical and moralizing voice keeping our pleasure-seeking id in check) can get a little revved up. Sure, the super-ego developed to keep us safe from, say, eating our weight in doughnuts and then joining a traveling sex cult. But, when it says, “who are you to think you can fill in the blank?” the best answer may be what my mom’s friend says to her schizophrenic son when he starts hearing voices: “that sounds frightening honey, but it’s the illness (satan, super-ego, delusions, dybbuk, inner critic, evil spirits) talking.”
And I am launching into some new endeavors. One of them is homeschooling. And I’ve come to see that I worry about Col more than is necessary. Perhaps hyper-vigilance got coded into our relationship when he was first whisked past me in the hospital room in all his tiny vulnerability, someone shouting out his Apgar of 5. Just last night at the hot springs Col and Rose were splashing around with some girls they know when Rose informed me that the girls were teasing Col. I heard them saying, repeatedly, “you’re so small Col, you could pass for 4 years old.” A corkscrew twisted into my chest. I waited a moment to see how Col would respond.
Col stayed silent and Rose looked at me like, do something, Mama, so I talked to the girls about all the different types of people in the world, big and small, dark and light. And then I smiled at them like the hungry crocodile determining how many little girls he can fit into his mouth, and suggested that Col and Rose return to Dan and me.
I sunk back into the hot water and felt a stab of pain somewhere like my womb, somewhere like the origins of my own motherhood. Col was fine; this was my problem.
And as my wise friend Natalie says, “To realize your own worst enemy is inside your skull is both creepy and irritating and then, on the bright side, great news since you are that voice and can choose something different.”
And not to be all: let’s join hands, sing an inspirational ballad and pass out the “befriend yourself” buttons. But also, yeah, let’s. Because I’ve got stories to tell and projects to launch and people to love and I don’t have time, not even a second, to take a tomato in the face.
How do you banish the jeering section of your mind? How do you go bravely into new territory?
With love and gratitude,