Why is it we seem to create more drama for ourselves than is actually necessary, as if any drama at all were actually necessary?
I recently traveled across the country to honor a family member where I would also find myself face to face with two other family members who’ve caused me great emotional pain in the past. I hadn’t seen them in 20 and 30 years respectively and hadn’t anticipated seeing them again. But, now I was going to.
Prior to the trip, I did everything I could to prepare myself emotionally, mentally and spiritually; had in-depth sessions with my therapist, asked my Wiccan friend to remember me in her Samhain rituals, invoked my numerous spirit guides, meditated on my own inner strength, rationalized that this was all for my own healing/greater good and paid attention to the increasing number of synchronicities as the trip itself approached.
I planned to leave Los Angeles two days prior to the celebration which would give me time to adjust to the time difference. The main event was a formal ceremony which would offer minimal interaction with the individuals. However, the free time before and after the ceremony itself was where I anticipated any possible interaction as we would be free to mill about, and that was what triggered the anxiety. Also, there was a second, less formal event where I knew additional family drama might raise its tragic head.
I developed the attitude of 'I’m simply going to do what I feel is important to me' and if anyone would give me grief, I would simply reply "I no longer care what you think. I do what I feel is best for me, for my greater good, not yours."
Kind of a polite "Go fuck yourself!"
Plus, I was there to honor the celebrant and no one else. Period. Case closed. Move along.
Everything I saw/felt/interpreted indicated the trip itself would be smooth and positive. Yet, the anxiety persisted.
As I hate traveling anyway, the night before leaving I had a difficult time sleeping; tossing and turning almost all night. I tried every trick I knew to relax-a white noise app, a guided meditation app, melatonin-but the anticipation of what could happen along the way and while there was also a bit of a worry. Okay, a major worry, in spite of the fact I knew I could control nothing but my reaction to whatever might come up.
Other than the traditional rough landing at my final destination, the travel itself went well; the plethora of synchronicities surrounding the departure gate for the last leg was overwhelmingly supportive. "All would be well," they said. I felt blessed.
Once I arrived, I began to steady myself for the event two days later. It all seemed to be so surreal, yet actually happening. I kept up my mantra, "I can do this, it’s for my greater good. I can do this, it’s for my greater good."
The two nights I was there before the ceremony, I had an even harder time sleeping, tossing and turning all night, suffered bad cases of indigestion, and now higher anxiety as the reality was now setting in. Plus, I was not in the comfort and safety of my home, my bed. Still, I continued my mantra, "I can do this, it’s for my greater good. I can do this, it’s for my greater good. I can do this, it IS for my greater good, damn it."
While some anxiety is normal, I think the amount I was feeling was a bit extreme. I believe the emotional attachment I once had to these people and amount of time that had passed since I last saw them had allowed the pain to fester all of which kept me from fully grounding myself. Plus, this was family which seems to carry added weight.
I knew I had no control over anything but my reaction. I knew I had to get through this struggle. I knew I would get through this moment. I knew the Universe was teaching me a lesson and I would be fine in the end. Yet, the anxiety was still overwhelming.
On the hour’s drive to the venue, I practiced settling myself-deep breathing exercises, picturing my safe place, connecting with my guides. One family member, who was in a similar boat as I, shared his strategy as to how he planned on surviving this moment. Knowing I had an ally on my side was very reassuring.
We arrived at the venue, parked and found some seats in the auditorium. After greeting some of the others already there, the particular two individuals in question finally arrived at the ceremony. I decided to take my power back and walked up to one of them. After a brief moment while he finished another conversation, we extended our hands, shook them and exchanged a "How do you do?" and a "Fine, thank you." He then turned and walked away. The other was busy so I returned to my seat. Following the ceremony, everyone milled about the foyer and entryway while waiting to leave for the second event. I had found out these two people wouldn’t be going, so I could breathe a bit once we were on our way. Shortly, the two came up to me; we shook hands, and they said their goodbyes and were off.
And that was that. A grand total of about two minutes caused me so much anxiety that I was physically ill at times and then turned out to be nothing like I had imagined.
Why is it we blow such things so out of proportion? I believe it’s because we attach too much emotion to situations especially where family is involved. I don’t mean to suggest emotions are bad, but sometimes we allow them to cloud our judgment. I’d been through difficult times before but to me, this was very different. Perhaps it was because these were two family members with some long and difficult history between us. Perhaps it’s also because we want to believe we will be safe so we imagine all the worst case scenarios in order to be prepared which triggers the anxiety and then it almost never turns out the way we imagined. Funny, that. It’s like an emotional catch-22.
So, what was the Universe teaching me here?
- Stop overthinking, for one; but that is so much easier said than done.
- In reality, nothing turns out how we imagine it will.
- Let go of what you can’t control.
- Trust in the Universe and in yourself.
Perhaps all of the above. With an emphasis on the last part of the last one.
Life is not about the destination but is the journey itself and what we learn along the way.
Especially from the bumps we hit...