Things I’ve learned

Contrary to my expectations, having his things in my house hasn’t made me feel more connected to him. Quite the opposite, I feel more acutely aware than ever that he is gone; otherwise, these things would be in the house we shared when he was alive. Seeing his books piled in my entryway in bags tore at my heart, reopening the wounds of his passing all over again. I want them. I’m glad I have them. But they are no replacement for him.

Losing him has thrown me into a vortex of self-searching.  As much as I worked on my spiritual practice when he was alive, my husband excelled where I fell down.  The good thing about this was, he could be him, and I could be me. By that I mean, I could be petty, quick to anger, judgmental, rash… and he could be him: calm, equanimous, composed, easygoing, allowing, accepting. Whenever I got turned around in my ego, I could call him, spin out my tale of woe, anger, frustration, and he could turn it around with a word and a gentle smile. Everything was immediately okay.

But he’s gone, and now there’s no one to be that for me but me. I have to be me —-and I have to be him for me, too.  It’s a bit like trying to achieve sainthood overnight.

My foci this past week have been taming my mouth – not speaking about others unless it is to uplift them and honor them (no matter how they may have hurt or offended me), and taming my approval seeking – not sharing things about myself for the purpose of seeking validation or recognition.

I have noticed I can stack success upon success for hours at a stretch, but inevitably there is some breakdown, some opening, some opportunity where my guard is down. In those brief moments, the undesired behaviors break loose like horses through an open paddock gate. I find myself speaking in spite of myself, sharing in spite of myself. The ego, having achieved its aim of remaining intact, is satisfied, but the spirit is thwarted.

I’ve been reading Grace and Grit, by Ken Wilber. The book details the events of his wife’s five-year struggle with breast cancer that ended in her death.  My husband had actually singled out this book years ago as one that had really affected him (interestingly, he’d read it long before he was diagnosed with cancer), but because of life’s inevitable busyness, I had never made time to read it. Going through his books after his death, I found two copies of it, and it seemed imperative to read it now.

Much of the book chronicles Ken’s wife, Treya’s, practice of developing equanimous awareness of her ego, her body, her cancer, the events in her life, and ultimately, her death. It has been a thought-provoking companion during my first awkward steps along my own journey back to Spirit, back to wholeness, and towards acceptance with many parallels to what our lives have been over the past two years.

As I seek integration, I am guided by the understanding that I need not do anything to edit or fix myself, but to simply become aware of what is happening. That awareness lends the space between the ego-triggering event and the next action we choose to take. If I am aware of what why I react a certain way, and I accept it, embrace it, and let it go, then no reaction is necessary.

My practice continues.