Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Pain is Inevitable, Suffering is Optional

I went to work today after dropping the kids off with their dad. He seemed perfectly ordinary; nothing unusual struck me about him. Same ol' Mr. Sunshine, with a chance of pain.

Later in the day, I was met at the copy machine and given a loving hug from one of my best friends. She is prone to spontaneous hugs so I didn't think much of it but then she looked at me so sympathetically,  like my puppy had just died. With her head tilted and her face very close to mine she asked if I was okay? Sure, I said. I’m fine, why do you ask?

Mr. Sunshine was on the local news this morning; he has plead guilty to the charges pending against him. He’s going to jail for four years”.

And I thought last week was bad.

I had one of those moments this past Friday night when all the emotional stress I had been carrying all week came flooding out in an utterly defeated, ready to give up kind of way. It was a span of darkness. There had been a car accident, a girlfriend’s life shattered by a revelation, more layoffs at work, announcements of financial trouble for one of our sister companies and I had PMS.

Mind you, PMS in the late forties is accompanied by more than just heightened emotion. It is like you die each month. Depression, suffering, death, heavy, darkness.

I remember thinking the night after my car accident how much I could have used a good cry. I could feel my guts, all twisted up inside and I knew something was going to have to give to get me back to a calm center.

Then Friday night rolled around and all hell broke lose. I had tried so hard to repair my little Commando, to restore his faith in me after I was made to be the “fault” of our divorce, to build him back up, to keep him from following in the footsteps of his father’s narcissistic tendencies. I have him in counseling. His father refuses to help with the cost; yet, he spends most of his time in counseling talking about his issues with his dad.

I can honestly say, he is perhaps the most complicated child in the history of the world to raise but all of his difficult personality traits will serve him well in his adult life. That is of course, if I choose to let him live. In the five plus years since our divorce, he has come a long way. I have made great strides with him. He hugs me and loves me and listens to me (sometimes) and he stopped having the house-wrecking fits of rage some time ago.

Friday night, the rage resurfaced and my spirit was too weak to handle it. In the middle of his meltdown of epic proportion, I watched him cry, I felt his suffering and I heard him talk about how much he wished his dad didn’t have 50% of him. In my compromised state, I began to feel it would be impossible for me to help this child as long as I share custody with his father. For it seems we make 50% progress only to be 50% defeated.

My son does not know real happiness, he never has.

I have stood strong and fought hard but maybe it was time for me to call it quits. Maybe he would be better off with his dad full time. After the incident with our other child suffering a ruptured appendix while in his care, I had toyed with the idea of fighting Mr. Sunshine for full custody of the kids but I knew I couldn’t prove he was unfit and no judge would remove joint custody otherwise.

But luckily I was prepared for the shocking news today thanks to a blog which contains scores of wisdom for not only facing your dark times but accepting them and embracing the growth that will undoubtedly surface each time we shed our skin. She has endured her rough times by remembering the Buddhist principle, “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”.

She quotes Pema Chodron from her book “When Things Fall Apart” as follows:
"The essence of life is that it's challenging. Sometimes it's sweet, and sometimes it's bitter. Sometimes your body tenses, and sometimes it relaxes or opens. Sometimes you have a headache, and sometimes you feel 100 percent healthy. From an awakened perspective, trying to tie up all the loose ends and finally get it together is death, because it involves rejecting a lot of your basic experience. There is something aggressive about this approach to life, trying to flatten out all the rough spots and imperfections into a nice smooth ride.... To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. .... To live is to be willing to die over and over again."
I can’t begin to tell you how much this quote centered me. I immediately found my balance, knowing I don’t need to worry about all these loose ends. I accept my life for where it is and if I stay open to it, the universe will provide for me. I certainly don’t want my kids to have to suffer through the embarrassment and shame of having a father in jail; yet, if I can have four years of their lives without his influence, I stand a better chance of reaching my son’s heart and helping him to finally, for once, feel accepted and know true happiness.

Another wonderful post by Robin over at Pre-Meditated contained a passage from the Holy Bible (New Testament). Can I just say how much I love that a Jewish woman from New York and a Southern Baptist from Oklahoma can connect through the teachings of Buddha and Jesus.
…....I may associate darkness with fear or sadness. Yet darkness may also mark a new beginning, a time of transformation. Out of what was, something new emerges. The chick emerges from the egg; the butterfly emerges from the cocoon. Time in the darkness is an important and essential part of the process of life….. In faith I move through times of challenge, even of sorrow, expecting good to be revealed through the activity of Spirit. In the midst of what may appear to be darkness, I open myself to new wisdom. With each experience, I emerge a new creation of Spirit….John 16:20
And so I emerge, a new creation of spirit who awaits the return of Spring. Perhaps I will have the opportunity to see it tomorrow.

Update: In speaking with Mr. Sunshine, he said his attorney feels certain they can resolve this with probation and/or a home confinement type of sentence. It will be several months before we know.


  1. I get you. I get it. I power through the feelings. I was just saying to my husband there just is no happy pill. Everyone suggests it becasue they do not have the fortitude to gut out your feelings with you, the hard times with you. I will always love you enough to tell you: feel it, be there and you are enough.

  2. Thanks babe. You are enough as well.

  3. You are doing the right thing. And yes, life is constantly challenging us and throwing us curve balls. Your son is lucky to have you and it sounds like you are his rock. Keep up the good (hard) work, mama.

    ANd thank you for stopping by today.

  4. Wow,I don't know what to say - I'm so sorry that you are dealing with so much pain with your son, but I totally get it. My daughter was a real challenge for many years too, from 12-21 I thought I would lose my mind. And on top of that I had a dying mother, a sister who got hit by a car, a depressed husband, we lived near the World Trade Center, and we moved about four times in six years... I must have left something out. Financial crises. This is life. This is it. "I accept, I accept" - Pema Chodran, the Tao, the Bible, knowing we will get through it - remembering to laugh and keep a sense of humor (I personally am quite happy with the Divorce Diet) - what a gift to connect with you! I'm so grateful.

  5. Dear Angie. I love you!!

  6. I am so sorry you are having to deal with all of this. Hopefully everything works out in the best way possible, especially for your son.


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