Discomfort and Love (for Lisa, Lori, Susan, Christine, Monica, and Wild Gorillas Everywhere)
The other day a miracle happened. I was out for a walk and I was thinking about how my sneaker didn’t feel right. It was pinching the top of my foot. I walked for a while, thinking about how I would be walking for two hours or so with a sneaker that didn’t fit right. I wondered if I would be aware of the pain the whole time. I wondered if it would affect the quality of my walk, my day, the day of other people with whom I would later be interacting.
Then something happened.
I thought about a group of people who had stood up recently and, out of nowhere, created a private gofundme page so I could get my back problem they had read about here in my last post properly addressed. These were people whose houses I had never seen, whose friends and lovers and children and pets I had never met. These were people who didn’t know my middle name.
Something happened to my brain when I learned that there was enough money in the bank for me to take care of myself. Something clicked. It was like an angel had come down from the sky and had not just placed his hand on my head, but had given me a full-on body to body I love you embrace. I felt so held. I saw that the universe, as much as it sometimes deals rough cards, has my back in stunning form.
I am so used to living with discomfort and anxiety I don’t even notice it half the time. Or, as with my sneaker, I notice it but I don’t think to stop and make myself comfortable. So you know what's coming: While I was out walking, I stopped, untied the laces, straightened out the tongue of my sneaker, and walked the rest of the morning in sweet ease. I was inordinately proud of myself. I had made my life better by responding to my body’s small cry for help. I had listened to me.
I still can’t believe these people did what they did. It’s the random acts of kindness thing. Random makes it sound…random, but, holy cow, when you are kind to someone you throw a rock into a pond and you have no idea how far the ripples will spread.
What I want to tell you is that I am learning. Doing the adoptee retreats with Pam Cordano helps me see how much discomfort people can choose to have in their lives. People like me. It’s a choice to walk around with a shoe that binds. It’s a choice to walk around with a toothache and not ask for help. It’s a choice to be afraid of the dark and not think to turn on the light. It’s a choice to wish things were different but to do everything the same.
What do you need that you aren’t giving yourself? How comfortable are you with asking for help? Do you know how good it feels to give? You do. It feels so so good. When I told Pam I was ashamed that these people had to give their own money because I didn’t have enough to address my own health issues, Pam said gratitude isn’t a thing, it’s a feeling. She said I give a lot of love to the world and people give it back in different ways. She said it’s not about tallying who gave what and making sure the balance is equal. She said it’s about experiencing gratitude. Living it.
I am sitting with that idea. My heart is blooming. It aches. I need to breathe more deeply in order to expand my ribcage to make more space for my blooming heart. It is like stretching a tight muscle. It burns and feels sickeningly wonderful. The more I breathe and think about how much lighter I feel because other people had stepped into my life yet again and had showed up with fearless generosity, the less sickening the feeling is and the more wonderful it becomes. I feel like I am disappearing into the good feeling. Like I am air, or love, or everyone around me.
I feel as if the whole world has become a womb, and I am back where I had started, only this time I am in a body that is safe, at peace; this time I am in a body that is part of who I am and who will never leave. I am in the world of myself, the world of everyone, and the myth of the mother and child separating disappears into the blooming of my own heart.
Brené Brown says that without vulnerability, there is no creativity or innovation. She says there is nothing more uncertain than the creative process, and there is no innovation without failure. In the last few years, I have dedicated my life to writing about life as an adopted person and to getting people who want to write but feel stuck, unstuck. All of this involves vulnerability, creativity, innovation, and failure. I am grateful for the opportunity to be vulnerable. I am grateful for creativity, for innovation, and I am grateful for the fiery doorway of failure. I think all of these things distill down to love. At least they did for me this week.
It’s a whole new world.