Am I going to practice peace, or am I going to war?

I sat down this morning for a few hours and read most of my blog from the past two years: wow, I’m so whiny! No wonder my husband gets sick of consoling me day-after-day. We get it. Being sick sucks. Move on.

I can’t move on. I can’t move on because I have to stay with whatever I’m experiencing in my life. It’s my story. If you were a professional football player and blogged about your game each week, I’d get it. This is my game. Every week – really, every day – I decide to keep going. I decide to continue trying and building my life despite the frustration of failed fertility cycles and tumor relapse. I whine about it. I try to not whine about it, but I whine about it.

I want to be the type of person people look at and say, “Wow, she is just handling this so well!” You know those comments. “She’s just such a strong and inspirational person. She has such deep faith. I hope I’d handle everything half as well as she does.” I think I’ll be that type of person. But, at some point I just say, “Fuck it, I’ll handle it however I can to stay alive today.” And I do. And it’s not pretty.

But every day, I do decide to go try to have the best day I can. In sobriety circles, we use the term, ‘one day at a time,’ which is something people have repeated to me when facing health challenges. Some days, one day at a time gets me through it. I think, “Yep, the weather is nice. I had a good breakfast. I loved teaching my class. Today is good. One day at a time.”

Some days, or even maybe just a few hours later in the same day, I think, “I could tear my own eyeballs out I’m so fed up with this.” This being my eyeballs, which are swollen and lesioned from my Graves’ Eye Disease. Sometimes ‘this’ is not my eyeballs. Sometimes ‘this’ is my medical bills, or my belly bloat, or the invitation to another baby shower or even (seriously) the invitation to a birthday dinner in my honor. You never know what is going to make you tear your eyeballs out when you’re thyroid toxic and infertile and just too high strung to handle anything rationally.

At those moments, things are really edgy. I can – and do – snap at people and alienate myself. I write mean blog posts then delete them. Sometimes I write mean blog posts and publish them. I shut down and stop talking to my husband. I scream. I really just scream no particular words at all at nothing particular at all, because sometimes screaming feels a little better than not screaming.

On bad days, the screaming wins. On good days, or at good moments, I’m able to take some deep breaths and think.

The thing is: yoga doesn’t ask us to be calm and content ALL the time. It’s not like we wake up one day and say, “From here on out, I’ll never again get frustrated or lonely or anxious or irritated. I will never scream again.” Instead, we simply say, “I’ll choose peace as often as I can.”

Pena Chodron says, “Every day, when things get edgy, we might as ourselves: am I going to practice peace, or am I going to war?”

I go to war a lot. But I do try to practice peace. If you’re angry with yourself for the wars you’ve started today or this month or this year, it’s okay. We all do it. Take a deep breath, and try to practice peace next time. Yoga helps.

The most valuable lesson of 2015

Today I was inspired to take out my “Dreams and Goals” journal for the first time in over two years. I’ve been so over setting goals for awhile; as I looked through my journal, it’s easy to locate the source of this ‘uck’ feeling about goal setting.

Yes, there is the normal, “Hey, that came true!” feeling you get when you read over old goals. That part is always so wonderful. I have excelled at accomplishing the things I can control. But, oh, the things I’ve tried so hard to control but can’t. Enter the sections on growing our family. If I could go back today and tell 29-year-old me what she’d have to go through, I’m not sure 29-year-old me could take it. Here is a snippet of what I wrote:

I will be patient. Even if it takes until 2015, I will be a mother. I will do what I need to in order to be healthy enough to be a mother, and I will be in no rush. Goal: I am healthy enough to be a mother by 2015.

You know what they say: we plan and God laughs. The funny (definitely not funny) thing is my journal is filled with phrases like, “According to God’s plan.” In the two or three years since I wrote those phrases, I have stopped thinking that God has a  plan. I think I have a purpose, and I believe in the meaning of my work, but a ‘plan?’ That I am not so sure of. I don’t believe things happen for a reason. I don’t believe hundreds of people are dying every day throughout Syria, France and Lebanon for a reason, at least not for a reason I can get behind. I don’t believe people were enslaved in this country for decades for a reason or according to a plan. I don’t believe women are raped for a reason. But I do believe it is our job to find a meaning and a purpose in this chaotic, violent and painful noise.

So tonight, before I started writing goals for 2016, I sat down and reflected on what I’ve learned from my hurt. I wrote compassion, resilience, priorities and better communication. I wrote that I’ve learned life takes work, and I’ve learned relationships take work.

Then I meditated. I did the Tonglen practice of receiving suffering and sending out compassion; it is the meditation I practice whenever I come to my cushion. As I pictured myself seated in front of me and envisioned my pain, I realized one other thing I learned:

The worst suffering I’ve endured over the past few years has not been caused by my health or infertility but by other people. The saddest days are the days when people let me down, fail to support me, or are so caught up in their own lives that they simply don’t think about my suffering. In some cases, people have known their actions would hurt me and chose them anyway. Those are the deepest cuts. I’m not blaming other people for this. I am blaming all people for this.

If I am most hurt by the actions of other people toward me, then other people must be most hurt by my actions toward them. Just as I have been wronged, I certainly have wronged others,  in ways I am aware of and definitely in ways in which I am not aware.

As I start my goals for 2016, I have one simple priority: Be kind, sensitive and supportive. I will be hurt by others this year, and I’m sure I will hurt others this year, but I hope to hurt a few less than I did the year before. That is progress worth seeking.