In the last couple of years, my now teen daughter has joined me in all of these choirs. Mostly because she was always there anyway, learning the music, and would end up sitting in the choir stand, singing with us. And as these things go, especially with smaller choirs, she has a song or two that she either leads, or co-leads, much to her teen-aged chagrin. Of these songs, the one that has been playing in my head a lot recently has been one called "I Will Live". It has to do with watching one's verbal reactions to the ups and downs, more specifically the downs, of life. It posits that what you say affects not only your own attitude, but the energy in the world around you.
This is not an unusual stance. Most major religions of the world have sayings along those lines. Even the most hardcore of secularists believe in some level of Karmic energy: What you put out into the world is what you receive back from the world. Especially in moments of crisis and deep stress, it can be very easy to absorb negativity and reflect that back into the world. When your guard is down, and you are at your most vulnerable, can unfortunately be the times that bring out the worst in the people around you. The challenge then becomes not allowing the negative influences to turn you so negative that you began spewing that back out into the world. Which is incredibly hard when your emotions are raw and exposed.
Three weeks ago, I received a call no mother wants to get. My son had been arrested in another state, and in all honesty, there was darn little I could do about it. We've talked extensively in this space about the different ups and downs that I've had with my son, and like most parents, I immediately went to privately beating myself up about the entire thing. My reasonable mind knew that as an adult, I only have so much say over decisions that he makes, and that realistically speaking, he needed to be held accountable for those decisions. Unfortunately for me, there are those in my circle who would choose to kick a person while they are already down. No mater how reasonable I tried to remain, once it became obvious to me that my efforts were futile, in a moment of weakness I started down a very dark rabbit hole. I allowed my anger and hurt to dictate my response to the negativity being hurled at me, and I responded in kind. In front of my daughter, which I may regret for the rest of my life. Granted, this had been brewing for years, but the mature thing to do would have been not to engage, but again, when your guard is down, you are clearly not your best self. Mercifully, I was still within shouting distance of my right mind, and my more reasonable side decided that I'd better get in front of this before the rumor mill, and I decided to seek broader support through social media.
On the worst night of my adult life, Facebook actually saved my sanity.
Because what I got over the next couple of days were people putting aside their judgement (if they judged me at all), to offer me voices of reason (this really could have happened to anybody), support, comfort, and prayers. I learned that when people are in a storm, this is not the time to offer negativity. Their head is already likely in a very dark place, and your blame and condemnation is not needed. Put out into the universe what you want to receive back when it's your turn to go through the storms of life: peace, concern for those in the middle of the storm, hope, and if nothing else, prayers. The simplest gifts that I received that I appreciated the most were the prayers: even if they did not know what to say, there were those who stopped what they were doing to offer prayers of hope for my son, and comfort for my daughter and myself, that have sustained me from that day to this.
What I have decided, during this particular set of storms in my life (there are several really trying issues competing for my attention at this time) is that much like the song states, I Will Live. I will not let my attitude, and by extension, my words, reflect the negativity that is directed at me. The only thing I can control in my life is myself and my reactions to the stimuli around me, and I have the responsibility to set the example for my daughter of how to deal with the storms of life. Yes, I slipped, and I apologized to her for it, but I know that I also have to be more cognizant of how I deal with emotional conflict in the future. And beware of the "Be the bigger person" mantra: sometimes it works, but sometimes it is just a setup for accepting ongoing abuse. Which is not healthy. For anyone.
I Will Live.
My son goes to trial tomorrow. No matter the outcome, there will be a great deal of fallout and blow back from this for quite awhile to come. We will likely be dealing with this for some time.
I Will Live.
I am no longer surprised by the fact that whenever I take positive steps to start getting my life together on some level, I end up in social and/or emotional waters that compete to keep me distracted from my actual goals. I finally realized that it's not the distractions that are the real issue: it's my reactions to the distractions. Think about that for a minute.
I Will Live.
Where I want to be, spiritually, is like the people that were there for me during my very long night: the helpers and healers that exude an aura of warmth, comfort, wisdom and most importantly, peace. I will not be the person that speaks chaos into an already bad situation. I will bring peace, and love, or I will bring nothing at all.
I Will Live.