living in the moment, part 2

If you hadn’t already noticed, I tend to get a bit philosophical when dealing with loss. I figure some thought-provoking ancient wisdom may help me wrap my mind around my own situation. But the heart does not follow easily. No, that takes lots of practice, probably a lifetime (and is for another post entirely). But for me anyway, it’s a start on the road to acceptance…

The other day I shared some 
things I try to remember when I’m struggling through an especially tough moment. I realize there are some more fundamental (related) concepts involved in the moment-at-a-time approach. I’m sorry to say I have not mastered the art of accepting these lessons (far from it actually), except for the deep breathing part (I do that a lot). But somehow the notion that it has always been and will always be this way provides a strange form of comfort. Maybe because I know I cannot change it… 

You know these things, you’ve lived them. So much of it is common sense. And acceptance of that which we cannot change. But I often need to spell it out for myself, you know, to see it, to remember. So here it is, some more of the same, food for thought:

There is only what is.  I’ve spent so much time pondering “what if” this and “if only” that. I’ve wondered how things might have been different, if only… I’ve tortured myself with thoughts of things that never happened. I’ve looked back with regret. In truth, there is no “what if” or “if only.” There is only what is. Here and now. It’s not just that the past is, well, past. It’s how we deal with it now that matters.

Things don’t always go as planned.  Uh, yep. We make plans expecting to be in control. The truth is some things simply cannot be controlled. Maybe we can’t really control anything at all. Yet we find a certain satisfaction or comfort with the illusion of control. We plan, we prepare, we anticipate, we endeavor, we direct, we comply. But ultimately we have so little power over the outcome. We are born and we will die, of this we can be sure. But all that stuff in between? Not so much. It’s not that we shouldn’t set goals or take action. We must. And I know we must have hope. But expectations are so often letdown. Maybe accepting this can this help the process of letting go, if only a little…

Pain and suffering are inevitable.  No, I’m not a sadist but a realist. With life comes death, it’s part of the deal. Everything ends. And with death comes pain and grief, at least for the living. We may suffer other significant losses, such as grieving one’s fertility. We suffer when we are sick, or when those we love are hurting. We suffer when we want what we can’t have. Buddhist philosophy would say that suffering arises from attachment and desire. But these things are inevitable. With love comes attachment. With human nature comes desire. And as a wise man once said, we can’t always get what we want. I want people everywhere to be free from poverty and hunger. I want to live in an environment that doesn’t make us sick. I want world peace. And yes, I want desperately to become a mother and for my husband to become a father to a living child. Are any of these things really possible? As long as I hold on to my deep desire for a child when I cannot have one, I will continue to suffer. 

Everything changes.  Change is the only constant in life. As I’ve said before, nothing really lasts. Everything we are and feel grows and changes with time. Whatever we are going through, it too shall pass. Life goes on, for better or worse. We can’t really grasp onto anything because nothing is forever. Anything can happen in an instant. Which is why we must try to live in the moment.

The future is unknown.  There are things that we just can’t know. The uncertainty of infertility can be so very hard, the not knowing how it will end. But that thought can also provide hope. My grief counselor once said that we live much of our lives in the “don’t know,” which is a hard place to be, but if we could accept this, we would be ok. We don’t know where our journeys will lead us, how they will end, or what opportunities we may encounter along the way. We don’t know what may be on the horizon, and it could be something wonderful. We don’t know how our lives might be different if we choose one path over another. The future is simply unknown, unknowable. And remember, there is no what if or if only, there is only what is. 

What gets you through your tough moments (and I don’t mean just ancient philosophy)?

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~ by luna on January 9, 2008.

7 Responses to “living in the moment, part 2”

  1. When I went back to the RE after our 2 year hiatus from treatments, he asked me why. I explained all the stress and strengthening our marriage. And then I said “Oh, and I had to realize that I can’t control the universe. That was a relief to find out.”

    He looked up at me, a little startled, and then a smile spread across his face. “We all need to learn that lesson.”

    For me, the thought that everyone has horrible things happen in their life, that no one makes it through unscathed…that brings me comfort. Knowing that what I’m experiencing isn’t unique and that I’m not alone. That I’m blessed in so many ways.

  2. What gets me through my tough moments? Well, it is really a day to day thing I guess. Sometimes I don’t think I’m getting through them at all. When that happens, it is time that helps. Time passes and I realize I have survived.

    But for the most part, what helps me is a fierce determination to overcome. I will not let this struggle end without success. I know that I will be a parent some how and some way, whether it is via IVF with my own eggs, donor eggs, a surrogate, or adoption.

    I’m still figuring this out though. Everything I’ve wanted in my life I’ve been able to achieve. A baby is the only thing I haven’t been able to make happen. And that loss of control is hard. So I’ll have to get back to you because I’m still a bit lost in the wilderness : ) Mostly though, it’s the little things that help me survive: my husband giving me a hug, my dog curling up with me, listening to great music, and going out with friends. Writing has helped too. Working on my bitterness – which is good for no one – is a goal I have yet to reach.

    I hope you find more ways to get through your tough moments.

    – Angela

  3. On the subject of infertility in particular (vs. other challenges that life throws our way), what gets me through the toughest moments is knowing we gave it our very best shot.

  4. I’ve been lurking for awhile now. I figured it’s time I actually comment.

    With each of my losses I invoke the mantra “I won’t always feel like this.” I repeat it to myself several times a day. Sometimes I need a reminder that it’s OK to experience the here and now. It’s also OK to look forward to a day when things might be easier.

  5. I have to agree with Pamela Jean- with the infertility issues in my life the only that I can get through this is by remembering that I did give it my best shot- I did everything that I could do until I couldn’t do it anymore.
    With the losses of my babies- those have been more difficult- looking back I still have the what if’s, today should be, etc… I don’t think that will ever change. You have your good days and your bad days- your days when you think things are getting back to normal then out of the blue you are starting over. I know that things will get better- I know that I gave it my very best with them too- I guess knowing that I had my 3 brief moments as a mother is what gets me through those tough times- nothing can take that away from me- I am a mom, no matter how brief a time it was- I gave it my very best shot and that was all that we can do sometimes.

  6. […] I’m feeling. And to remember. The lessons are about living in the moment (parts one and two). The lessons are taken from several sources — some ancient wisdom from Buddhist philosophy, […]

  7. […] I worked with a grief counselor on my attitude towards the future. I had read books on loss, on mindful living, on dealing in crisis. Yet a few hours in her presence helped me embrace the uncertainty in the simple unbreakable truth that the future is unknown, unknowable, that anything is possible and all we have is this moment.  […]

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