My son said he wanted to get a motorcycle yesterday. This immediately caused anticipatory pain. I could feel in advance the onset of the pain that would come if this were to come to fruition. So I began, immediately, feeling the pain that will be part and parcel to any motorcycle endeavor he takes on. Why? Because he will likely kill himself on a motorcycle. He had four e-bike accidents in as many months and two car accidents in less than three. A motorcycle is a HORRIBLE IDEA!
And so I began to anticipate the loss and pain I will feel when he does this action that will likely end in disaster. And it got me very much in touch with the fear and powerlessness I have in relation to my now “adult” son. I can beg, plead, reason, cajole, yell, scream but if he wants to get a motorcycle, then I am powerless to stop it. And I began to anticipate the pain that will come from this decision while I also processed the current pain of seeing just how very powerless I am over so many things.
The ex-boyfriend, who I cut off all contact with some time ago, is now insisting that he will be “in my area” and wants to get the rest of this things. Things that he hasn’t cared enough about to get before now. Things that he felt perfectly fine with leaving here, rent free and without ever asking me if I minded holding for him. I thought we were done. I thought he got everything he was taking. Now I feel pressed. I feel the anticipatory pain that all recent encounters with him generate for me. It isn’t that I don’t love him, I do. But he and how he is living his life is poison for me, and while I denied this for a long time, I cannot do that anymore and hold a good opinion of myself.
Just seeing his name pop up on my text thread caused my stomach to do flip flops. I felt sucker punched. I felt terrified because I just do not want to go another round with him. I care for him but his callous disregard for my well being and my feelings is something I just cannot sustain. I need him to be gone from my life, not because I hate him or because I am even angry with him, but because I cannot handle the pain that comes from allowing him to be in my life.
And so now I sit with current pain and anticipatory pain for what is to come. I do not want to see him. I do not want to deny him his things. But I am not sure how to meet his needs and take care of my own. I am still devastated by his treatment of me and himself a few weeks ago. Still reeling from him and his behavior. What is my higher obligation? To take care of myself and hold the boundary? Or risk one more interaction and my delicate peace I have been living with to satisfy his?
Someone else I love embarked on a path yesterday that might very well likely end in a complete circus. I was consulted before hand but it wasn’t my thing to control or manage. I told them all the things I thought could go wrong with their charted course of action, I laid out all the horribles I could think of so this person would be prepared. And she decided to take the action anyway. And so I have a great deal of anticipatory fear about what will come of this as well.
So this morning as I wake, my stomach is tight, I am exhausted and really feeling like there is nothing I can do to stave off the pain that appears to be lurking all around. And so I try to feel what I can now, in some sort of misguided effort to minimize the pain later. Dumb. I know, you can’t pre-feel things. But fuck if I don’t try.
I think that I got this idea decades ago that if I began worrying and feeling the pain as soon as possible, that somehow I might mitigate the pain intensity and duration. And it must have worked early on, or I was so delusional myself that I convinced myself that it was. Who knows?
Anyway, I have lived my life like this for a long time. Attempting to pre-feel, to allow the pain of the future to land today so that I can think it through and in so doing, allow myself to access thoughts, emotions and ideas that will help me minimize the pain for all concerned. Like if I just get enough lead time, then I will be able to manage the pain better when it arrives.
So far all I think I have succeeded in doing is stretching the pain out over a great period of time so that I suffer longer and more acutely.
And even though I know this, there is this part of me that will not let go of the idea that anticipatory pain is better and easier to manage than the real pain that is coming. And that if I can just anticipate the pain well enough, completely enough, then perhaps I can somehow avoid the pain altogether...because you see, at least in my mind, pain pre-felt before the painful event actually arrives, is not really pain. (I do know this isn’t true. It is all pain but for reasons unbeknownst to me this persists to be my reality).
I know that pre-feeling pain doesn’t work to mitigate it later on. Perhaps there is some benefit in allowing the pain of the introduction of the future pain to simmer for a little while. But the longer I live, I am becoming more and more sure that my need and desire to control has never really gotten me where I wanted to go or landed me in places I wanted to be. I just keep trying to control the uncontrollable and that just keeps me in lock step with the whole pain debacle longer, and to a much greater degree.
I do not want my son to get a motorcycle. I do not know what will actually happen if he does, but my mind is absolutely convinced that I should start planning his funeral today.
I do not want to see my ex-boyfriend. Not because I hate him or am even mad, but because I do not want to have to live through watching him do his life so badly again. And also because I do not want to re-engage. I feel like I have worked so hard for this tentative peace I feel in my life and I really do not want to give it up. He can have his things, but I just cannot be involved in this whole process. I hate that I do not feel able to talk to him, but I feel like I have talked until all the air left my lungs and it didn’t do any good. His perception of the reality of his behavior and mine are diametrically opposed. So I feel completely defeated and unable to conjure the willingness to go another round in the ring with him. My footwork is better but he is tenacious and able to get me to believe a great deal of things that are not true...mostly because I desperately want to believe that he is ok and better.
I also have to own that I feel like I am owed an apology for all that he put me through. But I know that isn’t coming and so it remains silly for me to expect one. And I know, that apologies are really just new onramps to misery in my life. They allow me to excuse behavior that really isn’t excusable. They become the reason du jour that I allow someone who isn’t good for me back into my life. So apology be damned...I need to just sit this one out. There is no apology at this point that will cure what ails us.
This other person and her course of action probably terrifies me most of all. My knowledge of the world and how it works is pretty accurate. I, of course, do not KNOW what will happen. But this world is not too kind to women and girls courageous enough to speak out against the bullshit behavior of toxic men. While I commend her strength, fearlessness and bravery, I absolutely anticipate the pain that will come...because I have seen it first hand. And it is an ugly kind of grotesque.
So I sit here this morning filled with this strong desire to deploy all of my belief systems that support attempting to pre feel pain and to anticipate the pain before it actually arrives in my continued misguided attempt to limit the amount of pain in my life. When what I should be doing is the inner work to be ok with myself and others no matter what happens. I cannot move the river, and I also don’t have to jump in and allow the river to move me. There is some middle path, but fuck if I know what it is in this moment.
So I stand, or rather lay because it is very hard for me to write standing, on this very helpless feeling place where people I love deeply make decision and requests that cause me a great deal of fear and anxiety. I want to protect us all, but in the end, I know that I am only responsible for myself and I am not even sure how to protect myself.
So I do the only thing I know to do, write about it while drinking my morning coffee and owning that I do not know what I am doing, and the things I do know I am doing I am not able to stop even though I know they lack true merit. I can run around and get everyone else’s opinion about what I should do in all these situations and that will likely help some. But in the end, I have to respond as me. Not them. And what is good for them, isn’t always good for me. I certainly do not know what is best, even though I have a mind that tells me I do.
Today what I know I have is anticipatory pain for people I love and for myself. I do not want to hurt. I do not want to go another round. I do not want to bury my son. I do not want to see someone I love tell me they are fine when they are clearly not. I do not want someone to trust that the world is a place where holding people accountable for their criminal actions always works out well for them.
So I remain here, anticipating the pain, feeling it in real time and working very hard to release all the things I think I know, all the things that I currently feel and allow a new experience to form in all these situations. To be as much of a force for good as I can. And realize that my only real responsibility in any of this is to be true to myself and care for her as if my life depended on it, because, as it turns out, it does. And no amount of anticipatory pain is going to change the ultimate reality for any of us...