Life stories

Someone I know faced death. He is alright, but his house may be demolished.

People are disturbed by the war in Ukraine. There is the sense of horror and sympathy. Streets like ours are bombed. People show courage, standing in front of tanks to block their path. Vladimir Putin calls sanctions “akin to an act of war” and threatens nuclear weapons. I look on from my comfortable life, powerless. Polish people welcome refugees. People here give things, to be taken in lorries to Ukraine, and possibly they cannot be distributed or used when they get there.

We make stories of our lives. This is who I am. This is how I have got here. It gives me a feeling of safety and control, and always there are reminders of how human lives are upturned or ended in an instant. And I know of things that might overturn my life.

I am not who I thought I was. I find what I want when I see what I do. I find out who I am when I see how I react in particular situations. It becomes clearer to me that I hold myself, my actual attributes, desires and actions, in contempt, and how difficult it is to live with that. So I feel my stories are harmful to me, and I should live in the moment, forget the past. Accidents change people’s lives, and the old stories no longer apply.

Or I wonder how my equivalents are doing, in parallel universes. Is one a partner in a firm of solicitors, married, children now graduated and beginning professional careers, producing grandchildren? How many are dead? Surely they must be doing better than me! If Only stories are a way to beat myself up, or to experience my full hurt and resentment at the way things have turned out.

I lie to myself to make myself feel better- in order to see myself as a good person, to see myself as something other rather than expand my understanding of good. To imagine that I have the control and understanding I crave. My whole life is about control.

And, I am on a spiritual journey, where I understand more about my world and myself, where I become conscious of my internal conflicts and progressively resolve them, where I can more and more speak from my heart and know my own desire.

Stories can be turned different ways. I hate the thought of people sending stuff to Ukraine which cannot be used, and is dumped. Why did they not work out how their efforts and wealth could make a difference? Or, I could see the gifts as self-giving generosity, or unite these two perspectives.

I still say, “This is who I am”, but my understanding is completely changed, and I know from experience I may surprise myself.

Solzhenitsyn is quoted as blessing prison, for teaching him that the object of life is not prosperity but “the maturity of the human soul”. Someone might have made that up, to make their meme go viral, and Goodreads says it is from The Gulag Archipelago. It is not easy to bless ones difficulties. What has not killed me has often weakened me. I shall not cease from exploration, or from trying to make sense of what I see.

You have to go the way your blood beats, wrote James Baldwin. Be the unique human being that you are! Then stories and false beliefs get in the way. But, depressed people are more rational, less prone to magical thinking, than happy people. Possibly the happy ones have just been lucky, or possibly magical thinking helps one live, by seeing possibilities of good, and not thinking about the bad stuff until it happens.

Many stories could be fuel for my contempt. If I tell myself stories of possibilities, my contempt will say, why are you not doing that? So I will tell myself the story of my spiritual growth, learning, becoming able to listen to my heart, and speaking from my heart. I will tell of my ability to get things I desired, and my pride in my No. Then, perhaps my heart will find more desires. I will tell stories of my femininity and how it delights me, my beauty and value as a human being, but not of safety, because safety is impossible. I am safe enough, for now.

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15 March: This is my life story, as I will tell it:

God is Love.
I am made in the image of God
so I am Love.
Love is my being, my essence, my heart.
Love is my motivation, my energy and my strength.
Anything I do, Love must do.
And I was unconscious of it,
using it heedlessly, beating it, demanding impossible things.
I could not hear it or see it so I broke it.
For so long, my Love could say nothing but “No”.
No. I can’t. I won’t. I don’t want to.
I was bewildered and at war with myself.
Then I heard it speak.
It said, “I am”.
Now I know I am the heart of Love.
I no longer think I am anything else.
From Love, my heart,
I will love all the hurt in me,
the pain, anger and fear, long forgotten and suppressed,
and even the contempt.
And I will make myself whole.

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