Time continues to pass for us all and as I approach the 15 month “post suicide” marker, I’m amazed by the expectations people have about how they think I should behave.
Situationally, if I’m not sad enough I’ve gotten called out in some shaming way for being too happy, and then reminded—like I might forget—that my husband did kill himself. Or, I’m sad for a moment in time and am quickly reminded that it’s been long enough—buck up and think positively. As though thinking positively when I feel lost or alone or afraid is a panacea for all that ails me.
Initially when this began happening, I thought, “Well, I can’t please everyone so screw it!” (or something a bit less kind!) The first few happenings did throw me. I second guessed myself, briefly thinking maybe they’re right. It was easy to do because I’m still juggling the “why” question about my husband’s choice and what part I played, if any, in how the situation unfolded. Guilt and shame can be an easy go-to when things are FUBAR.
A few weeks ago I asked my friend T—she and her husband showed up immediately the morning of the suicide-“how did I present—how did I act that day”? So much of those first 24 hours felt like I was a watcher and removed one
degree from the reality occurring around me.
She said that I had a weird smile on all day and that I was trying to take care of everyone else. The policeman assigned to babysit me, her, the 5 dogs and the other 2 people who came to support me.
That was me trying to hold the state of positivity. Keep the mask on. Hold the illusion that all is well or will be. You’re not good enough to expect support unless you’re bright and shiny, so stay shiny.
Of course, I wasn’t holding that as a conscious thought at the time. Hindsight and deep exploration in the breakdown of the world I’ve known allows me to see that illusion clearly now!
When “positive thinking” is used in this manner—shaming self and hiding, ignoring, suppressing, distancing or judging our thoughts and emotions, we are making orphans of various aspects of ourselves. Abandoning any part of self is an act of self-hatred. Ugly or mean thoughts are nothing to be ashamed of, and when not acted upon are generally benign. We are human. We bring our past to the table until we learn to bear witness to and include all of our experiences and thoughts with curiosity rather than judgment.
These last 6 years I’ve been primarily a caretaker for others in various situations and varying degrees of F-ed up! My world went quiet after my husband’s suicide which left a lot of time for me to consider my patterns of behavior and ways of being. I was faced with many opportunities to be “positive”.
The whole construct of positive thinking is exclusive and perpetuates the unhealthy dichotomy of ; good/bad; right/wrong; now/then, while at the same time creating the expectation of an unobtainable state. The state of ALWAYS being positive! No matter what we do, we will still be human with a wide range of emotions and a society that thrives on labeling and judgment.
Love of self would allow all thoughts and aspects of self to well-up, including them and witnessing them as part of the whole that we are. After all—it’s just a thought. I don’t take action on all my thoughts and none of them should be judged as unworthy. Some thoughts are simply no longer useful. What if thoughts are simply surfacing in our awareness to be healed or learned from—transformed and/or released? What if some thoughts are the fast-track to self healing is inclusion?
What if we simply allowed all of our experiences to be just experiences—Zen like, neither good nor bad—neither positive or negative? Simply markers in time that we can either learn from and transform, or repeat and judge. Inclusion is always an option. And as thought precedes action—awareness of our thoughts creates dynamic changes in our actions which changes our experiences.
As for me—I’m happy to be happy and I’m happy for the moments when I’m not. The sad/hard moments are opportunities to make distinctions and to clarify and heal aspects of my life so there can be more forward movement in whatever direction I choose.
So rather than “positive thinking”, perhaps a shift to appreciation and gratitude as a choice in awareness and a way of life might be more inclusive and allowing for all aspects of self to integrate. This shift creates inclusion where all thoughts are welcome, the perceived positive and negative!
Of course, we’re always well served when in control and mindful of what comes out of our mouths!
Here’s to growing awareness and inclusion of every part of “ME” and thoughtful awareness of how we choose to express!
With warmest aloha,
This month’s challenge:
A practice in Positive thinking to notice what you like rather than what you don’t. We’re not seeking to change anything about you –simply creating a new habit of looking for what’s “right” wonderful and inspiring!
3x daily stop and notice your surroundings and acknowledge what’s beautiful, appealing, abundant, joy filled or things you like.