Our Lives Belong to Us

By Mary Reddy with Pat Reddy

Editor's Note: The Lorian Association, as spiritual community, is nonpartisan, but our writers and readers come from diverse social and political backgrounds. With the nation so divided and the future on nearly everyone's minds, it's inevitable that some of our blog posts may reflect certain political leanings. Always our goal is to promote an Incarnational viewpoint. In the upcoming weeks we will be publishing blog posts from both liberal and conservative perspectives that offer insight into how real people in our nation are coming together and bridging divisions, even and especially the ones within themselves.

On election night, when it became obvious that Trump would win, my body slammed into fight-or-flight mode. Adrenaline pumping high, stomach twisting—it took me long hours to physically calm down. I knew right away that I’d fallen into my childhood response of shunting strong emotion into my somatic field before I could even begin to feel it. Perhaps this served me well when I was very young. But as an adult, I’ve worked on opening to my emotions, because I understand how they serve me. I understand that they will not kill me or anyone else.

But sometimes the old pattern switches into gear before I can stop it. And I had one of those nights. As I lay sleepless, trying to soothe my body’s frenetic pulsing with measured breathing, I began to feel my emotions. They crept out of hiding. And they brought with them a great longing to be with people I love. Being together with loved ones felt like the most important thing to do in the face of fear and loss.

When the sun rose the next day, I spoke with people by email and by phone. My brother Pat sent me an email in which he wrote so beautifully about where he stood, that I asked his permission to share it more broadly.

img_16521“We still have power, individually and collectively, to shape and respond to our present and future. I look outside my window now and wonder if I will still be in this wonderful place in 2 years. There are so many aspects of our future, once seemingly stable, that we feel are up for grabs right now. The list seems endless, and our minds and hearts do what they are supposed to do in these circumstances. We freak out and look for an exit, but there does not seem to be one.

We have power, the power to dance with our own emotions and to dance with whatever the future brings. We have deep power. In my quiet space I will let my terror and revulsion, hopes and fears, dreams and gratitude flow into my consciousness without judgement or any attempts to control them. If this is a disaster, it will play out in slow motion, and fight or flight impulses will not be what get us through. When the dust settles in my psyche, I will look for that collective resilience that is part of our common nature. We cannot individually control what will happen. We each can go through our grieving processes and heal internally. Then it will be clearer to us how we should act. We will be able to let go of whatever it is we need to let go of. We will be able to choose whatever new thing it is we are meant to choose. Self care and at some point working together with all who share this connection to what is good and true will give us the power to dance with whatever comes.  

All I can do right now is surrender to this process. I am willing to not think of things I cannot control or join with others to fight them, whichever ultimately makes sense. I am willing to jettison aspects of my life or my expectations for my life or fight to keep them, whichever ultimately makes sense. I did not choose a future with Trump, and I will not let him defeat my spirit, but this morning I feel the terror that has gripped millions. An uninformed and fearful portion of the country has made a choice that puts all of us in jeopardy. I will not hand over my joy and hope to their fears. These are mine now, and I will do whatever I can to share them with those I love and those in need. I will do whatever I can to receive wisdom and strength from others. I will wait for those deep inner powers and faculties, deep in our souls where all things are connected. I must wait for them to console me, to show me my reality, and to take over the dancing when the shock and grief have subsided. These inner realities are much bigger than what just happened to us and more omnipresent. Our lives belong to us."

Karla McLaren, in The Language of Emotions, writes about the great gifts our emotions offer us, if we wisely honor them and allow them to flow through us—especially the so-called negative emotions. Fear alerts us to focus our attention on our environment. Anger energizes us to firm up our boundaries or move into right action. Grief allows us to release, to let go, in the face of loss. Weeks after the election, I am once more feeling my feelings. And in that alive state, I am reunited with fiery hope. This is my life, your life. We are here together. Oh, the things we can do!

Views from the Lorian Community publishes essays from a team of volunteer writers expressing individual experiences of a long term, committed practice of Incarnational Spirituality (and the general principles shaping such a practice.) Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you would like to subscribe, please visit our website and click on Follow Our Blog Via Email. Or email the editor:drenag@lorian.org.