Grief. That's the thing that comes next.
When you finally let yourself understand what's happening around you, when you finally grasp that the sheep you loved is actually a ravenous wolf, you grieve.
I know that is such bad news, and I'm really sorry.
I wish there was another way around this, but I really think that the only way through it is through.
Anne Lamott taught me to grieve, in her book, Traveling Mercies. Her description of her own grief is still the best thing I know to tell you:
I was terribly erratic: feeling so holy and serene some moments that I was sure I was going to end up dating the Dalai Lama. Then the grief and craziness would hit again, and I would be in Broken Mind, back in the howl.
The depth of the feeling continued to surprise and threaten me, but each time it hit again and I bore it, like a nicotine craving, I would discover that it hadn't washed me away. After a while it was like an inside shower, washing off some of the rust and calcification in my pipes. It was like giving a dry garden a good watering. Don't get me wrong: grief sucks; it really does. Unfortunately, though, avoiding it robs us of life, of the now, of a sense of living spirit. Mostly I have tried to avoid it by staying very busy, working too hard, trying to achieve as much as possible. You can often avoid the pain by trying to fix other people; shopping helps in a pinch, as does romantic obsession. Martyrdom can't be beat. While too much exercise works for many people, it doesn't for me, but I have found that a stack of magazines can be numbing and even mood altering. But the bad news is that whatever you use to keep the pain at bay robs you of the flecks and nuggets of gold that feeling grief will give you. A fixation can keep you nicely defined and give you the illusion that your fife has not fallen apart. But since your life may indeed have fallen apart, the illusion won't hold up forever, and if you are lucky and brave, you will be willing to bear disillusion. You begin to cry and writhe and yell and then to keep on crying; and then, finally, grief ends up giving you the two best things: softness and illumination.
"Be willing to bear disillusion."
That is really, really tough.
In so many ways, our former fairy tale is far more comfortable.
But the fairy tale is, was, always has been, fiction.
To move forward, to live in the Real, to be present in the Now, we've got to bear the disillusionment of that fairy tale first.
If you're having a hard time bearing disillusion, sit with these questions a while:
- What's going to happen if I don't believe this fairy tale any more?
- What's the scariest thing about being disillusioned?
- What am I afraid of losing, if I let this first domino fall?
I think some of us cling to our fairy tales because we believe that they are essential to Love in our lives.
We don't know how we could possibly be Loved in the Real.
But remember what Mike Yaconelli said?
"People who pretend have pretend relationships."
I think we have to ask ourselves if we're brave enough to take a chance on Real.
Will our fear of the unknown and our need for control keep us chained to lies and pretend?
Are we willing to be disillusioned?
Are we willing to grieve?
Are we willing to release fear-and-control, and trust in Love?