Fuck! What am I doing??? Do you ever look at the ‘To-Do List’ and think that? Tasks upon tasks upon errands upon more things to do. Most of the things on my list have a vague connection to, loosely related to and affecting my life but steadfastly attached to my sense of responsibility, my need to take service, support and maintain a variety of structures, relationships, theories and ideals. But in truth very little impact on my betterment and growth. My responsibilities have of late been working overtime showing me ever increasing lessons of my life.
I am part of the sandwich generation, caring for my (albeit not so teeny tiny young) children and ageing parents. It is very interesting paradigm to exist in, obligation to a collection of family members on either end of the human cycle of evolution reminds me of a quote that escapes me but nods to when we return to the childhood of our lives as we age. My take from that imprecise recollection is as I apply it to how my time is required more to assist with organising timetables, appointments, hospital visits and reminders makes apt and poignant sense to my experience. This experience, this use of my time, the thought processes at no time featured in any anticipated or planned timeline for my life, at, any, stage. This may have been because I grew up without grandparents, 3 of my allocated 4 had already exited the earthly plane by the time I showed up and the remaining one lived thousands of miles away so was not fully part of my experience; that may have been of my lack of consideration of this possibility, but more likely was I just didn’t think of these prospects. Plans made for a life focus more intently on all the wonderful adventures that await, the skills to conquer, material gains to make and the milestones to attain; not on the impact on all of these potentials that caring for those nearest and dearest will have on your sense of anything.
I have been a person who undertook activities with aplomb and a deep sense of commitment; it has always been important to me to be reliable and to work to my highest sense of understanding and capability – this has tended to be a vice the extent to which I have only recognised recently. My tendency to promise and perform to exemplary standards throughout my working life has rewarded me with positions of authority and duty, a keen sense of progress spurring myself toward advancement. I embodied a dutiful sense of commitment and sense of striving to be more and do more. Work ethic and the wish to improve is sound and an attribute to be encouraged, when this type of treasured trait is accompanied by a desire to help others there exists at best an exquisite elixir, and at the other end of the spectrum an executioner’s noose.
When I have said yes to helping others, I have said so because I wished to help, having a desire to make a situation easier both because it makes life more enjoyable for the person I have hoped to satisfy and I can see a way to do so, and knowing this is of assistance; it’s good to help another if one can. What I have lately understood is how easily such help can have undercurrents of patterns and cycles echoed in the avoidance and escape vehicles driven in other areas of who I am. I have run ultra-marathons of arranging a life of suffocation typified by surrounding myself with so much activity, places to be, things to do that there is no space for me. The being that is me has had no place to stretch and flex because of all the “stuff” that flicked it out of the mainframe. I have recently been used my responsibilities to bread of my sandwich in this way too. It started fuelled by a burning desire – I would say sense of obligation but that would be unfair to my motivation; I was driven by a deep sense of wanting to do the ‘right’ thing (good things), not because I had to, but because I wanted to and I could. Because I could, I did so to the exclusion of seeing my needs in focus, I had to continue to help, and do more, be more responsible, take more of the load – I became blinded by the load of my responsibility. This was ok though, because it was for a particular moment in time that had parameters but what I failed to notice that the implication of this fixed momement in time. Time was being called on what I needed to tend to and keep moving forward………. because here I was, creatively training myself out of my own race of life. I squashed out the space for admitting the deep, honest harsh truths that my responsibilities created for me on a feeling space; responsibility became an avoidance strategy, an absolution of blame an easy way out but also a double-edged sword. I wrapped my responsibility as a mother and daughter around my own neck which defeated the object of my good intentions. I was forced to look at where to draw the line as to how and if this approach was serving me and those I sought to be responsible for; I find in most all things in life we are dancing in the past of our experiences in the present day. Our subconscious pictures continue to create the dynamics to support the truth of their perceptions, the more we work on our stuff the subtler and more sophisticated the stuff becomes which is why being present in our life and our experience is so critical to ensuring understanding, progress and making our lives as easy as they can be.
My breath practise began to accept the truth of the what was happening, even if I wasn’t able to see it at first. My drive to push productivity was curtailed, rest and reflection where demanded of me without exception. I had to stop. There was no longer any space to continue to force to avoid what I was experiencing. My breath showed me that although I had made huge inroads into the awareness of my tendencies to exonerate myself from my own life experience via a series of matrixes and intricate mazes designed to divert me away from the pain of taking responsibility for myself and the emotions that I was avoiding, what I had newly created in their place was an even deeper level of self-deception masquerading as helpfulness. Guilt too had such an intoxicating aroma which so smoothly penetrated many aspects of my existence demanding that I acknowledge it and bask in its forceful presence.
In a world where we live so differently than our parents did in terms of the support structures taken for granted (and I realise that this may be more acutely reflected to me because of my geographical and cultural location), the dismantling of familial functioning, the disconnection of communities and localised support networks, the need for responsibilities to be met by fewer individuals heightens. This is often experienced in a group dynamic be the one person or couple of people who always take the lead in organising and getting stuff done on behalf of the others. In many ways such contribution is invaluable to the whole, but highly detrimental to those ‘responsible’ few. The dynamics beneath such roles will tend to have a wider implication to those involved which when they are knowingly pursued serves well, but without awareness can feed into a plethora of subconscious stories and expectations about life. The magic of being present with the life force in my breath always creates such fascinating and live story telling of the truth that life “experience” continues to try and divert me from. The understanding this creates for me maintains the most delicious dialogue and interplay of growth, expansion, understanding and development that literally bring me to life in a way that I am forever in awe of and endlessly grateful of!