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My Serenity is Up to Me

An anniversary is an opportunity to celebrate an event. But when the event is a painful one, then what am I supposed to do? My mom died on the 4th of July in 2012. Every year I forget until the 4th arrives along with the discomfort of her passing.

As the years go by with the coming and going of anniversaries, I have learned to weather each one and move on. Sometimes I don’t put two and two together until the discomfort in my heart or my body is screaming loud enough that I am reminded to look at the calendar. Oh, yeah…this is the day THAT happened.

I am a survivor of a toxic biological home, rife with memories that are dulled by the years I have been living with them. Yet my anxieties and habits still hold memories I’ve forgotten. On the anniversary of my mother’s passing I knew the day was a challenge. In our COVID lifestyle, not much was happening to keep me occupied. My serenity was up to me. Do I fall into the black hole standing before me or do I create a time of gentle care for myself.

Yesterday’s recipe consisted of patience for myself, for my thoughts and emotions. Gentleness was the rug I stood on all day. I listened to music and podcasts and puttered until I was ready for something else. With small goals throughout the day, I got through another anniversary. There was no blaming or shame in reviewing my memories from the past. That wasn’t allowed. I know everything I experienced I have learned more no matter what the circumstances. I got through it with my heart and let my mind be the bystander.

A Meditation By Melody Beattie

“Our mind is like a powerful computer. It links sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste with feelings, thoughts, and memories. It links our senses—and we remember.”
“Sometimes the smallest, most innocuous incident can trigger memories. Not all our memories are pleasant, especially if we grew up in an alcoholic, dysfunctional setting.”
“We may not understand why we suddenly feel afraid, depressed, anxious. We may not understand what has triggered our codependent coping behaviors—the low self-worth, the need to control, the need to neglect ourselves. When that happens, we need to understand that some innocuous event may be triggering memories recorded deep within us.”
“If something, even something we don’t understand, triggers painful memories, we can pull ourselves back into the present by self-care: acknowledging our feelings, detaching, working the Steps, and affirming ourselves. We can take action to feel good. We can help ourselves feel better each Christmas. No matter what the past held, we can put it in perspective, and create a more pleasant holiday today.”

Participants’ Reflections:

  • I was struck by the line “my serenity was up to me”. We can choose what we pay attention to, what we allow into our consciousness. Thank you.

  • I got the sense of importance of being self-focused. In that state, I can dismiss the chaos going on around me. It’s about looking at my own behavior versus at the behavior of someone who is hurting you. I obsess and I want to have all the right arguments for my upcoming ordeal. But mostly, I want to be calm through it. This morning meditation group is a great resource, who we uphold each other. I'm preparing for my ordeal by focusing on self and by holding onto all the energy being sent to me.

  • We can only control what we control. I think of the focusing on the negative as falling into a hole. It is hard to stop it, not pleasant memories. I am choosing not to go there.

  • I had a difficult morning, struggling with letting go of something. Walking on the beach helped. This meditation helped a lot. I was able to see the bigger picture.

  • The ocean is a transmuter.

  • In the meditation, a memory came up about a time with my son. I thought everything was okay with him and then I found out it wasn’t. The same horrible feeling came up in my stomach. I am grateful I can let it go. His behavior has bothered me half my life. The memory turned around to gratitude. I focused more on self and let it go.

  • I have a problem with a family member in the extended family and no one, including myself, has been sure what to do. During the meditation, I got clarity about what the next step is.

  • That’s the power of silence.

  • The reading made me feel for you. I had a similar background. I am thankful we are not our thoughts. I am thankful aging is bringing me more peace. I see that I think less about my childhood memories and the rate to dispel them is faster. I began looking at my parents within the context of their own backgrounds. This has let me release and forgive. It gets better with the years.

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