I’m in the process of writing my thank you notes to the people I stayed with in Minnesota.
Like any of my writing, it seems to take time; things have to settle a bit, coalesce, find somewhere to rest.
When I left on this trip I was “aggressively ambivalent”, right? That truly was how I felt. I also had a lot of fear in me, knowing my feelings would be triggered strongly, knowing I had to practice my non-attachment (Sutra 1-12, probably my next tattoo!) and not react to all those things I knew would happen.
Because, I’m not sure YOU know this, but I know everything.
Before it happens. I have powers!!!!!
I am so consistently dis-abused of this notion, and yet I just as consistently re-abuse myself with it. And it is abuse; that feeling of knowing what will happen, how you’ll react, how they’ll react..having the entire conversation in my head and then, all too often (at least for me), just not doing whatever I was going to do because, why?
I had to go on the trip, but I had already decided it would be my farewell tour. I would visit the people and places I felt I needed to and they quietly slink out of their lives altogether. They didn’t want me? I didn’t want them.
But what happened was very different . It started here at home, with my willingness to look at a few of my decisions about some of the in-laws and to let go of some of the resentments I had about them. I did that work, I wrote those columns and fears, I went over it with my sponsor, I meditated and worked on letting go and finding some compassion for them and acceptance for me.
I was still ambivalent when I left, but when I arrived, and got my first glimpse of the family at the groom’s dinner?
Ambivelance was not what I felt. Joy, peace, excitement, purpose are better descriptives. And as the family started pouring into the hotel that evening and the reunion started, it just got better.
“I have to soften my gaze and allow everyone, including myself, the space to be who we are today.”. I wrote that in the Denver airport, and I did that. I stayed soft. And I allowed.
And here’s the thing too…I had been so worried about being triggered by seeing them I had blinded myself to the idea that I might be a trigger for them. Typical self obsession from me, but the ugly truth for sure. And once I truly understood that (and it didn’t take long!) compassion took over and I was able to be, fully, with all the emotions the trip brought up.
I already wrote about the wedding itself and the song. Did I write that the entire table was sobbing, or did I just write about me? Because it wasn’t just about me, was it? And that’s the thing, our mutual rediscovery of each other was pretty wonderful, and the support I got was great.
Look, I am not planning on moving to Minnesota, nor visiting yearly. But that wasn’t a farewell tour. I know I have a home there, of sorts, with people very different from me but who love me, as I do them.
I would not have said that before the trip, and it’s all gelling now since I’ve been back.
When I went to the lake house for the last 4 days of the trip I had a really bad few minutes, sitting on the deck, looking at the water, thinking about how much Tom had loved this place. And I leaned over to my brother-in-law and told him so. And we talked about it, both crying.
And that last weekend was magical. Hanging and talking on the deck and dock, boating, playing with the millions of little grandkids (by product of big Catholic families). Openly remembering Tom, sharing stories. I went off for yoga to bemused looks and that was as fine as the couple of times I got “caught” meditating. De-tached from judgement I could just enjoy the experience, and they could enjoy me, a me with my mouth firmly closed and my opinions kept to myself, unlike other trips.
I’m so glad I went. I don’t pretend to know what they are thinking, how or even if they processed this whole trip, but I did. That’s all I know. And, for me, it was healing and transformative and told me so much about myself and how much I have changed since last I saw them. I changed. And I looked at them with completely different and new eyes. Eyes that accept and have compassion for myself, and thus for them too.
Not aggressively ambivalent anymore. Maybe relentlessly re-evaluated? Miraculously magnanimous? Gratefully growing? Certainly tremendously transformative.
Or, as Mary Poppins would say, it was “practically perfect in every way”.