After my last post, I was thinking about the coping mechanisms that I’ve used to get me through the tough times I’ve faced. What was clear to me is that my number one default coping skill is being able to plan or dream about my future. When all means of being able to reasonably and realistically paint a picture for life after the freefall are taken away, I crash. Part of the planning process involves getting attached, on some level, to the plans. Getting my hopes up.
All my life growing up I heard my grandmother who raised me tell me not to “get my hopes up”. She saw how easy it was for me to get wrapped up in the idea of an outcome coming true, and she also saw how badly I crashed when something changed that outcome to one less desirable. To this day I still go through that cycle. For a lot of people, I understand that the continual dissappointment is too painful and it’s easier to withhold wishes and anchor oneself in the dreary reality that may have come. For some, that is a safe and peaceful place, and the lack of vibrance in that existence seems a fair trade off for that perceived security.
For me, however, it’s like waiting for death. I have found, after being burned by countless dissappointments from crashing hopes, that choosing the “safe” path of tempered perseverence makes me feel like I’ve lost an essential quality of being human. If misfortune has befallen me, and I conjure a fantastic scenerio for my future that has a fighting chance of happening, I invest in that dream. I hang on to that vision like I was rapelling from the moon itself. I replay it over and over each day I am suffering until it either comes to fruition, or crashes to pieces.
Most of the time it actually does come to pass in some way or form. And yes, there are times when it is blown to smithereens and that grief of loss renews itself like pain I’ve never felt before. Yet, there’s something about that whole process, that whole death, rebirth, and wishing cycle that makes me feel like life is worth living, that life is worth savoring, and that all the experiences of joy and pain need to be embraced equally. The soaring elation of accomplishing a long-dreamt plan is so much more vivid when I’ve succumbed to the flooding pains of other plans fallen. These experiences are a constant reminder of what it means to be a human, and how dependent we are upon our Creator for true stability and ongoing joy. When we try to create our own stability and peace by avoiding things that would hurt us in this life, we are in a sense trying to care for ourselves in a way only Allah can. That sense of sanity isn’t meant to replace the turmoil, it’s meant to steady us through both the ups and downs.
So, like an addict I cling to the fix in my dreams and reveries. Like a junkie I ache when those dreams are dashed. And like a true, frail, human creature I crawl back to Allah with my broken heart, and in His mercy He shows me another future to believe in. I thank HIM because HE is the One Who is supporting me, guiding me, and carrying me through every bend of this freefall.