“You cannot trade the courage needed to live every moment for immunity from life’s sorrows. We may say we know this but ours is the culture of the deal-making mind. From infancy, we have breathed in the belief that there is always a deal to be made, a bargain to be struck. Eventually, we believe, if we do the right thing, if we are good enough, clever enough, sincere enough, work hard enough, we will be rewarded. There are different verses to this song – if you are sorry for your sins and try hard not to sin again, you will go to heaven; if you do your daily practise, clean up your diet, heal your inner child, ferret out all your emotional issue’s, focus your intent, come into alignment with the world around you, hone your affirmations, find and listen to the voice of your higher self, you will be rewarded with vibrant health, abundant prosperity, loving relations and inner peace – in other words, heaven!”
- Oriah Mountain Dreamer
I want to talk a little bit today about the process of recovery and healing from any sort of dysfunctional relationship, the ones in our families too. You’ve undoubtedly heard the grief drill, or read it somewhere. I’ve discussed grief in a variety of posts, you can re-read those beginning with The Journey Through Grief if you are inspired. In short, those of us familiar with the Kubler model of grieving, acknowledge that to get from grief and loss to healing, we journey through denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally arrive at acceptance. I don’t believe the grieving process is so cut and dried, and certainly not so linear. I do believe we have a definite process we move through on our way to healing, which we see a lot more clearly in hindsight, than while we are in it.
Maybe that is why we aren’t always so conscious of the deal making and bargaining we engage in when trying to dig ourselves out of messy relationship. As Oriah says in the quote above, ” Ours is the culture of the deal-making mind.” When we are hung up in bargaining or deal making we are making deals with anyone and everyone, from the person we are struggling with, to ourselves, to God (or your higher power of choice). We move back and forth from believing that there is something we can do, to believing we are powerless and there is absolutely nothing we can do. We get our hopes up, have them smashed, collect the pieces, glue them together, and hope some more.
Many, many of us have contorted ourselves and our lives into every kinda pretzel shape in an effort to bargain with what is: with reality. We are champion contortionists.
” If I just stay positive, things will get better.” ”If I don’t mention any of these problems, they will go away.” “If I send a card, or a gift, they will know I care.” ” If I don’t see <this person> then < that person> will be happy.” ” If I don’t mention what I <think> <feel> <believe is right for me> no harm will be done and we can all get along”. We stay when we should go, and sometimes go when we should stay. We say yes when we mean no, we smile when we are crying inside, we laugh at things we don’t think are funny, we overlook things that hurt us, we try harder to be <prettier>, <smarter>, <more giving>…
If, if, if … if I do <whatever> then maybe this person, this relationship can be healed, saved. All the while we are twisting and bending ourselves into ever stranger shapes.
After the fact, we may look back on some of the deals we have tried to make, some of the bargaining we have done and think we must have been crazy! Some of the things we say and do are absurd with the gift of time and distance, but while we are busy doing it, it all makes some sort of sense. It does, or trust me, we wouldn’t have been doing it.
We do all sorts of things to soften the blow of accepting reality. It takes exactly as long as it takes. Sometimes the things we are doing are crazy. They hurt us, they keep us locked into toxic relationships, power struggles and even abuse. They turn us, and our lives, inside out and upside down,
If we can take a few steps back, and acknowledge what we are doing; bargaining, resisting reality, resisting being hurt, resisting having to let go when inside we want nothing more than to hold on – why, then we can start unwinding, start unfolding ourselves from tension, and from the strange and unnatural shapes we twist ourselves into which prevent our healing.
Facing up to reality is the only bargain worth making, the only deal worth keeping and the only one that will truly make our lives more manageable. Reality is non-negotiable, but we can take as long as we need to get to it.