Battles are inside

It’s not the first time that I feel this strange distinction between the storm going on in my inner world and the serenity of the reality that surrounds me. Things in life are very plain if you manage to see them for what they really are, objectively, detaching yourself from the emotions you attribute to them. No matter how hard we try to run, fight, push, pull, squeeze, beg, drive ourselves crazy in some desperate attempt to change the course of imminent things,life blankly follows its own rules. And life’s rules are much bigger and stronger than that small dose of electrical energy that’s pulsating in our bodies while we’re still technically alive. Substantially speaking, life is simple. Life doesn’t divide things in good and bad, it doesn’t judge or analyze, it never gets happy or sad over its own actions. There are processes that have to be carried out from the beginning to the end, and life infallibly fulfills that mission. It does the work, but it doesn’t care about it. It’s us people who care, not life. This realization is one of crucial moments in dealing with panic disorder, that split second when you realize that you’re having all sorts of scary thoughts, panicking, drowning in a glass of water… over actually nothing. Nothing is going on that makes you feel that way, it’s just how you feel about something you want to do or situations ahead of you. Plainly put, it’s not life, it’s you. Understanding this can make the difference between suffering a full blown panic attack and halting it when it made only half of the damage. After some hard practice, it can truly work.

When it comes to real life events, it’s a lot harder, even though the principles are almost exactly the same. My dad got sick at some point in time. When exactly and how, we’ll never know. His cells grew and divided for many long years without particular problems. Or if there were problems, his body had ways or means to fix these mistakes. And on he went this way till some day when some big, irreparable mistake happened. Cells continued to grow and divide, healthy ones in their usual way, unhealthy ones in some fast, vicious, mistaken way. This process continued as he was living his life calmly and peacefully, oblivious of what was going on inside. When he got the symptoms, it was already too late. What we witnessed was only the last phase of that for a good reason called malignant process. Bad cells grew right through the most important clusters of good cells and ended my dad’s life, dying instantly in the battle they so triumphantly won. And then there was silence. Simple, bad, dead silence. It happened, it had its course and then it was finished, life did its job. All the rest – all my physical and mental struggle, all the images that still come back in horrific flashbacks day and night, all the tears, all the sorrow, all the questions (why this, why him, why us…), all that denial, anger, bargaining, depression and occasional painful acceptance, those are all just human created extensions of this story. The story ended more than a month ago and I’m still shaken inside and it’s still shaking every thing in my life, I’m still struggling and drowning in that small glass of water… but there is nothing in my reality OF TODAY that’s provoking this. The only difference between this situation and a panic attack situation is that I have a reason for my feelings, while panic has no foundations in reality. There surely is a reason, but it’s already sealed as a past event. I can’t change a thing about that reason. I can’t travel back in time and change things that haunt me as being something that I could have perhaps done differently. I can’t escape to future either to run away from the intensity of this recent loss. The only thing I have is now, this present moment. And as nothing bad is going on right now (at least nothing I’m aware of), it turns out that I shouldn’t be so shaken. People who manage to put this truth into action are on a good road to mastering that Zen’s full embracing of the reality in the present moment. There is nothing bad about holding onto this truth, it can only spare you from all that pain that actually serves no other purpose than to harm the person experiencing it. Yet it’s so hard to make this detachment. Is it guilt, the feeling that you’ll forget the person you loved very much if you no longer experience pain? Or perhaps the failure to put this into action is some sign of emotional immaturity or instability? I don’t know the answer. What I know though is that I’m still very much battling with myself, paradoxically still fighting against a finished illness, worrying constantly, reliving the details and painfully looking for the exact thing that went wrong in the first place. I do the chores of the day, I suffer, I live, I suffer, I sleep, I wake up and I suffer again. And none of this ongoing agony is real now, there is stillness of an autumn night outside, occasionally interrupted by rain and blows of wind against the windows. There are no battles out there, not any more, battles are all inside. But there is a huge step between understanding and implementing this.

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4 thoughts on “Battles are inside

  1. Well written, Tanja. I mean that quite literally. This is a well written piece and it is well for you to write it. Or is that ‘good for you to write it’? Thanks for taking this huge step of writing out your thoughts and feelings and sharing them. I don’t know about implementing, but I’m sure that understanding and expressing are essential. Thanks! I tend to write, quite sincerely, things like “Have a great day.” I mean it. I always do. I hope you have a great day. Or I hope you have an OK day. Mostly, though, I hope you keep trying to move on and find some way to be a little better. Because that will make you ever so much more likely to achieve that “great day” and have it! 🙂

    1. Thank you Jim, it’s so good / well 🙂 to hear from you again… I left replies to your comments to me on some of those previous blogs with photos, but as there were no answers, I thought you might be busy or perhaps a bit tired of my battles, I thought I chased you away somehow. I am really happy to know that you consider the post well written, I was telling Judy the other day that it is not that easy for me to shape these thoughts I have in English – the end result is not that bad, but it takes a lot of time, plus a lot of concentration on grammar and typing, it would be much easier in Serbian 🙂 so every praise means very much to me.

      Grammatically speaking, I guess it should be correct to say “it’s well for you…” because it’s an adverb… but from my very limited experience everybody says “it’s good for you”… language is not all about rules, standard is formed by people and people are often prone to twisting rules in their speech… 🙂 I was always fascinated by the fact how much language is “alive”, as if it were a living organism, always modified and adjusted with the passage of time.

      I tried to force myself to be less negative, but then I realized that the grieving process can’t be accelerated and that I can genuinely speak only about how I really feel. Somebody may say it’s a rant, but taking care of and losing a person who died of cancer is among the worst things that can happen to anybody, it may take time to recover and get back on some more or less usual track, but ultimately that scar can never be erased. Life changes forever, you change forever. Maybe I’m not coping well, but I’m still here, so I am coping in some way which is something in the end. I discovered some unusual mental strength in my anxious mind which astonishes me, because being somebody with “bad nerves” I should have reacted much, much worse I suppose. I’s not gonna be easy, it will get even a bit worse in the coming months and I’m aware of it, but I’ll try to hang in there, hoping that nothing else really bad is going to happen any time soon.

      I know that you sincerely wish a great day, I wish you too to have a wonderfully great day, in fact if it could depend on me I would wish every day in your life to be great. Some days are unfortunately horrible, some days are just ok, but ok is really fine believe me. Being better for me implies many things which I don’t know how to improve as I’m growing older, but I’ll try to live the best I can. It was already hard before, now it’s just harder… maybe if I fight harder, I’ll find a way to survive. Every friendly world is more than welcome and very much appreciated, you can’t even imagine how much those words mean to make a change in some really bad day.

      Thank you for being there… and have a great day! 🙂

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