Monday, July 31, 2017

It Is What It Is

It took me a while to appreciate that phrase given our rough history. I'm sure it had to do with my ex-boyfriend using it a lot on me whenever I would whine about something we're not being or doing. I would launch my complaints, impassioned questions and analyses about why we're apart, why I'm not getting what I want, or why we're unhappy, and then at the end of it all, he would calmly respond with, "It is what it is." I don't know if it was his calm personality or our 12-year age difference that made him see the gift behind those words way ahead of me, but now I've finally caught on.

This phrase used to make me want to pull all my hair out or bite the other person's head off, but these days it just makes me take a pause and possibly a step back. It forces me to breathe in the moment for what and how it is, not necessarily with resignation, but with forgiveness.

Saying the phrase now or hearing it reminds me that I need to accept that the situation could not be any other way, at least at the moment, and that it needs to be respected. Whether or not I want to proceed with it, and deciding which direction to proceed, are separate from the initial clarity of seeing what is, independent of labels or categorizations. 

Often, saying 'it is what it is' makes me see the situation much clearer. I'm one who is prone to overanalysis, over-attribution, overthinking. I keep guessing what the other person's motives are, over-complicating what is obvious with different scenarios that are tainted with my own hopes, denials, and desire to always assume the best about people. 

But the truth is, we are all flawed and are never the best versions of ourselves at every minute. We always disappoint and hurt, fail and give up. 

It is what it is. 

People who used to be dear to you, now no longer want to have anything to do with you and you don't understand...

It is what it is.

A relationship you've always defined by a certain label no longer seems to suit that label and it's confusing...

It is what it is.

You made a mistake and everyone tries to criticize and analyze what went wrong and what should have been...

It is what it is. There are just certain things that are meant to be seen for how they are. In the end, the truth is that not everything merits analysis and explanations. And if we're just brave enough to see, we may realize that there is no deep explanation because 'what is' speaks loud enough. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Gift of Numbness

I sat on the dental chair with a 'let's-get-this-over-and-done-with' attitude. Replacing two fillings should be pretty straightforward and relatively painless. First, a little numbing gel was applied. No biggie. After a few minutes, the dentist came and with him was that quintessentially fear-inducing fat metal syringe that made me want to curl up and turn away, if only I could. In a matter of seconds, the syringe was in my mouth and I felt the initial prick of the needle. Then it hit me....the thought, that is, not the pain, although I can't deny that one as well...

We have to succumb to the inevitability of pain before the numbness sets in. 

I felt the sharp needle prick me momentarily, as I conjured the image of a nerve getting hit. I could feel the anesthetic slowly burrowing through my gum tissue. I squeezed my eyes for a bit as I waited for the pain to pass. After several minutes, the numbness set in as I felt the right side of my jaw, my tongue and lower lip feel heavy and thick. 

Our relationship with any kind of pain that touches our lives is the same. It builds, and builds, and we take as much as we can. We have to feel it all first, suffer through it, be broken by it to some degree, before the possibility of numbness surfaces. 

Pain needs to peak, before numbness peeks. 

Numbness gets its fair share of criticisms. Sometimes it's used to describe someone negatively: unfeeling; unsympathetic; indifferent. But it can also be a necessary friend, one we call upon for self-preservation. 

Beneath all numbness is a long history of pain and a deep desire to survive. I can't say that's deserving of negative judgment. Yes, it's great to be able to feel. But if feeling too much hinders the promise of normal functioning, or a happier, healthier state of mind, then perhaps an infinite capacity to feel and surrender to pain is overrated and even detrimental. Perhaps numbness is a gift we should not be embarrassed about because it's a reflection of self-love and self-respect. Perhaps if we just let it be, Numbnesslike every other emotionpasses when we are ready and strong enough to feel again.