Too many times, after I’d spend time with my mom, I’d come home and instantly misplace my car keys or forget a phone number. The panic rocketed through me, the fear almost knocking the breath out of me, and I’d think, “I’m losing my mind; it’s happening to me.”
I recently read an insightful and reassuring blog by Mary O’Malley, author of What’s in the Way Is the Way. Mary offers a creative and spiritual perspective on the concept of forgetfulness. Here are some excerpts from her work.
It’s a Breakthrough, Not a Breakdown
By Mary O’Malley
A friend of mine is struggling right now. He has been the caregiver for his spouse for quite a few years and lately, he often feels disoriented, confused, and has had trouble remembering things.
He said recently, “Mary, I think I am losing my mind.” He went to his primary care provider, but so far, all of his medical tests are negative. So, what is going on?
I believe that my friend is experiencing an initiation through fear. He thinks he is having a breakdown, but I call it a breakthrough. Losing our mind is one of our biggest fears. Most of us think our mind has been our safe place; we believe it needs to be on top of everything and in control. It has given us a false sense of security our whole lives. When we believe the mind is checking out or losing control, we have a hard time accepting it. But we are not in control; life is in control. We are all going to completely lose control at some point. Our bodies are going to break down. We are all going to die. And there is actually something inside of us that is totally okay with all of that. Life loves us enough to give us the exact set of experiences we need in order to become free from fear, including the experiences of confusion, disorientation, and memory loss.
Often we think we are in control, but are we? Are we in charge of our breathing? Some people would say, “Yes.” But just try to stop your breath. We can make it shallow or deep and we can hold our breath, but ultimately we are not in charge of our life force: We are being breathed by life. Stephen Levine, author, poet, and spiritual teacher, says, “May you be so lucky to come across something you can’t control.” This is where we find the healing.
The Tibetan Lama and founder of Naropa University, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche gets to the heart of what we are exploring here when he says: “If there were no confusion, there would be no wisdom….
Chaos is workable…not regressive.
Respect whatever happens, chaos should be regarded as extremely good news.
Respect the upsurge of energy that is emotions, no matter what form. … Let yourself be in the emotion, go through it, give-in to it, experience it….. Transmutation involves going through such fear.”
In other words, confusion is a necessary part of our spiritual awakening. What would your life be like if you trusted it all, even deep fear and confusion?
To read Mary’s entire blog, please visit: http://www.maryomalley.com/2014/12/07/its-a-breakthrough/
To learn more about Mary and her work, visit: http://www.maryomalley.com/
Deborah Shouse is the author of Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey.