Thursday, March 13, 2008

Struggle or Paddling Upstream

If you've come here looking for an uplifting post, you're in the wrong place today.

I am struggling. Best to just admit it and get it out in the open where maybe some light will shine on it. I've been lucky that in 46 years, this knee surgery is the first surgery I've had - if you don't count dental surgery, and I don't. Intellectually I understand that a traumatic invasion of the body for whatever good reason is going to be depressing to some degree. The medical practitioners tried to prepare me for the pain and the long recovery time, but until you're actually living it, it's just a concept. Three weeks out from surgery I'm starting to get it. 8-12 months total recovery time. We're talking gradual here. Gradual lessening of pain, gradual increase in motion and strength, gradual healing. There will be no overnight miracle.

I've got some things floating around my mind that aren't helping any either. There are two men in this town that I am on the serious outs with. This is a small town - about 6,000 people. I've already run into one of them in the past week - the ex-live-in boyfriend of three years. The one who told me the last time we spoke that I was a lost cause, a hopeless case that he didn't want to have any more to do with. We broke up two years ago and for some insane reason I thought we could salvage a friendship out of the deal. The other? The ex-boss. The one who seems to have laid me off for reasons more personal than business. The one I had to threaten with calling the Dept. of Labor if he didn't pay me all the money I was owed. I've been pondering both of these situations a lot and while I'm not going into any more details here, I realize that the reason I've had problems with both of these men is because I am no longer willing to submit to the whims and emotions of despots and petty tyrants. I am no longer willing to let others dictate how I live, no matter how well meaning they may seem to be. I think this is the first time in my life I've actually felt like I wanted to avoid people. Which of course means it's something I will absolutely not do. Because I've been around and around both of these situations and while I know it takes two to tango and all that crap, I'm ok with my behavior. No, I didn't do everything right. Yes, maybe I did a lot wrong. But what I haven't done, and they both have, verbally or subtly, is to say YOU are wrong, your entire personhood is wrong, you don't deserve happiness or money or love or anything worthwhile. As much as I tell myself to move on and forget about all of it; as much as I believe that these experiences will make me a stronger person; as much as I know what's happened is much more about them than it is about me - it hurts.

Now, add to that the fact that I can't really exercise yet and I'm still in pain about 70% of the time and all the family's gone back to Georgia and what do you get? Me. Struggling. Do you ever feel like that's all there is to it? As my sister's friend, Mary, says, "What the fucking fuck???"

Before surgery I ordered a couple of books I thought would be inspirational to read while I was convalescing. "The Astonishing Power of Emotions" by Esther and Jerry Hicks, and supposedly channeled through a benevolent entity known as Abraham, is part of the popular Law of Attraction material. The Hicks' break thought processing down into really simple ideas. Either you're thinking upstream, against the current, with struggle, or you're thinking downstream, allowing the river to carry you along with its power and trusting in the outcome. Now, we can paddle upstream as long as we want, working hard, struggling, straining to keep our little boat moving upstream, or we can just decide to let go. They posit that the only place to start is right where you are, no matter how negative and depressed you may feel and try to find one downstream thought about any given situation. And they say that nothing you want is upstream, it's all downstream. I did that with the two men I've mentioned and it helped.

And on that note, here on this public blog, I release both of these men and the events, circumstances and emotions surrounding them with as much love as I can muster. It ain't a lot right now, but it will have to do.


Anonymous said...

Sometimes it helps just to be heard.

We're listening.

Claudia said...

This is so beautifully written and fully expressed, Angela. I'm sorry to be so unwell today but I think lunch tomorrow would be a go if it works for you. Mostly for hugs!!!

love love love c

Angela said...


You are so right. And thank you.


I'll be looking forward to it!

The Electric Orchid Hunter said...

In my opinion that book has got it all wrong. By nature, we don't put up a fight, don't expend more energy than necessary; life is all downstream from here. Situations and people like those two men are more like rocks that you wash against and end up clinging to, assuming that that'll stem the tide, prevent you from being swept over the cataract. But what these rocks actually do, is prevent you from moving at all. Clinging to these rocks leaves you marooned.

It is only when you realize that you can swim upstream unaided, that you don't need to give up and drown, or bleach and dessicate on those rocks, that you have undreamed of potential and resourcefulness, that the river of Life breaks its hold on you.

Journey Through Life said...

Wow, what a post.
First of all, man, I can't believe your recovery time is so long. I wish there was some way I could help. I can't even imagine how you are feeling with this.

Secondly, I love the Abraham stuff of swimming downstream. When i think of a situation I have been in recently, I realise how much of it is upstream. It is better now, I am probably treading water! Time to go downstream I think! Thanks for this wonderful perspective.

Sending you as many healing thoughts as I can.

Journey Through Life said...

I understand what electric orchard is saying. That makes sense too. What I saw in the Abraham stuff though, was that we shouldn't be battling towards something that is not meant to be. Sometimes allowing the river of life to take us along its path is exactly where we should go. Rather than fighting life.

bella said...

It IS hard.
It took me a full year to recover from a hysterectomy. And there are so many levels of the recovery, the gradual lessening of pain, discomfort, depression and the gradual regaining of strength, energy, spark.
IT just takes time.
]Hang in there and be gentle with yourself.
Going with the current sounds like a good idea right about now.
Thinking of you.

Jane said...


Good morning and happy Friday. This post really resonated with me today. I was completely in love with a guy(I can't even bring myself to honor him with the title "Man") and he ended things with me via a letter, for christ's sake, in which he stated that he deserved to be happy and have better than me. Ouch! I took it personally big time. Over a period of time though, I realized that there is nothing wrong with me; it was just a reflection of his own short comings and issues. Beware of the fucktards and stay strong and true to yourself. You are so worth it!

If you can, e-mail me. I'd like to send something your way to brighten your day :)

Angela said...


What a beautiful and thoughtful comment. And I agree with you. I actually believe in struggle as a positive force sometimes, a builder of character and a strengthener of spiritual and psychic muscles. When people say life can be lived without struggle, I wonder what kind of life it would actually be. But when is enough enough? And how do we get our thoughts moving again in whatever direction works for us - be it upstream or downstream? The process described in the book helped me do that.

Angela said...




Thank you.


I can't even believe a man would actually say that to you. What an idiot.

Lee's River/Zlatovyek said...

I don't know about up or downstream - whatever image works for you is the right one. all I know for myself is that I try to let go every time I find myself clenching up around something painful. Sometimes, there's just not that much joy available from the outside, is there? My version of letting go is all about breathing in and out of the hurt and releasing it, releasing it, releasing it.
Here's good breath to you, may you heal well and strong and happy.