I suck at surrender. I’m a dominant, organized, go-getter who has a very hard time not doing. A lot of the time this works in my favor, especially as I run a household and raise my kids. I enjoy nurturing others and being pro-active in all of my varied practices. But surrender is an important act of (not)doing, critical to the spiritual life and for healthy relationships.
I’m starting to see that my limited capacity for ecstasy might be linked to my limited ability to surrender. Letting go to an experience that I have no control over is an essential component in experiencing ecstasy, but I have a hard time feeling safe in that position. Much of that is because for my entire life I’ve privileged what I call Big Fat Brain over other forms of knowing. I am very smart, and I’ve clung to that as a shipwrecked person would to a life-raft. Big Fat Brain serves me very well. To it I say, Thank you. But it’s not the entirety of me. I’m trying to make more space for other ways of knowing and experiencing.
Wrapped up with Big Fat Brain is the training I’ve received in Doing, rather than Being. I witnessed adults deriving their worth from doing. My parents, my mother particularly, is never sick. Never. She dotes on others, others do not dote on her. The examples my parents taught me was that getting help was a form of indulgence. None of that is true, which I know in my head, but letting go of those attitudes is hard work. I’m still disentangling those myths from my life.
And there’s no experience like being sick to drive this home to me, again. This week I’ve caught the cold my husband had last week. It’s just a regular ol’ cold, nothing too serious. Except I’m in the late stages of my first trimester of pregnancy. What does that mean? It means that I was already experiencing headaches and mild congested due to swollen membranes brought on by the expanding of my vascular system as the body ramps up blood production for the growing fetus. Add a cold on top of that I’m pretty miserable. Being pregnant also means I can’t take anything for any of the symptoms. I have no choice but to hunker down, rest, and drink ungodly amounts of fluids.
It means that I need extra help. It means that I have to let my husband take care of the cooking, dropping off and picking up the kids at school, and doing all the things that I might normally do. I have to surrender: to the cold, my duties, to accepting help. Better to learn this now, better to improve my surrendering through relatively small colds, than to be felled by chronic injury or illness and forced to learn the hard way.