“The opposite of recognizing that we’re feeling something is denying our emotions…disengaging. When we deny our stories and disengage from tough emotions, they don’t go away; they own us, they define us. Our job is not to deny the story, but to defy the ending .” – Brene Brown
Timing. I struggle with this whole thing, both in the sense of the ‘space-time continuum’ and in the sense of being defined as ‘good or bad’.
Bad timing. We hear it all the time. It’s usually a deal breaker, right? You got the perfect job offer or met your person or want to move to a new city…whatever the situation, there is something you want, but the circumstances aren’t ideal for it to happen. I actually think bad timing can be split into two versions: timing of things or events that happen to you, and timing as the point when you decide to let things or events happen to you.
Timing as uncontrollable: Clearly, there are events in our lives over which we have no control. For me, there have been life-changing events that have happened, seemingly at the worst possible time, and I had no say in whether they happened or not. My dad getting terminal cancer when I was just about to graduate from high school. My mom getting in a fatal car accident two weeks before I was moving to Spain. Meeting who I thought was my person at the exact point in his life when everything came crashing down.
Timing as a decision: But there are also times in our lives when events happen because we decide for them to, or not to. We convince ourselves that whether or not something can happen is contingent on all things being in the ideal state necessary for the desired outcome. If I hadn’t had my heart broken, I could be happy in a new relationship. If I wasn’t so busy looking for a job, I could write the book I want to get published, etc.
Space-time continuum. This concept of time is pretty straightforward. Time as a duration. What we use to define how long it takes to do something or for something to happen. How long we have been married or working at a job or living somewhere.
Timing has become particularly relevant in every sense of the word over the past year. Falling in love ‘at the worst possible time’. The duration and perception of time enduring six months in a dysfunctional relationship. The death of three boys because I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Time can be a curse, or an excuse, or a source of hope and progress. It is completely dependent on how we choose to approach it.
This has become especially apparent for me as I try to approach dating and relationships post-divorce and heartbreak. I’ve heard repeatedly from well-intentioned friends, “Are you sure you are ready?”, “You know, they say it takes at least half the time you were in a relationship to get over it.”, “You are supposed to give yourself at least a year after you get a divorce before you start dating again.”
Am I ready? Do I need to wait a year, or 5 months? What if I meet my person somewhere in-between? Do I walk away because the allotted time has not passed? Am I measuring time by the actual end of the relationship or the point at which I knew it was over?
I just don’t think there is a bulletproof strategy or ‘perfect time’ to get back out there. Clearly, there are points in our life that might be better or worse for starting a new relationship. But I think this is something we have to decide for ourselves, not because a friend or a book or a therapist gave us the go-ahead.
Timing can be a deal breaker, there is no question, but I also think that we have a huge say in whether it is or not. I think we often use it as an excuse. It is easier to dismiss something as bad timing vs. questioning why the timing is bad. Is it really timing? Or is it the underlying emotions we are too afraid to unpack? Acknowledging they exist means we have to do the work. Admitting timing is irrelevant- if we are brave enough to do so- initiates a process that can be very painful and anything but a quick fix.
But isn’t it actually more painful to keep repeating the things that aren’t working in our lives? Isn’t it more painful to continue preventing ourselves from experiencing life fully, whether that be love, fulfillment, success…whatever it is that would make your heart happy. But happy takes work. It isn’t something that just happens. It is something we have to make happen. It’s a decision.
I have this quote by Mike Dooley posted on my desk was a complete revelation to me.
“No one can be both happy and unhappy at the same time, right? One blights the other.”
Completely logical and seemingly impossible at times to apply to my day-to-day. It would be much easier to be the victim, to believe all of these things are happening to me, and chalk it up to bad timing. But I just don’t believe that, as tempting as it can be. I think we decide which approach we are going to take- are we the victims of ‘fate’, or are we the masters of it?
This has brought me right back to timing, but in the time-continuum sense. Application, essentially. How exactly do I do this whole transformation part? I’ll bring it back to relationships, since this is definitely something that has not been working for me, and I’m not the least bit interested in recreating my past experiences with them.
Am I ready to get into a relationship? I really don’t know. The truth is, I’m questioning everything right now. I don’t 100% trust myself anymore. My intuition and ‘follow my heart’ approach to life has not served me of late. It is extremely challenging at this point to trust myself, or anyone else for that matter. More times than not, I find myself functioning from a place of fear and insecurity.
So does this confirm that I’m really not ready to put myself back out there? Maybe. But I’m not sure the alternative, forcing myself to steer clear of all things intimate, is the solution either. I don’t think you can know for sure unless you know and trust yourself enough to listen to what your intuition is telling you.
What I do know is that I can’t do the work if I’m not giving myself the chance to try again. True, I need to be very cognizant of the issues I need to work on. But, if I am determined to never go back to the place I was a few months ago, then I have to figure out how to go another direction. Standing still certainly isn’t going to get me anywhere.
Oddly enough, the general theory of relativity kept surfacing when I was thinking about all of this. Quick review (I definitely needed one).
The theory dealing with gravity…based on the postulate that the local effects of a gravitational field and of acceleration of an inertial system are identical.
I know, where the hell is this going? Bear with me, here.
If we want to move forward, then we have to be willing to fall and trust that the result will be a progression forward. One cannot happen without the other, because they are happening simultaneously.
And just to take it to the extreme, cause that is what I do, let’s consider the space-time continuum
The four-dimensional continuum- consisting of length, width, depth, and time- in which all objects are located and all events occur, viewed as a single and continuous framework for existence.
So, moving forward in time (i.e. progress), and how far we are able to go, are inseparable from the depth and breadth to which we travel.
Okay, just one more and I’ll stop.
There is a cosmological theory that the space-time continuum has a curvature in 3 dimensions. So, if you travel in one direction long enough, you will return to the same place where you began.
So, metaphorically speaking, if one of the primary forces of gravity is acceleration, then couldn’t that mean that we have to let ourselves be pulled down/go to the depths of what is keeping us stuck, in order to move forward? Isn’t the latter impossible without the former? If we do let ourselves travel the depth and length needed, then wouldn’t that lead us back to the place we were, to a place of falling or being in love, but now armed with the knowledge and tools we acquired on our journey back?
Just something I was thinking about…
Regardless of the applicability of my Einstein tangent, I think you simply have to find the courage to go deep, dig up all the shit that is keeping you from where you want to be, and replace it with behaviors and actions that will manifest what you truly want.
Some say that you have to be alone to do this. I don’t agree. For me, my issues usually surface when I am navigating the emotions involved with being intimate with someone. All the fears and insecurities that, for me, are inseparable from making myself completely vulnerable and opening myself up to potential rejection. It’s actually my worst fear and what has resulted in the most growth.
When you do experience the pain of rejection, the last thing you want to do is go through it again. it’s instinctual, right? Fight or flight. Stronger than our inherent desire to avoid pain is our instinctual desire to make it stop once we feel it. But it’s been my experience that it is much more painful to be alone because I was too scared of getting hurt, than to stay and fight through the pain with someone I love and trust. You can’t experience the opposite of pain and fear, which I think is love, if you choose ‘flight’.
So I guess that is where I’m at. I’m ready to fight again. Maybe it is too soon. Jumping back in the arena sounds terrifying. It is terrifying. It feels so much safer to stay on the periphery, to protect myself from any more potential suffering.
But is this living? Or is it just existing?
I don’t want to just exist. So my only other option is to fight. Yes, it’s scary, but complacency scares me more. I saw my parents do it, my grandparents do it, others I love do it. It was heartbreaking to watch and it literally killed them. I tried to fight for them, but I couldn’t save them. So now it’s me and the things I love I have to fight for. I don’t think it will always be a fight, in the sense of a struggle. But I do think there is always a certain degree of pain to navigate in the beginning.
But I think it’s time, and it has nothing to do with timing and everything to do with my decision to risk falling in order to move forward.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
– Willian Ernest Henly