I have to admit that the control freak inside of me hates the term “tbd” with a blind, purple passion. I don’t want anything that is as yet “to be determined.” I want it secure, nailed down, locked tight. Something to depend on. I realize that this insecurity comes from a chaotic and violent childhood where consistency and order seemed like a heaven just beyond my grasp. My best and highest self also realizes that this rigidity and need for control no longer serves me, and often hinders my enjoyment of this adventure called “life.”
Why does a future that as yet is to be determined scare us so much? If you are like me, life has handed you more than a few bumps and bruises—lots of pain, some regret, a dash of bona fide grief, 3 drops of pure visceral rage, and occasionally moments of deep and abiding joy that are rawer and more painful than all the other ingredients. Yes, if you are like me you have that concoction brewing in your life. The last six days have found me flat on my back, lying on ice, staring up at my ceiling, praying for my debilitating lower back pain to go away. I had a lot of time to think about TBD and other such ephemera. Between the boredom, loneliness, discouragement, and muscle relaxers, one can get pretty philosophic. At first I thought it all came down to fear. What if my back never gets any better? What if I am stuck here forever? Who will take care of me when I can’t take care of myself? These questions did not put me in a good place. Pain makes faith hard.
Then I realized—it all comes down to choice. When we are afraid of the future, it is because we have experienced pain and trauma in the past, and we project that past into our future. It’s not a pretty picture. I don’t know what yours looks like, but mine looks like The Scream by Edvard Munch! This thinking doesn’t come from my best and highest self. It comes from my amygdala—the part of the brain where pictures are stored. The part responsible for initiating the stress response when past pictures are activated by the present. The primitive, reptilian part of my brain. The part where PTSD lives in millions of survivors around the globe. All humans have that reptilian brain in common. BUT…the choice is mine whether to project those pictures onto an undetermined as yet future, or to use my highest and holiest self to project and create what I want my future to look like.
Every cell in our bodies is stamped with the image of God—and God is first and foremost a creator. I can create whatever future I can envision if I tap into the higher part of my brain and refuse to cave in to the fear of the past. It isn’t easy, but it is simple. When the pictures come, and I feel the fear, and my breathing gets shallow, and my brain tells my adrenal glands to release cortisol and adrenaline, and I feel that shot of adrenaline that makes me nauseated; I stop. I see the picture. I tell myself out loud that the past doesn’t equal the future. I tap into faith, and I breathe deeply and slowly. I replace the scary pictures with peaceful, fruitful, joyful pictures. My future is NOT my past. It is yet to be determined. And that’s okay. In fact, it’s more than okay. It’s great.
This article was written by Dori Abbott, one of our Woman Within Eastern USA members.