Moving to the subject of coping, I find it increasingly difficult to define the word 'cope' in such a way that clearly differentiates between my understanding of the word, and the more vernacular usage. Or perhaps there is only one meaning, and it's simply a matter of degree. Certainly, it is true that we develop ways and means of getting over or around the humps and bumps of everyday living. That would seem to be quite acceptable. However, when coping means that actions are felt continually to be required to enable us to run at top speed in order to stand still, something is going wrong. My experience of the first fifty years or so of my life was precisely that, at least when times were manageable. When, finally, after living with another's substance addiction and I had my back to the wall, I was fighting a rearguard action to save some remnant of my sanity. I had to let go, to stop trying to cope. By that time I existed but could hardly have been said to be living. To let go gave me the opportunity to see life differently, to reassess my priorities.
Once having let go, and having been relieved of the burden that was dragging me beneath the surface of the 'Slough of Despond', so much else fell into place; so much about my unacknowledged psycho-spiritual world began to be revealed. It needed for me to experience my suffering depths and acknowledge them before I could begin an ascent into real life, a life in which I began to respond to life rather than react to it like some latter day Pavlov dog. And it is a cause of great regret, and almost-despair, to me that everywhere I look I see a world teeming with Pavlov dogs, unthinkingly reacting to every incoming impulse, ever seeking to control and manipulate, rather than stopping and realising there are other ways of being. It is more than simply unfortunate that the lack of that realisation is what represents normality for most of us.
Fr. Richard Rohr said recently,
"People who have never loved or never suffered will normally try to control everything with an either-or attitude or all-or-nothing thinking. This closed system is all they are prepared for. The mentality that divides the world into “deserving and undeserving” has not yet experienced the absolute gratuity of grace or the undeserved character of mercy. This lack of in-depth God-experience leaves all of us judgmental, demanding, unforgiving, and weak in empathy and sympathy."
Once one has plumbed the depths of psycho-spiritual suffering, at least as far as I have been there, and having that ineffable experience of 'coming to believe', or having discovered another way of being, it is almost impossible to turn back. And is this not something to be shared? I do not wish, even if it were possible, to keep this all to and for myself. Yet I recognise that, in the final analysis, it is my life and only my life that I can seek to nurture.
It had been my intent to write in answer to the comments made about my previous post, "Coping Is Not Living." I do not know whether I have achieved that aim. I do know that in the course of writing, I suddenly had a glimpse of a spiritually healthy world that could happen. Yet I fear that world is, and will always be, a stillborn entity. I will end this essay in the same way that I ended the previous one, with all the commitment and devotion that I can muster,
"It starts with the individual, not them 'out there'; it starts with me.....'in here'.