You will lose everything. Your money, your power, your fame, your success, perhaps even your memories. Your looks will go. Loved ones will die. Your body will fall apart. Everything that seems permanent is impermanent and will be smashed. Experience will gradually, or not so gradually, strip away everything it can strip away. Waking up means facing this reality and no longer turning away.
Trauma induces very unpleasant internal emotional states. When an infant experiences an unpleasant emotional state, what does she do? She cries, which ought to bring the parent. The parent then, if he or she is well-regulated herself or himself, will then pick up the infant and go, “Aww,” and hold that baby and rock them, or sing to them in a sing-song kind of way. That will regulate the child’s internal state. Then the infant learns that emotional states that are unpleasant come and go. It’s okay. If I can’t handle it, I can ask for help. For the many of us who didn’t have that kind of holding environment, who didn’t have the parents around that could hold us in our unpleasant states and soothe us and regulate us because they were not regulated themselves, we end up fearing that these difficult emotional states are permanent and ‘I will stay stuck in them’, ‘I will never get out of them.’ Then what do we do?
One of the great things about reaching midlife is the perspective and the clarity we get as time begins to feel more precious and important. I remember reaching a point in my life where I no longer had the energy or the desire to chase after anything anymore. Not only that but it seemed like the strategies I used for most of my adult life – setting goals, creating detailed action plans and working my butt off to make success happen all stopped working.