Don't Be Afraid of Things That Seem Bad as They May Be Gifts in Masquerade

Jill Eng

Loss and change can seem terrifying. Rejection is the worst. When you are deeply anticipating something you want to happen and it just doesn’t fly.

You look at your phone every hour waiting for that person to respond, yet they are silent.

Their name on your feed shows no notification. You tell yourself you’re not going to keep opening the phone to look, but you can’t resist. You tell yourself this time you don’t care if it’s blank, but your heart still sinks at the absent neon badge.

In the old days, it was the blink of the answering machine on a landline. Before that, it was the mailbox. Or the telegram. This is an age-old issue. Waiting for that which we want to receive from another.

News, information, answers, attention. Communication that will lift us, bring us answers, and save us from our plight of longing. It could be anything from a job to housing approval, a lover, or a child out at night driving.

Waiting is the worst mostly because we anticipate a bad thing on the other end. Our minds don’t flicker to good outcomes or reasons for delays.

Even though there is the age-old saying, no news is good news.

It is a shame we are so anxious. I’m not saying loss doesn’t suck and that we aren’t sometimes correct that no news is bad news. However, there are times when happy results are revealed after longer quiet stretches than we expected were endured.

But our nervous systems are jacked up in the reverse. We want instant gratification. It is so hard for us to imagine that silence means we’re going to get what we want.

It’s even more difficult to fathom we could receive what we need regardless of our dedication to the specific thing we desired.

We are always afraid of losing that which we believe is the right thing for us. We are sure we know what that is despite the fact that life offers surprises on a daily basis.

On top of that, we are not wired to easily comprehend that life is not about acquisitions as much as impermanence. We do receive marvelous things along the way, but will ultimately lose it all.

This is never at the forefront of our mental view.

Furthermore, what escapes our daily thought process is that something we are not getting could be clearing the space for something better we are moving into. That feels like a foreign concept even though it’s a common occurrence.

But sometimes we are so married to our dream we can’t notice that what replaced it satisfied us differently. We remain loyal to the mirage of fantasy while it was never anything more than that.

Real life is a killer in this way.

Stealing our goals and transforming them into unrecognizable paths we feel like we did not choose. We continually mourn the golden nuggets of unattainable gems laden in our neural pathways.

Phones and computers make this extra challenging as we await dings and lights, although I don’t think it’s that different than what people went through in the 1700s.

Maybe waiting for the town crier or mail to be delivered stimulated a less speedy dose of fight-or-flight, but hopes were tethered to quick results nevertheless.

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I am a mindfulness author and teacher. I blog on healing from emotional trauma, guilt, anxiety, divorce, relationships, women, writing, parenting, and gratitude.

Portland, ME

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