February 4, 2017 Saturday
I think the moment my daughter and I truly fell in love with Chris was the first Christmas we shared in 2012. We’d been dating for nine months and all three of us had developed a tight bond. While we had picked out some great gifts, Emma and I thought it would be fun to get Chris an Eeyore stuffed animal.
He loves stuffed animals and I love Eeyore, so we thought it would be the perfect fun gift for our first Christmas.
Chris has always been expressive of his emotions. He is quick to be grateful and to show love. He’s never ever been ashamed to express himself. Its something I have always appreciated in him.
While Emma and I intended to save Eeyore for last, we couldn’t wait and brought it out first with big smiles and laughs. But Chris wasn’t smiling or laughing. Chris was crying. Face scrunched, tears brimming and speechless type of crying.
What we thought was the perfect gift was more perfect than we knew, and it was his vulnerability that made us love him right then and there.
Since the stroke Chris has had strange experiences of emotion.
I noticed it first while we were watching TV when suddenly Chris would make a noise that sounded a little like a seal hiccuping and coughing at the same time. It was always at moments when I myself was getting teared up at the plot of the show.
Chris said he didn’t understand what was happening to him. That he was feeling emotional and didn’t know why. This is strange to him. He’s never gotten emotional over fiction before. I do that. I do that and he laughs at me.
So why the weird noise?
“Its stupid. I don’t understand why I’m getting emotional so I try to keep it down and it sounds like that.”
“Well, I’m thinking you should probably not do that anymore. Just let it happen.”
This experience, or rather, these experiences have brought up some interesting conversations about what emotions really are then. I have been one to think that our emotions stem from our beliefs. If we believe something to be a ‘good’ thing then we experience positive emotions around it. If we believe something to be a ‘bad’ thing then we experience negative emotions around it. I’ve known that chemicals are released in our brains associated with these beliefs causing these emotions, but did not realize how much the intensity of emotions is affected by those chemicals. I mean it makes sense. I just never thought about it before.
I now understand sociopaths a bit more. If you have a physical impairment impeding the production of certain chemicals associated with creating emotions then it would be impossible to have emotions, right? So what would drive someone then? I mean really. What drives you? Feeling good, right? That’s what drives me. Feeling bliss. What point to life is there without that? And how can sociopaths find meaning in life without it?
I am quite happy that Chris’s stroke affected him this way rather than the sociopath way. A lack of empathy would be devastating to the way we relate together. It gives me such pause to think about. Are we really just a lot of chemicals? Is anything we experience actually what we think it is? How would we know if it wasn’t?
I’v been teaching people to expand themselves beyond the conditioned mind. Unlearn the things that have caused them suffering and establish core truths. Understanding that you can change your experience of life with the change of your thoughts, beliefs and emotional patterns has been the foundation of my teachings. So, now what? How does this new information change that?
We are still in charge. It is our thoughts, beliefs and emotional patterns that trigger the release of chemicals. Yes, the amount of chemicals released is physically determined. We cannot alter that. However, we can do our best with what we have right? In fact, isn’t that our obligation? To do the best with what we have? Its our birthright to have the highest experience of life available to us…our physical deficits notwithstanding.
This lesson I learned from my friends with developmental disabilities. They never let their physical differences get in the way so then neither should we.
Chris has a long way to go, but he is heading in the right direction. It isn’t ‘fair’ what’s happened to us. Just like it isn’t fair that its happened to other families. Just like a million other things in life aren’t fair.
But life isn’t about being fair; life is about becoming your highest self, even through the lowest of circumstances.