... I fell in love with a perfectly imperfect human being.
Just when we were beginning to turn toward a deeper commitment, a broader experience of love… He made the choice to turn and walk (run) away. Why? He said, the struggles of his life had become too great and that he could only deal with them with his head, his mind. That to live in his Heart was impossible. That he was incapable of being in a loving relationship. While his story is ultimately only his to tell, I am sharing this much as it reflects on my story… My journey through.
His walking away happened very abruptly. Although while hindsight is quite clear, in the moment I was completely knocked off my center and thrown into the underworld (the interim time). I was already exploring ‘love traumatic stress’ as even being in a relationship was stirring it up. I wanted to better know this hidden aspect of myself. Suddenly it was out of the shadows, a snarling growling beast. No longer walking behind me ‘love traumatic stress’ was in the full light, demanding to be seen.
I have fallen, ran into or been pushed into the underworld (the interim time) enough in my life to recognize the inherent value of being there. Never pleasant, always hard, populated with fire breathing dragons… Yet also flowing with wisdom, insight and profound transformation by fire. It is truly, ‘breaking on through to the other side’.
What has this Journey looked like? First, I ended up sicker than I have been in years with no voice and a deep cough. Of course, a physiological response to overwhelming stress. I know what sustains me, I know what I need to maneuver my way through. I Retreat. I seek nurturing from the Earth. I have taken my struggling lungs and my wounded Heart to Harbin Hot Springs in Northern California. I facilitated a retreat for people living with cancer at Harmony Hill Retreat Center on Hood Canal in Washington State (an excellent way to shift perspective) and I walked familiar paths at Breitenbush Hot Springs in the mountains of Oregon.
I have soaked in hot mineral water, filled my lungs with steam from deep in the earth and walked under dark skies with a million stars. One day I sat in a beautiful late winter garden in California, with Hummingbirds and bees and the sweet small of blossoms… And wrote for 6 straight hours. I have looked into eyes of grief and witnessed the Heart of difficulty, while offering generous listening… Hearing not with my ears, hearing with my Heart.
I have faced my most profound fears and invited them to dance. (More about this here). I have unearthed my own places of hesitation and belief in the illusion of control. At times I have witnessed my abandoned self, my bratty adolescent self, my manipulative self… And invited them to chat.
I have steadfastly held the intention to keep my Heart Open Wide. In doing so… I also have witnessed the unending source of my being. Through Divine Presence, my limitless capacity to give love, to receive love, to make love, to Be Love.
What have I discovered? The end of a short relationship was simply a catalyst, the impetus into a much greater wound. My deepest wound, I believe my original wound, is abandonment. Of not being loved and cherished for simply being myself. The fear of abandonment is the root, the operating system if you will, of love post traumatic stress and how it shows up in my life. Denying, ignoring or forgetting about this wound, and the shadow associated with it, does not serve me well.
Joseph Campbell said; ‘Where you stumble, there lies your treasure, the very cave you were afraid to enter turns out to be the source of what you were looking for. The damned thing that was so dreaded, has become the center.’
I want to live the rest of my life with this shadow/wound, out in the light. When this shadow was hiding, I reacted in ways that do not serve me. I did not live clearly in my Heart. When our shadows bust out of closet doors, growling and demanding to be seen we have choices: Attempt to control and tame them or shove them back in the closet and put on a bigger lock. This does not work for long. Or perhaps worse, allow them to envelope us and dim our light. I choose none of these. Rather I surrender my fear and invite her to dance. I want to know this shadow, understand her steps, offer her generous listening… This shadow has much to inform me. Shadows can become our greatest allies and guides. For me, this unearthing, is already profound.
I began the year with the intention to write and more deeply explore grief, love post traumatic stress, retreat and shadow dancing. As the saying goes… Be careful what you ask for! For the last few years, off and on, I have been going to a remarkable Jungian therapist. He knows me well and we speak the same ‘language’. He is from New Orleans and his office, in an historic old building, is like walking into a movie image of psychotherapy. Just being there engages many layers of consciousness. Our sessions are two hours so we can dive deep. After pouring out to him, about my dance with this perfectly imperfect human being… He just smiled at me and said; ‘Well you certainly have created exactly what you need!’
And finally about that perfectly imperfect human being to whom I offered my Heart and who then broke it Open-Wide. I continue to flow love, compassion and forgiveness, silently his way. He believes that he must ‘fix’ his head, before he can live in his Heart. This makes me so very sad… Because I believe and I am experiencing, that exactly the opposite is true. Choosing, however painful, to remain in a Heart broken open allows me an even greater potential to love, share love, BeLove(ed). With an increasingly clear ability to hear the voice of my own discerning wisdom. For this… I am passionately grateful.
I invite you along as I continue to explore and share what I have been unearthing. This is my Journey, yet these are universal themes. I will further introduce you to the shadow of love post traumatic stress. Perhaps she will be familiar to you. More soon…
And about ‘happily ever after’… Yes, I most certainly am, living happily ever after!
For The Interim Time
Out of light, and it is too soon
For the mind of night to have darkened things,
No place looks like itself, loss of outline
Makes everything look strangely in-between,
Unsure of what has been, or what might come.
In this wan light, even trees seem groundless.
In a while it will be night, but nothing
Here seems TO believe the relief of dark.
You are in the time of the interim
Where everything seems withheld.
The path you took to get here seems washed out;
The way forwards still concealed from you.
“The old id not old enough to have died away;
The new still too young to have been born.”
You cannot lay claim to anything,
In this place of dusk,
Your eyes are blurred:
And there is no mirror.
Everyone else has lost sight of your Heart
And you can see nowhere to put your trust;
You know you have to make your own way through.
As far as you can, hold your confidence.
Do not allow your confusion to squander
This call which is loosening
Your roots in false ground,
That you might come free
From all you have outgrown.
What is being transfigured here is your mind,
And it is difficult and slow to become new.
The more faithfully you can endure here,
The more refined your Heart will become
For your arrival in the new dawn.
~ John O’Donohue