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Excavation of the Heart

Excavation of the Heart

 

 

The difficult work of walking back to my authentic self has been on my mind quite a bit lately. Much of my life up until now has been focused on building, while trying to find my place in this world. During my morning walk, it occurred to me that life is not really a building process but rather, an excavation. We spend so much of our time living a lie, hiding who we are and afraid to show all of our presumed flaws. At some point, this deception reaches a boiling point and the truth begins to bubble up to the surface. I suspect this often happens midlife when the flames of disappointment increase our internal emotional temperature.

 

It is only at this point, when a pot is ready to boil over after suffering through the heated elements of one’s life, when the work begins. Excavation of the heart is a tumultuous process filled with copious amounts of reflection and examination. This excavation reminds of a large construction vehicle that swoops in and scoops out all of the festering emotional baggage from decades of repression, thereby setting it free. Once the log jam has been cleared, this energetic conduit is now open, and the flow of energy cannot be stopped.

 

This is where I found myself this morning. My excavation of the heart has been in progress for some time and emotions secured in the depths of my psyche are no longer tethered. They tumble out of me like a river with no way to stop the flow. All evidenced by a tearful moment at the dentist earlier this week. I could not stop the tears from flowing due to bleeding gums from an autoimmune flare. I apologized profusely to my dentist who has walked with me through the landmine of illness. Thankfully she was gentle and gave me a hug, just what I needed.

 

Now, up the hillside across from our campsite, I felt a rising from within. I prayed out to my guardians, specifically my grandmothers for support, guidance and love. The tears poured out, not like a river but an ocean as loud and powerful as the shores below the hillside. Standing on the overlook it surprised me how much I still have to excavate and what no longer needs to be hiding beneath layer after layer of shame

 

At the forefront of this feeling came the realization of how liberating writing words and setting them free can be. Not only free from self-imposed tethers, but free from the judgment of others who will read these words and cast blame and display profound disappointment.

 

Many know my story by reading this blog and seeing through the veiled metaphors chosen to describe painful life experiences. There is no metaphor for what I share today. Preyed upon by a predator who had a long history of relationships with very young woman/teens, my marriage was filled with little love and copious amounts of criticism, blame, manipulation and sexual abuse. My two beautiful children were my reason to get up in the morning and looking back, it is heartening how we all survived such a traumatic experience 

 

What has rested heavily on my shoulders, contrary to what the politics of the day sells in the media, is an experience from over 15 years ago that I share with you now. Trying desperately to hold on to a broken and unhealthy relationship while looking for a way out, I found myself pregnant once again. My love of children is so deeply felt, this position felt very emotionally precarious. Excavating further, my health was delicate during this time. My husband had been unfaithful for almost a decade and this, along with his constant manipulation, had me tied up in knots. The one thing I knew to be true was an indisputable fact. I could not bring another child into this unhealthy situation. 

 

So, I walked past the picket lines and found myself in the doctor’s office waiting for the termination of my pregnancy. My ex-husband drove me there, but did not come in. I still remember the sights, smells and sounds of that day. It is a PTSD of the worst sort. During the procedure, I cried and felt as if my insides were being scraped raw. The wound was felt so deeply, my heart was broken into pieces, shattered just like my hopes for something better. The worst of this was returning to work feeling completely undone and not able to share with anyone what I had been through. The isolation turned my world gray for so many years. Each year I counted back to figure out how old the child would have been and silently sent a prayer to the heavens, thankful they were spared my misery on Earth.

 

In my heart, I was at peace with my decision. Certain I would not have been capable of parenting a new child in such a dysfunctional family unit, my gratitude for the option of this procedure was heartfelt. Unfortunately, this secret has weighed heavily on me for far too long. Knowing the abuse I was subject to in my marriage, it is truly a miracle to find myself loved, safe and relatively unscathed. 

 

Many of you will move to the space of judgement in reading this and it is up to me to free myself from your unsolicited opinions. My excavation has unearthed a strength unknown to me in the past. Being sensitive and an empath, I walk this world feeling all the pain around me and am no longer willing to apologize for my own emotions. We each have our own work to do and it is not my responsibility to walk others to the river of acceptance and love. They must take their own journey and excavate their own dirt of denial and falsehoods. 

 

After having prayed to my guardians this morning, they did not disappoint.  At the end of the path, I looked up and saw a large seagull hanging on the air just above my head. In the sky next to this beautiful creature was the morning moon slipping toward the west as the sunlight streamed over the hillside from the east. In a gesture of togetherness, the bird seemingly floated in the air right above, holding my gaze. Then in one graceful and powerful movement, the bird flew in a large circle around me. At this moment, I knew grandma was with me. She had embraced me in a circle of love, acceptance and grace. Taking in a deep breath, my soul absorbed this private display of unconditional love. 

 

I leave you with this. If you have been holding on to something for the better part of your life and believe those around you are better off not knowing at the expense of your spiritual, physical and mental health, set if free. It will make some very uncomfortable, but this is not for you to worry about. Excavation is a one-person job and no one else can do the work for you or them. Untethering myself from these remaining bits of emotional turmoil allows me to be a better mother, daughter, sister and partner. To this end, finding another soul who has also done much personal excavation work is a wonder. My loving finance tends to me with patience and a full acceptance of all I am and all I hope to be. We have collided in the eye of our emotional hurricanes and have chosen to cling to one another in the tranquility of this center while the storm rages on.

 

We are survivors and I am so very proud of the world we are co-creating. During this season of renewal with the winter solstice upon us, set free all that tethers you to a version of yourself you no longer recognize. Set free and walk unencumbered into your authentic self, embracing the entire journey from beginning to end. Sending you all my love and light.

 

 

Pieces to Our Puzzle

Pieces to Our Puzzle

 

“Longing may be our legacy, but wholeness is our birthright.  It lies at the heart of the disappointments and delights of everyday life.  In weeding the garden and burning the toast. In falling asleep alone or enfolded in the arms of another.  In reading poetry instead of watching the news. In missing the grandmother you adored and becoming the father you never had.  In weeping for the suffering of the oppressed, the degradation of the planet.”

-Mirabai Starr

 

As spiritual beings, we are made up of a unique collection of pieces to our very own life puzzle.  These pieces represent the work in moving from immaturity to spiritual wholeness. It is often with this soul work of reassembly that one can get stuck, wondering how to bring wholeness to a chaotic and sometimes unforgiving worldview. This begs the question, maybe we are not meant to reflect some spectacular version of perfection after all.  Could it be within our imperfections that we exist in our truest form?

Growing up, I loved doing puzzles. What began as an unorganized slurry of parts, transformed into the most beautiful of pictures. This final image instantly made sense of the mess, as if it had been there all along waiting to be discovered. Working on this discovery was meditative in practice. Methodically lifting each piece, trying them in numerous places and looking for the smallest of details was a deeply introspective activity. I remember the tangible exuberance when arriving at the very last pieces. It was as if all of a sudden every angle sharpened and each piece seemed to effortlessly slide into the whole exactly where it was meant to be. The simplicity of it was startling. What seemed impossible from the beginning became instantly possible.

Life is not much different than the work of completing a complex puzzle. We enter this world with such possibility and many different pieces of self that will be tested in a plethora of ways. Each role that we try on is evaluated and considered. Is what we are doing or who we are leading us closer to this wholeness or further away? Each day brings new opportunities to evaluate our pieces under new circumstances, lending to endless amounts of feedback.

 

“Many of us have made our world so familiar that we do not see it anymore. An interesting question to ask yourself at night is, What did I really see this day?”

― John O’Donohue, Anam Cara

Just as with a puzzle, when finding ourselves at a dead end, we can remove layers that do not serve and rebuild our puzzle into wholeness. It is in this constant evaluation, continued work, and correction that one experiences the true practice of spiritual discovery. It is never too late to redefine our life. We are each given a blank canvas along with a bag full of pieces that represent our genetics, personality, birth status, family orientation, etc. While some of these pieces may be ill fitted from the start, we have the ability to build upon them in order to create a more beautiful self.

My marriage was a good example of this correction. In marriage, I tried out a piece of myself and worked tirelessly to make it “fit” the reality in which I found myself. It was only after years of hardship, I finally discovered my path was harmful and not in any way healthy for my heart and soul. I slowly became to undo these pieces, all that tethered me to another in an unhealthy way, and began the arduous work of rebuilding my puzzle one piece at a time.

 I will most certainly encounter many more moments of setback in which I move away from that beautiful image awaiting me.  Life is an endless cycle of expansion and contraction. All that matters is my intention. If I set an intention of spiritual growth, I can use this intention as a reevaluation tool along the way. If a piece does not seem to be fitting my intention, it may be time to make a change. In doing so, I continue to learn, grow and test this bag of pieces in as many ways as my precious life will afford. These pieces will begin to fill in the shadows of my soul leaving a beautifully clear image, representative of all that I am and all that I will ever be.

 

Personal Narratives and How We View the World

Personal Narratives and How We View the World

Mercy

 

To be a searcher of the soul does not preclude one from falling short time and time again. We are human and as such are challenged with human imperfections and peculiarities. The times have been especially difficult to digest and one begins to wonder how the human race will ever get back on track.  In this vein, I was speaking to a colleague this week when he pointed out that historically speaking, there has always been an auto correct moment.  Fascinated by his statement, I prodded him for clarification. He continued that even if many people have lost their way and even their lives, a moment of extreme auto correct had pushed the human race back to the moral high ground. Examples he used where events that lead up to the end of wars, the holy crusades, the Ottoman Empire’s demise etc.  It was at the same time a horrific and an illuminating point of view.

I began to reflect on his words but on a much smaller scale.  I do agree that in moments of falling short, of which we all find ourselves, a situational event often provides enough disturbance to redirect our will. We are stubborn and tend to believe the story we tell ourselves regardless of its truth. As storytellers, we create a narrative around our beliefs and experiences. Over time it becomes difficult to know what parts of the narrative are genuine and what parts are embellished. A personal example is my childhood story about cold weather and getting to school. I regularly had to stand at the bus stop in the snow and cold and found myself stretching the details when sharing my experience. This was my youthful way of pressing a point that it was indeed cold and the snow was indeed deep and difficult to walk through.  I am quite sure that the snow was not thigh deep on most days as I liked to state. The gist of the story was true…it was cold and snowy and difficult to get to school. The details were exaggerated to add impact to my words.

As an adult, I see our storytelling at work in many ways. With the recent unrest in our nation I find that most people only hold a lens for their story and rarely take a moment to hear others stories from a unique point of view. Is that not the hallmark of falling short? As students of mysticism we are drawn by our personal experiences to our faith. Part of these experiences must include moments in which we have become too engrossed in our self with no consideration for others. It is a treacherous place to be and rife with ego and selfishness. Awareness of this in itself serves as a personal auto correct on a spiritual journey.

“Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn’t matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again , come , come.” -Rumi

The question is not if we fall short but when. Having the grace and humility to admit these moments shows true strength of character rather than sticking to our story as if we were a politician trapped in talking points. Holding empathy for another even when they have a different view on life is the hallmark of growth. We are so gloriously different and that is what makes our world so beautiful. If we all looked alike or thought the same thoughts, life would be impossibly dull. It is in the disagreement that we are stimulated to listen, grow and learn.

I do believe that we are reaching a tipping point, a moment of auto correct, and I hesitate to think what discomfort and pain we as humans will suffer in the process. I only know what I can do as a part of the whole. I can listen intently to others as they speak their truths without interrupting or trying to insert my voice. I can reflect on another’s story and see which parts of their narrative are similar to my own. I can rejoice in the similarities rather than the differences and return to them with love and understanding. This is not a rejection of my views but an acknowledgment of others. It does not mark me as passive or insignificant. By doing so I am showing strength, and most importantly love for another.

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of -God Romans 3:23

This is not a Utopian view of the world as I have been told on many occasions. This is the way in which our souls have gently guided us in this world, even when we continue to disappoint time and time again. It is in getting up and trying once more, that our souls will ultimately grow wings and soar.