When was the last time you were in a library or a book store? How do you feel when you are in them? What draws you there?
I was in both today. Did you know I’m writing a book? Yep. It’s out there…again. I have been trying very hard to get what is in me into a book thing. I’ve tried like a gazillion times.
This week, I found my flow. I found my way. And I found he way forward..I think 😉
Today around the books I felt inspired instead of intimidated. Instead of comparing myself to the authors, looking for their letters after their names and all the stuff that makes them ‘good enough’ to write a book… it struck me.
If you stand eye to eye with those books, you stand eye to eye with their authors. We stand eye to eye with the humans who sat or stood in front of their writing machines, to put all of those perspectives, ideas, experiences on those pages.
All of us, ALL of us is an accumulation of our experiences. Experiences that no one else can or will have in the same way you or I will. And in the moment, all of those experiences accumulate to make us who we are. And from this place I write, they unfold.
The experiences come into our realm and through us they transform. We transform. We evolve. We create.
Don’t you find that so profound?
All of those people, just trying to find their own unique way in the world?
They are no different to you or me.
If we were to stand in front of their authors and looks t them in the eyes, and remove all the eternal comparisons and all the stories that came before each of us, who is left standing looking at each other? If we remove the judgements of skin colour and gender and height and weight….who stands before you?
Who stands before us is us.
Organisms that have been created to love out a unique experience. A unique experience. And the power in that experience is the curiosity of both our own experience and the experience of others.
Here’s a challenge for the weekend if you are up to it.
At some point over the weekend, go out and walk a street filled with people and look at those people without judgement and see how hard it is.
See how fast your brain wants to judge people.
You might look at folks and judge them because they are walking while looking on their phone. Notice what happens when you judge. Notice in your body.
You might judge someone as to how they have put their outfit together. Ask yourself, “am I looking at the person, or at their external stuff”?
You might judge someone because they choose to drink alcohol or smoke. Again, what does it feel like? And do you feel more curious about them, or more separated from them?
The external judgement is what keeps you and I separated from them and for each other.
When was the last time you were at the beach? I was there today. And it struck me again.
What if we are each our own wave. Each forming out of a collective ocean, each expressing itself in it’s own unique way? You and me waves. Constantly in flux. Forming out of the same ocean. Not competing with each other, but just rising and falling.
If you are feeling like you aren’t special or there is nothing important about you or your experience, your mind is keeping you small. Isolated. Separated.
If for a moment, if just for a tiny second you consider that you are here purposefully, to have your own unique life experience and share that with others, you create a crack in the shell that keeps you hidden. And safe.
Once there is a crack, you can gently keep emerging. Peeking out.
Can I remind you on this Friday, if you are being hard on yourself for mistakes you have made, or choices you made or didn’t make, nothing in your experience is wasted.
Please don’t live you life in spite of what you have been through, live your life fully BECAUSE of what you have been through.
You are important. Your life is important. And so is theirs. So is ours. All of us. Once we drop the judgement…can you see it? Can you see it out of your shell?
Today, lets invite some curious energy in and drop the judgement about ourselves and others for a while.
I wonder, what must it be like for you in your world.
I would so love to hear.
You know where I am fellow human. I am walking along beside you, in silence honouring your journey.
I write for me…now.
I write here for me…now.
Sometimes folks think I am in their head and wrote stuff just for them.
Sometimes folks love what I write and they send me the most amazing emails and notes. Of which I just love and appreciate. That they would take a moment to first read what I have written and then go so far as to send me a message.
Sometimes folks feel unloved or left out because of what I write here. Sometimes folks wish that they knew the stuff I write about, before I write about it.
Sometimes folks I am sure get super annoyed with what I have written.
Sometimes folks judge me for what I write.
It is a weird thing to not be able to control how your words fall on someone. Or where they fall within in them.
For a very long time, I stopped writing. For me or for anyone.
In my younger years, I kept a journal. Many journals. I wrote my heart into the pages of multiple books.
No one had ever told me that writing in a journal was a good idea. No one ever said, “buy a book to write in and it will make you feel a whole lot better”. I fact, I can’t actually recall the moment I thought it was a good idea. But somewhere around 14 when I my period started I think, I started writing.
That’s the thing with journals. You write for you, about you, and with you. And in the writing, there is a visibility of what it is that is happening. More often than not, the page reveals a truth that the mind can’t let you see. It is like the heart has a direct line to the pen.
At 16, my boyfriend at the time, told me he had read my journals because he was “curious”.
At that young age I couldn’t have articulated what it really felt like. But after the same thing happened at 25, I am pretty clear now.
Those of you who have read anything about me, or know me at all, you know that my upbringing, while filled with love from my mother, was a little unsettling.
I sought solace therapeutically in music and in writing and dysfunctionally in an eating disorder and promiscuity.
I wrote all about it all. Especially the dysfunction.
After my second round of intrusion in to my inner world at 25, I stopped writing. Full stop. Quit. Stopped.
I had carried my journals with me, all 18 of them, when I went travelling across Australia at 24. I packed up all my belongings into my little Hyundai Excel and off I went. Gold Coast to Perth. It didn’t seem like a big deal given my few trips from Gold Coast to Townsville. Perth just seemed like the next destination when I returned home from overseas.
Packed tightly in with all my clothes, books and guitar (which I still can’t play), my heart spills travelled along.
And I wrote about my journeys. About the divine folks I met. The roads I took. The amazing scenery. How it felt on my journey. Well at least I am pretty sure that is what I wrote about.
On that trip, I met a boy who later became my boy friend and later my fiancé.
He packed his stuff up too and off we went travelling together.
Along came my writings.
Melbourne we settled.
Somewhere to live.
We planned our wedding.
And so you would think it would seem okay for that person to read my heart filled journals. All the words I had used from a wee young age all the way through to an adult.
All the pain of dysfunction. The first loves. The ‘not so great’ decisions. And those not so great decisions it seems he didn’t have a very good time with.
He never told me he read them. Well not until…
What does your intuition feel like to you? Where do you feel that ‘hmmmm’ feeling?
I’ve always felt my intuition sits in the spaces between. Space between what is being said. In the spaces. When there are no words. Or after the words are spoken and a full body conversation begins. A sweet hum. “Hmmmm”. A sense in my body. Sometimes it feels like a push in my gut. Other times it is fluttering in my chest.
I remember the day I returned home from work after his sick day.
And the gut push hit. In the silence.
And on we went.
A week passed.
Something was so different.
Weekends we usually went out together. That following weekend, he went out. With the guys from work.
I talked myself out of the feeling though. “It’s good he’s made friends here”.
He didn’t come home that night.
I didn’t sleep that night.
It’s funny. As I write this in real time with the music playing, this song plays. Where were you when this was all going on when I was 25? Oh, not born probably!
So, he didn’t come home. I didn’t sleep.
This weird behaviour went on for a while.
The ‘hmmmm’ continued.
Finally in a confrontation of this weird and it all fell on the floor. Like thousands of small ball bearings threatening to undo my safe ground. Freezing me in my little space. Inhaled.
And when the truth comes, it hurts sometimes. A lot sometimes. I’ve come to live this intimately.
I think this is why we don’t actually want to trust the ‘hmmmm’ because we know it is going to hurt if it is true. A lot. And we wish it away, praying and hoping it isn’t true. Denial is a deceptively safe place to hide…initially. A hot place to hide long term.
He took exception to some of my past ‘not so great’ decisions. Decisions I made as a very young and often troubled person, and at a time when he wasn’t a part of my life. Those words seemingly didn’t seem to matter.
It didn’t end then, but it was destined to.
I ripped up those books. 20 journals. Each and every page ripped up. I sat on the bed and cried years of heart pain. Years of truths. And tears of self judgement and self loathing. I was a bad person. I had evidence of it in these books. So they had to be destroyed.
And after they were destroyed, we would be fine…right?
And that is where the writing stopped.
That thing that had carried me through all those years, not a moment of therapy except for that which I sought in the pages of a journal.
My power left. I felt like I gave it to him.
It took over 10 years to start writing again.
4 years ago I started to write again because truly, I just couldn’t NOT anymore.
I felt like I needed to write for others. To help others.
So, instead of journaling I stared a blog on Facebook called Expanding the Heart Space. If you google it I don’t think you can find it…hang on…So, I am wrong. Turns out there is still a blog, not on Facebook, but an actual blog. Funny the things I forget.
Initially it was a scary as hell but I thought I was helping folks, so it was worth it.
A year or so later, I realised I was writing for me.
After I had written something, so often I couldn’t even remember what I had written. Like something had taken over me.
So I would read it again.
And more often than not, what I had written was exactly what I needed to read. In one way or another.
I was scared to admit the truth though. I was really writing for me.
Scared of judgment. Of oversharing. Of offending. Of pissing people off. Of getting it wrong.
It’s literally like having all that heart held in your hands and asking the world to stab it if they want.
In a weird twist of truth and grace, what I have come to see, is that I get far more support and “me too” moments than I do negative judgement. More often I am reminded I am not alone. I love SO much getting emails from folks who have read something about what I have written, about how it has fallen on them.
I do love it SO.
And still, ultimately I write for me.
If I inspire you to take a risk, or open up, or share, or feel brave enough to do something you didn’t think you could…oh how my heart sings!
And I write for me.
Even if you were in the room with me now, I would be writing this and not necessarily talking to you about the content. I can’t. The stuff that I write comes though me in a a way that I find difficult to articulate. All I know, is there is a level of trust I have that I have of myself now, that I didn’t before.
If my writing triggers folks, which I am sure it does, I trust that that is their business. Not mine. I wouldn’t disrespect anyone enough to not be honest.
And still, ultimately I write for me.
This is my love. My time. My space. My right. And my power.
I feel free when I write.
I feel light when I write.
I feel connected when I write.
I feel creative when I write.
I feel inspired when I write.
I learn more about myself when I write.
And if folks get offended, or triggered, or pissed, or annoyed or whatever they might get….
I write for me.
And if you are lucky enough for me to write about you, and you don’t like it….
I subscribe to the Anne Lammot position, if people don’t like what you write about them, then maybe they should have been kinder. 🙂
And in no surprise, this is the song is playing as I type this.
I write for me.
Writing in a group interests me. So in July if you want to come and be with like hearted souls and get some juices flowing, we’d love you to come along. On the Gold Coast. If you want to be added to the list of folks who are already coming along, email me here for more information.
The gift of being a bit older, being in my forties is that I have lived long enough to experienced some amazingly light and brilliant experiences and also, so mucky and dark adventures as well.
Today marks the 6 weeks point that I had spinal surgery. When I write that I wonder if by calling it that it sounds a lot worse than maybe it was. In a couple of hours I’ll return to see the surgeon who carefully released the pressure that was on my sciatic nerve. Milestone.
Not long before I had the surgery, like days before, after months and months of being in excruciating pain we had a few folks around for one of the kidletts birthdays.
A group gathered as they usually do at the tall table outside, sharing stories and chattering away.
That day, I had to double my dose of pain killers, just to get through that day.
I wonder if they would have known how much pain I was in. I carried on as best I could.
As I stood in pain at the end of the table, I quietly admitted how scared I was to have surgery. Spinal surgery. An operation that I had decided on the day of seeing the surgeon (and my MRI results). An operation that would be happening in the next few days.
And call it sooky la la or weakness…I call it afraid.
Do you ever get afraid (I hope so, it’s human)? If you do what are you afraid of?
Being so successful that you wont have anyone of your old tribe to support you. That you’ll be isolated?
Talking in front of a large group of people?
Being lost out at sea?
Sharks? [me too… Although, ask me sometime about my grade 8 talk of ‘How I would overcome a shark if I was confronted by one’].
Everyone has something that rattles their cage a little. Some, a lot.
For me, having spinal surgery was it.
And I didn’t even know it was, until I was faced with it.
I had to pull out all the big guns. All the things that I knew could support me through this. Mediations, Breath work. Writing. Support from my key tribe folk.
And I was doing pretty good.
As I stood at the end of that table, sharing my fear quietly to one of the other party-goers, someone overheard me from the other end of the table and without skipping a beat, barrels down the table;
“Oh suck it up. At least you’re not……” and gave me a good example of why I shouldn’t be feeling the way I was feeling. Making another situation (that was legitimately scary) a ‘real’ reason to feel afraid.
You know how yesterday I wrote about that shame feeling thing I got after watching that dude talk for 12 minutes…well, that is exactly what happened to me in that moment.
What they said triggered off a thought process in me that made me believe I wasn’t worthy to feel the way I was feeling. And that I was bad for feeling that way.
Comparative shaming it’s called. I learnt that term from my old mate Dr Brene Brown (also mentioned in yesterday’s blog ) .
This is when we compare something we have or haven’t done with something someone else and devaluing our own experience. And example might be that you are in a room full of people and you don’t want to share about your recent marriage problems because you know that someone else in the room is battling cancer. And the person who is battling cancer doesn’t want to share their experience because they know that someone else in the room just lost a child. And the person who just lost a child doesn’t want to share their story because they know someone is the room was born blind.
And on and on it goes. Round and around. All afraid to own our story because we believe it isn’t worthy or ‘bad enough’.
As someone who spent half of her life trying to “Suck it up”, “don’t let anyone see you are vulnerable” what I know about doing this stupid, culturally ‘appropriate’ thing is it contributes to the disconnection to the one thing that humans crave most.
The one thing that humans seek as a part of not only their DNA, but as a universal design feature….
Love and belonging.
Sucking it up is a response when folks can’t deal with someone’s vulnerability, because they can’t deal with their own.
Compassion is in direct opposition to ‘suck it up’.
Pema Chodron says it in a way that resonates with me deeply and governs all the work I do on this planet.
“Compassion is knowing your darkness well enough that you can sit in the darkness with others”.
Just contemplate that for a second.
Knowing your darkness.
What are darkness bits? What are those aspects of yourself that you don’t want anyone else to see. Those stories. Those fears. Those truths? The parts of you that remain locked away in some cupboard, boarded up so that no one can see them.
Sit in the darkness with others.
What are you like with other people’s pain and discomfort.
Are you able to sit with them, be with them. Hold the space with them. Without wanting to ‘lighten’ things up, or ‘love and light’ it away?
I’m still learning to be with my own pain and the pain of others. I absolutely get it wrong. I totally want to bounce out of suffering, mine and yours, at times.
That day, at the table, I had little compassion for myself. I bought in to the shame speak. I wanted to leap out of the shame pain and not feel what I felt. On reflection, it would have been the best time to step away and do the old Jill Bolte Taylor “one-minute-and-thirty-seconds deal” (also in yesterday’s blog).
It took me more than 90 seconds to remove that splinter and to feel the shame and the pain of what was said to me. I am still removing fragments of a multi-generational culture that a lot of us still marinate in. The “suck it up” isn’t working folks. Well, it sure as shit isn’t for me.
And before you worry about this being a blame game on the dude who gave me the ‘suck it up’ direction…if you read yesterday’s blog, or have read anything of mine or know me at all, you know this isn’t about blaming anyone. This is about using everything that triggers us as an opportunist to grow and expand and to let go of all the stuff that isn’t kind.
I’m just over 6 weeks wiser now.
I made it through the surgery. I allowed myself to feel the discomfort of my fear. I told those who were supporting me, I was afraid. And those people supported me, accepted me and were able to be with my darkness….without so much as a straw in sight 😉
Today, or tomorrow, or whenever you feel it (because you will) if you are really afraid or experiencing a mucky patch…or if you are hurting or feel isolated, let this be the opportunity for you to know that you are not alone in this life thing. If you are being told to ‘suck it up’ and ‘get over it’, let me be here to remind you that that is old bullshit conditioning that came from folks who were too afraid to feel the truth….say, “thanks but no thanks”.
Here I sit in the dark. Waiting with my candle. Providing space for us to get to know our darkness a little more.
With all my love.
Have you ever read anything of mine and wanted to punch the screen? Or throw something at it/me. Or you found yourself mumbling and muttering away with a screwed up face and tense body. You may have slammed the laptop shut, or minimised the icon vowing never to read anything of mine again?
Just before I started writing this (yes, a few sentences ago) I felt like I wanted to rant on about something I read yesterday that gave me the exact reaction as above.
I wanted to go into the justification of why I felt allowed to rant.
My mutterings went a little like this yesterday after watching a 12 or so minute clip by a dude who helps folks transform into best versions of themselves. Now I am actually wondering what he calls himself. Oh ADD mind. Hush for a moment.
So yesterday watching this thing the mutterings began.
“Oh come on. Is that true dude? You are saying that it is because I didn’t have a detailed plan that all this stuff went to shit? Well clearly you don’t have children. I mean fuck, don’t you know that stuff happens out of our control?”
And I have to admit, reliving yesterday’s couple of minute rant while writing this, it gave me a charge again. Similar sensations. Maybe not as strong, but I felt them. As I typed them just now, I was ready to climb right back on that high horse and take what he said and make him wrong and make myself right. Present evidence why what he said is bullshit. I wonder if the charge changes by the end of this blog.
I was ready to go find the piece that I had watched so that you could all jump in and crowd around the screen and then say things like, “Yeah, you’re right Jen. He don’t know crap”. I was ready to rally the troops so that I could get a group to affirm my position.
“Ha. Take that you speaker person you. See I am right”.
In real time with no editing writing this, I am already seeing how powerfully protective that part of me is, wanting to protect my position, to maintain my ‘rightness’, to not be open to the fact there might be some truth in what he said. Guards up.
I was triggered. Something touched. Like a tiny little annoying splinter that hasn’t been removed and keeps getting bumped.
The definition of human is someone who triggers off something in another for their growth.
I’d even go so far as to change the ‘human‘ part in that definition to ‘saint‘.
What does being triggered feel like to you?
Is it pleasant? Do you want it to continue?
Or do you want to pull back from it. Shout at it. Punch it. Throw something at it.
Or maybe ignore it.
For me, yesterday, it felt like a rumbling in my tummy (might have been lunch time, so maybe I was hungry 😉 ). It was heat in my arms. It was tightness in my neck. I felt flushed. I wanted to rant. I closed the computer and walked away.
I used to know this feeling as anger and pissed off-ness. But as I reflect on it now, it felt more like shame.
His words, something about what he said triggered a shame response for me.
According to my old mate Shame and vulnerability researcher genius, Dr Brene Brown, “Shame is the belief that you are bad”. This verses guilt which is, “I did something bad”. See the difference there?
Something he said, allowed me to feel like I was bad in some way. Wrong in part. Despite the the fact he wasn’t even talking to me directly. It was a clip. Talking to a whole bunch of people.
Now you are probably wanting to watch what he said so that you can assess for yourself. Or is that just something I would want to do?
You know, so you can get crowd support and validation as to why you were treated so poorly. Unjustly. Rally the troops to hit this mug up. Us against them. Lets do this. (Hello the beginning of all wars).
So you know when you have an encounter, it might be only a 30 second one of a 12 minute one (like the clip I watched yesterday) or it might be a whole day gig and something is said and you go small? You inhale and don’t want to engage anymore?
But it leaves an imprint.
You can retell the moment time and time again to anyone who will listen. “And he said this and I thought this and now I feel like this”. Not the whole encounter, but the part that triggered you. The rest was probably pretty insightful. But don’t focus on that.
And we relive it over and over and over well and truly after the event occurred.
That is what I noticed what happened to me. And so anything he said after that brush with my splinter, I wasn’t interested. I just wanted to stop the splinter from hurting me. And I blamed him for the discomfort. And I kept revisiting it through the day. And funny, now I am writing about it today.
(only splinter pic I could find 😉 )
Oh and by the way, this happens to me quite a bit. With lots of things. I still have lots of splinters.
The RE-living of an event that no longer exists. I can do that a bit.
I don’t know if you have heard of Jill Bolte Taylor, the brilliant neuroscientist who became a world wide phenomenon after she both wrote and spoke about her actual experience of having a stroke. Her TED talk has nearly 5 million views. If you haven’t, ya’ll…get-yourself-aquainted. Watch her captivating TED talk here.
Among many of the gazillion wise insights that Jill shares with us (pay attention to the part about being responsible for your own energy), one of my favourite is her ‘one-and-a-half-minute-thing’. This thing Jill describes as the psychological mechanism behind emotion. All autonomic emotions like anger last 90 seconds, from the moment its triggered until it runs it’s course.
One and a half minutes.
If it lasts longer it is because we are adding some kindling to the fire that is burning.
We keep clinging to the story line of how we were wronged and who is wrong and why we are right and blah blah blah.
Hours and hours and days and days and on and on.
One and a half minutes.
Humans (me) seem to go to all sorts of lengths to avoid discomfort.
Gossiping. Bad mouthing. Negative talk about the world. Emotional eating. Netflix. Cleaning. Not cleaning. Shopping. Facebook. Isolation. Wine. Vodka. Recipe hunting with no intent to cook anything. Looking for a course you could do. Or another retreat. Or anything…anything outside of ourselves that means we don’t have to deal with this discomfort, right here, right now.
Again…maybe that is just me.
Somewhere along the way, we got hurt you and me. Lots of times maybe. And maybe at the time, we just didn’t have the capacity or awareness to let the pain move through. and maybe, that is exactly what was okay for us. Then.
Maybe we never got still enough for a full on experience of exactly what we felt for a whole 90 seconds (because who showed us that?..insert some parenting guilt right about now). Instead we shut down or defended or blamed or drank or ate or ran.
“Fix this discomfort”!!!!! we scream looking for an out.
And my peeps, there aint no bad thing with all that ‘survival’ stuff. That be human stuff ya’ll. But maybe, just maybe, there is another way to manage some of this ‘stuff’.
The bottom line is that when I watched that thing yesterday, I felt something! I FELT a feeling. FEELINGS. Emotion. Energy in motion.
Mostly in the past, I forgot the motion part. Energy yes. No motion. Lock it down. Keep it in. Inhale it. And make yourself sick or spew it out inappropriately when you get triggered next time.
Well, what does one do in that whole 90 seconds?
I am glad you asked.
According to Jill, we start by acknowledging the feeling, give it your full, compassionate, even welcoming attention, and even if it’s only for a few seconds, drop the story line about the feeling. Try to avoid fuelling it with opinions and ideas about whether it is good or bad. Just allow the sensation. Where in your body can you feel it? Does it remain the same for long? Does it move or shift or change?
Jill gives an example of when she gets triggered, she first notices…then, sets her timer on her watch (I’ll use a phone timer…and try not to see messages or FB alerts) for 90 seconds. Closes her eyes (not if driving) and feels the full extent of the feeling. Where she feels it. What it feels like. The intensity. The duration.
A full 90 seconds of being a curious scientist observing and experiment take place.
No judgement. No story. Just a full out feeling.
So, I’m just going to take a moment to set the timer and go back to that moment and let the emotion move and see what happens. If you have come this far, hang on for a sec…I’ll be back…
Insert this waiting song the dude yesterday could have handed me: Human
It’s 3.17 minutes (minus ad verts), so take your time. I’ll wait 🙂
How fast did that go?
So the results. Well, honestly there was little to no charge there. The time has passed. I wrote about it at the beginning of the blog.
Now, here I am at the end of this blog. And that thing yesterday that that person said. I can’t actually access what he said that made me so pissed.
Here is my 2 cents (do you still have one of those copper 2 cent pieces I wonder…oh ADD mind shush) on what I feel like I learnt here, as I wrote this (because all the writing I do is really to help me unfold more).
- I am still learning and practicing to allow myself to truly feel what I feel IN THE MOMENT. Truthfully and honestly.
- The people that trigger that in me are saints, trying to help me unfold and grow more and identify splinters (oh and hint on the splinter thing if you haven’t got it yet….they are old belief things) that I might want to take out.
That is two cents. Hope you found it valuable.
So, my challenge and I offer it up for you too, can we acknowledge the emotional tug of discomfort when it arises and to stay with it for one-minute-and-a-half. Just be with it. Without a story line…..
Can we, together, do this once a day or throughout the day as the feelings arise and fall?
This is a real challenge folks.
This is the process of unmasking. Of letting go. Opening the mind and the heart.
Oh and if you answered yes the the questions posed in the first paragraph, then hello! Let me introduce myself. Saint Jen. *wink wink wink*
You had the best plans for this year right?
The beginning of the year you set out with all these dreams of “This year..this is my year”.
You felt optimistic. You felt inspired. You had had some things that didn’t go your way the last few years, and you felt like everything you had been through was leading you to this point. This moment. Your moment. Life was going to change directions.
You could all but hear the Angels singing their chorus in celebration of you.
Game on girl. You got this.
You did you vision boards. You did your year planner. You declare it on social media. “This is going to be a frickin’ great year”. And you believe it. You completely consume yourself with dreams of how it is going to go.
It’s chock a block filled with the stuff you love.
You don’t action anything until February because you know from past experience that January is just a right off.
So everything is #February.
The next thing. The next adventure. The next. The next.
February comes and goes.
Now it is #March. And then you get injured. Debilitated. In excruciating pain. And so all your focus is on getting through each day. Each fucking painful day.
But your plans? Your perfect plans. What happens to them?
“It’s okay”, you say to yourself, “You can still make it, the year is long”.
So you stay focussed on all the stuff you love. All the stuff you want to do.
Then things take a turn and you are in so much pain that you cannot see of be anything other than the person in so much pain. White hot pain. Pain so intense that you just need to escape it.
Bowen therapy. Acupuncture. Naturopathy. Osteo. Chiro. Physio. Kahuna. But the pain persists. Cold light therapy. Psychology. Medication. Pain. Escalating. Stronger medication. Constipation. Mind fuck.
Welcome to the last resort. Surgery.
Spinal surgery no less. The spine where all that important stuff lies. In there. Deep.
You are so afraid of the outcome..more afraid than you have been before…but you are so desperate to relieve the pain that you are willing to put your entire well being in the hands of someone else you hope to fuck has a decidedly impressive skill in this operating on spine department.
You have the operation.
In the recovery room, you wake crying and not because you see a big fish staring at you from the wall. The nurse asks why you are crying, to which you say, “I made it out alive…I thought I was going to die”.
You are grateful that the universe didn’t respond to your call to “End this pain, I don’t care if it is my life that ends”.
You notice that that white hot pain has disappeared. That you don’t have that psychosis inducing distraction ripping through your body.
And you exhale.
And recovery begins.
And for a moment you look at the rest of the year. “The year is long, there is still time”.
As you prepare to leave the hospital you begin dreaming about what to do when you fully recover. What adventures. What creations.
And then as you are about to leave, you hear your child is really unwell.
“Must be gastro”, you say.
Few days later you realise that this isn’t gastro when finally your baby isolates the pain to the lower part of her abdomen. And because you can’t drive you call your husband to take your girl to the same hospital that you have just left.
You feel pain again! This time the pain feels different. It is a deep gut pain. A deeper heart pain. Your baby. Your child is in pain now. This is a new pain that overtakes your body. And for a split second you wish you could take all your pain back so you r baby doesn’t have to feel that pain.
In a few hours she would follow your hospital bed wheel marks and she will be looking around a sterile room with a bunch of unfamiliar faces looking at her. Asking the same questions over and over and over.
You’ve just had spinal surgery, so you can’t sit. You have to stand until you can’t stand anymore and then you have to go and lay down.
Wherever you can.
Including the floor of the hospital.
Laying on the floor of the waiting room. You’re not alone and you think ‘thank fuck for that or I would be a risk to myself”.
2 hours pass. Your gut is flipping with fear. Anxiety takes it’s grip and your mind starts to envisage all of the worst case scenarios. And they are bad. All of them.
Finally, on the brink of charging the operating theatre to ask ‘what the fuck”? and make sure they are doing everything right, he appears.
The guy who may have just saved your child. Restored them at the very least.
He shows you all the pictures he has taken of inside your baby. These pictures are not worthy of any wellness magazine. More like the first screen shot of a horror film.
It’s messy in there.
But she made it through and you exhale and cry.
The best days are still ahead. You know this.
You battle to visit your baby girl because you aren’t able to drive because of your back. It is still healing from surgery. You feel helpless. You feel challenged. You feel exhausted. But you carry on.
Your family bumbles along and you are supported by earth angels who drive you around, make meals for you and your family to eat. Clearly someone has noticed how much weight you have put on through all of this stuff and you even get a Weight Watchers Risotto in the mix. Once you would have cared. Now you just laugh.
You weren’t to know, but the next wave was building and was about to hit your family again.
That same bubba girl begins to deteriorate again.
It’s a blur and before you all know it you are back at that same hospital.
“I’ve reviewed the ultrasound and she has 2 abscesses that need to be drained”.
“More surgery?” you all sing.
And the wheels turn again.
The bed moves into the sterility.
The fear isn’t as fierce. You worry that you aren’t more afraid. You worry you should be more scared.
You exhale and surrender. You trust.
The waiting beings. Again.
You have a room to lay down in and wait this time. So no laying on the ground in the waiting room.
It’s just you and your rock. Your support person. The person that you spent years not really allowing to step up and be supportive of you, because you were so used to be the strong one. The independent one.
And you both wait. Waiting again for the face of the doctor and this time hoping the images he takes aren’t as gruesome.
You talk about your other bubba’s and take a moment to be grateful for how amazing they are as well. Pulling together and supporting their sister.
You reflect on how gutsy your kids are. Their individual knock downs and their stand ups. Their emotional whacks and their strength and vulnerability.
You both realise how blessed you are and wonder how you got so lucky.
The call comes to visit your girl in the recovery room. No one else is there except your baby and the nurses attending to her. Taking her temperature. Feeding her lemonade ice block. She’s crying. She’s in pain. You desperately want to take that pain again.
You feel bad for ever complaining about your own pain. It seems so small in comparison to seeing your baby in pain. You hold the tears back with all of your might. Tears that for the last 4 months you have just let flow.
But you hold them. For her. She has seen you cry so many times now. And you hold it. Just. Knowing that soon she will be asleep again and you can release the pressure.
And then she sleeps. And you watch her precious face. Face of an angel. An angel that feels the heaviness of being a human. You know intimately how that feels.
And you cry.
She wakes in pain. She independently presses the buzzer for he nurse. “I have a lot of pain. 6 out of 10. Can I have something to help my pain please”?
And she gradually feels better. The drip machine makes noise and when before she didn’t hear it because of her pain and daze, she hears it and complains. You know she is improving. You sense your body relaxing. It’s been well tense.
Nurse after nurse pours love and support over our family. With each medication delivery, bed pan, sips of water to each firm encouragement to get up and moving, you feel supported and encouraged.
The best days are still ahead…maybe? Surely.
And just like the day you brought her home form the hospital after she was born, you take the driveway exit really gently not to cause too much shock movement in the car. To startle her body. Inhaled.
The storm has passed and the waves have retracted.
Multiple games of UNO ensue. You lose and you love it.
You bathe in the joy that your baby is better. Is getting stronger. And goes back to school.
And in the quiet you realise that the 2017 plan was never going to offer you what you expected.
You in fact, were gifted with so much more than you expected.
You wanted to have the opportunity to connect in deeper and more raw way with your family. Could you have had a better opportunity?
You see that you could never have organised a better way to deepen the connection with your husband.
You notice that your tribe are your tribe for a reason.
You bathe in the love that folks have poured out via messenger, Facebook, SMS, and phone calls and see how loved and supported you are.
You acknowledge that it is still your growth area to ask for support and are willing to practice more…even in the times outside of the storms.
You recognise that you are still releasing pain and cleaning up some of the debris from the storm, but you are in no rush to do so. The busy has been weeded out.
You have the experience of sitting in the pain. Right deep in it. And you didn’t run. You didn’t beat yourself up (much). You felt it as much as you could and allowed yourself to step away from it as well. You were actually practicing being brave.
You thank pain and bid it farewell. Thank you for your visit.
And just as you are about to attempt to return to your ‘usual’ life, the specialist says, “I fear there is another collection in her abdomen. She’ll need another ultrasound and more blood tests…..”.
You relax into it. You don’t fight it. And maybe it is because you are completely exhausted and have no energy to spare. But maybe it is because you trust that this is ok. She is ok. And will be ok.
You still cry. Ugly wee out your eyes cry.
You don’t deny how you are feeling. Instead you are re-reminded of what is most important to you. And reinforced that you are human and human things happen to humans and humaning is fucking hard. No news flash. It’s for real.
Stuff happens to humans irrespective of how kind they are, how much money they have, how funny, they are, how ‘healthy’ they are….unexpected stuff happens!!
AND there is so much love that exists as a human. And pain can be a gateway to deeper more unconditional love. While you have always ‘known’ this and ‘preached’ this…you actually have embodied this.
Allowing yourself permission to feel it all. And being kind with yourself when you bypass the pain….understanding you will return to heal it. Not escape button it.
And in no surprise you read a blog post by one of your favourite writers and it sums it up for you:
Being human hurts. We try so hard to avoid this fact, doing our best to numb ourselves with various addictions, overwork, obsessive love affairs, positive psychology, and or spiritual bypassing techniques to try to “love and light” our way past the pain. But no matter how you run away from pain, pain will track you down, stalking you like a leopard until you finally dive down into it and really let it devour you. We have to go all the way into our traumas (as I described here) before it can begin to release us, open our hearts, and show us that at the pit of our pain, all we meet is (paradoxically)—unconditional love. This is what we’re so afraid of? Love? (Lissa Rankin)
And in her blog she references another of your favourite teachers:
So when we Easy button our way out we are like caterpillars who jump out of the cocoon right before we would have become butterflies. Because pain is actually not a hot potato. It’s the traveling professor and it knocks on everybody’s door, and the wisest ones say, “Come in. Sit down, and don’t leave until you’ve taught me what I need to know.” But we’ve got it all wrong. We are afraid of pain, but we were made for pain. We need to be afraid of the Easy buttons. Because the journey of the Love Warrior is to rush toward her pain and let her pain become her power. (Glennon Doyle Melton)
Something has changed within you. You can feel it. It is subtle and yet so powerful. All that time you spent thinking ‘the best is yet to come’, you see that the best is right here now. Each moment of every now.
Each card game. Each message of love. Each meal together. Each challenge.
And even though as you consider having to consider surgery number 3 for your baby girl, you know that you ‘should’ be feeling afraid and angry and shaking your fists at the sky screaming ‘why me’, ‘should’ isn’t running the show.
Instead you draw closer to the pain. Right into it’s den. You sit down across from it and you ask, “What is it you want to share with me this time wise teacher”?
To be continued……….
Another fucking tragedy experienced in and by our world. A tragedy I cannot fathom really, or understand even a tiny bit what those people affected by this are feeling. Nor for the victims of the ongoing war and killing in the middle east.
More reasons not to look at the news. Another reason to turn away….or is it?
As someone who has denied her sensitivity for a lot of years, I too was afraid to look at all of the horror that seems to exist in our world. It felt too much. Too big. Too overwhelming.
I believed I needed to protect myself so that the pain wouldn’t affect me, wouldn’t drag my energy out. That the emotional shrapnel wouldn’t hit me too.
The ego part of me, the part that is afraid and wants me to believe that I am seperate, different and at risk tells me to stay inside. Lock the fucking doors, pull the curtains and hide girl! Hide! Don’t let anyone see me or me to see anyone else.
With all the storm stuff in our little fam lately I have heard a lot of ego chatter. And then with all the stuff ‘out there’ in the wider world…well….
LOCK. THE. FUCKING. DOORS! Screamed my
Pema Chodron the beautiful Buddhist monk, in her book “Start Where You Are”, says this about Ego;
Ego is like a room of your own, a room with a view, with the temperature and the smells and the music that you like. You want it your own way. You’d just like to have a little peace; you’d like to have a little happiness, you know, just “gimme a break!”
But the more you think that way, the more you try to get life to come out so that it will always suit you, the more fear of other people and what’s outside your room grows. Rather than becoming more relaxed, you start pulling down the shades an locking the door. When you do go out, you find the experience more and more unsettling and disagreeable. You become touchier, more fearful, more irritable than ever. The more you just try to get it your way, the less you feel at home”
Can anyone relate to that? The need to hide away? The need to control the space you are in? The need to turn away from both the sadness of others AND the happiness of others?
Ego wants me to turn off social media, it wants me to turn off the news, it wants me to be afraid and hide. To scoop up everything and everyone I love and bunker down and hide.
And yes, there are times that I really feel like it is just too much for me to bare (usually when I have been out of alignment with myself and not telling the absolute truth), and I completely honour that about myself….but for the most part…it is ego and fear that wants me to pull back.
Ego wants me to remind myself that I have big enough problems and that I don’t have time to deal with the worlds issues, or anyone else’s suffering. To become self centred and wallow in my misery and ‘poor me-ness’.
Ego part of me cries, “Enough already. Jeezus”!! It clings to trying to convince me that things should be working out the way I want them. It should be different to what it is. It whispers, “I am a good person, so why is all this shit happening to me? And why is it happening to other people as well…WHO CAN WE BLAME”?
The ego/scared part of me want ME to be victorious. To hell with the rest. And, if anything threatens to get in the way of ME victory, well, you will be blamed and shamed!
Checking out a bit of human history, I can see that there has been time after time after time of ME wanting to be victorious. Can you?
The Croats and the Serbs murdering each other, raping each other, killing children and the rest. Hitler and his ME victorious hunting over the Jews. The Arabs and the Jews. Protestants and the Catholics. The One Nation party and well, everyone. Trump and well..the same as The One Nation party.
Me. Me. Me.
But as humans don’t we look at all the stuff and say, “Oh yeah, isn’t it terrible what is happening ‘over there’. Pointing out there. Over there. They should just do this…and do that…and stop this and start that….”. “It is their fault the world is in chaos”. “It’s them to blame for our pain”.
Are we really that different to those folks ‘over there’?
First, let me say, I nor you who is reading this could surely really be able to feel into the evil that exists in some humans. This evil that says, “Lets build a bomb filled with nails and glass and explode it at a concert where folks are going to celebrate and enjoy life”. Nup. I cannot even touch that level of hate and blame for unhappiness. And I know, neither can you. So lets set that aside before ego’s get triggered.
What I am trying to say is that if I was to ask you and you were to ask anyone else; “What is it you want out of life or what is it you want for your children’s life”? you and most folks will answer, “Just to be happy”.
Sounds like this simple thing right? To be happy. To be at peace.
If we ask the Serbs, “What is it you want”? I wonder if they would say, “We just want our people to be happy and live in peace”.
Okay. Doesn’t seem like a big ask. We all want that right? Seemingly, theirs and most folks solution is to try to eradicate what they believe is the source of their misery. In the Serbs case it is the Croats.
But what about me? And what about you? What is the source of your discomfort? Your unhappiness? Is it anything to do with you or is it because of someone else?
The point I am clearly slowly trying to make here is that if you and I continue to think that there is any difference between the Serbs and the Croats, the situation in the Middle East or Somalia or in Trump-ville, we’re mistaken.
If we think that there is a difference between those situations and the way that white people feel about black people or heterosexuals and homosexuals or any other situations on earth, well, we got it a little off kilter ya’ll.
This is not a new concept and I certainly didn’t come up with it, but what I have come to really embody is :
We gotta start with ourselves.
I wonder what the planet would look like if it was completely blame free. Can you go there for a minute? A second? What does it look like to you?
Perhaps we would see the agitated and aggressive energy that seems to be causing a widespread holocaust subside? And peace and harmony would reign. Maybe?
A few years ago I experienced a really devastating betrayal. Painful. So painful, that it was the first time in my short life on this planet, with all the other pain I had experienced…that I actually considered it being better option for me to actually not be here.
It was brutal. I felt isolated. I felt angry. I felt like I wanted to get revenge, like deep deep evil thoughts of revenge. Ridiculous levels of blame.
Really, it was messy in my head for a while.
I was miserable. Levels of misery that I had never experienced. And while I ‘knew’ that I had to start with me (this is what my work with others is all about), it didn’t stop me from wanting to hurt others.
I wanted them to feel my level of pain. I didn’t want to experience this pain and temporarily believed that if I sought revenge, that that would make me feel better, that I would shift the pain like a hot potato from me, to them.
“You take it. You deserve it…not me. You caused this”! Blamo at it’s best!
If I was to act on my pain, to act out in anger, then my life would be very different now.
I’d be getting 3 meals delivered to my cell. Which as a mum, you probably wouldn’t think that would be too bad. I mean, in prison there is a gym, lots of time to read, food provided and you don’t have to think about what to wear everyday right??
*returns from her dream like fantasy* I digress.
Over time, I started to notice what it felt like in my body to blame someone else for the way I was feeling.
I started to notice what it felt like in my shoulders. My stomach. My heart. It fucking sucked arse burgers! BIG TIME. I hated it. Loathed it.
Recently, like very recently…I decided to be brave and to stop trying to escape the discomfort by blaming and pointing and being venomous. To stop guarding myself and pushing discomfort away. I had to get in touch with the very soft spot under all of my armour…and blame was the strongest part of that armour.
It felt often really heavy in my stomach and chest. Like I couldn’t take a full deep breath. Tight in my neck and shoulders and my jaw felt clenched.
It was intense.
“Just let it go” they say. “Just drop it and move on”.
Oh, okay. Is there a pill I can take for that?
What did it really mean to let go for me and how on earth could I possibly do it?
It sounded like just what I needed but I just couldn’t seem to do it. No matter what therapy, what coaching, what book….my Ego was far, far too strong to allow me to be free. So I fought. I held tight.
I got exhausted. I got some serious physical manifestations. I got physical pain that matched my emotional pain. It was bad arse!
In the space I had created with my physical symptoms, I began to notice really deeply that when I blame others and put all that energy into the object of anger it is usually because I am really afraid that these uncomfortable feelings are going to last forever.
I mistakenly believed that the way to end my pain was to blame it on someone else. Anyone else. To pass it over. Hot potato style. Here you take it. It doesn’t belong with me. I don’t deserve this. It isn’t mine…you caused all of this. You take it!
The irony and the apparent truth is that this is what actually made it last.
Letting go for me has become a practice. A little bit by little bit deal.
And it started with asking myself these few questions that came to me in stillness one day. All the other ways didn’t speak to me. But this way did.
- Jen, this feeling in your body if you were to continue to experience it for the next 5 years, what would that feel like?
- What if these feelings were a part of nature, that you could hold in your hands physically and lovingly and gently place down to let it go on it’s way; would you do it?
- What would doing that feel like in your body?
- Do they have any control over the way you feel right now?
- Do other humans experience the feelings you are feeling?
- Can you use this human experience to help other humans?
Doing this, the poison lessened.
I bravely chose and still continue to choose to acknowledge and own the feeling of blame, acknowledge and own the feeling of anger, acknowledge and own the feeling of loneliness AND most importantly, I can make friends with it before gently and lovingly placing down allowing to return to nature.
So how about you? How are you doing with all your human anger, human blame, human pain? How do you deal with the pain ‘out there’ and how do you deal with the pain ‘in here’?
Share with us so that we might be able to lessen more of the pain.
If you have tried other things, or have tried no other things to try to find peace, I challenge you to experiment with these questions of self inquiry.
It works on other feelings other than blame and betrayal..I’ve experimented myself.
You’re initial thought reading this might be “fuck off, you have no idea of what pain has been inflicted on me”…
And no, I don’t. I cannot. Not even close for some of you.
AND yet, I want what you want.
It might feel shit at first. Like really shit. The ego will want to keep you locked in your house with the doors closed and curtains drawn. And if your ego is as strong as mine, you are in for a ride.
What everyone wants. I want what the Serbs want. I want what the American’s who voted in Trump want, I want what the Catholics want….
I I want to be happy and in peace and I want that for you too.
I want that for all of us, because I want to live in a world where all of us are! I want that for my kids too.
I’m not asking you to fling the door open and step out or to invite the world in. I am just asking you to stand at the door, considering the possibility that you might be able to open it, once you gently free you hands up from holding these uncomfortable feelings by asking these questions.
My work in the world is to help guide folks back to their true selves as I walk the path of my true nature. To help us all wake up to their amazingness. To find peace and happiness. And for me to help those folks, I have to walk the path myself.
If you or someone you love might benefit from the self compassionate practice of letting go, maybe pass this on to them or take a moment this week to ask the questions. Or challenge yourself to book a healing session with me via Zoom or in person. Just put your deets in the box below.
I’d love to hear about your human experience with blame and pain….because you are not alone.
We are in this together my fellow traveller.
An adventure in making friends with ourselves, so we might know peace.
Big, big love