6 October 2015
When you recognize that you will thrive not in spite of your losses and sorrow, but because of them, that you would not have chosen the things that happened in your life, but you are grateful for them, that you will hold the empty bowls eternally in your hands, but you also have the capacity to fill them? The word for that is healing. ~ Cheryl Strayed
I revisited a very old, very deep wound this week. I didn’t mean to. Looking forward I had no inkling of this. Looking back there are dots, merely stray events, but, like stars in a constellation, I can make them line up and take shape. Really though, the dots seemed like random events in random places with random people. A lot of life is like that. But then, it’s hard to know the mystery of the workings of the universe. How do the gears all turn? Maybe I invited this wound back in subconsciously when I slipped into that fall reverie and took stock of things. Maybe it was some preordained time. Maybe I was just unwittingly ready.
For whatever reason, this old baggage zoomed right up into my flight path and took control of the tower.
I resisted it. I had zero interest in considering that painful time. It’s well past over and done. I didn’t see any point. It was an intrusion I resented. I had no desire to invest any more time thinking about the way that there never was any resolution.
I kept slipping out of its grip, turning off the course. And then other little dots would glimmer, lighting up the runway again.
Like we do with many of our wounds, I’d buried this one deep, trying to keep it out of sight. We have good reasons for this. Maybe we don’t know how to tend and heal the hurt. Or, it brings up uncomfortable feelings like powerlessness or outrage or fear. This week for me, it was the difficulty of facing a particularly poor choice and the blame I’ve felt about that.
It was messy and painful. There was kicking and screaming. When I finally stopped resisting, I was face-to-face with hurts that I wanted to just leave alone and move on from. But I hadn’t moved beyond them. They were still there, beneath the surface, idling, waiting.
At first, the hurt felt the same, but time has changed me. I could see the story differently, through wiser eyes with a more compassionate heart. I was able to ease the blame and self-recrimination I’d heaped on myself so many years ago. This is the wisdom of the old adage about time healing.
At some point, it dawned on me that my reluctant journey might be a trip of a lifetime. It turned out to be a gift to stumble over my baggage and wind up face down in it. Rummaging through it again, I unpacked that suitcase. Probably not once and for all, but it lightened up significantly.
Honestly, I’d given up on this tender wound. I’d worked through what I could and put the rest in deep storage. But that crummy old baggage took me on a new trip, with a more comfortable destination.
I’m glad now for the stars that lined up or the rock in the road, whatever it was. And grateful for a loving partner and good friendships, the practices of writing and meditation. Connection and these practices are my ways of coping with and coming to an understanding of life’s lessons. Knowing who and what you can count on is important because we all need help. And, we all help each other as we help ourselves.
Every now and then, I believe the stars will open up for us and healing we didn’t anticipate can happen. If we’re willing, we can both rewrite the past and expand the present.