Sunday, October 19, 2014

Acknowledge and Honor Your Story

This morning I was watching an interview by Dan Rather with Crosby, Stills and Nash. All of these years later, they have not been able to agree on how they even met. It reminded me of conversations with old friends and family. Nobody ever remembers an event quit the same because we all see it from a different perspective. Think about it. Where were you the first time you heard Crosby, Stills and Nash. Who were you with? Would your story match their story? Probably not. It is human nature.

We all see life from a different perspective because we are different from anyone else who ever came before us and anyone who will ever come after. In the 90's I went to Unity Church of Austin. I loved it for a while, they had a great youth program that my son Christian was very much a part of. But one day, while sitting in the Sunday morning service, I realized I was no longer comfortable in that environment. It was a big "Ah Ha" moment for me. I realized that just because the minister felt a certain way didn't mean I had to feel that way as well. She was a lesbian woman who was afraid of her father. She was telling her story and was asking us all to buy into her story and feel the same way. It became very clear that her likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, and motivations were as unique to her as mine are to me. It was a good lesson in not getting caught up in searching for truth and happiness in someone else's version of life. However, I wasn't able to apply that to my family just yet because I was still very much caught up in trying to perceive things as I was expected to in our family unit, even when it wasn't in my best interest.

One of the most frustrating things for me is to intuitively know something is wrong or to feel something painful and having other people tell me that I shouldn’t be upset. It is a self betrayal to not acknowledge what you know to be your truth. As a child my mother used to tell me not to cry. In retrospect, if I felt I had a reason to be upset, why shouldn't I be allowed to cry?  As an adult, I have learned that recognizing, acknowledging and honoring our personal pain is a lifetime commitment. Going along with the status quo to keep peace, was detrimental to my health. Just getting up and dusting myself off and moving on as if nothing happened is absolutely the most unhealthy coarse of action I have ever taken and most of us are asked to take that route our whole life.

What I now know to be true is that we all process unwanted change differently. I am talking about major changes like the death of a loved one, divorce, the loss of a home or job. When the whole conceptual framework for your life collapses, the meaning that your mind had given it dies a painful death. Suddenly, after the shock wears off, you find that you have also lost your security. You have lost your joy. I have experienced all of these losses and there is nothing worse than being told "WHEN it is time to be OVER IT." Again, burying feelings is the unhealthiest, action I have ever taken. When you are told to hold in your feelings, you pay for it years later in illness and bad relationships, both of which I have had my share of. The outcome sweeping grief under the rug will cause an explosion next time you suffer a loss because it snowballs. If you suffer a huge loss and don't allow yourself to grieve, a small loss later will bring up all the emotion that was buried and it will feel just as huge as the original loss that you didn't grieve.

The healthiest course of action any of us can take during hard times it to allow ourselves to feel our sadness and anger. Grief is part of the healing process. Allowing our experiences to flow through us is healing. Now that I know my story matters, I don't get caught up in searching for happiness in someone else's version of life, remembering that each of us are unique. So when the conceptual framework for our life collapses, a rewrite of our story is mandatory to heal, however, there is no schedule in rewriting the story, as the healing takes place. Meanwhile, if the uneasiness of your pain, your story, is an inconvenience to someone because their story doesn't match, it is best to just not be around them. Surround yourself with those that don't mind a little messiness, those that don't mind that your mascara is a big smear on your face by the end of the evening and most importantly, those that are willing to be real. Never let anyone tell you not to cry. Your feelings are yours. Healing happens in small increments over a period of time. It is a privilege to feel deeply. The dark night of the soul can be a very spiritually enlightening time. Most of my best art has come from those very dark hours in the middle of the night when I felt like I had no one to turn to. In my experience, it has been an amazing experience to emerge out of the dark night of the soul into a transformed state of consciousness. Life has meaning again, but it’s no longer a conceptual meaning that I can necessarily explain. I've experienced an awakening to a deeper sense of purpose or connectedness that isn't dependent on explanation. And believe me, when this takes place, peace can be found.