Monday, January 21, 2013
I was speaking with a friend who was seeing how her relationship with her spiritual life had given her so much - had helped her open her heart and experience the depth of being in so many ways. She was also seeing how spirituality had in subtle ways allowed her to avoid her emotional life, unmet pain from the past, and kept her split off from feelings that she did not want to feel. She was in such a raw place with it all: so grateful on the one hand while also knowing that she needed to re-look at everything, that she was being called to something much deeper. I just listened... and felt honored yet again to be able to witness such sweetness, such grief, such pain, such darkness, such raging light.
As she continued sharing, she started to touch that grief that she had previously been unaware of, that had been subtly covered over along the way. As this grief (and shame and sadness) poured out, it was like a firestorm of grace, all of this unmetabolized material in her psyche and in her heart, unleashed in an eruption of fierce love. She wasn’t sure she could do this. I told her I knew she could and we would stay close to her experience and go wherever we needed to go together, into the utter darkness and emptiness, into the black-hole inside her heart. I knew she could tolerate a lot more. She remained unsure but somehow kept going…
As she allowed herself to be exposed in this way, somehow she and I were transported into a new, unknown field together, where she was given permission to fall apart, to see so clearly the ways she did not feel loved at the deepest levels. She sensed that it was totally possible for her to meet and directly experience these long lost friends of grief, hurt, unloveability, and sadness – and that until this material was metabolized in a deeply somatic way that the realizations she had experienced along the way would always remain on the surface, that they would not be able to penetrate the entirety of her conditioning and somatic-armoring. She could never truly love another – and become a vessel of the most radical grace and sweet love in this world – until this was faced, finally. I just listened… and couldn’t help feeling such love for her and for this precious reality, for this rare opportunity to have a body, to have feelings, to have this human brain and nervous system.
As she went deeper and deeper, she came to see that she could meet this sorrow directly, in a really embodied way - to allow it all the way in, and finally come to know it in her body. She couldn’t breathe, she was crying, shaking, she was falling apart; she wasn’t sure she could make it. She had memories of being a little girl, looking out the window, while mom and dad drove away, of the many ways she was not seen and noticed as the special and precious one that she was. She saw herself crying in her crib, totally alone, just wanting for one sweet second to be touched, to be seen, to be held, to be validated as a living breathing being. But there was no one listening. “Where the fuck was everyone,” she yelled?! In that moment, she hated God, she hated me, she hated herself, she was in total rage against a reality that would allow for this. She saw how she had taken on a lifelong quest to be seen as a person worthy of love, specialness, and preciousness; and how these important developmental needs expressed themselves in her spiritual life.
I was quiet, empty, we were both really raw; we cried together. We wanted so badly to come to know her experience at the deepest level possible. We wanted to stay close to her somatic reality; there were so many feelings and sensations arising and passing, each an important messenger of held trauma from her past. We wondered if we could hold it all.
She came to know, at the deepest, cellular, sensation-level of her experience that she would not die if she allowed this in; that the panic and survival-level anxiety she was experiencing could never destroy who she really was; that underneath the sacred stories and narratives that held it all together, was the direct experience of the darkness of not being loved… knocking at the door of her heart and wanting to finally be let in. She saw that she could honor this fear, this sorrow, this grief, because it held a tremendous truth, a key that would unlock her body and her heart like none other. It became clear that she could love herself so deeply that she could travel into these undigested areas of her psyche and soul with a wide-open heart; that it may not be fun or easy or sweet or “spiritual” or “blissful,” but that it was the only way; that the only way out was through; she was being asked to come closer, to become more intimate, to set aside the urge, even if only temporarily, to transcend – even to transform or to “heal.” Something else was calling… come closer.
It became painfully vivid to her as to the many ways that she had used her spiritual life to avoid pain. She saw so clearly how in her family she so rarely had the experience of being loved, of feeling lovable as she was, without having to adopt some secondary, compensatory identity-structure. She felt how she was an object in her parents’ reality and was never actually held as a subject in her own right, with her own feelings and ways of organizing her experience. She had memories of trying so hard to be seen as special or unique or worthy – all to receive just a bit of the sweet love her little heart needed to develop – and how she had transferred this very same template onto her life – with lovers, friends, co-workers, and spiritual teachers. She felt the deep wound of unlove that was there and how she had come to organize her life around avoiding this wound, including through her relationship with her spiritual life and community. She saw so clearly how this undigested trauma had played out in her spiritual life as a way to protect her.
Together, we felt a tremendous gratitude for this protection, while at the same time acknowledging that she was ready to give everything to shatter into love, to move beyond these protective and previously unconscious mechanisms, entering heart-first into the raw, naked, uncertain, vulnerable, groundless reality of love and all that it demands which, we both recognized, is *everything.* She saw how she had lost a piece of her heart to this trauma of unlove, of not being seen; and how being seen now as a spiritual person, an “awake” person, was yet another way of defending against this primal wound of unlove.
As she got in touch with these feelings and allowed them to penetrate the deepest levels of her body, psyche, and soul, you could feel the most luminous doorway open in her heart. As she led me through this doorway, we touched the preciousness of this life together, we entered the darkness and the light and the pain and the sweetness of this life, where stars and galaxies were born and died. We were left in awe, at the unbearable magnificence of this human body, these senses, the fragility and sensitivity of this brain, heart, and nervous system, and with a raging gratitude beyond words for the mystery that is this journey, for the love that assembled this Universe, star by star, cell by cell.
Shared by permission…