Monday, January 21, 2013

Come closer...


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…



6 comments:

  1. So, so, so lovely, dear Matt. Thank you for offering this open, wise and loving blessing to us. It is an inspiration and an invitation to allow with total innocence, what is here right now.

    Just beautiful...

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    1. Thank you, Thea, for sharing your heart with me... and with this sweet, always-demanding, ever-unknown precious life that we have somehow been given...

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  2. Thank you for this writing; it could be my story, including having a therapist who traveled with me. It is a special gift to be able to truly hold the space you describe for another. I felt so blessed to have him journey with me; what is amazing is how he felt equally blessed to be able to share my journey. It is so serendipitous to read this today, as just yesterday, I knew it was time to call him to set up an appt to delve deeper, as I feel under the impact of what seems likely the residual of unresolved feelings. I postponed making the call! And here I read this today! I haven't actively been in therapy for a couple years now, but he and I worked together for several years as I healed from a traumatic separation from a spiritual community - labeled as lost to the dark forces and unworthy of being contacted by friends of 15-25 years long - when I chose to get help outside the community because I knew I was exceedingly fragile and fragmented from a two-year journey of kundalini rising/spiritual emergence that I suspected, and subsequently learned, was being misguided by the "leader". Oh what a quest in therapy to unravel all my childhood woundings, that had unbeknownst to me, basically been re-enacted in the "group". All you write is so true. And while I have returned to vitality and integration, I feel the challenge of truly loving myself - time to journey!!

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    1. Dear friend, thank you so much for taking the time and heart to share your journey here, for it is such an important one. To turn toward that which has been forgotten, avoided, orphaned, set aside, unmetabolized within us, to actually care and love so much to go into this darkness many would say is the essence of the journey itself. I have met many over the years that have entered into darkness, despair, and tremendous shame in leaving a particular spiritual teacher or community; losing dozens of "friends" overnight, shamed (consciously or otherwise) with future bad karma, lack of faith, and so forth. This is one of the shadows of the journey that is a unique one for our times. It takes tremendous courage, grace, heart, love for the truth to respond to spiritual emergency, in all its forms - and offers rewards beyond this world. I really wish you the best on your continued journey friend, that polishing of the heart, which is eternal.

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  3. "polishing of the heart" ---- I will treasure these words. Indeed, an ongoing journey....and an eternal one. I wouldn't wish my experience of spiritual emergence and subsequent separation from long-held friends on anyone; however, it did forge me into someone more than I could even have imagined, let alone manifested, prior to that experience, and the subsequent journey of integration. While have integrated many teachings, the one that has likely been the toughest to achieve has been self-love. Intellectually, I know I am worthy; but to embody it in my heart and cells....to live it.....at its most genuine & everyday level....that has been a bit tough to integrate, in spite of my best efforts :(. And for reasons unbeknownst to me since I had been moving along in touch with myself and my healing, for a while now, there has been a barrier between me and my heart....me and my intuitive knowing....that has made feeling like I am growing in this area of loving self rather hidden! I write this here as you responded to my posting - but as I have spent quite a bit of time today being deeply touched by your writings, I probably could have posted this under some of your other postings about self-love, and falliing apart, and being vulerable, and others! Finding these writings today, along with the blog of selfmarriageceremonies, feels as if it has finally begun to melt my insides. I spent years crying a lot - but for past couple years, to my dismay, it has been tough to find my heart and tears - to move and experience my inner life. Today.......a new melting - for which I am profoundly grateful.

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    1. Thank you again friend for staying vulnerable and for giving everything to see what is there. The wound of self-love or, as John Welwood calls it, "the mood of unlove" is the most basic, fundamental wound that so many experience as little ones. In my experience, one can have tremendous spiritual realization, in certain areas, able to access profoundly deep states of consciousness, for example, and for this wound to be raging under the surface. That you have identified this and are opening to it to show you what needs to be seen is very positive. As you've experienced, until this wound is explored to its depths, and all wounding which arose out of an early environment of misattunement, in my experience anyway, even the most profound spiritual realization will not be able to move through the vehicle of the body and mind, this heart, and these words, these emotions, in an unimpeded way. Attaining some level of realization is not actually all that difficult, with the right effort, good luck, good karma, some grace :)... but on the other side is: how open is the body, the karma, the relative, our relationship with intimacy, our emotional literacy... how transparent can this vehicle be, in the world of time and space and kids and parents and bills and jobs and crazy politicians and all the rest of it... how can love move unobstructed through this precious sacred vehicle that has been given.

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