What does it really mean to be present in the moment? I was just reading an article this week about the health benefits of being in the moment and these being the moments of greatest joy. I agree with this perspective but also wonder how many people are really able to be present in any given moment. The article talked about sex being one of those moments that people are most present. Obviously there is a physiological response that helps that process along during sex, but there are plenty of people that say their mind is wondering even during sex, or that alcohol or drugs are required for them to be present during sex. I honesty feel you can’t be present in the moment while under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol is more about removing all moments, past, present, or future and just numbing the senses so that nothing need be felt. Feeling nothing is really the opposite of being present in the moment. There are other mind altering substances that actually do tune you in to the current moment though, and for some of us may have even taught us how that should feel so we could take that knowing and bring it forth into life when no longer using them.
There seems to be a trend of teaching that says; to be in the moment is to completely let go of and release the past. I don’t think this is possible or desirable. Healing takes place when we acknowledge fully all our thoughts and feelings without judgment. More often than not, we are not able to be in that state of mental and emotional awareness while experiencing certain life events, and that ability only comes later. The idea that loving positive memories from the past should be let go of, would be met with an enormous amount of resistance. Somehow we think we should pick and choose which memories to cherish and which ones to discard because they were unpleasant. While I am all for cherishing the great memories, it is actually the difficult painful ones that offer us the greatest gifts in life. Instead of discarding and dismissing them we should consider feeling them. Allowing the emotions we refused to feel at the time to surface and be acknowledged so we can receive the gifts they offer.
Recently I had a short exchange with a friend about the loss of a child, and where that fits into a person’s world view on life. Certainly it is one of life’s most painful moments and societal expectations are to get over it and move on. Moving on happens whether we get over things or not, life continues with or without healing so it really isn’t about moving on. Moving forward truly is not optional, it will happen with or without your conscious participation, and with or without you being present in any of those moments that come. If you allowed yourself to feel that pain then instead of discarding it, releasing it, letting it go, being over it and every other cliché we offer, it integrates into a part of who you are and offers you understanding and wisdom. We all have aspects of the past that we integrated because they refused to go unnoticed and we have things that lie in the silence. It is the ones in the silence that poison us from being present and joyous in the moment.
When my daughter was stillborn when I was 22, that pain was too big to be shoved into the silence. It changed me and I have no intention of “getting over it”. It was the greatest gift of my life in ways I am always discovering. I am who I am and the gifts of this loss are a big part of that. That experience opened my heart, both the pregnancy and the love I had for my child, and the loss, in ways that I had never experienced before. It birthed my compassion, put spiritual knowledge I already understood into context, showed me why I had always been a pacifist, taught me to truly stop and value all life, & uncovered my real relationship with the sacred. These things only scratch the surface of what this one horrible life experience brought me in gifts. None of these things are things I should or would ever want to release. This is part of me and a damn good part. It was one painful past experience that was transmuted into knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. This one life event is responsible for countless moments of being present and joyous in the moment. Moments when you know you are not running from anything, not hiding anything.
Processed past pains are our very wisdom, the reason why the elders were respected, why they seemed to intuitively know what would happen next. When you have allowed these things to ingrate, the more obvious are the outcomes and motivations of the actions of others. The generation that comes after may or may not seek the wisdoms we carry, and even if they do, are not likely to heed the advice given. There is truth in knowing when to shut up and allow them to have their own experience. Still there is peace in seeing what is to come for them and knowing where to place yourself to offer love when the now obvious happens. Why would we want to discard this, one of life’s most precious gifts? Processing and integrating the past is not the same as dwelling there. If we were to be only a series of moments with the ones past not part of the picture the creator would not have given us memory, or would have created separation between physical memories required for animalistic survival skills and emotional memories.
We are souls in bodies and the purpose of souls is to experience and grow and learn. Attempting to discard things simply doesn’t work. Letting go of the trauma of an event, transmuting it, so you are not living the reflections of that trauma in your current choices should be the goal. That requires looking at it, feeling it, accepting it, no matter how heinous it may be. Is your present something you are conscious of, a reflection of an artifact of the past, or some combination there of?
Some events in youth may send us running and spiraling out of control and onto paths that we made no conscious choice to take. They can take over aspects of our lives with some seen, but that feel uncontrollable, like addiction, and others so stealth that they may take a very long time to surface. Running away makes you unable to make a choice from your true spirit instead of making choices because of these silent artifacts. The things left in silence do the most damage and steal the most from our lives. They are the things inside us that cause us to act out in ways that cause ourselves more pain and cause us to hurt people around us that we love and consciously don’t want to hurt.
Sometimes we have gathered all the puzzle pieces but we are not ready to put them together yet for things we have left lying in that silence. They may have brought forth an illness or series of illnesses and that is one puzzle piece. Addictions may be another piece. Repeated patterns recognized a third, and so forth and each of these pieces of your life is recognized and being worked on but the puzzle picture, how they go together is just not available. I’ve talked quite a bit on the blog of getting at core issues and these are no easy task because these core issues are the puzzle picture. Even if you have the picture some pieces on the surface just don’t seem like they could possibly have a place in the puzzle. It’s frustrating to have an overview and see how some of the parts go together and still feel like you just can’t get at the rest, those connecting points are missing, hiding, and there are times you are still acting in a way that you know is not in harmony with your true desire. These artifacts are still making some choices for you and stealing life force and expression of love and intimacy in your life.
We can be diligent in our healing, open, honest and have an area we cannot seem to progress in. I’ve watched many a friend go to every kind of spiritual, emotional or alternative healer on the planet dealing with a chronic issue of one sort or another. It has its physical components, as well as emotional and mental elements and they are well aware of this. They can’t get at the core but somehow they think eventually they will find the right healer. Core issues can’t be removed from you or simply taken away. If they could my ever present and wonderful spirit guides would have lovingly and willing done so for me a long, long time ago. Watching me limp through the steps and attempting to give me insight or encourage me to feel different aspects that they knew would take me in the right direction has been a mainstay of our relationship. As hard as it is for those of us on earth, I think we discount how difficult it is also for those on the other side who love us and want us to live an integrated life consciously choosing joy. I still recall the first day one of the guides told me “choose joy”, I was PISSED, I said “joy is not a choice, you either feel it or you don’t”, they responded “no it is a chosen perspective that comes with wisdom in each moment”. I couldn’t even conceive that we had that choice because my whole life was under the influence of these artifacts of the past that become our victimization. They assured me I would get there one day, which I did not believe; I thought they were in no uncertain terms “fucking crazy”. LOL
The closer I get to the core the more I know they were always right, Joy is indeed a choice we make, and in order to consciously make it in each moment we have to integrate our artifacts, transmute them into gifts and wisdom. There have been lots of themes running through my life of late that are all gradually tying together one is the “there are no accidents” theme. This kept coming out of my mouth with several different people and so obviously I need to apply it to myself.
For years I would get an email here and there from someone I know on facebook inviting me to join. For some reason I have had this aversion and was determined to never do so. I had multiple blogs, a website, and memberships at more sites than I can count. I couldn’t think of one good reason why I needed or wanted another. My whole life is already plastered all over the internet from the intimate moments of processing through my poetry to the excruciating journeys in my automatic writing. Why did I need yet another internet point to keep up with? Then last month another reminder to join came from my friend Dinah and spirit said “do it”. I really didn’t want to and in retrospect I find it no accident based on past conversations that I have had with Dinah about the core issue I am currently integrating that it should be her energy that spirit used to pull me forward. So I gave in and joined facebook. Dinah and I have talked about elements that held us back in areas of our lives that we were aware of yet couldn’t get past completely for some unknown reason. I thought at the time, here is this extraordinary woman, this beautiful soul, talented, smart, wise, why should she be experiencing these limitations, it is not right! Spirit said at the time “ahem back at ya”. Why should you be experiencing your own limitations? “Dig deeper”! Like every good seeker on the spiritual path I processed what I could at that moment and procrastinated as much as possible til later.
Eventually later arrives and smacks you upside the head. After a year and a half of being sicker than hell laying in bed praying for either healing or death, and at moments not really caring which one, apparently later has arrived with a vengeance. Good thing the universe knew me well enough to know that the death part was not really what I wanted long term, but there were moments I wondered if I was going to get that anyway. But there are no accidents and that illness was a puzzle piece in my healing process that was not about the illness itself but the artifact in the silence that was surfacing. It is certainly no coincidence that this illness of sub-acute thyroiditis sits at the throat chakra, energy center of communication. Could there be a better place to physically manifest the imbalance being caused by stealth silent pains of the past? Things unspoken do not all hold equal weight. Some can become insignificant over time and hold no energy, but others can kill you, kill your relationships, kill your desire to live or love. They will insist on coming out until they either do or they’ve killed you and done a lot of damage to others in the process. The pain and illness along the way are often not even from the silent issue itself but from the resistance placed upon keeping it down in the silence. It takes a lot of subconscious effort to keep these things in hiding, energy that could be expressed in loving joyous ways.
Now that I had joined facebook the inevitable “where are these people from my past” bug hits. It’s like a facebook disease, a car accident you can’t look away from. You can’t help yourself, after all they may be just a click or two away. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but the damn cat has nine lives so what the hell. You are not thinking about what may surface you are just doing what you do on facebook, there is that damn search box right there taunting you. Now I know that there are people who have lived their life in the same place who know exactly where every person they have ever known is, therefore they are immune to the facebook disease. I have however lived a crazy gypsy life in these 47 years and there are far more people who I have no idea where they are and what they are doing than those I do. For whatever reason (no accident LOL) I immediately went back to “the old neighborhood”.
A year after my parents divorced my mom and I moved from the burbs of Minneapolis out to Seattle. I turned 13 that summer and my mom and I found a house up near the zoo. Over time a group of friends formed there in the neighborhood that went through a lot together. We all had all kinds of family dysfunctions and we were a bunch of 70’s potheads who got into all sorts of mischief. By today’s standards I guess we were pretty tame really. We were not violent or destructive in a societal way, any destruction we had going on was all internal as we each tried to deal with the pains we didn’t talk about. We were a pretty tightly bonded little dysfunctional family and for most of us I am not even certain how we lost touch with one another in our 20s.
I really have positive memories of the times we all spent together despite the fact that we were all running from something or another, and were pretty out of control as all our parents no doubt would attest. My mom worked nights and so it was my house that became the hangout place. My mom thought to herself at the time that at least she knew we were off the streets if we were hanging out at the house. People used to sneak out and come over right after she left for work. She was right, in that we were physically safe, we just listened to music, smoked pot, and some nights made large quantities of cookies, cake or whatever sweets we could conjure up. It was a five bedroom house so she gave us a room to be our place we called it the “party room”. One day we asked if we could paint and she agreed giving us the credit card to go buy whatever paint we wanted. I don’t think she had any idea what our concept of paint meant at the time. We spent weeks working on the room; there were probably seven to ten of us involved in one way or another. The ceiling, a deep dark blue oil paint as base, was painted with the most amazing galaxies, nebulas and spaceships all in various glow-in-the-dark colors. That in it self with a little Pink Floyd was pretty awesome, but once done we started on the walls and covered them with optical illusion graphics, the roadrunner and coyote, band logos etc. As we got further into the project my mom started to realize that there was more then met the eye with several of my pothead friends. There were several that she always liked but there were a couple that she wondered if they had any redeeming qualities and couldn’t figure out why we were friends. I can’t say some of us were not asking the same question at times but we were a little family so it was almost like asking why someone was a sibling, the answer was “they just are”.
I can’t say exactly how we all came together, some of us went to school together but others didn’t it just gradually happened and this group of people became a piece of me; art music, profound musings on the meaning of life, time in nature, hilarious laughter, and whole lot of teenage and 20 something stupidity. We shared so much, but it was all that we didn’t share that comes to the surface now. For whatever reason this group was predominately male and predominately Leo with six or seven birthdays all falling within a three week period of time. (Not including my mother and my mother’s current boyfriend at that time also Leos with the same birthday) Being that I was one of the only girls in the group and a shy Cancer, getting a word in anywhere was always a challenge, unless they really pissed me off, then they heard about it and there was no confusion whatsoever. I think perhaps I left far more unsaid than all my crazy Leo brethren, but maybe not, after all they were usually all taking turns on stage, as it were. It did help set up a pattern though where I had to be angry before I would speak my mind which was not healthy for me. By the time I was that angry a lot of damage had already been done and sometimes I never got to that point and the things were simply never spoken. A lot of things went assumed between us all and those assumptions were left to live as if they were truth.
Searching facebook was not very successful overall for that group, many have common names with hundreds of results and without having a current location, there is no real adequate way to filter them. Many people go on facebook and have their public profile so controlled that there is no way to assess if it is the person you are looking for or not. I did however find the person I was supposed to find because, lets say it together, LOL there are no accidents! This person was my best friend. I didn’t think consciously we had any unresolved artifacts lurking in the silence, didn’t think about it at all in fact. I just thought I think that’s him and what the hell has he been doing all these years? So I sent a message and he replied and it was indeed him, and we started to chat about what we had both been doing and it was nice to reconnect.
A few days later I was hit with this heaviness, a grief that I did not understand. As I started to get in touch with that it was apparent that we somehow wandered out of each others lives without conscious participation. Life just happened and we didn’t talk about the things that were happening then in our lives, we just allowed them to send us along unknown pathways with complete disregard for the years of friendship and love. We were clueless that we were allowing life, through the expression of running from these unhealed energies, to remove us from a piece of our own life puzzle where it would then sit unattended and unacknowledged for 25 years. Too young to think we were doing anything out of the ordinary or with any consequence. With all the time I have spent on this journey I was astounded that I could have a piece of my puzzle shoved that deep to not even know it existed. Here it was though, a significant person in my life lost that I never grieved for, there was no death, no moment of departure, no fight, no choice to end a friendship, only behaviors that led to a gradual parting that neither of us were consciously aware of. He remembers it as me disappearing from his life and not knowing what happened to me. I only remember seeing him a few days after the loss of my daughter and being in such a state of raw grief that I felt disconnected and didn’t have the slightest indication I would never see my friend again. Here, slapping me in the face, was an artifact of the past that had managed to escape all detection. Puzzle pieces start to collide together and I can see some things all too clearly.
First I felt the need to apologize to tell him that whatever out of control things I did along the way stemmed from things that came before I met him that he never knew of and whatever damage I may have done in the process of my running had nothing to do with him. He doesn’t remember what those things would be, but I know I left a path of destruction and there certainly is no way he escaped LOL I am the one on this insane healing journey though so he may or may not ever remember that. In any event it had to be said because I do know that things I did are in there somewhere and even if I didn’t apologize now I’ll be doing it when we both get back to spirit, so may as well seize the opportunity.
This was a puzzle piece that took me back to a core issue that I have been aware of and consciously working on since day one on this path. It has annoyed me with its insidious ways, when it is at the same time too blatant and obvious. I have always had to seek out all these tentacles of this issue and the more I find the more there are. I no doubt have automatic writing on this issue that I did not post online and my frustration with spirit of why in the hell I can not clear this. What is left, how can there be more? How did this one thing get so much control over me? I have cleared hundreds of other things that go back further and appear more multidimensional. Even now there is one part of me that doesn’t want to talk about it, that screams SHUT UP, every time the subject comes up. But it is not me and I will not shut up or cower before an artifact of pain. I am too powerful, I know too much. This artifact has been lying to me my whole life about everything that I am. Even when I was aware enough to recognize the lies, they continued, they eat at your heart, your soul, your mind and body. As I have gotten close to the core of all this, it is my physical illness, my emotional dysfunctions, the root of many fears, guilt, shame, and self hatred and addiction. One unspoken trauma sending me into an out of control spiral of life choices that are not representative of who I am.
All of us interested in healing have these traumas of some sort or another; this one though has its damage in the silence, more than the act itself, and lack of appropriate feedback because of this silence from adults who knew better. In the year between my parents divorce and moving to Seattle my mom and I lived in an apartment complex outside of Minneapolis I was in 7th grade a typical 12 year old in most ways. During that time I was raped twice by a 17 year old who lived down the hall, while the 15 year old who lived on the first floor watched apparently learning how this is supposed to work. Because I was a kid who knew nothing, I really couldn’t connect that forced sex was “rape” I think I had some sort of TV idea that rape was being pulled into some alley by a stranger and ending up beaten to pulp in a hospital. After the first time he told me this would never happen again and I was young enough to believe him, only once though! This led though to me taking the responsibility for what happened. I believed him therefore it was my fault. I never told my parents, never told anyone until I was close to 30 years old, by which time I clearly knew it was rape and that it was never my fault, but the damage was already done. That’s a really long time to hold that inside. The damage done by taking responsibility and never getting feedback that is was not my fault was debilitating. The shame and self disgust overwhelming but I knew then what I had been running from and the running had to stop and the healing begin.
Part of this final puzzle piece that came to surface in finding my old friend on facebook was in realizing that all those boys who shared my misspent youth assumed I was a virgin during those years and that in that shame I let them think that. It was easy, there were no questions. To them I just became the girl, the virgin, that wasn’t going to consider having sex with them and they gave me space. Inside I felt dirty and not good enough and as the years passed and I was trying to find my own sexuality and where that fit in to the whole that is me I spun more and more out of control. The lie did more damage the older we got. Eventually I had to have sex with someone I didn’t care about, and who didn’t give a damn about me just to have it over with, with a person who didn’t care who I had ever slept, how, why or at what age, so there would be no lie there in that experience. That out of control decision obviously solved nothing and maybe made things worse or validated some of that shame and guilt I carried. It wasn’t really possible to maintain intimate bonds with a secret that big that goes to the core of who I was. I “moved on” to people and places that didn’t make me feel like a liar but without conscious awareness held on to the shame, guilt and self hated.
Spirit taught me how to speak, how to share things I wanted to keep buried. It was no easy task and I resisted every step along the way and that has caused me all kinds of physical, emotional and mental pain. I’ve not been an easy student at times but eventually I get there. There are gifts still to be awakened in integrating the million insidious aspects of this rape and silence, allowing this artifact to have its place in my consciousness and serve me in a positive way. The first came in learning how to set boundaries, how to fight back, to stand up for myself. Something I am now very good at. I don’t know what all the others are at this moment, some may be things I know about myself but have not yet connected to this core. Others are yet to come because so much of this energy is only now forming a full picture and is in the process of transmuting. All artifacts turn to gifts when given the opportunity to do so. The closer to the core, the more pain that has to be moved through, but the greater the gifts, like being present in moments of joy without shame and guilt. The road can suck, but the destination is worth the difficult journey. Being free of the past is not letting go as we are so often told, it is embracing and giving every aspect of it a part to play in an integrated whole. Receiving the gifts therein free you only from the pain and suffering while allowing the memories to stay and serve you with grace.