Funny how joy and sorrow are such powerful dance partners. The heart opens like a flower to joy and breaks open like a geode to sorrow. It seems the sorrow so often feels like it is ancient–like it comes from many past lifetimes.
I have been in this dance lately. I have been experiencing some pretty deep grief, and it has taken all of my commitment to not run and hide from it. My response to my difficult experiences growing up was to “check out.” If I can’t check out physically, then I check out emotionally and mentally. This is my self-protective defense mechanism when I am experiencing being hurt by people or situations.
I feel a bit like the boxer who keeps getting knocked down and somehow manages to dig deep and pull themselves up again, even with eyes so swollen they can barely see, and a brain whirling from the onslaught. My heart feels as pulverized. And yet, I know to go back to old patterns of “checking out” is to choose to let go of all the lessons I have learned in my challenging life. I keep a driver’s license from many years ago in my life to remind me the price of this way of being. You look in my face in the picture and there is no one there. My father said that time in my life scared him more than anything–even more than my living in a tree– because in the tree I was fully alive, but at the time in my life when the driver’s photo was taken, I was part of the walking dead.
So, I continue to choose to keep my heart open, even as tears carve what feels like canyons of grief into my cheeks. I know that life is all about impermanence and this too shall pass. But sometimes, it’s hard as hell to not tuck tale and run or scream and rage and fight like I could kill. Guess that’s what goes with the territory of being an animal–fight or flight–lest we forget. But then, I am reminded that I have a being beyond mere biology that tells me I have the power to choose. And so, here I go again, choosing Love, especially because it is difficult.
Please be extra kind and loving to anyone you see hurting right now. Even if they are expressing their pain in a not so nice way. Remember, they are just trapped in their fight or flight mode and a little love and compassion has the potential to go a very long way.