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Come meander with me on the pathless path of the Heart
in these anecdotal,
sometimes inspiring, sometimes personal meanderings of the Heart's opening in the every-day-ness of Life...

Friday, June 22, 2012

Wounds of the Heart...


My mother’s cat literally dropped dead at her home a week ago Thursday, leaving my 84 year old mother sitting holding her dead cat in a deluge of tears in the Vet’s office - understandably.   Unspoken wells of emotion came from deep caverns within, flooding the room.  I’m sure it was also years of the hidden emotional pain of life and loss.  Loss can do that.  It brings up a lot of hidden issues we didn’t know were there.  My teary eyed sister and I tried to console her.  But what can you do when a woman does not want to be consoled, when she pulls away in bitterness, and uses the opportunity to zing you with her words.  Anger and pain are closely related.  While cradling her dead cat like a newborn, she said: “I know *other people* didn’t like you but *I* loved you – indirectly pointed at the two of us – purposely shrugging each one of our hands off her shoulder – pulling away.  Ouch…

My mother’s cat was not a cuddly, loving cat.  You had to keep your distance, and pass by him carefully undergoing a gauntlet of hisses and swats.  No, we didn’t warm up to him.  But we each have lost a cat and know the deep pain and grief of losing a beloved pet.  And we were being rebuffed for our offering.  I could only step back in wonder at how deep my mother’s pain must go to use this opportunity to bite back – unconsciously, I know.  This hasn’t been the first time either.  As my sister and I stepped away and moved across the room I became aware of an internal hurt to the zing, and a reaction arose.  Instead of love, an incredible awkwardness filled the room – and the ride home from the Vet.  The remnants of unclaimed baggage…

How does one express love and compassion to a woman who obviously can’t receive it, whose emotional baggage is so heavy she has no free hands to receive any offer of consolation.  Whose wounds are so deep they won’t allow her to authentically love – or be loved.  This is the dynamic in my family vortex, and I imagine in many other families as well.  We all have them – the baggage, the wounds, the denial, the blaming, the deep bitterness of not feeling loved and nurtured enough that poisons relationships and gets carried from generation to generation.

Over the years we all have had our own ways of wounding each other with our hidden pain - with sharp tongues, with sarcasm and criticism, with anger - revealing our inability to hold our hearts open. Unable to speak of our wounds with each other in mature, authentic ways that heal, we default instead to the dysfunction, reverting to the passive-aggressive hurtful behavior of our prickly personalities – with little digs that get expressed to relieve the hidden suffering, to bite back, to be right – to try to control our pain.

Many years ago I became aware of my own pain and dysfunction – my shadow side - and began to get some much needed professional help. I also took up the so-called “spiritual path” to find a “better way”, to become more conscious of my own deeply hidden wounds – and – to “awaken” to who I really am at the Heart of Being beyond the pain.  This does not make me special, or more evolved, or “better than.”  I just wanted to move past the pain, and to know the Truth.  I thought I had gotten past the pains of the past, but last week I could feel the heart ache flood to the surface again.  I was a bit surprised actually.  The difference was, I could just let it be there, just notice it rise (and after a couple of days dissipate.)  No longer willing to lash out from hurt in anger, I was just aware – aware of my own woundedness and everyone else’s, still trying to be present - from a safe distance emotionally – allowing some space as the thunder rolled through everyone. 

It became clear that the cat’s death had become a catalyst for the emergence of unspoken family pain again…  But what can one do when other family members don’t want to *see* their pain, to face the 500 pound elephant in the room, refuse to get help while drowning in a sea of dysfunction – threatened by the mere exposure of the deep, open family wound that makes my heart ache to write about it...

“Accepting life as it is” sometimes gets bandied about in non-dual circles like a cliché, but the pain of “life as it is” needs to be addressed at times… At some point there has to be a willingness to *see* - our own and each other’s wounds - a willingness to get to the root of the wound: the *belief* in separation from our Eternal Beingness/True Nature.

Non-dual awareness, teachings, practices, methods, and techniques are not a “spiritual bypass” for our pain.  Nothing is left behind.  Everything is allowed as part of the fabric of Reality – the suffering, the wounds, the shadows, the tears in the fabric of living.  And there needs to be a willingness to open to those wounds through awareness, tenderness and compassion *for* the woundings.   And through that, a different path emerges, so that we are not unconsciously defaulting to the path of hidden pain and suffering, again and again… 

But - are we willing to expose and unwind the wounds of the Heart?   Are we willing to wake up and see the Truth of who we really are and not *live* in our wounds…   Obviously I’m still facing mine :)


~

Photos

The pictures are from a scrapbook I did many years ago when I was addressing the wounds of the Heart.
They are individual collage pages dealing with some aspect of “the wound” as I understood it back then.
What I didn’t understand at the time was the deep wound of separation
that is at the root of our sense of woundedness and suffering -
the not *knowing* of who we really are…

It was only when I began to be aware of our inherent True Nature/Beingness
that the wounds began to be faced and embraced – over time…

May we all wake up from “the wound.”




18 comments:

  1. many prayers for all of you!

    difficult situations bring out the difficult parts of us sometimes, especially if we are living without trying to point ourselves to some level of awareness. Then all there is, is suffering.

    In a strange way I understand your mother's reaction, that need of ours to push everything away when we feel so deeply hurt. I see myself do this in small ways all the time.

    And it is so hard to be on the receiving end of the prickliness!

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    1. Thank you, Carole...

      Yes, it became ever so clear through this experience that when we aren't willing to be aware, "all there is, is suffering."

      I know you are familiar with the mother/daughter dynamics :) It is difficult to navigate at times, as you know. I understand her pain, but have to admit that I was a bit shocked when she used it as an opportunity to get back at us. I thought we had moved beyond that...

      Just trying to stay conscious sometimes is a challenge! But this week we are back to "normal" - just the usual dysfunction. :)

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  2. Carole, thank you for sharing in such a gentle and unjudgemental manner. You are eloquent despite the pain. I do not profess to know you or your situation so well that I offer this lightly, however my intuition led me here and and I am going to recommmend a small book - The Grief Recovery Handbook. It offers is a simple yet effective action for moving/healing beyond the grief and can be used for all kinds of grief/loss. In your case it is not a loss associated with death but a painful relationship. I have worked through this and the program works! Do not be put off in its simplicity! There is also and institute and website: www.Grief-Recovery.com. Blessings and peace to you and your mother and family. Andrea

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    1. Thank you Andrea for your lovely words and your offering! Yes, most definitely the loss of authentic relationship with my mother. My sister feels this too, so will recommend the book to her as well. And will check out that website. Thank you for your presence here!

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  3. I am sorry for the typos and addressing you as Carole - in my quickness to respond on my ipad - I could not make corrections easily. It does not scroll past a certain point and I could not delete to start over. It is meant to be published as is. Andrea

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    1. No problem Andrea... :) Glad you were able to leave your comment as is :) Christine

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  4. Yes! May we all awaken, as you say, from the wound. . . Thank you. I often wonder what "I" can DO in such situations, and when awareness, opening, SPACE become the doing, amazing changes (or ordinary ones ;-) can occur that cause shifts---healing.

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    1. You are so right about that - "when awareness, opening, SPACE become the doing, changes can occur that cause shifts..." That is my experience too. Even if it's only our own internal shifts, and just being able to step back and *see* a situation the way it is without the "usual" reactive responses. Thanks for your lovely comment this morning! :)

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  5. I read this account with deep interest. It is so personal and, yet, universal. The family is such an uncomfortable bed of learning; no easy rest there. Nightmares of what is and dreams of what could be proliferate in this arena. Not running away, accepting, not acting out, standing secure in ones own identity, seeing beneath the disagreeable actions and emotions to the truth of the being beneath...all tools of awakening. Like beginners, we are all learning how to best make use of these tools and other new ones as we proceed through the dharma/drama. You seem to be an apt student, even though it may not feel like it. Certainly, your story is a gratefully accepted teaching device for this student who is much in need of such reminders.

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    1. Thank you louciao for your lovely in-depth comment! Your words are much appreciated. Still taking them in. And I'm glad that it was seen as "universal" and not just "my" story, "my" drama. I do see how the dramas in our lives are opportunities to "awaken" - to allow the dharma to be revealed - even if it's not until after the fact. And yes, learning to see beneath the personality to the true Being beneath - which I actually think I wrote about in "prickly personalities." Which just goes to show, I need to read my own stuff! :) Thank you for the reminder that life/family are the reminders... so true... With gratitude...

      Ever Unfolding ~ ~ ~ ~ Christine

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  6. I can very much relate to your post, as I too come from an interestingly prickly family dynamic. There are so many lessons in learning not to be reactive in prickly situations; often easier said than done, but well worth the effort in the longrun. If only I could always remember that myself. Thank you for your honest, yet gentle perspective Christine.

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    1. Thank you Cynthia... It's always a challenge for me not to get sucked in by the drama - to keep perspective...

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  7. Such beauty here today, Christine... yes, beauty--beauty in your scrapbook pages for sure. But also the beauty of your heart revealed here. I am sorry for your Mother's loss, for the loss of a pet can be shattering. Family pains & wounds are among the deepest we can carry, and some that don't always have the long-lasting "solutions," in fact is sometimes takes our whole lives to come to peace with some things. I can feel your anguish, and relate to it. The relationship with my Father is a very prickly one. It's the same between my sister and him. He's a difficult person and pushes all the buttons! Some thing he has said/done and continues to say/do heart my heart and cut deep. Just when I think I've got a handle on it... BAM!...he throws something interesting my way to chew on. ;o) While forgiving has grown somewhat easier, forgetting has not. And there are times when something comes up that rocks my steady boat. I think the dysfunction will continue, sadly. But I can control how I react, so I try to work on that and not focus as much on how my Father behaves and continually picking apart all the why's. It's not always easy, but I try to let love win over in spite of all the obstacles. And I must say that living some great distance from my Father doesn't hurt either. ;o) Oh, but I do pray for you and your family... wishing peace of mind and heart, Christine. ((HUGS))

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    1. Thanks Tracy... I don't think any of us escapes the "family dynamic." It's a matter of differing degrees of dysfunction for each of us. But it is a shared human experience of family wounds. I am not actually in "anguish" over it, nor "tormented," or "suffering." But my heart aches because the "family" is unable to move beyond the wounds, unwilling to want to do anything about it, blaming each other for their pain. And boy do I get an ear full from each of them! :) I had a prickly father too :) We have all been prickly with each other :)
      At my age the "pain" is more subtle and my perspective changes with awareness. Reactivity has lessened. The "spiritual path" has helped in this respect - "awakening" to our True Beingness helps to see beyond the situation. My challenge now is not to get sucked back into the drama when I visit, which is quite often...

      Thank you for sharing your own experience. I'm sure being so far away is also helpful.

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  8. Rich. Creative. Heartfelt. A beautiful blog, Christine. Thanks for getting in touch.

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    1. Thank you Cheryl! So good to get your comment here! And you such a *beautiful* website and blog for your gardening business - creating all that beauty! Will email you later tonight! :)

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  9. What a beautiful post about such a misunderstood area of spirituality. I soooo agree with the bandied about spiritual slogans. It is so necessary to expose and unwind the deep, deep wounds. I know from the past decade of trying to unwind a deep wound (that blossomed into others) without the ability to expose it. It was necessary to keep this wound to myself. The result was an inability to let go and an inability to let the wound unwind. Slowly I am able to talk with some trusted friends to finally let air to these wounds so they...and I...can heal...let go and realize the Freedom that has been kept prisoner from the lack of being able to be open and honest. May we all have an utterly safe place amongst each other and in this world to express ourselves and let go. ♥

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    1. Yes! Yes! Yes! :) Am so glad that you were able to do this, Leslie! I know that wound has haunted you for a long time... And thank you for sharing that you were able to "unwind the wound"! Congratulations! And much love for your courage! ♥

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