Cleaning out the gutters is messy business, but clean gutters let the water flow and I am all about the flowing, so I am happy to endure whatever gets that going.
Yesterday my Tai Chi teacher gave me a massage, and much like when he worked on my elbows and let loose a trauma from my college days, this time he worked on my shoulders and as he did I had some realizations. One from my teenage days and one from early motherhood, when i would contort myself around the car seat to soothe my crying baby.
I’ve been willing to contort my own experience to (in my own estimation) aid someone else’s. Not quite healthy. And I’ve done it a lot. I have gotten pretty good at sitting with my own pain, but I have pretty limited capacity to sit with someone else’s. I move into fixing, reframing, whathaveyou. I think now is the time that I get to learn this lesson – how to be with someone in pain without my own stories about it. Just to be present. Compassionate. Present some more. But not take it on as my own responsibility. Measure my own worth by my ability to defuse someone else’s pain.
May be totally obvious to nearly everyone else on earth, but these lessons are dripping out for me one by one and my greatest wish is to integrate them as I’ve got the opportunity. None of it is comfortable, none of it makes me proud or happy. It makes me see that I’ve had a whole lot of weird compensation measures to try to make sense of my life, and quite frankly, i’m extremely excited to release them, uncomfortable though they may be.
I’ve had enough experience to be able to see these things coming and begrudgingly welcome them. Thankfully, my husband has been so magnificently supportive of all of these little steps I’ve had a safe enough space to be ok despite the pain, even when it includes him. That’s remarkable and I am so very grateful. But, it’s still uncomfortable. But ever-so valuable.
With this surgery coming up, I’ve got a lot of time to integrate the lessons i’ve been acquiring, physically (what i’ve learned about standing, walking, breathing and moving), emotionally (taking off the masks and holding them up to the light), mentally (disengaging from the stories I could distract myself with indefinitely) and spiritually (surrender, trust, and the privilege of being alive at this time). It’s weird to be excited about discomfort, but I am. Because I know the only way out is through.
I also know that what looks like an abyss is often just an oil slick, seems like it may go on forever but it’s not very deep at all, just daunting. And my experience teaches me that the bravery to face things pays off (with peace between the ears – a treasure beyond measure).