The Divine within

My life has been far from easy. But I’ve never felt truly alone, not even during the isolation of my childhood, and then, into adulthood when my health deteriorated dramatically and my son was diagnosed with severe autism, I felt more and more that life was pushing me to realise something that was lurking in the depths of my unconscious: I am part of the Divine. I am Life itself. I am not the fragmented, unworthy, rejected, broken human being that those around me led me to believe over and over again.

As a child I felt I had the potential to be something great, whether it was an actress, journalist, writer, it didn’t matter. I just knew with a untarnished certainty that my destiny was something special. I knew it despite the pain of my external environment. I wrote it into stories, poems, prayers. Many times as an adult I lamented over those young dreams, thinking how silly they were, how crazy I was to believe I could ever be somebody in this world. When I got sick and my life closed in around me as I entered survival mode trying to cope with my severely disabled son, I despaired at ever believing it. Instead I was totally ruined. I couldn’t even manage parenthood. My son was out of control. I was so unwell that I couldn’t walk up the stairs. I fell into such a deep depression that I don’t know how I ever found my way out.

But here’s the thing: life never gave up on me. That Divine spark kept the truth safe like a precious jewel, knowing that the time would come when I could allow myself to remember and allow it to shine. Even when I was engaging in self-destructive thoughts and activities, which has been often, it’s been there, gently pushing me to realise what I always knew. It wouldn’t let me go. Even when I actively wanted it to go away, preferring to close my eyes and sleep my way through existence as it felt the safest, easiest option, it wouldn’t. It acted like a nagging parent, constantly saying ‘you know you are more. You know.’

And I do know. I’ve known it logically for a long time. Allowing the truth into my heart has been a harder process. It takes acceptance and surrender, both of which aren’t easy when it involves facing grief over what life could have been, indeed should have been (according to my ego). It’s keeping my heart open to not only my own truth, but that of the Divine in others, ALL others, even my extremely difficult ex who is like my nemesis on this path. None of it is easy. It requires intensive healing work, courage and most of all faith to keep going and surrendering to the Divine force which has always had my back.

The little girl was right. I am destined to be something special – we all are. We already ARE. Our destiny is realising it, or re-realising it, over and over again.

From confusion/judgement to love and compassion

I’ve been feeling quite confused and preoccupied lately following my son’s move into assisted living and my own up and down experience with the emotions of dating. I haven’t reached any real conclusions about the latter, only that I find it hard to trust my emotions, maybe because I’m aware that emotions are temporary and not truly who I am. Even so, I wish they would provide me with some consistency and less like I’m completely insane. I went to bed last night feeling very low and genuinely wondering if there was something wrong with me. Yep – it always seems to boil down to that. Maybe because the root of all this pain is feeling disconnected from my soul and from God/the Universe. I thought my dating experience was a way to share my soul and give love but maybe subconsciously I HAVE been trying to fill a gap that historically I’ve filled with spiritual practices such as meditation. Maybe none of this will ever make sense until I make connecting with my soul a priority again. I haven’t stopped meditating but my energy has been elsewhere, seeking experiences that will never make me whole.

I don’t know how relevant this is but it FEELS so. Last night I had a dream that I was adopting an African child of about five years old. She was absolutely beautiful – very long, wiry, black hair. I was aware she was called Shia. I carried her on my hip. Then I went to see her biological parents who were giving her up for adoption. I referred to them as ‘Mummy’ and ‘Daddy’ for Shia’s benefit. Then I looked at the parents with love and compassion and said ‘I know you don’t want her but there’s no judgement. I completely understand.’ My thoughts turned to my own son and my struggles to raise him, and I truly did.

The dream felt very comforting on my waking and I wanted to explore it further. I feel it relates to my feeling very bad about myself last night, that there’s something inherently wrong with me and my emotions. This may have been projected onto the parents in the dream who felt wrong for giving up their little girl. Maybe I need my own love and compassion and assurance that no one is judging me. My ego feels judged. That is a powerful thought. Judged by whom? Or maybe it is guilt at feeling disconnected from my own light. Interestingly, the little girl may represent my wounded inner child who is looking for safety and love and acceptance – again from my own being. No one else can give that to her, at least, not in a way that assures permanence. The parents rejected her, representing those part of myself that are rejecting my innocence, as well as the literal context of feeling guilty about my autistic son. Finally, I looked up the name Shia and it means ‘God is salvation.’ This reinforces the whole meaning of the dream – and I use the word ‘whole’ with intent – as it’s all about listening to my soul, loving the aspects of myself that are wounded and scared, and bringing it all to the light of awareness and compassion to become whole. This is our salvation.

Someone once said to me – a Jehovah’s Witness no less, but then I don’t discount anyone’s beliefs if they resonate with me on a deeper level – ‘Put God first, then everything else will fall into place.’ I’ve never forgotten it because I recognise the truth in it. Humans have human experiences and there’s nothing wrong with that – it’s what we’re here to do. But losing contact with our soul is a recipe for suffering and leads to a dish of emptiness and misery. I know now that I feel judged when I have lost my connection with my inner being. No one is judging me; I’m doing that to myself, only turning it into guilt and shame. This is as old as time. It’s the fall of Adam and Eve. The way forward is to recognise it and pour our compassion on it. In my dream I even used the words ‘there is no judgement.’ What a relief to hear! We judge ourselves because we know deep down we’re not embracing the perfect, beautiful, holy beings that we truly are.

While I’m not in that place yet, I believe that bringing myself back to a place of deep spiritual connection will bring some clarity to the situations I’m struggling with. I won’t be throwing myself into dating longing for it to bring me answers, or for my emotions to suddenly make some kind of sense. I will know intuitively what I need to do and what is right for us both. And likewise, seeing my son from a place of connection and wholeness will mean not desperately seeking something from him that can never be and feeling upset when he can’t give it. I need to get out of my own way. I need space to find myself again.

All paths lead home

I’m a huge X Files fan and used to eat, sleep and breathe the show. I haven’t watched it in years but one of the many beautiful quotes that stand out for me is Scully’s sister Melissa saying ‘There’s no right or wrong, it’s just a path.’

It used to make me cry to hear it. For many years of my life I DID believe I’d taken the wrong turn, failed, or plain messed up. I thought God, the Universe or Spirit was punishing me because I hadn’t listened to my intuition, or had but made the ‘wrong’ decision anyway. I went to see an alternative therapist when I was young and impressionable and she reinforced this belief by implying that because I hadn’t learnt my lesson from one situation the Universe had needed to make my life even harder. I can see the logic behind her view but the problem is she presented it in a way that suggested that my entire life circumstances were an external punishment for not having listened to myself or Spirit.

I went through life suffering with thoughts that I was a spiritual failure, that I hadn’t been ‘good.’ Even as a small child I had strong morals and was determined to be good in the eyes of God. I wrote to Him in notebooks and prayed for the capacity to choose what was right. I was eleven years old! At thirty one I was lost in a spiritual depression. I couldn’t see my way out. I’d tried so hard to get it right, this thing called life. And somehow I kept going wrong.

Years later, I can see and understand that I wasn’t being punished, and that the choices I made, even though they weren’t always the best choices for myself, were only leading me back to where I was always headed, the only place I CAN be: my own Self. I couldn’t go ‘wrong’ in the eyes of God, or Spirit, because the Divine light was always within me, and whatever I experienced was yet another opportunity to find my way back home to my Self. (Please note: I’m not referring to decisions made by others that inflict pain or cruelty as that’s a whole other topic. )

The very human, wounded part of me, still reacts to this understanding. Like, ‘Hang on, there’s got to be something more to it than that? It has to mean more, surely? Why DID I go through that hell?’ Maybe that’s my ego-based personality not wanting to accept that the journey serves as a reminder that I am already home. In the film The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy’s dream journey to Oz showed her that what she sought she already had within. Without the journey she wouldn’t have realised it. I don’t love or even like the journey in many places as it’s been incredibly hard and I honour that, but I see it for what it is: my path home.

As a child I knew this, I just framed it differently. I knew that I could draw on God, or Spirit, to show me the way to being the person I sensed I was despite all the external conditioning. I knew he would lead me home if I asked. I knew I had a lot of power at my disposal that I could draw on as and when I needed. But then I grew up. That’s the funny thing about this life – we are re-learning what we always knew. As Jesus said about young children, ‘the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.’

To anyone thinking, as I did, that you’ve gone wrong or are being punished: You’re not! You are a beautiful soul dealing with this crazy game called life. It’s hard. But trust that you’re always on the road home. It’s just learning to see through all the illusions and realise the light that is always in you and each of us.

Being the awareness that holds it all

Yesterday was not a good day. Some heavy emotions had hold of me and all I could do was let them have their way. Sometimes distraction works but this time it didn’t, and I felt intuitively that I needed to be with what was happening, that it was not an episode of depression that I could pull myself out of with some uplifting words or music. It was grief determined to be acknowledged and heard.

The challenge was letting the emotions be without identifying with them. I was tempted to revert to familiar narratives such as ‘my life is pointless’ ‘my opinion isn’t worth much’ and ‘this is all hopeless.’ They took me further into the cycle of pain until I realised what was happening and re-centred myself in the present moment. Because the key to healing is being fully with what is happening, accepting and being compassionate towards it, but not losing oneself in it.

I don’t reject those narratives because I understand why I’m experiencing them, I just don’t lose myself in them. My wounded inner child felt pointless, worthless and hopeless for many years. Unfortunately, she has had many reasons to feel like that. She has a voice that demands to be heard. She is part of me, but I am not her. This means I can learn to integrate her within me as I offer myself a loving space; embracing everything and rejecting nothing. Eckhart Tolle calls this the awareness or presence but it may just as well be seen as the Divine within, the Higher Self, or the Soul.

Emotions are energy that is moving through us for a reason – to make us aware, to wake us up, to transform us. They are meant to be felt and embraced as the messengers they are. But they are not who WE are. Like our thoughts, they exist for a time, then they move on. My challenge is to let them be without losing myself in the story around them and believing the story again. It FELT true once, but that doesn’t make it true then or now. Anchoring myself in the present, in my body, I can feel that truth and become the awareness that holds all of it.

Christmas: The eternal light within

Firstly, I truly hope everyone had the best Christmas possible, whether spent with family, friends, strangers, or oneself (I have done all of these at some point).

I was listening to another you tube video by the wonderful Matt Kahn yesterday entitled ‘Choosing to be here’ and thought how badly I need to take that in and really, really, apply it to my life right now. I am feeling a lot of inner resistance to what IS. I spent Christmas day with a few relatives and while I was blessed to have somewhere to go, I felt very disconnected and sad. The wounded part of me was crying out for my upbringing to have been different, for my relatives to behave differently, for my life to feel more connected and loving than it does. On reflection it was obvious that the disconnect came from me. Not that it means blaming myself for my feelings or experiences because they happened and they hurt, but I have a choice now in how I relate to myself and those around me.

Matt Kahn talks about relating to each moment as if we had chosen it. I know this is a common idea in spiritual circles but I had not fully grasped it until now, whilst feeling the pain of resistance to the extent that I did after spending Christmas with my family. It does not mean that myself or anyone else ‘asked’ for abuse or other horrific experiences or even that we literally chose them before incarnating (although we may have, who can know); instead it points to the idea that everything that happens is our teacher and we can sift even the most terrible experiences for their gold. Rather than sinking into despair over our longing for something different, we can look at what IS and ask how we can respond to this, how we can learn from it, how we can let it transform into something greater.

My hurt is real. My inner child is real. A common pitfall on the spiritual path is to ‘bypass’ our woundedness in favour of intellectual spiritual wisdom, all the while forgetting that true wisdom is found in facing our darkness, our pain, head on and understanding and accepting it. The essence of Matt Kahn’s teaching is loving whatever arises, or if we cannot love it, loving the part of us who cannot love. In this context, I can love the little girl in me who was sad at Christmas because she knew others were having Christmases that she could only dream about. More than that, she longed for the experience of belonging to a family who loved each other and had fun together in ways that hers never did or will. Those longings are valid. Who as a child didn’t want to be cared for by people who loved and respected each other and came together at Christmas of all days? It is okay to hurt. But the key is not getting stuck. We feel to heal.

I spent two nights crying with emotional pain that I thought I’d transformed ages ago. I felt so awful that I wondered if I was dying. Then it occurred that maybe I was. Not literally of course, but dying to a past that has gone; dying to the wish that things could have been any different. I can only accept the child’s emotions and tell her that she is loved and accepted and we’ll be okay somehow. She needs to know that it is not ‘wrong’ to feel the way she does. But as with any child, she also needs to know that those feelings are only a small facet of her world and they’re not going to destroy her entire being. On the contrary, they will bring rainbows once the storm has passed.

The adult me knows that I can only change myself, not other people. Maybe the gift of Christmas lies in knowing that ultimately I belong to myself. I am made of light. I can love and accept myself. I can learn to feel at peace within my own being. No matter how dark and dire our personal circumstances are, how agonising the despair, our inner light is stronger. Whilst I feel on the outside with family members and indeed many others at Christmas, the learning lies in what Christmas is all about: love and hope and transformation. Emotional pain WILL be transformed, if we let it. The image of the crucifixion is what THIS is all about: ‘I have overcome the world’ says Jesus. So can we all. This doesn’t mean never being affected by anything – Jesus himself felt abandoned by God in his darkness moments – but we can trust in our eternal light which cannot ever be destroyed. This is the spirit of Christmas.

Wishing everyone the very best as we approach the end of 2021.

Birthday blessings and realisations

Last Friday was my birthday which is a day that has historically been a source of sadness, longing and other painful emotions, as well as gratitude for the people who cared and wanted to spend some of the day with me. This year is the first where I have experienced no painful emotions at all, only happiness and gratitude for those many people who thought of me and made it special by sending cards, gifts or, in the case of one good friend, met up with me despite having no money! I am so grateful for them all.

I am also more aware than ever that that day merely marks the incarnation of me in this particular lifetime and I am so much more than that. It doesn’t mean diminishing the importance of my birthday to the part of me who needs it, but remembering it is only one facet of my existence. My soul exists beyond this lifetime: it is part of the Divine and thus has always existed and always will exist. This life, this personality, my experiences in this lifetime, are one colour in a spectrum of many. When I lose sight of this for too long and attach to my personal history as being the totality of who I am, I will suffer. When I embrace my history as part of my soul’s many journeys through many lifetimes, I am free.

This said, my birthday has enabled me to take stock of this lifetime and what wish to experience (within the bounds of what is possible). I’ve decided to join the dating scene again for the first time since before the pandemic and put myself out there, even though it terrifies me. I still fear rejection on an emotional level, despite all I know spiritually. This is because my inner child still longs to belong and be accepted, as much as I am working on accepting myself and belonging to my own sense of being. I have enough self awareness to give myself to a relationship without becoming enmeshed or wanting to back away. At least, that is the hope. I’m an HSP and empath, so relationships have historically been hard, leaving me needing to back away to get some space. Maybe I will find someone who functions on a similar wavelength so we understand each other. That is my birthday message to the Universe: I will experience a healthy, connected, loving relationship where we both understand the wholeness of love that is in our hearts and share it freely. So be it.

In the moment you have a choice

When your childhood wounds seem to have you in a tight grip, squeezing the air out of your lungs, closing their fingers around your heart, desperate for another temporary release from a lifetime of pain, you have a choice.

When you can stop, feel the longing, the anger, the desperate need to escape from this pain into what you think you need, or what some part of you thinks it needs, you have a choice.

Even when you feel the tightness, the agony, and know you have a choice, but you act out anyway, you have a choice.

In awareness there is always choice. Even when the desire pulls you this way or that, you remain aware, the compassionate witness, understanding that there is space between the ‘you’ that you think you are who is gripped by a need for something out there to relieve fear and feel safe, and the witness which is ever present, eternal and loving.

The witness, the soul, higher self, Divine spark or whatever else we may call it, does not need to judge the child who is consumed by painful emotions and desires. The child is simply reaching for whatever seems to provide the relief from pain and the security it needs. Until the child learns there is another way, the witness can love the child – not the behaviour, but the child – and let the child know that love is found here, in this moment.

Even when the child does not believe you, or refuses to listen, maybe because the messages from the past are too entrenched, the fear too great, the desires too tantalising, and the witness totally disappears, all is not lost because the witness has not really gone away, it is always there; the sky within which everything else passes. And once again, there is a choice.

You can choose to reach out to the higher power to which all of us are connected, to pray, ask for guidance, ask for the courage to choose love.

In the moment, you have a choice.

Coping with disappointment

Image from https://businessingmag.com/

I probably speak for almost everybody when I say I don’t cope well with disappointment. It’s such a crushing, sickening feeling that makes me want to scream at somebody or rage at the injustice of life itself. Quite often there’s nowhere for it to go, thus compounding feelings of helplessness and hurt. But like all emotions, it has something to teach us.

Perhaps more than any other, disappointment is an emotion that brings forth the wounded inner child and reminds me that it is still alive and kicking within me. If I listen, really listen, to that child, I can hear her pain and know that it’s valid and understandable, even though my adult self is tempted to try to escape those feelings or criticise myself for ‘being silly’ or even bypass them with spiritual teachings.

Years ago, when I was married, my ex husband proudly told me that he was starting a new healthy eating regime and was making himself a salad to take to work for his lunch. That evening I asked whether he enjoyed his lunch. My ex told me that he’d mixed the dressing with the salad while preparing it so when he opened his new lunch box it had all gone limp and horrible and he’d had to throw it away. Not a pleasant, yet very unremarkable experience, but the pain in his voice revealed the hurt and disappointed little boy who was crushed by the loss of not just his lunch but the excitement and plans for a new diet. It brought tears to my eyes as I empathised with just how upsetting that experience had been.

The disappointed child within us needs to be listened to and validated. This child carries our deepest wounds and the difficult and often painful work lies in understanding what they are. Even if it seems utterly inconsequential on the surface – such as my ex husband’s lunch – it often points to a deeper loss and sadness that needs and deserves compassion. Ironically, while I was empathic on that particular occasion, it’s only many years on that I can see how wounded my ex was – we both were – and how often we ‘triggered’ each other’s pain. Spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle calls this the ‘pain body’ which I really like and resonate with.

Despite my years of intellectual spiritual study I am only recently learning how many of my childhood wounds still exist in me and how emotions such as disappointment serve to make these wounds known. As painful as the experience is, I am trying to take a small step back and notice what’s happening – remain in presence as Eckhart will say – and not resist, deny or lose myself in it. In letting every moment be my teacher, I can learn how to embrace the disappointed little girl and let her know she is seen and heard, as well as accepted and loved.