My pathless path

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I’ve realised that I’m never more at peace than when I’m not trying to fit into any one way of being or belief system.

The path is me: there is no other and there never has been.

As a young child I knew this; I talked to God, journaled, prayed, but walked my own unique path, always aligned with my heart.

There are tools, teachings, guides, but ultimately everything leads back to where I started from: myself.

For a time I thought this egotistical, but then I realised this is the very point:

God/spirit has planted the seed within me and my journey is about connecting with it, trusting it, and allowing it to flower and bloom.

Life circumstances, by pure chance or design, have meant that my inner journey has always been the most important one of my life. In fact, the ONLY one. People and situations have only sought to show me that.

There is no outer path beyond where experiences take me. When I try to find one, I suffer. When I try to fit in the world and crave things that weren’t meant to be, it causes me pain.

The Sun is shining through the fog once again. My soul has awakened. And yet the grief, the desperation, the search, it’s all part of the rich tapestry of what it means to be here.

A dream of my son

Many years ago when my son was 9 years old I had a dream that I have never forgotten. He was talking to someone about me and told them his mother was beautiful and still a teenager. (My son has been more or less non verbal since birth.) I was so excited (within the dream) about this that I started telling a group of people that my son had actually talked to me! I told them ‘it was real, it wasn’t a dream, I’d know if it was a dream’ Then a powerful wind started to blow me off my chair and I held onto a person next to me as the energy swept me almost completely into the air. At this point I woke up to the sensation of energy pouring down my head and arms like water. I had been attuned to reiki a couple of years earlier and believed that was what it was.

I’ve had many amazing dreams in my life but this one really stands out. I’ve never had one like it before or since. My son has never talked and most likely never will, beyond a few words. I’ve grieved a true connection with him my entire life. Around the time when he was 9 years old, I was profoundly depressed, so some may say the dream was wish fulfilment, something I desperately wanted so I concocted in my mind in the form of a dream. But I knew it wasn’t. There was something sublime about it, reinforced by Divine energy surrounding me both in the dream and on waking. I think it was showing me that this life has a purpose, as painful as the situation is.

I wasn’t a teenager when I had my son, never mind when he was 9! But I think the dream meant that developmentally I was still learning, still growing, still evolving. I was a soul on a journey and I was nowhere near maturity, but I was developing in my own time and way. It’s interesting that my dream refers to the notion of dreams and reality – what are they? I remember feeling so strange in the dream as the energy began to lift me up, as if it none of it was real – but what? Did I mean my dream reality or the waking world? Is there even a distinction? I said ‘I don’t feel real’ right before I re-joined the world of the awake – did I simply know I was dreaming, or did it point to something more profound: that none of this is real but the expression of Divine energy? Even my son talking in the dream may not have been real but another expression of the energy manifesting in a form I wished to see, needed to see. In that sense, maybe it actually was wish-fulfilment, but for a deeper purpose; to enable me to remember what life really is and connect with it, allow myself to immerse in it, know myself as it.

As I look about me, I am often filled with such intense grief that I have not had the opportunity to connect with my child in the way I always wished, and now, at age 43 with a chronic illness, the odds are that I never will. It is easy for another to say ‘make the best of life as it is’ but far harder to do, especially when I have craved connection all my life. In some respects I don’t even want another child, I don’t have the energy for it anymore, but I wish life had been different. Sometimes this wish consumes me. I will never be a grandmother, nor get to share memories with my son, look at photographs. Little things like that hurt massively.

It is a complicated grief because my son hasn’t left this Earth, he is very much alive. Yet I still feel the loss of him immensely. I feel the loss of everything we didn’t have and never will. I miss what could have been. What does one even do with this? It’s not something that goes away. So I remember the dream that brought me some level of comfort. Hearing him talk within it is something I can never forget. I am so grateful for that. And he acknowledged me; he said I was beautiful. That touches my heart. I doubt I will have another dream like it but I pray it stays with me and I will understand it’s true meaning for my life.

Where the light gets in

I had a very profound thought during the night. I know I’ve read it somewhere but I can’t think where.

A couple of days ago I was telling someone how it went with my son on Thursday and I made the very sad but nonetheless true statement that ‘my heart will always be broken.’

Even as I said it, I sensed the truth; the immense power in those six words.

I was reflecting on this during the night and almost immediately another thought came to me, almost from outside myself, carrying the wisdom and grace of a deeper realisation:

‘This is where the light gets in.’

Suddenly the balance shifted from despondency to hope. I had a wonderful visual image of God’s divine grace surrounding the broken pieces of my heart like a pure golden light, filling in all the cracks and making it stronger and more beautiful than ever.

There is always a choice. Closing down to protect a broken heart seems the best option, but it leaves one cut off, alone and in darkness, where healing is impossible.

Jesus healed people. He restored them through their own faith. At least once he asked the person if they wanted to be healed. I don’t believe that he was suggesting they didn’t or stating the obvious; rather, he was inviting them to open their heart and accept what is possible through faith. Literal or metaphoric, the healing he brought upon others was only made possible through an open heart, which is the ultimate gift of love.

It’s all too easy to protect one’s heart from further pain and become hurt and bitter. This is the challenge of being human, especially in regard to deep traumas that laid the entire foundation of a life. Each of us has our own path to walk and obstacles to navigate, as well as the particular tools to help us through. Thankfully for us, there are so many teachers, past and present, who have pointed to the truth that we all carry within.

And what is this truth? In my experience, we exist in Divine love. We are eternal beings, filled with the grace of God/Spirit/The Divine, here living a very limited human life in all its glory and tragedy. The heart is the bridge between the two. When we keep it open, the love and light of God’s grace is always available to love and heal and restore us no matter how broken we feel.

Growing and transcending

I’m aware that each time I write a truly vulnerable account of how I’m feeling about my disabled son I probably lose a few readers – understandably so because not everyone wants to read about someone’s suffering, especially those seeking a more uplifting story – so I’m drawn to say thank you to those who are drawn to read my experiences and feelings, regardless of reason. Sometimes I feel very alone and it helps to write it down and know people are reading my words, even when I am going around in circles with the same feelings and issues, or at least seem to be. I really do appreciate it.

I know in my heart that each of us is on a spiritual journey to realising our true self – our Christ self, Divine indwelling, soul – whichever term you feel most comfortable with -and we can’t drop off the path no matter what we do or feel. Sometimes life can feel completely unbearable and I think it is important to be honest about the suffering because it is the freedom of speaking the truth that ultimately saves us. As Carl Jung (I think) said, ‘suffering can’t always be worked through, only transcended.’ I cannot escape my pain. It just is. It exists in a state of consciousness that is fully human and I love and respect it. It will never leave me for it is part of me. But it is not ALL of me. And therein lies the answer.

I think it was Mother Teresa who said ‘when you know better, do better.’ We experience life in accordance with our level of consciousness, so once we grow spiritually, we experience life, and God/the Divine, from a higher state of awareness. However, growth is not a linear process, as I know all too well. I have meditated and prayed for years and feel I have a healthy relationship with my spirituality and the Divine. I am always growing and evolving and increasing my capacity for unconditional love. The difficulty is when old wounds get activated, or, as Eckhart Tolle says, the pain body, and once again I am lost in the pain of wanting what can never be. The pain body is the emotional element of the conditioned self – who we believe ourselves to be in relation to the outer world. Some people call this the ego, and indeed I have done sometimes, but I dislike the term, maybe because it reduces it to an unpleasant sounding entity rather than being part of my being which evolved to try and help me live in this world, however misguided it has been. It also seems to suggest that my emotions are ‘wrong’ on some level. My emotions over my son and wishing things were different are not ‘wrong’; they simply are. I can’t imagine anyone in my situation not feeling this way; at least, not without a huge and permanent shift in consciousness to the extent that one’s personal history just doesn’t matter any more because one abides purely in a state of love. This ideal was perfectly executed in the story of Jesus.

Regardless of what I, or anyone else, think about the whole mystery of Jesus, whether he was real, a myth, whether he was the only ‘son of God’ or pointing to the potential that exists in all of us, it highlights that Jesus was both fully human AND fully Divine. He often referred to himself as the ‘Son of Man’ i.e son of humanity, rather than God! He fully embraced his emotions, his humanness, his fear, anger, reluctance, sense of abandonment etc. He befriended the hurting, lost and broken people. He must have felt terribly alone in a world that wasn’t ready for him and did not understand him. He suffered unimaginably horribly in the hands of others, feeling betrayed and alone, all the while trusting in God’s plan for his life.

The most important part of the entire story: Jesus was not left to die; he was resurrected into his Christ self which transcended all his pain and suffering and restored him to his Divine identity. His old self had to die for the new self to be born. Whatever one believes about this, there is a lesson in letting go and having faith, that our suffering does not have to define us, even if it is part of us for a time (even a long time; indeed, some of us live with deep hurts our entire lives and only find relief on physical death). The story of Jesus has always brought me comfort because this is a man who went through the worst torture that I imagine is possible to man, all the while feeling abandoned by God, yet loving and forgiving those who inflicted such suffering on him, who then transcended it all; a personal reminder of the renewal of all life and our own eternal nature.

When I feel crucified by my personal circumstances and unable to find relief in any of my life’s blessings due to feeling consumed by wishing things had turned out differently, I remember that fighting against my suffering will not work. My suffering results from a part of me who understandably feels devastated and angry and let down by life. I also know that I carry within me some part of the Christ mystery – my Divine spark – which both encompasses and transcends this human life. It is a daily juggle, holding those aspects of my being, but maybe knowing they are there and perfectly okay, is enough.

Between acceptance and resistance

Acceptance seems like the holy grail of spirituality and I understand why; it’s opposite is resistance, and as we all know, what is the point resisting something we can’t change? It’s only going to make us suffer.

I’m not even sure it has to be one or the other, black or white. Maybe there are shades of grey whereby I’m not accepting or resisting but stuck in some limbo state in between the two.

Only that, too, equals suffering.

Today I had to go down to the local government office to sort out a financial mess on my son’s behalf. I was told my son needed to accompany me so they could see him for themselves and verify that he lacks capacity to handle his own affairs. Due to his level of need, two male carers had to escort him, so we were quite a group heading into the building. I knew my son wouldn’t cope for very long and he didn’t; he became agitated and vocal, catching the attention of everyone else in the room, until the carers took him out for a walk while I spoke to a representative. I’m relieved that he at least didn’t lay on the floor which is what happened elsewhere in public last week, and he didn’t hit anyone, which is always a massive concern when he has a meltdown. No small blessings there.

The stress of the very short visit – in total, it probably took around half an hour, most of it on my own as my son had already been taken out by the carers – left me feeling so weighed down and hopeless. It reminds me of my desperation as a young mother trying to control my son who, as a six year old, ran riot around a restaurant gabbing food off people’s plates. Those times have gone. I don’t have to – and I simply couldn’t – manage him on my own anymore, but the same stress, the same heartbreak, remains.

I wonder if anyone who does not have a severely disabled son can even imagine what it is like. Children play up, especially when they’re young, but in time you can reason with them and loosen that all-consuming hold on them as they start to grow and value their independence. I have never lost that hold on my son. He is all consuming. He is unpredictable. He is terrifying. You never know what he is going to do. The only real way I have learnt to cope is detach myself. Not in the sense I won’t do all I can for him because I will always do that – but emotionally draw back, because otherwise the pain is too much to bear.

Maybe this is what I mean about being in limbo – not quite accepting, not quite resisting. This is my life and I cannot say I accept it. I often think about how it could have been. I grieve for the child I never had and never will have now. I grieve for the child – now adult – that I do have. I can’t imagine a day where that grief stops. I long for simple conversations with my son, Facebook comments, texts – the kind of stuff most parents take for granted. I long to see my son grow up and become independent – drive a car, go to university, get married. He will never do any of those things. He doesn’t have any concept of those things. I’m the one who wants them. I’m the one who feels the loss.

Am I resisting? If so, who wouldn’t? I don’t know, there are much better parents out there than me who devote their lives 24/7 to their disabled kids because they feel that depth of unconditional love and it’s second nature. I’ve never been that person. I’ve been ill all my adult life with chronic illnesses that nearly destroyed me. I simply never had the capacity to give my son that much of myself. I did the best I could. I still don’t know if it was enough but I know it was all I had.

I guess I’m only hurting myself by constantly thinking ‘what if’? But it’s impossible to stop. Maybe my acceptance lies there, in accepting this is where I am and how I feel and that life is so plain hard because I didn’t ask for this. I don’t have to be all saintly and spiritual about it if I don’t want to be. I don’t have to pretend. I can say to God that I wish things were different. I can feel God’s love for me and for my son and remember that Jesus was crucified in the flesh and in our own unique ways so are all of us in living a human life.

Anyone who copes with similar and has found a way to cherish their relationship with their child and their life as it is, I truly admire you. I journey on.

Trials of dating, self-awareness, autism

I’ve been in a strange place lately. Despite intending to make my life more simple, I’ve ended up making it far more complicated. I’ve been dating someone and the first two dates seemed to go really well – he’s kind, caring, spiritually minded, accepting of my illness – but the third date fell rather flat. I no longer felt attracted to him. And it’s left me wondering whether it’s me and I’m incapable of investing in anyone on a consistent basis. I’ve had fairly few relationships in my life and the ones I have had lacked emotional connection due to my upbringing. I have spent years working on myself emotionally and spiritually and have also been on my own a long while. All this leads me to wonder whether I’m too introverted and self-aware to enjoy someone’s company for any length of time. That the problem isn’t the guy, or indeed any guy I’ve dated in the past, but with me.

I know the advice generally goes: be happy with/love yourself. And I get that, I truly do. I have lived alone for a very long time (17 years in fact, a long time for someone in my early 40’s) and my last relationship was 7 years ago. I still hold the notion that it’s possible to experience spiritual loneliness where you crave companionship whilst feeling happy with yourself. I suppose I just don’t know what I’m actually looking for because no one is going to want to talk spirituality 24/7 and I become bored with everyday conversation. And yet, how can I ever engage with someone if I don’t meet them where they are?

I actually wonder if I’m on the autism spectrum as well. This is a legit question because my son is severely autistic and my dad and uncle both exhibited traits. It would explain a lot; my social anxiety, my difficulties talking unless I really HAVE to or if it’s about something deep, my introversion, my high sensitivity and tendency towards over stimulation. None of those things alone would mean much, but together with my family history they point to a very real possibility of autism and it would explain why I feel such an outsider in more ways than one. But if that’s the case, how will I ever know what I truly want? Because I do get lonely sometimes. And I miss physical intimacy. Casual meet ups are not an option for me due to my illness and other factors. So I just don’t know what the answer is.

I’m probably going to meet up with the guy again because I don’t think three dates is enough to decide whether a relationship is right. But I’m mindful of hurting his feelings too. Other people seem to be clear what they know and feel and want. Despite my self-awareness, I don’t think I am. Maybe the world of relationships is just too alien to me.

My soul flies like a bird

On a morning walk with my dog I heard beautiful birdsong and watched the sparrows and tits peeping out of overgrown hedges and disappearing again. And for a second I wished I could join them. I wanted to trade my life as a human with all its pain and complexities for the simple, carefree life of a hedge sparrow. The longing arose from deep within, pointing to a knowledge that no matter what I’m dealing with or the world is facing, my soul flies free. I don’t have to be chained to fears and illusions of this world, only insofar as necessary to play my role here. Jesus said ‘Be in the world but not of it’ and this statement has never felt more true. My heart is the bridge between the spiritual and the physical; I exist in both, but my soul is always home no matter where it is, flying high.

Spiritual loneliness

I’ve realised that, for myself, spiritual loneliness is a thing. It feels almost taboo to say it, due to numerous teachings that suggest loneliness stems from a disconnect from one’s own soul and the answer is to go within. That is doubtless a very important and valuable truth, but it’s also true that it’s possible to be connected to oneself and the universe yet still feel lonely for likeminded company. It doesn’t have to be either/or. The key issue is balance.

I’ve started dating again after a break for a couple of years and many more years single. I decided that I’ve spent too much time alone. This is coming from an introvert with health issues who loves a dog for company! But alone time can be too much of a good thing. I’ve spent many years focusing on my spirituality through meditation, journaling, self-reflection, and I believe I have reached a good level of self-awareness, albeit I will never stop learning (who does?). I know I have not fully integrated all the wounded parts of my being, but I know they are there. I have compassion for them. And I just….feel lonely sometimes. The two meditation groups I was part of pre-pandemic have ended and there seems to be little around. Online isn’t the same by any means. I am fortunate to have friends, a couple who are also on a conscious path, but most are preoccupied with family and relationships and don’t have the time or inclination to sit and talk about the topics that matter to me.

As Carl Jung says in the above quote, loneliness stems from being unable to communicate about the issues that seem important to a person. Of course I can blog and that is great, but sometimes good quality in person human contact is what is needed. I wonder if this is a common feeling post-pandemic, a genuine spiritual loneliness and longing for a deeper connection with others? We can do all the inner work and re-connect with our own souls yet still hunger for community. Buddhists call it sangha; Christians go to church; for me it was meditation groups. Somewhere to go and share and grow through a shared understanding and mutual love and respect. Relationships are a mirror; we need them to keep ourselves honest.

I don’t know if dating is what I want/need or simply a spiritual tribe. But I will see. I’ve joined an online meditation group and I have someone coming to meditate with me tomorrow for the first time after I posted on a local group. I am hopeful that I will start to re-connect with people after this long season of retreat. I feel like my soul is in spring time, ready to burst forth and bloom. I know the garden will soon appear!

Being with the body

My health hasn’t been the greatest lately. I have to keep reminding myself to stay centred in the present moment and not get caught up in thoughts about past or future. Not easy to do especially when anxiety takes over, but I am learning more and more than the state of my physical body influences my mental health as much as the opposite: there is no separation. For instance, I have problems with my adrenal glands. They don’t produce enough cortisol so I struggle to manage stress and my body tries to over-compensate with flooding with adrenaline. This creates anxiety because my body is literally gearing up to fight. It also has the effect of intense crying; I suspect this is to release the energy associated with the release of adrenaline.

But I’m okay. In the moment I’m okay. This moment is all there is and I am connected to Spirit. I know that my soul is whole and free even if my fragmented mind and struggling body can’t always realise it. There has been a lot of stress in my life lately – my dog having a stroke, my mother being involved in a car accident, the pain of Christmas, and plain overdoing it to try and manage those emotions. Now is the time to bring everything home to the now and trust in life and in myself.

To anyone having a bad time with health or otherwise, I feel you. It’s a long hard journey, especially when well meaning people ask whether you’ve tried this or that and you’ve literally tried everything, so it brings you down. But this is your personal journey, as it is mine, and all we can really do is listen to our bodies and let them be our messengers. The body is in the present moment; it reflects what we think and feel. Our job is to notice and be with what is happening. If the body is saying it is under attack/threat, we can feel compassion for that state of being or at least accept it. Not resisting it, not pretending it’s not happening, but being fully with it. It’s really not easy, it’s painful and frustrating and devastating, but this is what I feel brings the greatest peace.

Keep it simple

I’ve come to the realisation that the best way to live my life is to keep it simple.

Simplicity is peaceful, calm, and beautiful. It’s not trying to get to some place or other, some state of being or other; it just is. The raw natural state of Being.

Having an analytical mind is both a blessing and a curse. It is a tool to help me grow and meet my goals. It keeps me honest. It helps me connect to others. It can also drive me to distraction trying to figure out how to get there from here, criticising me for all my perceived mistakes that brought me here in the first place, all the while blinding me to the present moment and the love, joy, freedom and creativity that is available right here, right now.

We are inseparable from nature. It is our essence. When we strip away all the conditioning – from our families, societies and culture – we are left with who we were always meant to be; our organic, awakened, soul-self. Flowers don’t beat themselves up for not being as perfect as the next flower. Each flower blooms in the way it’s supposed to.

It’s far from easy because we hold expectations of how life should be and what we want for our particular life – that is natural too. We want to be happy. We want to avoid pain. That’s all part of it. We have free will – that is the blessed beauty of living a human life with its particular joys and tragedies. We are free to respond or react to what happens. At a certain point we can even choose whether to stay awake or fall back to sleep. Regardless, our true essence remains like a jewel waiting to be discovered…and re-discovered.

Once that happens, life’s inherent simplicity and inter-connectedness emerges. We are all beautiful souls in various stages of soul growth, with different tests and challenges to deal with, all of which can lead us back to our essence, reflected in the beauty of nature itself and the remarkable trials it often faces to simply survive.

For today, I keep it very simple. My essence is the soul I was born with, the individualised speck of the Divine I was always meant to be. In that knowledge I do my best to speak and act. I have a plan for my future – my aromatherapy/essential oils website and business – which may or may not come to fruition. I live for now, in this moment; being aware of my thoughts and emotions as much as possible, listening to my body; and embrace the preciousness of it all.