For decades, one of my dearest hopes was developing a tender relationship with my siblings. It took 40+ years to accept it wasn’t going to be, many more to actually get okay with things being as they are instead how I want them to be. And it felt WRONG. That pain, that abject longing for things to be impossibly different. had become part of my being. That was how it felt – like letting go of the issue would be akin to amputating part of ME.
The pain had been part of my life for so many years, felt woven into my identity. It was an astonishing aha & woke me up to why people might shy away from doing deep personal work – – sacrificing the familiar for the healthy was a bone-deep HURT.
Was reminded of that reading Frank Ostaskeski’s, The Five Invitations – discovering what death can teach us about living. “Our identification with old pain can feed an absence of forgiveness. After carrying pain for so long, we wonder, who would we be without it?” YES! The very question that stopped me cold on the brink of a breakthrough.
“After carrying our pain for so long, we wonder, who would we be without it? Our resentment, our self-righteousness, seeing ourselves only as casualties – these feelings, in spite of being a burden, become familiar. We know, ‘This is how it feels.’ We would rather stay with what is known than unburden ourselves of the negativity. This urge to cling to our sense of having been wronged in the past (or longing for the impossible) can last a lifetime.”
The actual chapter is all about the first Invitation – Don’t Wait. Even more specifically, the section considers The Heart of the Matter – forgiveness. “Forgiveness shakes loose the calcification that accumulates around our hearts. Then love can flow more freely.”
It’s been way over ten years since I was stopped in my tracks by the unexpected fear of letting go of pain because it was familiar, old hat, cozy torment. It DID feel woven into my being, a darn good excuse for walking away from the culminating work. But it only FELT that way; it wasn’t.
Frank Ostaskeski explained the intense pain that overwhelmed me once it was okay to let people just BE – – it was the calcification that had accumulated around my heart for 50+ years cracking, breaking apart, falling away. My ego’s response was to scream, “Noooooooooooooooooo!” My heart countered with YES.
The forgiveness was multi-sided, forgiving others for not being what I wanted, myself for wanting them to be something they weren’t.
Confession: I have no idea where I wanted to go with this posting. Was gobswoggled to find a life experience spelled out in a book. Made me think of people I’ve worked with, loved ones, older friends & their families, about people who shut themselves down & others who open themselves up. Of people who embrace deep personal work & are blindsided by a strong attachment to pain. About ones who can’t let go of hurts that happened eons ago, those who harp on what they think happened when the reality is that even the most straightforward thing rarely is. I want to make people feel better about how messed up we all are & feel dissatisfied with letting things ride. I want them to forgive others – and especially themselves – for being human. It’s muddled, but so is life.