The broken, fragmented pieces of our lives can hold us back in unseen ways.
They keep us small and quiet and still, paralyzed by our own fear of what will happen next. They live next to our heart like a big secret that we keep even from ourselves, until the secret grows and we can no longer feel who we are. This is the story I’d like to share with you…
For most of my life I felt like I was stumbling around in the dark. In the darkness, I would step on something sharp, withdraw instinctively and change direction. I was always in reactivity.
As life went on, the number of sharp things in the dark grew and grew until I became afraid of the next step. I did not conceive of a light switch and I did not conceive of picking up the sharp things to determine their nature or purpose – I just moved away quickly until there was no more away to move. And then I stood. I stood in ever growing discomfort with my body and mind weary and aching but terrified to move for fear of the pain. The avoidance of the pain had become the suffering.
In that frozen state I was forced to “sit with” my first broken piece. I knew it was there – just to the right of my right foot. I slid my foot carefully towards it until it’s sharp edge was against my pinky toe.
A voice said,”pick it up”.
I answered can I DO that?
Yes. I can.
I picked it up, as if it might bite. It was indeed sharp and cold.
I waited very uncomfortably but trying to understand. The sharp edge held feelings of neglect by my parents. I was five and an only child. They always seemed to be busy with adult things and thoughts and I was small, curious and kind of a bother. I slept across two dining chairs at some dinner surrounded by adults as they talked. I sat in my room listening to my parents laugh and discuss business. I have no memory of my mother in my room – ever. I have many memories of idly buzzing around her in her spaces.
The sharp thing was communicating it’s hurts – my hurts – asking to be heard, understood and loved despite its sharp edges. The longer I held the piece and listened, the rounder and softer it became until it finally melted into me.
I felt a tiny sliver of space in my heart and around my feet become open. I began to trust that I could move – that the pain might come but it had a reason. The pain might come but the suffering of trying to stay still, small and quiet had stopped. The anger that had welled up and caught fire at my perceived helplessness began to be quenched.
I started to look at the anxiety I had carried around my whole life… feelings of waiting for the next painful thing, or worse, trying in a panic to avoid pain by shutting down all of my feelings… afraid that the next painful thing might, what, kill me?
This anxiety diminished with each successful integration of the broken pieces, each step of accountability for myself. I began to know myself and trust my insight, intuition and resilience.