Our struggle is, in many ways what births us. I think this is the deeper reason behind why we can feel pissed or ripped off when people tell us platitudes like “it was all for a reason” which is something that formed a large chunk of a post I posted earlier with a quote from Debbie Ford on the shadow. Even as I was posted it I thought how being told that suffering was all part of the divine plan may anger or be intensely triggering for some reason as the last thing we really all want is to suffer and coming to see the wisdom in awful pain and suffering or abuse is something we have to arrive at in our own time and through our own process.
A central tenant of Buddhist wisdom, though is the fact that suffering is intrinsic to life and we only have power over how we choose to respond. Do we curse it or bless it? Do we put our focus on the lack or the gain? And as I write this it occurs to me that struggle even attends our first moments on earth depending on how easy or difficult our birth was.
Birthing as a physical being is also not the same as birthing ourselves on a psychological or spiritual level. For that birth is something that can be stymied or thwarted depending on the environment we were born into and how well it matched out intrinsic soul need. And then we have the thorny aspect of family karma. If we come from a family where in past generations traumas, loss and separation from love manifesting in alcoholism or addiction were strong themes. Add to this the fact of the collective traumas that our families of the past were subject to, to greater or lesser degrees and that is a lot of historic struggle to unravel and unpack.
Understanding my own family karma and patterns has made it a little easier for me to reach for forgiveness lately. I see how much my own two families, of mother and father were impinged upon by collective events of war and depression. I see how a battle to survive meant my family was full of struggle and so the issue of nurture was a difficult one. At times I have felt a bit selfish to be honestly lately when I realise how my own mother struggled in the absence of a dead father and mother who was constantly absent due to providing for her daughter. At the age of 13 my grandmother also wanted my Mum to go live with a family and become a domestic servant. I think by then she had a new man on the horizon or maybe she just thought this would give her daughter a better chance at survival. My Mum rebelled and found herself a job as a tailor’s apprentice.
At age 13 I went into the family business, a clothing store, part time and on weekends. It was on one of the weekends 4 years later that I had my major motor vehicle smash which aborted my entire last semester of school. I never formally graduated. Times of transition or cyclic new birth times are therefore difficult and full of fear for me. I fear at these kind of times I will literally die. I had the whole thing retriggered when my marriage ended taking myself far away and smashing up. I see that this is what I chose to do even though a large part of my soul hungered to stay close to my own Mum at that time. Separation, transitions and new steps forward are especially fraught for me and that isn’t my fault. I undergo a lot of separation anxiety. The best I can do lately is work to become more conscious of the pattern and love myself through it.
Yesterday the beat up voice was back telling me how little I have amounted to my life, casting its distainful gaze on my home and telling me I should end my life. I was lucky enough to cry from the inner child and then the loving adult showed up and told the critic to back off. I know the critic is trying to protect me from something but the cost of his criticism on my tender soul is too brutal. Would the world really be better off if I were dead, as the critic said yesterday? I don’t think so. Am I really such a fuck up? And is my life over yet? NO!
I know in my life I have struggled in all sorts of ways. I don’t carry deep within me an implicit feeling of trust, security and safety in this life. I tend to see the negative side and anticipate disaster. I know more now and that it is a protective mechanism but it isn’t one that always serves me well. I struggle with believing all the harsh things that happened to me were all part of a plan but in another way I do believe it. And I was so blessed to get sober at 31.
I may have struggled in later years but my sober life is a big achievement and all the emotional work I have done since. I don’t check out for the most part, I front up and try to live and engage to the best of my ability. And my struggle on many levels is both what births me as well as keeping me realistic and grounded. Much of my own shadow is not full of darkness but full of repressed light and love. Its only lately I am feeling that it is finally putting in an appearance after years and years and years of living in the closet. As someone who almost drowned in her own shadow I am so grateful now that I don’t have to identify myself as permanent scapegoat or victim. At one time I was powerless over all kinds of things and they did victimise me. But I also now choose to say, that these things were things I survived and chose to face, not that there is any sin in not doing so, for some darkness weighs too heavy upon more gentle souls and can drown them, especially if there is no one there help with the grand archetypal battle with the inner critic/shame based/shadow.
That is a profound truth that I most implicitly understand. Yesterday when my inner battle was going on a voice inside my head asked me this. “Deborah, which voice are you going to give power to, the voice of love or the voice of fear and hate?” Yesterday I chose love and as I consider the entire thing this afternoon for the rest of my life I want love to be the final word, most of all love for myself, love for the struggle and love for my fellow humans.