“Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible in us be found.” ~ Pema Chödrön
I spent the first part of my earlier evening watching a few exceptionally thought provoking videos by American Buddhist nun, Pema Chödrön.
And then, I spent the remainder of my evening eyes set firmly to ‘wide’ and thinking.
Pema often has this effect on me―nudging me to reconsider my previously most firmly held personal beliefs. I think that’s the hallmark of a great spiritual leader, and also, what I most look for in a friend.
These are our ‘tipping points’, aren’t they now? These flashes of intense self-reflection and ponderings on. These spiritual ‘aha’ moments, that carry us gently forward and through to our next, most welcomed layer.
She was talking about these moments in our lives that have the capacity to completely ravage our spirits. For Pema, it was the revelation that her second husband had been having an affair―and, as she later learned, multiple affairs with multiples of lady friends. The betrayal she felt as a result of this single event annihilated her whole sense of being. And just like that, her world fell to pieces.
I remember so clearly my own personal point of devastation―one of life’s many challenges, really. But this one...this one stood out more so than all of the rest―because, it left me feeling spiritually numb and empty. And though, it is perhaps one of my most deeply personal memories in life―for some reason, I feel compelled to share it with you here today.
It was one of the most violent nights from my past―one that ripped me from the comfort of my bed, and left me crumpled and bleeding on the cold wooden floor. In his mind, I had done, said, thought, or spoken―something so horribly inexcusable, that it not only ‘triggered’ but also justified his rage. My ears rang so loudly from the force of that first blow―that I was unable to hear all of his screaming.
So, with one massive hand, he reached for my neck—pulled me up to my feet, and began to choke me.
“This is it, isn’t it,” I thought to myself. And then, something in me ‘disconnected.’ I let go, and drifted off to my own kind of ‘comfortably numb.’
At the time, I was afraid to address the feelings surrounding this trauma. I had felt shame that I had given up so easily. Fear, that it might happen again. Over the next several years, I literally grieved for my former self—as I looked over the shattered pieces of my most magnificent spirit. Until one day, when most fortunately I discovered, what the words ‘unconditional love’ really meant.
Love isn’t ever supposed to hurt. And love, never destroys—rather, it creates.
My ‘big girl’ ego self would have assured many times over again that I have since healed from the trauma of that day. And, in many ways—this is true, as I have grown in so many, most beautiful ways.
But yet, there was still this lingering…the shame of something I didn’t quite yet understand.
And, there it was, staring right back to me—my very own spiritual aha moment.
You see, what I had initially mistaken for shame—was really my own spirit stepping in to help me.
Even in these moments of our ‘greatest brokeness’ the instinct of spirit is powerfully resilient.
I wasn’t retreating like a coward to the corners of my soul, rather my spirit was simply giving me the freedom to sit with my own pain. It was offering me the space to explore, to understand and to discover…the most indestructible pieces of me.
“Like all explorers, we are drawn to discover what’s out there without knowing yet if we have the courage to face it.” ~ Pema Chödrön
And just like that, the shame from this day simply dissipated.
It was then that I realized after these so many years, that the best part of me can not be broken.
There’s a great comfort in knowing that no matter what happens in this topsy-turvy little life of mine, that I will forever and always be ‘ok.’
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