It takes courage...to endure the sharp pains of self discovery rather than choose to take the dull pain of unconsciousness that would last the rest of our lives.
― Marianne Williamson
As I sit here writing this, it's the anniversary of my brother Kevin's death. He died way too young, around the age of 34-35, from an overdose of heroin. After my parent's divorce, this was the biggest thing to taint my rose-colored glasses. I was in utter shock. Despite a rough start in life (bona fide ADD), Kevin eventually fell into a grove and got his Masters in Accounting. He went to work the day before he died. But I sit here now, heartbroken because I can't remember the year he died (and wondering who he would have become). And now with my mother gone and my father showing signs of confusion, I'm not sure I'll ever find out the exact year. It's not really all that important, but when Kevin died, it set off a series of events that would alter my life forever.
A few years later, my other brother Keith died of a similar fate at age 36, my mother's cancer came back, and I began to question everything about my life. (And trust me, I'm only sharing a piece of my story. The ones I feel comfortable with and have processed). Then the cracks in my finely tuned armor started to show - which as I've often mentioned was to a great relief.
“what is to give light must endure burning.”― Viktor E. Frankl
True inner chaos.
I tried really hard to keep it together.
I had to. It wasn't that hard. I was busy trying to be the perfect person.
Always seeking the light with my rose-colored glasses.
Then I became familiar with the term Spiritual Bypassing. The shadow side of spirituality, a place in which one is trying to get to the light while circumventing the dark. When we turn away from what is painful. We deny. We avoid. Some of the behaviors are overemphasizing the positive, excessive detachment, fear of anger, artificial kindness, no interest in doing psychological work, poor boundaries/limits, and intellectual intelligence that's ahead of emotional intelligence.
I could see my 35 year old self (always positive, anger phobic, and poor boundaries).
Most of us do a little work here and there. We go to yoga a few times a week. We go to a therapist. We meditate with an app or whatever. But as the author of Spiritual Bypassing: When Reality Disconnects us from what Really Matters Masters says, this type of work is shallow and he doesn't lead to lasting change.
It usually has to get ugly.
Always in a cycle.
….leading to deeper truths.
No one has it all together.
It's only when we get to the dirty, messy, and VERY uncomfortable parts do we get to authentic emotional and spiritual work.
Here are 3 truths I learned lately:
- Know that spirituality is abstract, complex, philosophical. It requires a daily commitment to apply it's teachings. One layer leads to another layer…and so on.
- Seeking Guidance is a sign of strength. It's a red flag to me those who have never sought out any type of therapy or other healing work. You don't know what you don't know. I'm amazed at some of the things that come out that weren't even in my consciousness.
- Make peace with discomfort. This one is obviously the hardest, and the reason most of us shy away from deep work. Just think: When you don't have that daily glass of wine to ease the pain, you'll actually have to feel the feeling.
As Marianne Williamson said in A Return to Love,
" Until your knees hit the floor you are just really playing at life."
A few days ago, I'm going on and on to my coach about some stuff that arisen during meditation (unease, inner chaos), and she says cheerfully, "That's great news."
What! I've done enough spiritual work to know what she was saying. But I was kind of feeling like "Okay, now what?". I have to sit here with this crap. And feel it.
Growth is not pretty, but what's the alternative.
A safe, comfortable life. A normal life. Is there such a thing?
If it all seems like it's falling apart, you feel this dull ache/longing/pull, and you "just don't know anymore"….you're growing.
This is good news.
And that growth is your opportunity to heal.
Be glad you've been called.
It's always coming together and falling apart that's the nature of a full and intense life.
None of us escapes the pain.
Keep doing the work.
And cherishing the chaos.
the sun said, "it hurts to become."}
- Andrea Gibson