This post is the 3rd in a series based on the well-known poem “The invitation” from Oriah Mountain Dreamer
“It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon.
I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow.
if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain.”
My mother’s voice was shaking with sadness and shame when she told me about Herman.
Our beloved dog was elderly and very unwell.
When she found him unable to walk to his food bowl, she knew she had to make the brave and difficult choice to end his suffering.
I cried and cried when she told me and although I was only in the sixth grade, I knew she had done the right thing.
She is as strong as steel. In many ways she filled the role of mother and father for me after my father suffered a stroke.
I always knew there was nothing life could throw at her that she couldn’t navigate with grace, strength and wisdom. That’s why it seemed unnatural when she said that she would never have another dog.
Saying goodbye to Herman and making that decision was too painful.
Losing a pet is terrible, but as you read this your own moments of deep sadness, loss and betrayal may be coming to mind.
The friend that let you down…
The loved one who left too soon…
The lover who stopped loving you…
The tragedy so tragic that you are still haunted by it all these years later…
What contracts have you signed based on your pain?
What vows have you taken?
I will never:
or _________________ ever again.
Perhaps you made your version of that agreement without even realizing that you were doing it. As if the feelings and activities associated with your heartache got put into a box, stored in the back of the closet never to be opened. Sometimes you may see it in there but you always quickly look away.
If this is you, I have good news. The contract you made with your heartache is revocable.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not proposing that you can just “get over” whatever put you in this place, but I am saying that if you have made an agreement with the actions and behaviors attached to your heartache, you do actually have a choice. Here are some tips for next moves.
– Work to “touch the center of your sorrow.”
This may be best done in the presence of a professional, mentor or wise and committed friend. Whatever support network you choose, connecting with and leaning into your pain is important.
Robert Frost was on the money when he said, “The only way out is through.” (No Alanis Morissette did not come up with that line on her own.)
– The practice of just sitting with what “is”, is powerful.
So is learning not to hold on too loosely or tightly, but rather observing the full range of thoughts and feelings that come up when you choose to be with things that are hard to be with. Go slow.
– Understand that no feeling is final
Your behaviors attached to the event don’t need to be either. Sure, initially that thing you swore off might not have been right for you. In the same way that your feelings have evolved, your behaviors most likely could as well.
– If your heartache is associated with loss, consider how your new actions serve your lost loved one as a living tribute.
– Ask yourself what trying to protect yourself from further pain is costing you, and what you have to gain from taking small steps in a new direction.
No one knows what its like to walk in your shoes, but in today’s post I hope you know that you are not walking alone.