One of the deepest sorrows we experience in life is the pain of separation – especially the separation from our wholeness.
When our lives are ruptured – when we experience pain, loss, trauma, or separation that’s too much to bear – when we walk through valleys of darkness – we often internalize these ruptures as, “Something’s wrong with me.”
As tender human beings, we all do our best to cope and adapt to our environment.
We often cope with the pain of separation in messy ways. We begin to take on a crusted over identity, an overlay.
We may compulsively eat, or work, or try to achieve, or study hard to get the A, or make the money, or get the acclaim and applause and success.
We may get caught in perfectionism, righteousness, rigidity, over doing, pleasing others.
We may cut off aspects of our wholeness – we may tamp down our exuberance, stuff our anger, hide our tears, harden our sensitivity.
Oh, we try so, so hard to be good!
Bridging the gap of separation
As my beloved mentor, Dr. Gordon Neufeld, taught me, these are the countless, archetypal ways we try to bridge the gap of separation.
Over time, we get attached to these pursuits as a way of trying to feeling connected.
Over time, we may lose our true selves.
Over time, we believe that these pursuits and thoughts about falling short are‘us,’ are who we are.
The shame of ‘falling short’
I think of my own experience with decades of depression. Underneath the depression was a deeper wound: the shame I carried for experiencing depression in the first place.
I spent decades trying to eradicate my depression, often through well intentioned means, like self help, self study, and spiritual practice.
But underlying my approach towards my depression was a warrior’s mindset: I wanted to fight my depression, to make it go away.
I felt ashamed of my neediness, tenderness and vulnerability – the sensitivity that led to my becoming depressed in the first place.
The solace of reunion
My depression – and all the vulnerability that lied underneath – could not be ‘fixed’ through self help, or even the beauty of spiritual practice. It didn’t need to be fixed.
It longed for welcome: to be listened to, to be heard, to be invited, and to be forgiven.
I suspect, underneath the most shameful, painful aspects of our story – our struggles, secret shames, compulsions, addictions – all the ways we care for our tenderness, and pain – lies a nugget of self blame.
Some way, some how, we think it’s all our fault.
This often turns up in a subtle but powerful inner dialogue that whispers: “You should be doing better.” Or “you should be over this by now.” Or, “this isn’t such a big deal. Why are you getting so upset?”
Separation upon separation upon separation.
Healing the pain of separation
Lately, when people ask me what I do, or what we do in our group classes, rather than saying, “We soften painful habits,” I’ve been saying, “Well, what we’re really doing is healing the pain of separation.”
We’re coming home to ourselves, peeling back those stories, peeling back those layers.
I call this the deeper story.
Softening the voice of self blame – what we can also call the voice of separation – sinks us into the deeper story. This story is not one of separation but one of welcome, where yes, yes, everything belongs. Where everything is witnessed, forgiven and loved.
Your secret shame is a place of birth
In truth, wherever you are most struggling – your place of secret shame – is not something you have to fight or eradicate. It does not have to be a place of separation or division.
It is and can be a place of birth.
I see this miracle of birth over and over in our daily lives when we embrace what frightens or frustrates us. When we face our painful habits, and when we turn and face our pain, offering it warmth and care, something new is born.
Welcome, welcome, little one. Welcome, little one in the manger of our hearts.
Singing the song that longs to be born
Our role is not one of warrior, of fighter, of adversary.
Our role is ally, companion, midwife: listening to the sweet song that longs to be born, and carrying the tune.
Our role is the manger: cradling what longs to be born, holding all that is new and newborn and tender, singing the soul of her worth.
When we join and meet and greet what hurts we uncover this deeper story. We bring connection to what has been severed, to bring holding to what has been outcast.
We come to inhabit and embody the love that we are – what’s stronger than the separation – and what rises to meet and greet all the messy emotions, cravings, and the tender needs and vulnerability we feel around our ‘brokenness,’ holding our hurt in compassion and wisdom, a fierce embrace.
Do you want to work with me in 2020?
If you’d like to connect to your deeper story, to sink your bones into welcome and wholeness, soon I’ll be releasing my teaching/class schedule for 2020. I feel so glad that this year, I’m giving advance notice of my offerings to make planning easier for all of us!
The first offering is Align: Heal the Battle with Your Inner Rebel, coming up in January and February. Class begins January 27th, and we’ll be offering pre-registration soon.
I’m also offering a ‘deep dive,’ a small group intensive for those who want to journey together in wholeness for a longer stretch, from March through November, with rest breaks along the way. I’m still finalizing the details for this offering, and will let you know when it’s open for registration.
There will be a short application process to join this group as it’s limited in number and entails a higher commitment.