“Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves – regret for the past and fear of the future.” ~ Fulton Oursler
Many people are familiar with the drawings, woodcuts and etchings of Maurits Cornelis Escher (1898-1972) one of the world’s most famous graphic artists. He is renown for his seemingly impossible universes, the most recognizable is Ascending and Descending, Relativity, Hand with Reflecting Sphere and Waterfall. Depending upon one’s mindset, his work can evoke awe to confusion or angst to serenity.
Throughout my life friends, family and acquaintances have observed that I am a very ‘free’ person who doesn’t seem to age, didn’t seem to carry the weight of my history with me, and possessed a remarkable capacity for non-judgment. Of course, I am human and I have participated wittingly and unwittingly in hurting other people, and engaged in a multitude of injurious actions often attributed to human frailty. Though I adopted the facade of bonhomie, in general I did not allow people into my heart or soul and dealt with my own shortcomings by honing the art of forgetfulness.
But life demands balance, and if not life then we demand from ourselves consciously or unconsciously an account of the myriad of consequences of our actions, inaction, and interactions. It is with this knowledge and belief that I attracted my ex-husband into my life; not because I had ever done anything to deserve such pain or punishment, but because I had been on a non-stop, fifteen-year, roller coaster from which I had hereto forth been unable to alight. As an artist and a writer I was supremely in touch the sublime nature of thought creating reality and was well adept at manifesting what I wanted at any given moment.
When I desired to travel I would inevitably meet a partner and within hours I would depart without thought of safety or concern for those I was leaving behind. Hence, I traveled through Europe in this manner any number of times, but the excitement of having achieved the desire quickly waned in the light of the reality of its true cost. Generally, at that time, my wants were rather small by comparison to the vastness of infinite possibilities, and centered for the most part on material things which were quickly discarded upon receipt.
As with most immature and undeveloped personalities, my entire focus lay in self-aggrandizement and fulfillment. If I desired or needed a certain amount of money, say a couple of thousand within a few days, I would simply believe that it would happen and always without fail I would receive the money. Thus, I was fully in command of a gift without a commensurate understanding of its import. I squandered it on unimportant trivialities so many times that it became quite a bad habit.
Henry Hancock is quoted as saying, “out of our beliefs are born deeds; out of our deeds we form habits; out of our habits grows our character; and on our character we build our destiny,” and thus my destiny culminated in a hard stop with emotionally devastating consequences. Other posts in this blog document the particulars of what occurred and it is not my intention to revisit them here. Suffice to say, it was because of this fork in road that I chose to live and not die, to alight from the coaster, and to turn inward so that I could more fully inhabit and examine the partitions of my soul.
This journey took me to a place and space reminiscent of the lithograph above. The cube represented the box into which I had secreted my comprehension of my mind, body and spirit. Each existed within their own separate planes of gravity seemingly blind to the interdependency of the other two. Through a great deal of introspection I recognized the impossible conundrum of my undesired state, but lacked the skills to achieve integration and healing.
Instinctively I knew that we should all aspire to become fully developed entities who recognize that we are as Teilhard de Chardin says, “spiritual beings immersed in a human experience,” but even this knowledge did nothing more than frustrate me because it illuminated the chasm between the faulty state and my desired state. Part of the responsibility and duty of this journey/experience, is to recognize that we cannot fully realize our potential until we unite our internal landscape and secondly until we accept that we are here to help others.
My process of self-discovery was typical in that it was neither straight nor expedient. After moving to DC from Miami I decided that I would go against my ‘grain’ and ‘settle down’ and ‘conform.’ I arrived at the erroneous conclusion that all of my suffering was the result of my artistic and non-conformist nature and therefore I could only ensure my safety through taming if not eradicating these characteristics. It was not an easy transition since I was previously self-employed for many years, so it was challenging to matriculate back into the marketplace.
The first job that I secured was through a temporary agency working as a secretary in a human resources department. The work was mind-numbing and the lifestyle was extremely challenging because of the milieu, the negativity, and the dissatisfaction people had with themselves and each other. Never one for 9-to-5, I constantly battled with punctuality which worked against my innate integrity that would ensure that any duties assigned to me would be completed on time in an exemplary manner though typically in an unorthodox fashion.
True to the definition of insanity, I kept doing the same thing yet expecting different results. I knew intrinsically that I would never fit in but in my determination to ‘conform’ I approached the problem with an all-inclusive ‘throw the baby out with the bath water’ solution. Needless to say, it was not working, but over the years I changed jobs and moved up the rank and file to a position in management. My previous modus operandi would have been to change locations by moving to another state or country, but my son, a child I desperately wanted, anchored me to Washington, DC.
My mother, sister and my son are the reason that I was able to remain still enough to do the hard work. Not the hard work of achieving ‘conformity’ because that was nothing more than a foolish Don Quixotian quest; but the work that enabled me to recognize that my life is my message and that as Viktor Frankl says “everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life……Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone’s task is as unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it.”
I am blessed with both perseverance and tenacity, however, as with most people, I applied it for expedience or survival but never for growth. Thus, in the intervening years as my son grew from an infant to an eight year old, I worked hard at separating the wheat from the chafe or rather the lies that I told myself from the truth as it was.
I sought to change my thought paradigms through cognitive therapy. I owned my history – the good, the bad, and the ugly. I reunified my fractured internal landscape through listening to subliminal tapes which helped me to reprogram from negative to positive self-talk. I began to actively listen to other people, their stories, their pain, and dug into my treasure trove of experiences to find nuggets of wisdom that could help them, and as always, I never judged them.
This is another intrinsic element of my character, one which is easy for me to employ because I am intimately acquainted with the pain judgment causes. Judgment taught me early in life to compartmentalize and segregate myself into personae that would be most acceptable to a given situation, circumstance or person. To an extent we all do this, but artistic individuals, especially those gifted with the ability to act, slip most easily into this mode.
But it was a sad and lonely existence because I knew so many people, but they did not have the pleasure of truly knowing me. I was afraid if they knew “all” of me that they would reject me and I have since come to know through my journeys and conversations that many people labor under this fallacious burden. We are all deserving of love, acceptance, and happiness which is one of the most abused word in the English language. Happiness is neither a static state nor a destination but rather a mode of travel and state of being.
“Happiness lies for those who cry, those who hurt, those who have searched, and those who have tried for only they can appreciate the importance of people who have touched their lives.” Once we begin to share ourselves with each other, openly, honestly, without fear, we can live in the fullness that this human experiment has to offer. One tool that helped me immensely was the movie ‘You Can Heal Your Life” by Louise L. Hay.
Everyone to whom I have recommended this movie has experienced an immediate and profoundly positive change in their lives. The one caveat is that I engage in intensive, positive growth interactions with the people to whom I am referring. Because I am in a place where I am finally achieving healing, clarity and freedom, I attract to my life other people who are on a similar quest.
Through our honest dialogue we are able to help each other take the next steps toward a more fulfilling life. I connected most with Louise Hay because of her story of surviving child abuse and sexual abuse. These have been two core issues which I have kept hidden from most people for the majority of my life, certainly up to and through my marriage, and which in the past kept me imprisoned and unable to form healthy intimate relationships.
No one post or piece can solve the world’s or even a single person’s problems, but ‘the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.’ Thank G-d the journey toward healing is not so long, since it ONLY begins with a choice to let go of fear.
Watch the movie “You Can Heal You.r Life” by Louise Hay