I grew up in a very sheltered town: white, middle class, conservative, straight (for all that I was aware). We were taught to be polite. The "darker" nature of humanity was hidden away from us. Even our parents distress and conflicts were kept behind closed doors. So, when they finally divorced, it was a huge and sudden shock.
Although, we often think that we are giving our children a gift by hiding the more base side of ourselves, what a child learns is to fear people who behave with other than the sanitized politeness. Even worse, children learn to fear these natural aspects of themselves. They learn to repress their fear, anger, even their sadness. When this is the case, they cannot access the great assets these emotions provide. Fear may warn us of danger, anger may be a call to justice, sadness may evoke compassion: it may open a door through which we can experience the impact of a loss and therefore, truly let go.
When my parents divorced, I moved with my mother to a life that provided opportunities to open to my repressed emotions. In a school where I was teased, chased, and beaten to the point of having my leg broken, I could no longer deny the feelings boiling within. The fear that kept me running away from these bullies turned to anger that exploded towards one boy who had chased me after school. This huge volcanic release of anger was quickly followed by a torrent of sadness. It was a very cathartic and enlivening experience.
"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!"
~The Invitation, Oriah Mountain Dreamer
The Gift Of Hardship
Reflecting back to that time, the greatest gift has been to see just how I brought this situation into my life (and inevitably, all situations). Entering this school with the naivete that I should only be polite, not defend myself, nor tell an authority, I quickly became the bullies' personal punching bag. It was my lack of knowledge of this side of society, how to be with it, and my discomfort with my anger, that attracted this dynamic into my life. If I'd been comfortable with my anger, I wouldn't have continued to cower and remain passive. In reality, that dynamic was the perfect opportunity for me to access my anger and use it to advocate for myself. Granted, this was an explosive expression of it, which is what we often experience when we are afraid of what we might do or what might happen to us, if we express it
This wake up became a huge doorway of opportunity for me. I studied martial arts and meditation. I got into counseling. These tools allowed me to see 1) just how much I had closed off from my emotions, 2) how much of life I was missing because of it, and 3) how beautiful and enlivening the experience of emotion is.
Two years into my first marriage, I had an affair. I lied outright to my wife. This was very painful. I thought that I had done something so shameful that it needed to be hidden from her, that telling her would be too painful for her, and more to the point, for me. I told her lies, which just amplified this pain. Our relationship eroded until I couldn't handle it any longer. Telling her the truth, although initially very painful, was the most freeing thing I could have done. When I finally confronted my fear and shared openly, I felt great relief and freedom. I also learned from the depth of pain of having had an affair, that I didn't want to do that again.
"I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine of your own,
without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it!" ~The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dream
Throughout my life, what in the moment I identified as "hardship", I have since recognized to have always been a Gift. These times humbled me, bringing me closer to my humanity. They deepened my compassion for myself and all beings, and in the end, opened my heart to greater Love and acceptance, while deepening my gratitude for life.
The Hawaiian Kahuna practice of Ho 'Oponopono is the cultivation of the awareness that everything in life is a Gift. Every thing, every situation, every person, every breath, even every thought and feeling. The only focus we need to have is to treat this Gift as we would any other gift. We "unwrap" it with anticipation of the new, fresh opportunity that is presented to us. If initially we don't see the Beauty of this Gift, we ask "What Gift is Life giving us?" til we do. We look for the Gift in every moment. And when we do, we find it. We cherish it. We recognize what it means to "cherish" this life that is ours. With this attitude, there is never hardship.
"The World Is As You See It" ~ Swami Muktananda
So, is hardship even a real thing, or is it how we perceive the situations in our lives? Is it perhaps a fabricated human falsehood? Imagine that at our core is the "petri dish" of perception: how we think of ourselves and the world. Out of this foundational idea/story grows our self image and the lens through which we see all of existence. The optimist sees a world of opportunity, the pessimist sees gloom.
"It's the heart afraid of breaking that never learns to dance.
It's the dream afraid of waking that never takes a chance.
It's the one who won't be taken who can not seem to give.
And the soul afraid of dying that never learns to live."
The Rose~ Amanda McBroom
Do you feel stuck in your life? Do you have concerns in a relationship or.feel weighted down by addiction?
Do you want to experience the wealth of strength and joy within you?
It is my profound honor to assist you through whatever passage you are traversing, to a deeper awareness of your innate worth, and the recognition and expression of your unique gifts.
On Facebook: Sahar Eric Pinkham
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I wish you Peace.