change · childhood · compassion · growth · healing · health · joy · pain · past · recovery · truth

Not Knot.

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Last night, I listened to a woman share her intense pain and
entanglement with her past. In listening to her, I realized something crucial for myself: I don’t actually feel that way anymore.
Despite the trailing tendrils and my habitual gnawing back
at it, my past and I are actually not so enmeshed anymore – at least, as I
listened to her, not nearly as much as we were. No. That’s not accurate. We’re
just not. It’s there. I poke at it, like a plate of live octopus bits, still
wriggling on the plate, long after everyone’d finished jamming them into hot
sauce and tried to chew and swallow before they attached to the inside of your
gullet. (Uh… See: My years living in South Korea for reference!)
But, I poke at it, and if I do, it’ll squirm. But for the
most part, my past isn’t a thing crawling toward and suffocating me anymore.
Listening to this woman, hearing her say that she can’t seem
to get under her past, I realized very
clearly that I have. Again, it’s there, but it’s not a shackle around my ankle anymore; it’s
just some dust I can kick off my shoe.
(Apparently, this’ll be a metaphor-heavy blog!)
I have liked to think
that my past is something I’m still slogging through, carrying around behind me
like a behemoth, its hot putrid breath at my neck asking me how it feels,
whether I am able to ignore it now, How ‘bout now, Now?
I’ve liked to think that my past is still a quicksand pit
I’m wading through, slow as molasses, fetid and shoes lost.
But, something about having this woman’s story as comparison
(not better or worse, simply different), I got to see into a mirror that I haven’t been able to
hold up for myself.
I am not
there anymore
. I am under my past. I’ve excavated, charted, spelunked
and had more than one canary die down there with me.
But, in the end, in the now, we’re kind of done there.
There’s a cave we’ve dug down into, we’ve opened the land around it, we’ve
cared and cleansed and ameliorated the land. We’ve begun to forget that it was
a horrid, dark, and dismal place, now in the open space that we’ve created from
it, and we’ve used that dank soil to plant new things. Exposed to the sun, it’s
something new, now.
(I do like me my extended metaphors!)
(Though, actually, I’ve done this exact work in
visualization meditation over many years, opening the cave of my pain and my past, exploring, mourning, and later watching flowers begin to sprout where there was only hurt. I’ve done this work of opening my past and my pain up. It’s
finished, or as finished as it can be.)
So, I got to see something yesterday that I haven’t been
able to see yet: The truth.
As I listened with compassion to this woman tell us, tearful
and anguished, that she is so knotted with her past she can’t see her way out,
I wrote in my notebook:
           
My past is really not that knotted anymore.
                       
Actually.

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