I feel both grateful and exhausted. I am in a place of great learning regarding one of my personal patterns and unlike the many cycles before, this time, the opportunities to learn are very close together--one on top of the other. I've had this experience before. When it was time to let go of a belief, pattern or story that wasn't serving me, opportunities came in abundance. Though, these aren't the kind of opportunities we all prefer. No, these are the kind that are dressed up in conflict or drama... painted in the similar colors of traumas' past. They aren't traumas but rather, reminders... triggers of unhealed stuff.
I am not unique. We all get these opportunities. Most, if not all, of us spend many cycles in the resentful/denial/victim role. Some of us never shed that story. I see now, that the more we struggle to learn from these opportunities the more damage we do to ourselves. In a conversation with my husband a few months ago, I came to view trauma as the head of a nail that had not been properly hammered in to a piece of wood. And these "opportunities" as I like to call them, are the moments we get caught on those nails. I envision myself wearing a knit sweater and when I brush against one of these nails, it catches my sweater. If I don't stop and mindfully remove the loop of yarn from the nail and instead keep walking in a state of denial... I will essentially unravel.
Far too many of us are stuck in that victim story and instead of taking the time and making the effort to remove what ever part of us is caught on that nail, we play the story out over and over and over and over and over. Adding a layer of self-pity on top of the resentment/blaming others/victim story because "life isn't fair."
The nails are there, not to harm us, but instead to remind us to take the time we need to reflect, challenge our blind spots, forgive others.... FORGIVE OURSELVES. But we don't just move on once we've done this work. No. We have to make sure we don't get caught on that nail again and remove it all together. (Some people just hammer it in which I take as a vow to be one with the trauma and its stories rather than letting the trauma go once and for all).
We can also take off our sweaters. The sweater represents our choices that lead us to get snagged on that damn nail over and over again. Its a layer of protection for most of us and yet, ironically enough, it is the only reason we get caught on the nail. The sweater, as I see it, is the coping behaviors we've adopted over the years to survive the initial traumas of our lives. But, if we take that sweater off and pull the nail out... we can have peace.
The particular sweater I am working to take off currently has to do with an old, self-destructive fear that asserting myself (having esteem about my needs being non-negotiable) will lead to punishment, shunning or shaming by other people. I've played this story out so many times in my life and only recently have I begun to see that it is permeable. I see how the belief creates the reality and the fear of the same thing happening again, a fear of getting caught on the nail, comes true because that is the belief I have been choosing to hold. I have been working hard to deconstruct this belief and replace it with a story of love, acceptance, understanding and kindness. And my work is paying off. But, not before a number of opportunities (which at first glance look a lot like nails to get snagged on) have presented themselves for me to practice a new way of being. A new way of responding. And a new way of walking away without feeling anything other than "I spoke up for myself. Good on me!"
We're each other's teachers. The sooner we realize this, the more content we can be. Sometimes the most important person in your life is the one who holds a nail for you to learn from.