Our day-to-day lives are a series of experiences chained together. Something happens, we respond, the next thing happens, and we respond, and on and on. Some of the experiences are memorable, and some are not. Some have a huge impact and some do not. And some impacts we are unaware of on a conscious level, but they are still there, powerful motivators in the unconscious realm.
Recently, a friend of mine has started facing some nasty past memories that have created blocks in life as well as a decade of nightmares. The memories are a decade old now, but they are resurfacing, fresh as new wounds, and consequently, my friend is experiencing crippling anxiety and self-doubt.
In an attempt to help my friend make sense of it all and choose transformation and transcendence over trauma and tragedy, I sent the following email. In re-reading it, I decided I would post it here, on my blog. I expect that what I've written might help others make the distinction between their experiences (ie what happened) and the interpretation of those experiences (ie the meanings we give them and the stories we create around them) and hopefully find healing as a result.
[...] From my own experience, I've realized that the memories of What Happened are not the worst part. No, What Happened isn't the worst part at all. The Meaning is. You see, when things Happen, we try to make sense of them, we interpret them, and in doing so we give them Meaning. We give the things that happen meaning, and when our minds fold those things away as memories, it collapses the event and the meanings we gave it together as a unit. And when we are reluctant to remember something, it is often not the event that we fear so much.... but rather, what we made it mean about ourselves and the world. It is not what happened that we fear. It is the meaning we gave it.
This is harder to get. Our ego-identities are founded on meanings. On the meanings we give our experiences, on the meanings we give our lives as a result of those experiences. Remember how I keep telling you that you are not the voice in your head? (By voice, I mean that voice that says, What voice? I don't have a voice in my head.) Your ego-identity is the voice in your head. And it likes being there. It wants to survive. In some ways its survival is dependent upon those fears and anxieties that have resulted from Its interpretation of your experiences and the stories its made up about What Happened. They feed it, give it things to talk about--all that negative conversation in your head. The ego wants to keep What Happened and The Interpretation of What Happened collapsed together, because if you actually realized that What Happened is simply what happened and has no meaning in and of itself except what you gave it---well, you might be free of those fears and anxieties. And then your ego-identity is uncreated. Part of its foundation is gone. And then what would it use to stay in control? Your ego-identity does not fear What Happened so much as it fears being undone. You are afraid to lose who you think you are. You are afraid to lose the identity you have fabricated for yourself out of the meanings you have made of your experiences. In those moments, it helps to remember that who you are is not the ego-identity that you've created as a result of your experiences. Who you are is that Consciousness that is aware of the negative conversation of your Ego.
Life is a conversation, love. It is a conversation between your Ego-identity and your Self. It is a conversation between the stories you've made up about yourself and the stories you've made up about the World. Its not Real. Little of it is. What Happened was Real. Your fear is Real. But the meaning you gave it is Not Real. So what you are afraid of is Not Real. And what you are afraid of, of losing yourself, is not real either. You are afraid of losing your illusions about yourself. You are afraid of losing the stories you have made up about yourself... you are afraid of losing all those reasons to think you are a horrible awful person, all those reasons to give your ego something to talk about, to keep its hold over you with all that negative conversation in your head.
Those who love you, we keep telling you what is Real: That you are a wonderful, amazing person worthy of love. But you cannot hear us, you do no believe us. Something in you, your ego, has convinced you that you've somehow snowed us. Deceived us. That some day the lies or stories that have convinced us that you are a Good Person will unravel and we will see you for what you think you are. An imposter. Something defiled. But in order for something to be defiled, it has to be sacred, too. And you are sacred. And one day--one day I hope you not only recognize that you are Sacred, but that you will laugh at the absurdity of it all. You are Sacred, and the one who is convinced that you are Defiled is you. You are Sacred, and you have Defiled yourself.
Wake up. Wake up my friend. Come out into the Light. You are Sacred. You are not the meanings that you have given your experiences. You are Sacred, and you are Loved.
Labels: acceptance, communication, friendship, life