The last few days I have been mulling over how my life seems to have gotten progressively more challenging the last several years. At times, I have felt despair, as if a curse has enveloped me, as difficult persons and situations have entangled me in their webs of intrigue, their narcissistic dramas and opportunism pushing me to stretch my skin, heart, and brain to their outer limits. I feel as though I have increasingly been given greater responsibilities as my awareness, levels of maturity, and experience have increased. A human being is ever a work in progress, and the increments of progress are sometimes infinitesimally small.
I am now convinced that during my younger years, when I was alone and unsupervised in the big city (Paris), I received extra support and supervision by some supernatural guides and protectors. Narrow misses with death and mayhem were skirted numerous times. Having grown up without the caring boundaries that mature and loving parents can bring to their children- in the hopes that one day the children will become responsible adults capable of taking care of themselves, I needed to learn nearly everything on my own.
As I reflect back on my life, I realize that while my human parents were (for a variety of reasons) not able to provide most of the care and guidance I needed as a baby, toddler, child, or teen, there are and were constant invisible guides…nature itself, if you will, that were and still are present for me. Just as a nurturing parent will progressively give his or her child more leeway to explore, expanding trust with the child’s growing abilities and experience, the spirit guides do the same. Whether we realize it or not!
During my first years in Paris, I was incredibly vulnerable. Overly trusting and excited to experience the world after being confined to a very narrow array of social experiences during my first 19 years, as a young woman in Paris, I had no ability to say no, no ability to protect myself from harm. In fact, I had little to no ability to detect what people or experiences might be beneficial or harmful to me. During this time and over the ensuing years, I learned to trust my intuition, and dreams, day-time signs and symbols often guided my way. As a young art student, I was extremely receptive to the inner worlds, as well as to signs and symbols.
It is interesting to note that, with the passage of time, after committing countless mistakes and painful blunders in addition to poor relationship choices, I began to understand the concept of boundaries and self-esteem. What might seem obvious to most people was totally foreign to me. I grew up without any conception that I was a separate person who had rights, who had a voice, who should be loved, respected, and cherished.
While I feel it has taken me an incredibly long time to raise myself – much longer than the time a child spends growing under the tutelage of parents, family, and school…it is just beginning to dawn on me that despite all of the challenges, the apparent solitude, and the struggles to try and belong to the human community, that there is a reason for the escalation in the level of challenges to which I have been exposed. And the level of pain I have experienced over the years is commensurate to the level of compassion I have learned to feel for myself and for other human beings, no matter how asleep they might be, or how mired in the dregs of their own discomfort or misconceived views of life and relationship.
After leaving an abusive marriage in December of 2003, a very tumultuous and frightening time for myself and my son, against my own desires and better judgment, we moved back to the United States to stay with my family. While I worried about my ex-husband invoking the Hague Convention and international child abduction laws, other more pressing matters such as starting a new life and making sure my son would be in a loving and stable environment took most of my time and energy. Because of the controlling nature of my mother, the bitter jealousy of my sister, and the passivity of my father, we were quickly ensnared in a co-dependent nest of hatred and resentment…to the point that food was withheld from us. My sister screamed to my face in my son’s presence (he was four at the time) that my husband should have killed me. I could not understand why they did not seem to express or feel any compassion for the challenges of my situation, or the suffering that my son and I were going through. After all, we had just lost our home, our friends, everything we counted on to feel happy and connected. All that seemed to concern them was why I was not sufficiently appreciating what they were doing for us. I did not yet have a job or access to transportation, and I was working hard to find ways to create a new life for myself and my son. It was a difficult time.
In the years that followed, many challenges ensued, from cheating and abusive boyfriends, dishonest room-mates, a bully boss who attempted to destroy my reputation and have me fired from work, a dishonest realtor who conned me out of my life savings…and more, I somehow found a way to create the comfortable home and stable life for myself and my son that we both needed. Through all of the drama, through my father’s illnesses (including being excluded from spending time with him and being blamed for said illnesses) and death, through the loss of my grandmother – and throughout all being excluded from my family and scapegoated by them…I somehow managed to support myself, emotionally, morally, financially. It is the angels, the spirit guides, nature, gardening, books, film…these friends that helped me to stay grounded in my better self, allowing me to grow.
After the last “bad” relationship with a man, about four years ago, I decided to stay away from men for a while. I was forced to realize that the so-called relationships I had engaged in previously were devoid of intimacy. In truth, I was afraid of being close to another human being, and an unconscious part of me always seeked out those who were as self-absorbed as my parents, as unable to share. No longer wanting to give away my power, my time, my energy to sociopaths, I focused on home, on myself and personal growth. I opened myself to my love of writing, channeled my energies into caring for my son and creating opportunities for his education, into healthy eating and living, into growing my garden. These things have helped heal my spirit and my body.
After a while, I was afraid I had gone to far in the opposite spectrum in boundaries, closing out too much of the world…but now I think I am ok. I am feeling good about myself. Sometimes as I started to date, I would be very reserved and cautious, and I wondered if I was losing the ability to play, to have fun. Now I know it will come back. It is good to be cautious, to cherish myself enough to only accept into my inner circle those who deserve to be close to me.
I now feel sure that as I grow closer to a special person who does indeed care about me and respect me, that I will progressively let down more barriers. I know I can be playful, and while I stayed in my cocoon, I played with words and flowers. My heart is hopeful that this new phase of my life will allow me to share my stories with other humans.
Being human is so incredibly hard. It is the hardest thing I have ever done. I have been so afraid of other humans, yet so in need of relationships, of trust, of closeness, of touch. I have been told that humans are above all social animals. That we need to belong. This yearning to feel connected and to be recognized by others is part of an innate sensing that we are all made of particles of energy, that the building blocks of all life and matter are somehow while differentiated, also interchangeable. Those particles of light are also particles of knowing. Being is light, and light is knowing, in the sense of unconditional love. As we grow, we grow in the ability to be transparent vessels. Other people, no matter how charred or damaged feel the light of the awakened or even partially awakened being. It is being aware of self that helps to awaken a world caked with cruelty, with the blood of pain and separation. It is a worthwhile pursuit to love oneself, to unfold. We do have help, and it is worth the struggle. You are worth the struggle, and you are being helped.