|Necklace made by Michelle Fairchild while healing her wounded heart.|
Many people are familiar with the term “aha moment.” We Cosmic Cowgirls refer to them as “awe ha!” moments. I had my own shift recently after attending the latest Cosmic Cowgirl Hodown member conference. My realization was that I don’t feel wounded by the old stories of my life anymore. This was a truly beautiful realization for me, as in fairly recent years I went through some significant life changes and also experienced some difficult life challenges.
In fact, I am not being overly dramatic when I describe the period as the dark night of my soul. My personal struggles led me to retreat from some long held relationships. Thankfully, instead of going down a completely self-destructive path, I chose to dig in deep and accomplish some incredibly cathartic soul work. I underwent a period of the unburying of the old hurts with the guidance of two therapists, and my husband and I also went through counseling together. During this time frame I had questioned my lovability and likability. Anger and rage that I had stuffed also needed to be addressed and processed in healthy ways. There was a point where my natural sunshiny ways of spreading love were dampened and I questioned deeply what love meant to me. This proved to be a profound experience. I now see that making it through the dark times has led me to a lighter place, one where the love is deeper, the grace so much more profound and the forgiveness so much more freely given. I have also seen my spiritual wings grow stronger and more sure of themselves as I look at the world with awe and wonder.
I agree whole-heartedly with the brilliant author and motivational speaker leader, Iyanla Vanzant, that in order to heal our pain three things to need to happen, we have to feel our pain, we have to deal with it (really deal with it) and then we can heal it. Feel, Heal, Deal.
I also must add that one of the gifts of belonging to the tribe of Cosmic Cowgirls is the way we are encouraged and even challenged to open our minds and think about things in new ways. In courses I have taken with Cosmic Cowgirl University I have continually been reminded of our ability to write our own Legendary story however we choose. I have been going through the process of doing this work with Cosmic Cowgirls for the past four years and there were initially times where my story made me sad. There were parts that brought up pain and old losses and I would get stuck and just stop. There was a time frame when I realized that the rose-colored glasses I had been wearing for years had developed some serious cracks in them and I couldn’t go on.
Now I see so much more clearly how everything that has occurred in my life has contributed to who I am, and I really truly love who I am. My Legendary story is a big adventure with plot twists, exciting heart-stopping drama, exotic adventures and whole-hearted love because of the joys, the losses, the love, the lows and the highs.
In the eight years I have worked for a private non-profit fost-adoption agency I have learned a great deal about special needs children, wounded hearts and souls, and the therapeutic process. My knowledge and understanding of how wounds affect behavior and our choices expanded ten-fold during those years.
Then with my most recent “awe ha” moment it became even that much more transparent how many people are living lives as the walking wounded. While I will not allow others to intentionally hurt me and I have learned a great deal more about healthy boundaries in relationships, I also have compassion for others, knowing that how some people respond or act is due to their unhealed wounds, which in most cases I have nothing to do with at all. For example in best case scenarios those who are wounded, but haven’t dealt with it, do things like living life reactively, being blind to why things push their buttons, acting defensively, when they would really prefer to act lovingly.
In the worst case scenarios the walking wounded can cause others grievous harm and pain. These are the situations that lead to violence, cruelty, and committing crimes. One way of viewing those who are wounded and then act out by hurting others can be through the lens of a quote by buddhist Thich Naht Hahn, “When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment, he needs help.” Iyanla Vanzant goes more in depth about all the things stuffing and masking our pain can lead to, such as addictions (ie drugs, alcohol, food, sex, gambling), criminal behavior, as well as such things as low self-esteem, depression and lack of direction in life. Iyanla also shared during her live show with Oprah about how people can also become addicted to their story of pain. She tells one man who had been addicted to drugs and alcohol for twenty years, and after ten years of being sober and is still unhappy and has been thinking about using again, that he has become addicted to his story. She challenges him on what he would be doing if he was to really choose to be happy and move forward with his life, instead of living in the past.
One of the events that helped push me over the hump and firmly into a new awareness took place at the most recent Cosmic Cowgirl gathering. During the closing ceremony, beautifully directed by a member, each woman went around the circle and one-by-one, linked arms with each woman and while looking into one another’s eyes said these words, “I see you. You are my sister.” It was a very moving, and at times emotional exchange, for those participating. Days following that event, when I was asked by someone, who I had described the experience to, if saying those words was difficult, and my response was “Not at all.” I shared that when those exchanged took place it was about really seeing a person and their inner soul. In my spiritual practice it was also about seeing that God essence that exists in all of us and is that which connects us all.
Do you feel wounded?
Are there things in your past that still feel left unresolved?
What are your thoughts about healing?
What are the stories you tell yourself about events that were hurtful?
How do things from the past affect you now in the present?
What if you decided to start telling a different story?
What would happen if you were to heal and move on? What would you be doing? Who would you be?
More to explore about healing the wounded heart:
There is a documentary called The Dhamma Brothers. It is about an Alabama prison, known as “the house of pain,” that allowed a Buddhist meditation practice to be brought within its walls and taught to some of the prisoners, most of whom will spend the rest of their lives behind bars. It is eye-opening and moving to hear some of the prisoners share their experiences with the meditation course and the changes it brought to their lives. One of the prisoners in the documentary shared how he was more a prisoner when he was out on the streets, acting out all his pain in hurtful ways. He will be in prison for the rest of his life, but the meditation practice led him to finally feel his pain and then deal with it, which finally allowed him to heal. He actually stated that he feels more free now then he did prior to being in prison. The reality is that he was in a prison of his own making, as are others out living lives in which they are hurting, unhappy, addicted to alcohol or drugs, which they use to dull the pain.
Here is a brief video with the director presenting at a TED talk about the making of The Dhamma Brothers.