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Freedom in my Choices

My late wife was a clinical social worker who specialized in helping those challenged with intellectual disabilities. She taught me about Gentle Teaching. She would often recount stories from her day with students who are challenged with self-abusive behavior.

Gentle Teaching is an approach to help those struggling to feel safe, feel love, be engaged and show gentleness and love to each other. “These purposes are achieved through using repeated words of affection, eye contacts and acts of gentleness and love towards students. The main idea of gentleness is not to get rid of students’ behaviors but to deepen their own inner feelings of gentleness in the face of their possible violent behaviors.”

This last week has been challenging because of my foot injury and the presence of a joy-filled and challenging little dog we are taking care of in support of a dear friend in the hospital. The balance of my sanctuary has been disturbed.

In this chaotic imbalance, I am hanging on to my inner balance, finding time to vent through tears and regrouping with rest and self-care. Life is not easy. I have been feeling through old memories of pain and posing the question to myself, “do I choose to hang on to this memory or am I willing to let it go?”

If I hang on to the painful memories of my past, they get re-energized by my hurt and stored back inside, inhabiting my emotional body and my physical cells. Interestingly, the ball of the foot represents an energetic connection to my heart. What is up for me right now is my struggle with letting go of the hurt in my heart; letting go of painful memories I’ve held on to for decades.

Half-awake this morning, I imagined myself walking up to the doorstep of my childhood home, what it would feel like to go inside and face my father. I have no doubt the emotions I would feel. As I stood outside on the driveway, I imagined a different scenario. This time, I hold the knowledge of my greater purpose in my relationship to my parents. I gleaned the gift of strength to persevere through pain and struggle which has taught me I did before and I can again deal with adversity, struggle and challenge. I imagined holding on to the old stories, written over and over again on paper and wrapped around a rock. I held the rock in my hand. Before I walk through the door of my childhood home, I choose to drop the rock, lay it in the garden to the right of the doorstep and let go. I’ve held on long enough to the old stories, the old pain. I choose to let go.

I can clearly see two choices: I can hang on, perpetuate the pain over and over, holding it like a shroud over my whole being, proving to myself and everyone else I am worthy of so much more, OR I can choose gentleness by demonstrating my self-worth, dropping the shame and blame, and truly own my inner worth. It’s a choice I see now. If I can’t take this step, I’m not ready to release the pain.

I’m looking at the gifts or gems in my life from every scenario I hold in my heart. I see my inner strength came from my childhood. I am grateful.

I make a choice every time I rerun stories. I have many old stories of pain and I can make a choice with each one.

We are the poetry, each living our lives the best we can. Each of us holds great worth as a spiritual being inhabiting our physical body. We are merged for a purpose so we learn our worth. Thank you for choosing your worth by practicing self-care. Thank you for living.

Participants’ Reflections:

  • I’ve been feeling really sad the last couple of days. I wrote a Haiku during the meditation time.

Why does the longing

Always feel so dark and sad

Black hole of my heart

  • I’ve been wondering about the longing that we have. My mom injured herself again after another fall in the nursing home and a short while later my son called me because he was in another accident. After the calls, I was in a state of poor me. It doesn’t serve me. I can’t be there for everyone. I have to learn how to choose some sort of peace in the midst and not get dragged into the dark hole. I don’t seem to be able to do it.

  • You are in the process of learning, and it’s very painful. You are not your mother; you are not your son. You are your own person. You are learning to decipher those boundaries. The pain helps you see them clearly so that you can delineate them. So keep practicing self-care, that’s all you can do. Keep using your boundaries. Keep staying present in your body as painful as that is, because that’s where your power is, in taking care of yourself. It’s a painful time.

  • Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I wrote a page full on hearing the reading. It occurred to me that when things go haywire, it can bring a cognitive dissonance to us and it throw out old patterns and make room for something new. Cognitive dissonance is a good thing. And from yesterday, I also have the metaphor of an acorn which is tough on the outside and has new life on the inside. Just outside my window is a giant oak tree. The previous owner called it grandmother oak. I offer the metaphor of the acorn as new life and new energy.

  • I love the concept of cognitive dissonance. In sound healing, some sounds feel true and others sound chaotic. The latter ones jumble up the energy. Like you say, it’s part of the healing. It’s why I feel so unbalanced. We sort it out and it’s painful to go through. It’s in those dissonant times we find lessons. It may not be right away that we find them but we find them. So hang in there. That’s what I keep telling myself.

  • I listened to a memoir by Ursula Burns entitled “Where You are is Not Who You Are.” It’s something to remember especially in hard times. She tells it like it is. I relate to her. She became conscious of how her mother was struggling to raise her and her siblings, so she decided to go after the highest-paying job she could find. She became CEO of Xerox. When she did something wrong as a child, her mother would say, “God don’t like ugly.” The message in the title is very encouraging. It applies to people around us and how they affect us. I also had a phone call from my friend who is suffering from dementia. She said she feels like she is losing touch with reality. I can’t fix her. We can’t do it for other people. They have to go through their struggle just as we did and do.

  • And when they try to put it on us, we can say ‘I love you’ and give it back.

  • All this about gentle teaching is a wonderful theme for today. We have to be gentle with ourselves and reteach ourselves over and over and over again, so that where we are is not who we are. I woke up this morning from a dream where I was at a window and I could hear in my head policemen talking, saying they were going to stop a person if they didn’t stop at the stop sign. I knew the person was one of my son’s. I knew he wasn’t supposed to be driving. My natural inclination was to get my phone and alert him that I had a premonition about him. But then I remembered he’s an adult and not my responsibility anymore. The natural consequences are his business. It’s gentle teaching for me. It’s easy to enable offspring or a family member because I love them and I don’t want bad things to happen to them. In listening to the sharing today, I was thinking I really need to know this today.

  • Yes, the wisdom of your dreams. Which is the title of Jeremy Taylor's book The Wisdom of Your Dreams. Beautiful.

  • Thank you for walking beside me on this journey. I thank each of you for having the courage to live your lives in authenticity. It takes courage because this is hard work. I hope you all ponder the independence of your spirit, your soul within your human body.

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