“If you can’t stand the way this place is, take yourself to higher places” Three Days Grace, Break.
Tattooed on the inside of my right and left upper arm, is the above quote. You have to read me from right to left, if you even notice it’s there. Most people don’t notice for a very long time, if at all. I was dating someone I had a crush on for years, but because he was younger, I didn’t let him know about until about 8 years after we first met. At first it was quite the romantic story…at least we wrote it as such. The truth though was that he was an alcoholic, and I don’t use that label lightly. It was probably one of the most horrific and frightening things that I have subjected myself and my children to. It took a long time to forgive myself for it…and him as well. One night after a particularly horrible and violent fight that included him threatening murder and the disposal of my body because I had thrown out his liquor, the music video for that song was playing on the TV. In the wreckage of the two of us, crumpled up on the floor, bottles broken and him with his arm now loosely around my throat and sobbing, I heard those words…Take yourself to higher places…
The best I could do was to get up off of the floor, grab my kids and leave for good.
As it turns out in my life, my children have always been my higher place. The next day I had those words tattooed on my arms. Two days later I found him in his own vomit, unable to eat or walk, or even consume anything except Crown Royal. I took him to the emergency room for the fourth time that month. I called his parents. I said good-bye and I left for good. It would be years until I figured out that there’s only one way to stay in the higher places of life.
As habitual, stubborn people who seek instant gratification, fault and relief, it’s tempting to immediately blame the alcoholic of my story. Ok, it’s more than tempting. It’s downright appealing, convenient and pretty much acceptable. And, for a long time, I did just that. I mean after all, it WAS pretty horrific and no one was honest with me…That day I realized the trouble he was in and that I decided I was going to gallantly try to eradicate his disease- his parents said,
“Oh. He didn’t tell you? I guess we should have.”
Yes, someone should have told me. But really, I knew within the evening of our first date that something was amiss and by the following Monday, the jig was up. Tuesday I just decided that I didn’t like the story…so I rewrote it, but you can’t rewrite someone else’s life. You can rewrite your part in it, or write yourself out of it…you can rewrite your own life story so that their part is lost…but you cannot write someone elses life to fit into the one you want to have.
“The Scriptwriter decides who you are without consulting you. He embraces the belief that, I know you better than you know yourself.” Deal Breakers, Bethany Marshall.
Hi. My name is Melissa and I’m a Scriptwriter. I accredit this nasty little behavior to being overly optimistic, completely unrealistic, and because my parents never saw me for who I was, but for who they wanted me to be, for as long as they possibly could. Also, I have the habit of trying to fix my past and all that I feel was denied me by my parents (and anyone else who should have been loving ) through my adult relationships.
In Dr. Marshall’s book, she describes the five personality types that men fall into. Let me set you straight here- we ALL fall into these types, not just men. And now I will digress a bit…
“The process of coming to terms with the Other in us is well worth while, because in this way we get to know aspects of our nature which we would not allow anybody else to show us and which we ourselves would never have admitted.” C.G.Jung as quoted in Why Good People do Bad Things, Understanding our darker selves, James Hollis.
I once worked in a halfway house. It is one of two of my favorite jobs in my entire life. Looking back now I can see how I brought about my own demise there…Not that there weren’t outside forces, but that my reactions in response to them were ultimately the death of that journey…though it led me here and so it’s true that the Universe is the master at re-calculating our paths when we make wrong turns along the way.
During my time there I really wanted to understand why people who seemed so good, or who had “started out” good, had gone on to do some pretty bad things. I wanted a book that would explain to me why good people did bad things, and so I found Dr. James Hollis’s book with exactly the right title; Why Good People Do Bad Things, Understanding Our Darker Selves. Perfect! I should have known that something perfect was not going to be at all what I expected…and it wasn’t.
What it was, was an in-depth look into ME. How in the hell had that happened? I couldn’t put it down. I didn’t think I was a bad person, but I began to see that I was at best, one moment from being one of the people I had thought the book was going to be about…the inmates. Sitting here now I can hear my own voice say, we are all in this together…and we are, but some of us seem to fare better than others. Despite my life and what I felt were my atrocities, trials, abuses, injustices…I had somehow managed to avoid prison, but as I read on I realized that prison is a relative term. That the ways and situations in which I had locked myself up, were as painful and abusive as there’s. I realized that we all have our prisons, our violences, our loss of freedoms, even if we aren’t all behind bars.
Walking the halls that day, I looked at each one of them and became aware that they were the ones teaching me…that in my selfish moments of trying to see why I was better than them, I realized I was them. Again, years would pass until I could apply that knowledge to my entire life…Enter now.
The Scriptwriter Continued; an old story with a new twist.
Where was I? Ah, the alcoholic…I wanted to write him sober. Not just sober, but recovered and healing, all because of me. I wanted to write myself as the heroine and we would survive our ordeal and have a fantastical story to tell to anyone who would listen…Also, I did not want to be alone. Plan A had not worked and I had stumbled into plan B which was working even less, with a touch of ‘more of the same’, mixed in with ‘damn it! why is this happening again!’
I can see now that theme of lack has long been present. I can see that the only story I knew how to tell was the one that said I cannot see you how you are, so I must write you how I need you to be so that I can feel better about myself. The only other option is to write you out of the story completely and blame you for your own untimely edit. Welcome to my childhood which I would later rewrite as “The story of my life.” Recently I read Deal Breakers again…On the surface I did it to feel better. To apply logic where I needed it- which is code for Ego where I felt lacking. I wanted to see what I had missed and how I could formulate a new plan of action…basically I wanted to write a script that would fit the change of location I found my life, or parts of it, in. But what ended up happening is what ALWAYS happens these days…I end up looking for something out there, only to find that no matter what, it’s always IN HERE. And so the story goes…
Integrating my life into….my life.
“I don’t believe the status quo is eternal. Life is fluid. This may be a pile of horse shit, but I swear to God, somewhere in here there’s a pony.” Daphne Kingma, The Ten Things to do When Your Life Falls Apart.
“It’s not so much that I’m being thrown under the bus…It’s more like I’m standing in front of it.” Melissa
Let’s face it, we all have loss in our lives. We’ve lost friends, parents, children, pets jobs, money, cars, keys…Big loss and little loss. Losses we can replace and those we can’t. Losses we refuse to acknowledge, losses that needed to happen, losses that we wish had happened faster. All of these losses are on the physical realm. That’s one type of loss- One day it or “they” are here and one day, they aren’t. Today is my mother’s birthday. In four days it will be her…death day. It’s a loss in the sense that she was here one day having a margarita with me and wearing a sombrero, while non hispanic people sang her “happy birthday” in decidedly poor spanish…and then a week later, I was in a funeral home picking up her ashes. But it became a gift that would lead me to discover much bigger losses within myself. Then it would ultimately lead me to how I was handling, or maybe not so much so- those losses. Yes- I said gift. Still, there is another level of loss.
What about a loss of self? A loss of security? A loss of trust? A loss of abundance, of a feeling of deserving, of faith, of humility, sacredness, self-love? What about those losses that seem so unnameable, so unexplainable, but yet seem to dominate and even RUN every aspect of our lives? The losses suffered that have become the dictators of our relationships, our job choices, our parenting skills (or lack of)? What about the losses suffered that left us in so much indescribable, unacceptable, pain? Now here’s a level of loss rarely thought of, or faced, but always felt.
I don’t know who actually coined the phrase, “Pain is weakness leaving the body” but I’ve always been…Fond of it really. For two days it’s been dancing through my mind amid images of people lifting huge amounts of weight, their bodies about to break…or military men scaling walls and crawling through mud, on their bellies, in the middle of the pouring rain…I imagine how many people have pushed themselves physically to a breaking point just to see how much pain they actually contained within themselves. For a moment I questioned the phrase. I doubted it. Mostly because, as we’ve discussed, the script was written, but what if it’s true?
If pain really is weakness leaving the body…
I can’t really tell you how many times I’ve been wiped out by life and the pain I’ve felt. I can tell you this- I could barely move. I could barely eat. I was so sick, so tired and so…weak. On my path I’ve learned (and continue to do so) the one thousand and one ways I avoid pain. You learn this by not doing those things, or pretty much anything, in the way you have always done it.
Want to know why you do something? Stop doing it. The other day I was desperately trying to figure out why I go to Starbucks everyday. This has been an ongoing dilemma for years for me. While listening to a book I hear something about community…and it hits me. Starbucks is how I reach out into the world. It’s not the coffee I’m craving- it’s the people. It’s familiar, it’s being recognized, it’s people calling out my name while the “new guys” look on with envy…it’s being known and acknowledged for a brief moment before slipping back into my newfound relcusivity. It’s not the coffee, which most times is horrible and overpriced anyway- it’s my sense of belonging that takes me back every day. Starbucks is probably the least harmful thing I have left that I willingly “do” to myself to avoid the pain of isolation. It’s not the same as work- that’s way too much time with people and it’s involuntary…so far. We often feel like we HAVE to go to work. Starbucks became an issue when I started feeling like I have to go there too.
Granted there are worse things. I’ve done them. I’ve also done things that should be “good” for you until they went terribly and horribly wrong. More pain. That’s a curious behavior we humans have…Taking what should be good to such excess that it begins to damage us. Pain leaving the body hurts less than hiding it, denying it or using our entire being to suppress its existence within us. Pain does in fact make us weak. It makes us weak-minded, weak hearted, weak in faith, and weak bodied. When pain is allowed to leave, it takes the weakness with it. I’m pretty sure that whomever coined the phrase, did not have that in mind, but it’s further proof that we are all just ripples in an ocean really. Pain is weakness leaving the body so let the pain go by seeing it for what it is- loss. Let it go by facing it and then staying with it. Now when I feel weak- when I just want to cry and not eat or sleep, or get up off of the couch and even shower- if at all possible, I don’t. I don’t say,
“I have no idea what’s wrong with me. I’m so depressed.” Okay, maybe I sometimes still do that at first, but THEN I ask,
“What is wrong with me? Why am I so depressed? How can I make time to curl up in a ball and feel this pain so that it will pass through me?” Weakness is not a statement. It’s a call to attention. It’s time to pay attention to the pain that is somewhere just beneath the surface of who you really are. You are not weak. You are not pain. Pain is how we keep recreating the losses in our life. Pain is the Ego’s way of making you think that this time will be different- but it won’t. Pain makes you weak and it’s during this weakness that you are most vulnerable to the Ego. The Queen is nothing less than cunning…
“Everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it.” Mark Twain
I think there’s a difference between weathering a rocky patch and being the rocky patch of weather. I think there’s a way to avoid the storm- probably more than one I’m sure. For instance, driving the opposite direction? Maybe not manifesting storm clouds where your blue skies lay? There’s nothing wrong with singing in the rain, but opening the flood gates and drowning innocent bystanders isn’t healthy- for them or you. It would be wise to remember that nothing you do to anyone else, goes undone to yourself. That’s the law. Or maybe the consequence of breaking it. You can’t continue to search for sunny skies and then unleash the storms. It won’t work. Sometimes rain comes and you have an umbrella. Sometimes you get wet. Sometimes the skies are blue and sunny…and you get burned. Do you know why we make fun of the weatherman? Because he doesn’t get it right. He tries, but even he can’t see the storm coming at times. Life is like that. He learns to spot the storm. He has tools that help him find and track storms. He sees the things that consistently occur in the atmosphere- he sees the makings of the storm and then attempts to predict accordingly. The weatherman has a few advantages- tools that detect, familiar weather ‘habits’, and experience. But he still gets it wrong…because let’s be honest- you can’t predict another persons storm- especially Mother Nature.
You are kind of like a weatherman. You have tools, habits and experience with the things you do- your storms. The best you can do is predict your own weather- honestly. Check your skies, your radar, your heart…but know this- you cannot predict another persons storm. At best, you can have an umbrella ready. You can’t write sunny skies if it’s raining in their’s.
“Of course things might have gone roughly in the past, but the past is over and cannot touch you unless you hold on to it. Right now, in this moment, the Universe is responding not to your past, but to the truth of who you are, alway were, and always will be.” Marianne Williamson, The Law of Divine Compensation
“It’s time to stop setting the table with paper plates and plastic silverware.” Melissa
Realizing that I cannot heal my past and those relationships in it, by trying to write a future with others, while avoiding the truth of right now, has been a hard lesson. It has been painful. Living a life of lack- writing my script and the script of others to fit the theme of lack- has been painful for all of us. While pondering what it is that I have to bring to the table of my life and the relationships within it, I realized that sometimes you bring to the table what the table reflects. For me, It’s time to put away the paper plates and break out the China. I’m not really a fine china kind of girl…but you get my drift. Sometimes it’s okay to set the table to reflect more of what we want than what we have. It’s better to live in abundance- even if it’s just the appearance of such at first, than to live in a constant state of lack for no other reason than that’s the story someone else wrote for us. It’s better than continuing the same story, with as few edits as possible.
What’s past is past, the God Memo says- Let the dead bury the dead. It’s painful to live in the past. To hold onto the death and the loss- of others, of things and of ourselves. It’s better to see that life remains in those we have lost- including ourselves. It’s better to see that if it was lost, the truth is, that’s what was meant to be and that perhaps, by being blinded by the loss you have not seen what you were gifted as well. It’s imperative that we understand as best we can, that LOVE remains and when understanding cannot be found, that we then lean on faith- no matter how small our faith may seem. It’s important to remember that when we feel lacking, if we lean into what we cannot see, but trust it to be there, then IT will undoubtedly and without fail, compensate for whatever we feel we lack. The moment we realize that we are never alone, and that we do not wish to lack, Love will step into our lean and hold us up. As Marianne Williamson says…
The soul leans.