Last night’s entry was made in the middle of the night, sometime after I crashed from exhaustion, and before I dragged myself up this morning.
I love writing in the middle of the night, if I can do it. It used to be easy, but as anything with age, it takes a little more planning and coordination so as not to end up horizontal somewhere between my bed and the writing desk. If I can make it without falling, but without truly waking, it’s a special gift. It’s possible to write with my conscious mind tucked in and slumbering, and my unconscious mind flowing directly beneath the surface.
Last night, I was able to travel back in time, to the time of my father’s death, and the terrible feelings of loss that accompanied it. I was able to feel grief, but also compassion for my younger self, in a way that usually seems impossible when the adult guardian of my mind is awake – when the shoulds and don’ts hold dominion.
Continuing to read through Tara Brach’s book on Radical Acceptance, I find her touching on so many of my “problem areas”, including not:
- taking a pause, to connect with the present moment
- showing the self unconditional friendliness, the way we might with a friend
- connecting with the body, accepting all experiences including pain as a part of our experience
- easing into and connecting with these experiences in a mindful way, softening and accepting our experiences as they are
- saying yes to our experiences, which helps us to own our lives
- remaining disconnected and dissociated, out of past fears stored in the body.
Heavy stuff, and really quite simple when you think about it. We spend so many days running away and judging our experiences that we don’t become conscious to our lives, that we bypass treating ourselves as a friend and showing the kind of love and compassion we feel so readily for others.
So last night, when I was exploring the experiences of my own griefs, I found that so much compassion arrived for my parents – love and understanding of their struggles and experiences. These feelings came in a soft and tender way, not through the lenses of dissociation and protection, which – as Brach acknowledges – is what keeps us fighting, keeps our bodies tight and in pain, and our minds closed.
I was beginning to think that the ability to soften, to relax into experience is perhaps the province of the young. That once we allow our journeys to become ingrained in us, it’s difficult to tell another story. Our stories become the pains that shape us, rather than the beingness we move through.
All I know that this change of perspective, this telling of compassion did bring a softening, and once again – or perhaps for the first time – I could extend that compassion to my 28 year-old self. It wasn’t about changing my truth, my experiences or not acknowledging the difficulties I passed through. It was about changing my viewpoint, seeing it all with kinder eyes, and that compassion spread easily to my younger self.
After talking with a wise friend and counsellor, I realized that this same technique can take me back to my most wounded selves – the youngest parts of me frozen in time, still reliving so much suffering. How would it be to write to them, to be the parent they needed, to give them the kind of love and compassion – Brach’s ‘unconditional friendliness’ – that they so needed to feel okay about being sensitive and introverted in a world that often seemed grating on the soul.
I honestly had begun to believe that forging a connection with my younger selves was beyond my ability. Now, I have hope that there is a way through to them, and that I can get through the word that I see them, and I validate their journey.
I now believe it is possible.