“Nobody can bring you peace but yourself.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
I stood, not really knowing where I was. I was just two inches from the wall, maybe closer. At times, my nose touching it, reminding me of where I was, reminding me of my pain, of my body, and of the life I was living or rather the painful life that was living me.
In Jerusalem, people pray at the Kotel, the Wailing Wall. This is an image I knew so well growing up in a Jewish Family – it was everyone’s dream to pray at that Wall. The Kotel is the only remains of the 2nd Temple, a place where a big part of the Jewish heritage was lost; this wall is the closest thing left to the Holy of Holies and today continues to be a sacred place to come for prayer and healing. It is also a place where many tears are shed.
My wall was not the Kotel, but it was my “Wailing Wall”. As I stood by this wall, in my middle school cafeteria, with my face right up to the brick, I, too, felt like a part of my life was lost. Some painful things happened that day and yet, the feelings that arose, were more than that very experience. A feeling welled up in me that encompassed so many things – a feeling of betrayal, of isolation, of hopelessness and a sense that I could bear no more.
I had just turned 12 years old the month before. And, I already felt like I could bear no more. I had lost my mother to mental illness, my father to divorce, my extended family to isolation, now my friends to betrayal, and ultimately, my hope. I stood face to face with a brick wall. A part of me wished I could just melt into that wall and disappear. That’s the feeling! I felt like I wanted to disappear. To leave this life, this place, these people who hurt me and hurt each other and just disappear and be no more.
I am in the process of writing my second story for a Heal My Voice book project, Voices Of Peace. Throughout the month of August, Mondays are devoted to Peace Posts on our blogs and in our community. A group member offered a challenge this week – “How do you tap into peace before, during or after an upsetting encounter with someone or some situation that upsets you? I realize, it is ours, our triggers, our responsibility how we REACT or keep from losing peace.”
The piece I shared above was from some of the writing I was exploring for my story in the book. It is a moment that was potent in my life and defined much of who I was through my teens, twenties and even into my thirties. How does it relate to the question, you wonder? At some point, as I stood by that wall, not wailing, but walling up my tears, I realized that the only way I could survive was to pull as much of myself as I could into a little ball and hide that ball as far inside of myself as I could. I somehow knew this and felt this in that moment, and so I did.
I think now that this can be something that occurs naturally when we hold back our tears, our feelings and choose to remain silent when we need to cry or scream or ask for help and for whatever reason are unable to. There are some moments when this happens just a little and there are some cataclysmic moments when the deed is done.
I took many years and lots of personal and spiritual work to pull myself out of that small ball and to begin to open my heart to life and to the world. This began with opening my heart to myself and being willing to feel the pain of that 12-year-old and all the other parts of myself who had not been heard. I was blessed to find some amazing guides and teachers along the way who supported me and offered tools that taught me how to love and accept all of who I am. I say this in this way because, most of us are not taught how to love ourselves and although it would seem a natural skill to have, I truly believe in our day and age it is one that needs to be learned. Intention is a first step, but actively loving ourselves is a necessary part of the healing process.
So, today, the way I tap into peace, before, during or after an upsetting encounter or situation is to check in with my inner ones, to remind them that they are not alone, that I (adult me) is here to handle the situation and that I love and accept them no matter what happens. Often, there is one inner child who is most triggered by a particular situation and I work hard to support her in feeling safe and loved. I may find I need to meditate, surround myself in light or call on my guides for protection, but that awareness comes from my inner ones and what they need to feel at peace.
Also, there are times where I may need to honor what is arising with my inner self and abandon what is happening in the world. For many years, I did the opposite, abandoning my inner self, those child parts who were crying and screaming inside, choosing to just storm through life ignoring the pain I was feeling. As most of us probably experience, that only works for so long as pain that is ignored only seems to magnify and it’s just a matter of where and when the bottom will drop out. As my wonderful teacher and mentor, Shaman Ross Bishop, always shares, “I’d really like for you address this now, rather than when a crisis arises.”. So, being proactive in our process of healing and transformation, in whatever way that is for us, is a key that supports our ability to move through our lives and the world from a place of peace.
Take some time today to explore “How do you tap into peace before, during or after an upsetting encounter with someone or some situation that upsets you?” Are you listening to your inner voice when it’s calling to you? Is there a situation in your life today that you need to cultivate peace around? Do you have the tools you need or are there new tools for you to explore to begin to create greater peace and healing in your life?
As always, please feel free to share your thoughts, experiences and reflections.