There is a park by my home with a big beautiful lake. It’s called Peace Valley. It is my sanctuary. I go there regularly to remember who I am. There are several entrances into the lake area but each time I go I make it a point to enter through what I refer to as “Gods front door”. As soon as you turn the corner the glistening of the lake rises up to meet you and surrounds you with peace. In that moment my entire world shifts from being part of the story of life to “simply being”. It is here that I am at peace with all that I have been over the past 55 years. There is no judgement, no shame, just acceptance and gratitude.
Acceptance for the teenage girl who was trying to learn how to navigate life without directions and had no idea who she was
Gratitude for her resilience
Acceptance for the young woman in her 20’s who was looking for a dream and landed in a nightmare
Gratitude for the children that were born as a result
Acceptance for the woman in her 30’s who had no roadmap for raising two children while living in a trauma response that led to being controlled by her emotions instead of the peaceful guidance of her mind
Gratitude for the life lessons that brought me out of the darkness and into awakening
Acceptance for the woman in her 40’s who kept putting one foot in front of the other, found peace, and decided to begin again
Gratitude for all the love that came into my life and helped me heal
Acceptance for the woman in her fifties sitting in a classroom learning the art of helping others who may travel the same path and are in desperate need of the roadmap I now have
Gratitude for the woman in the cat shoes sitting across the room who taught me how to be a student again
Acceptance that there is so much more living to do and yet again I have no roadmap
Gratitude for being fearless on the journey
"Oh my God, you lost a ton!" That's exactly what my daughter's preschool teacher said to me when I dropped her off at school one morning. She was so happy for me and could barely contain herself as she waited for me to respond. As though I was about to tell her that I found the magical recipe for quick weight loss. This type of response went on for weeks with a variety of people who made the huge assumption that because I was suddenly thin I was exuberantly happy.
I had not found the magical recipe for quick weight loss and no I was not exuberantly happy. I was dying. At least that is how I felt. I had lost over 20 pounds in a matter of weeks. I had not eaten and I had not slept. Breathing in and out was about all I could handle at the time. I spent hours sitting in a small space in my room staring into the mirror on the wall. That morning just happen to be one of the days I was able to put aside the fact that my marriage was over and I was left to raise two young children on my own. For several days before that my children had knocked my bedroom door and asked the question, " Mom, are you coming out today?" Too often the answer was "No". But that day I got up off the floor I had been sitting on for days, took a shower, got dressed, and brought my daughter to school. There were a lot of things I wanted to say to her teacher that morning but I simply replied with, "yea, I've lost some weight".
You see, I was not one of those people who pulled herself up by the boot straps and got lost in her work when the pain of codependency came into my life. No. Crawling into bed didn't even feel safe enough. I wanted to crawl under the bed, better yet, find a corner in the closet and curl up in a ball. The weight fell off because of the tremendous anxiety I was feeling every minute of every day. Even today, when I am in emotional pain, I lose weight and I still have people tell me how great I look! Those closest to me know that if they see me losing weight and have not seen me in a gym or walking at the lake, I'm in trouble! When I have a little extra meat on me... I'm exuberantly happy!
What is it about this society that even now when our eyes have been open to the infinite paths of living we are still so focused on appearance? Imagine what would happen if we greeted each other by asking, " How is your soul today?"
~Susan Shelly, LPC
As I drive through town I am struck by the beautiful colors of all of the flowers blooming. It is such a welcome sight after the long dreary winter we just experienced. I am interested in one bloom in particular that seems to be intertwined with the flowers. I believe it's called the white flag bloom; otherwise known as the invisible fence. It is that imaginary line on the property that the dog is absolutely forbidden to cross. If he attempts to cross it he is met with a shock that resonates throughout his body. It is hoped that this experience will be so unpleasant that after he has tried a few times to break the barrier he will finally surrender to the shocking experience and never attempt to cross it again. The experience will be so traumatizing that even when the flags disappear he will not dare to get close to the imaginary line.
So, it got me thinking. What’s my invisible fence? What’s my imaginary line that I have been so afraid to cross because of an earlier trauma? What 'shocking' experience is controlling my boundaries? It didn't take long to figure it out. I know exactly when I hit the invisible fence. I know because my body goes into a complete state of panic. It's the panic I first felt as a child and then again when my marriage ended, and then again when I realized I had created what I swore to defend against in my adulthood. It lives in my gut and in my chest. It's a feeling that brings me to my knees every time! That's my invisible fence. Here's the thing though, the flags are gone and the power has been turned off. I am free to cross the line any time I want. All I need is a little courage.
Funny the things you can learn on a beautiful spring day while driving through town. So, what's your invisible fence? Do you have the courage to cross it?