The next number of posts, all titled Conversations on… come from email communications between a dear friend and me. With her permission, I am publishing excerpts from them because I feel they pertain to everything we’ve been discussing on the blog. Kate is in the process of trying to figure out how to be a writer and still maintain her teaching job. At her request I’ve changed her name and am using initials for people she brings up. It’d be great if you all would join our conversation… (this post is continued from the previous post)
I do feel immensely supported and blessed in the ways that support is finding me. But the deep question of what my psyche can tolerate, to use your words, is the source of the greatest pain and struggle right now. I know what you say is true about the old having to die. While that can be unsettling, the idea is almost a comfort at this point. What really scares me is how the old self speaks to me and how I still listen to it unconsciously–how resilient it is in the face of my rejecting its way of being in this world and in me. That is a false framework, but it has masqueraded for so long as the authentic me that it’s sometimes really difficult to sort out the truth from the scary inner propaganda that’s still struggling to stay alive in my pores and in my bones. Does that make sense?
Yes, it makes painful sense. Just as we human beings have a survival instinct, I think these ways of being, which have become a real part of us, will also fight for survival. It’s why evolution is so hard. Much of the growth we achieve has to be done by “killing” off a part of us and I believe that goes against our survival instincts. It is built into us to fight that. So, often, the very actions we need to take to grow, change and become our higher selves, go against our innate natures.
I have a suggestion, though, that my Buddhist teacher gave me many years ago. Instead of rejecting your old ways and labeling them “false”, acknowledge them for everything they’ve given to you, for everything you’ve accomplished because of them. Befriend this deeply rooted old self and converse with her. Tell her what you’re thinking and doing and why you must. Tell her she can come along but she has to be supportive. Here is a quote that has helped me over the years. I’m sorry, but I don’t remember the author:
“Letting go is not the same as aversion, struggling to get rid of something. We cannot genuinely let go of what we resist. What we resist and fear secretly follows us even as we push it away. To let go of fear or trauma, we need to acknowledge just how it is. We need to feel it fully and accept that it is so. It is as it is. Letting go begins with letting be.
When we learn to let things be, they gradually lose their power; they cease to disturb us.
As we allow what is true, space comes into the body and mind; we breathe and soften and come to rest. In accepting it, we become free. Then we can ask, ‘Do I have to continue to replay this story? Do I have to hold onto these losses, these feelings? Is it time to let this go?’ The heart will know…
When we let go we return to an honest and simple openness.”
Thank you for your feedback and insight. Your perspective helps a lot, and that is an understatement! “Letting be” is a difficult but essential lesson. I will begin thinking about letting go in this way.
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Love to you all,