Process of Illumination

The Courage to Surrender

While that title might seem like an oxymoron, it is precisely the message I have been hearing loud and clear over the past few days. When we left off with last week’s article “Manifesting Miracles”, I had been noticing how important it is to stay in the energy of Miracles. But Miracles can come in many forms and they often don’t come easily. In fact, the reason why so many people have trouble believing in miracles is because (I believe) they don’t have the patience, commitment or faith required to manifest them. What I realized this week is that when I talk of being in the “energy” of miracles (or anything else one wants to manifest, for that matter), what I’m really saying is to put your “whole self” into your truth. Anything less is not worth your effort.
When I wrote last week’s article, an interesting process was already unfolding which was about to teach me a valuable insight about myself in terms of how I relate to others. In “Will the Real Tracy B Richards Please Stand Up?” I wrote about our tendency to objectify those with whom we are in relationship, especially our partners. This makes it crucial for us to recognize them as a “whole other” rather than a mere extension of our self.

This week, I had a mind blowing revelation.

Over the past few years, I had been watching an important person in my life struggle with some pretty overwhelming difficulties. As is my usual way, I did my best to be supportive and compassionate and stepped in to do what I could to help and try to “fix” things. On the surface, it felt like I was just doing the right thing for a person whom I loved but what I realize now is that this person’s struggles made me feel really vulnerable.  As was true for me as a child, watching my mother battle severe depression and health issues while never seeming to know how to overcome it, I worried that the struggles of this other person would cause us to lose our connection and put our relationship in jeopardy. In order to feel like I was in control of the situation, I coped by analyzing the other person’s behaviour and offering support, solutions and (yikes!) judgements based on how I thought they should be handling things. What I failed to realize was that I was in active resistance to the fact that I had absolutely no control over what they did and how they did it and, more importantly, just because I would do it a certain way didn’t meant that they should…or could. Needless to say, this strategy, however unconscious it was, was not helpful and it’s likely to have been a contributing factor to the gradual breakdown between us.

The revelation I had came to me when I was offering help to a client who was working through a relationship issue herself. As I heard myself share the insights that I felt would help her in order to refrain from “objectifying” her partner and lead to a better understanding of him, it hit me that I needed to do the exact same thing with this other person in my life. In that moment I knew that, even though my heart was in the right place, my actions were guided by my fear of disconnection and abandonment and so I was unable to truly put my needs aside and be fully empathic.  All at once, I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness and regret. I immediately saw this person for who they really are – an “other” as opposed to an “object” – and realized how much pressure I had put on them by not recognizing that they were, unlike my mother, not only fully capable of managing the stresses in their life but that, regardless of my own experiences and tendencies, I was in no position to decide the best way for them to achieve that.

From that moment on, all that mattered to me was letting this person know that I was sorry.

And here comes the courage part…

After all that has happened between us, this person has found it necessary to withdraw from me. At first, I cycled through the stages of grief including confusion, hurt, anger and trying to “understand” but way of – you got it – analysis of their situation. As I now know, this is just another way that I cope with feeling vulnerable. So, now that I’ve had this big realization, would this person even want to hear it? I mean, just because it’s a big deal for me, doesn’t mean they would feel the same. And if I reach out and try to offer them that validation, would I really be helping them or would I only be making myself feel better at the expense of upsetting them even further?

I have to tell you, this decision was a tough one. I knew I needed to write down my insights for my own sense of clarity but I honestly wasn’t sure if I should share them with the other person. But I just kept thinking that, in order to live in peace, we have to be in the energy of it and one way to do that, in a practical sense, is to admit our mistakes. With Remembrance Day around the corner, I could not help but think about the battles we experience in the various areas of our lives…battles in our homes and battles in our hearts…battles of politics and racism…battles for right and wrong, good and bad. Most of us, without even knowing it, are constantly living in fear. It’s the reason we protect ourselves by employing the coping strategies we learned as kids. We try to numb out the constant array of messages that tell us we’re not good enough and, as a result, we shut ourselves down, bit by bit, until we not longer know how to speak our truth. While I don’t agree with war, Remembrance Day made me think about the courage of everyday people, like you and me, who choose who put themselves on the line in an effort to restore peace and ensure our freedom. If we can accept and even ‘expect” that they will do that for us, why can’t we find the courage to do it for ourselves? Just as it’s not my job to “fix” my friend, it can’t be someone else’s job to make our lives safe and peaceful. Like Ghandi said: “Be the change you wish to see in the world”.

The “change” for me was to approach this from a place of love instead of fear.

Even though the thought of reaching out to this person felt so risky, I also felt strangely calm about it because I really so believe that “Love is all you need”. I just needed to put my money where my mouth was. To be honest, I think that writing this blog has been instrumental in helping me to be more courageous. By inviting myself to show up each week and speak my truth I have discovered how not to be afraid of being authentic.  Through the feedback I receive, I am learning to trust that showing up as myself does not, in fact, equal judgement or rejection and it also helps me to accept that there are people out there who are actually interested in taking the time to get to know me for who I really am… flaws, mistakes, and idiosyncracies included! In reality, I am surrounded by so many people who are genuinely curious about me (and forgiving of my flaws) and who are interested in how I think, what I love and what inspires me. It’s sad to think that I never really understood or appreciated the gift of that before. I wasn’t able to trust it because I felt that, on some level, their interest was simply politeness or, in the other extreme, that they were trying to manipulate me to get what they want. What I realize now is that these are the people who are actually worth my time and energy. These are the people who reciprocate the love and caring that I offer and who embody the qualities that I value and want to emulate. What’s more, I know now that I deserve more people like that in my life. I’ve been so busy trying to squeeze acknowledgment out of those who are otherwise self-absorbed, that I missed out on the other validating relationships that were all around me.

It’s ironic because, I actually crave depth in my relationships…I’m quite frustrated by superficiality of all kinds, including “small talk” but when I’m afraid to be honest for fear of disconnection the result is that certain aspects of many of my relationships end up being pretty superficial because we can’t have “safe” conversations about sensitive issues. And that’s a real shame. But, as I’m the only one I have control over in this life, it’s my job to confront my fear and challenge myself to do what scares me…and to speak my truth.

In this scenario, speaking my truth came in the form of validating this person’s experience and I realized that I could not do that without expressing that validation to them directly. I was terrified, but they deserved to hear what I had to say… and I deserved to be heard.

So, I sent the letter.

As soon as I pressed “send”, I felt relief but I also noticed that there was still a lingering fear that my letter wouldn’t “land” well with the other person. Understandably, I hoped  that it would lead to healing our relationship, but that was out of my control. Unless I was able to detach from the outcome, I would be perpetuating an ongoing battle within myself.

And that’s where the surrender part comes in.

In writing that letter, I had put my “whole self” into it and I was embodying the energy of empathy, validation, love, peace and truth. I had “surrendered” my fear, my ego and my judgements in order to facilitate peace. It wasn’t easy, nor was it guaranteed and so it required commitment, patience and faith. But, in doing so, I have proven to myself that I have, in fact, manifested yet another Miracle. The Miracle of letting myself just be authentically “me”, regardless of the outcome.

There’s a beautiful song written by Guara Vani, recorded by C.C. White called “Surrender” and the lyrics express perfectly the energy I am in as a result of this experience. I’d like to share the video: “Surrender” C. C, White

…and the lyrics with you here:

Twenty-five years of doing it my way, has brought me here.
The road behind me is littered with the ruins,
Decisions made in fear.
But don’t be afraid,
The Lord has so sweetly said,
And depending on his word,
I will surrender, surrender, surrender, surrender
(da da da da da da)

My habitual desire to control, I now abandon.
And from my schemes so carefully conceived,
I release everyone.
And in humility,
Set you free from me.
My playing God is over.
Now I surrender, surrender, surrender, surrender
(da da da da da da)

I pray to be a bow, upon my life, affix an arrow,
A dazzling weapon of Your will.
Like the poet says, Let that string that sings be mine
And as a simple tool of your design.
Remember, remember
Pretender, pretender
Surrender, surrender

All blessings to you…