Underwater beach balls

6 min read

I have an agreement with Life. I don’t know how it came to be. But it is one of the things I am sure of in my life. I share my journey in words. I don’t know how or why, but that’s how it works. I write about the mountains of coal I encounter, and Life hands me diamonds to share, or at least some glittering pieces of coal.

There is, however, one cardinal rule: I can only share what I have processed. And the more I have processed, over the years, the more discerning I become. Because I have learned there is processing, and then there is post-processing in which a whole lot is still being processed.

Last week’s morning pages brought up a traumatic life experience I had no recollection of previously. I had carried it with me for over forty years without knowing. It uprooted everything I thought I knew about myself. Processing it was harder than anything I did before. And I am still in the process of discovering who I am, both with this experience and after having processed it.

And that leaves me in a bit of a pickle. I promised you I would share my journey through The Artist’s Way with you, but my experiences of this past week, I cannot share with you, for the simple reason that I have not fully processed them yet. However, what I can share with you is what was different about moving through this experience compared to the other times I processed this type of trauma. And that has everything to do with what happened through the Artist’s Way in this week (week 4, Recovering a Sense of Integrity), and the weeks before.

One of the characteristics of the core emotional wound of Abandonment is feeling alone. On some level, I have always felt alone in my life. And as I never felt completely emotionally safe (you can read about this in week 2), I went through every challenge in my life alone. Because I did not feel safe enough to share my inner-most experiences with another.

This past week, was one of the most surreal and painful weeks in my life. And where I normally would have gone through that all alone, this week, things were different. This week, I reached out. On Thursday, I spontaneously called a girl friend to talk to her about what had happened the day before. And later that day, another friend. And then on Friday, after more pain came up, it took me about an hour to reach out. I was able to share my experiences as I was still feeling extremely vulnerable and exposed. Not to one friend, but to two. And on Saturday, I told my mom. I sobbed in her arms. This has never ever happened before in my life.

As I was talking to one of my friends, she said she so much wanted to be with me, to comfort me, and she commented that I must feel so alone. And I realized that I did not feel alone. As much as I was hurting, I was not feeling alone. I felt deeply connected and so incredibly loved. It moved me so deeply that I had found this space in which I was listened to deeply, seen for who I am, without judgement, only love and compassion. This, too, was a new experience.

To be able to share with people who I know will be completely open to my experience, who will not judge me, who will love me not in spite of my story, but to whom my story both is sacred and not the essence of me. It is a gift. It is a precious gift. Both the ability to share and to have those friends who are safe havens for the most precious part of me. 

I’ve been processing complex trauma for a long time. I’ve done serious work, let go of massive shit. But these past weeks. This rollercoaster of emotions. This is the Work on steroids. And this is exactly why I think the The Artist’s Way is brilliant. Why I think the Morning Pages are brilliant. It is a lot, I admit. There are days when I feel that I will never get out of this sludge, but it is worth it, because there are also days that are lighter than days I’ve ever lived before.

After telling my husband about this traumatic memory. He asked if I believed that these morning pages are yielding more than they are costing. I get that. I get that he is ready to throw The Artist’s Way in the paper bin. I get that this process is hard on him too. Because he has witnessed my bad days, my pain up close for the past four weeks. For years now, he has witnessed me wade through shit, and there still seemed to be no end to this.

I understand that he is frustrated, I understand that he feels powerless, because he is standing at the sideline. Not able to do anything, but to love me and give me big bear hugs. This is my process, and no matter how much he loves me, apart from his love he can’t do anything to make the process easier.

So I told him again about the beach ball. That all unresolved emotional trauma is like keeping a beachball under water. That it takes massive energy to keep it from doing its natural thing, which is to break through the surface. Personally, I’d rather have it break through the surface, no matter how violently, and be done with it. Of course, it’s not comfortable, but in the end keeping it under water hurts more. He nodded, and said miserably, “I just wished you did not have so many beachballs hiding under the surface.”

Later, as I was walking the dog, all of a sudden, I fully realized that THIS IS my life. I may not like all the emotional trauma I have to go through, but this is MY LIFE. Until then, on a certain level, I had always felt ashamed of not living a ‘normal’ life, I had felt guilty for not moving through this stuff faster, for not being able to do more. I realized I had been always feeling guilty for being me.

For years, it was my prayer to feel whole. This week, I have been broken open more widely than I ever imagined possible. And despite the emotional upheaval and pain, I felt whole. I felt emotionally secure. For the first time, in my life, I feel deeply loved, and connected, to others and myself. And the guilt, the undercurrent of my life, seems to be gone.

Blessed is this Life. Blessed this experience we get to live, every day again. Each breath a blessing, an invitation to open ourselves to Life slightly further, to love this wonderous experience a bit more. There is nothing more precious than to be alive. Nothing more precious than to experience this now moment and love it as it is.

May Life bless you and keep you. May it shine its light upon you, and be gracious to you. May Life be kind to you and give you peace. 

If you’ve done the Artist Way, I would love for you to share your experience with us in the comments. Did it work for you? What did it do for you? Is there something you would have loved to know before you started or at the beginning of you journey?

If you haven’t done it, but are curious or want to know more, feel free to ask a question. And I will dig in, or maybe someone else has the perfect answer they are willing to share.

And of course you are always very welcome to share what my story did with or for you. Be it here, or via any other way. I do love to hear from you.

If this resonated with you, then consider sharing it with someone who will love it too or could use it in their lives right now. And while you’re in the flow, you may want to subscribe to my newsletter as well. I’ll send you an email from time to time to keep you in the loop. Don’t worry, I won’t spam you. Scout’s honor.

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image by Manfred Antranias Zimmer

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  1. Pingback: Onwards and upwards | Hermien Vos

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