Ok, so I’ve gotten myself into a bit of a pickle with this Step 4 work. A few of my reader friends brought up some important points in response to one of my last posts, in which I blurted out my feelings of resentment toward my mother and father in quite an abbreviated manner:
I resent my father for all of the clutter he has held on to, for making our home an embarrassment to the rest of us.
I resent my mother for her reactivity, and for her stubbornness, and for her self-righteousness.
Well…it might not be solid step 4 work, but at least it’s another baby step. This might take a long time.
Admittedly I felt a bit uncomfortable stating my feelings in such a terse way and then offering no explanation. Most of the discomfort came from wanting to be clear about my responsibility for what I’m feeling–to let everyone know that I don’t see myself as the victim of my parents’ behaviors and resentment as the natural result of that victimization. Is my perception of my parents accurate? Is it true? Or is it a story I’m holding on to because it’s familiar and therefore comforting? Everything in this world of form is based on perception, and very few people are actually able to engage in observation without interpretation–I am certainly not an exception here. Most of the time my mind is so full of thoughts that I’m left wondering what reality is, what this moment would be like without my evaluation of it. And isn’t reality only ever what we make it to be?
Shawn Bird, one of the few people who actually likes every single thing I write (Goddess bless her), aptly articulated what had been swarming in my brain shortly after publishing the post:
Why does the clutter embarrass you?
Why does reactivity/self-righteous/stubbornness bother you?
What do your feelings about these reveal about you? Because our issues with other people are always really about ourselves, aren’t they?
I always figure something I detest in someone else, is something I’m fighting very hard with in myself, which can be simultaneously enlightening and traumatic.
And to her comment I responded:
Yes Shawn, exactly. Thank you. Questions like the ones you asked are exactly why I hesitate to spill my guts in my blog, because it is SO COMPLETELY TRUE that whatever judgments I hold of other people are painful places that I’m not addressing fully in myself. What am I revealing about myself when I make statements like the ones I spat out last night? Not sure if I’m ready for such transparency, such vulnerability. At the same time, if this is the only way the work will get done, might as well roll up my sleeves and do it. Have you heard of The Work of Byron Katie? Immediately thought after publishing, “I could SO turn around these statements and make them equally true about myself.” Yikes. Thanks for your insight.
Now I’ve really opened a whole can of worms. Any of my feelings could be examined from different angles to reveal all sorts of information about my unconscious self. To give one feeling enough time to really get to the root of it could take hours, days, weeks…years! Basically what I’m getting at is that I could spend the rest of my blessed life on Step 4 and never really get it all done, whatever “done” means.
Is it enough to simply acknowledge that I harbor feelings of resentment? Feelings of fear? Of anger? Maybe I could satisfy the straight A student in me by filling out the nice worksheets, putting them in a file folder labeled “Step 4” and then hold the file, telling myself, “Here it is! Proof that I have worked through the 4th step!” Even better would be to have a teacher take my worksheets and grade them…write a big fat A on them, slap some brightly colored stickers on them, pat me on the head, and say, “Good job, Lorien.” It could happen, but it probably won’t. Not that I couldn’t convince a teacher that my work is excellent or anything (wink wink)–it’s more the idea that the work of taking a searching and fearless moral inventory will never be over, nor should it be. Regularly taking stock of my inner world makes me more available to be present in this moment, present with an open, spacious and clear mind.
The goal isn’t to reach a finish line. Willow, another dear reader who takes time to like and respond to my posts (goddess bless her too) commented:
I spent years working on my emotional healing before I grasped (though I’d been told more than once) that it was a journey, not a destination: there wasn’t an issue-free paradise up ahead; instead emotional healing meant I would recognize and deal with my issues much more quickly–and now that that’s happening, it’s more than enough.
If I could shift my perception from a need for resolution and a linear completion of this task and instead move toward acceptance that this work is ongoing, then I might be able to relax about it all, and perhaps even enjoy what the work reveals to me.
Here’s to hoping. Maybe I’ll take that bottomless can of worms and go fishin’.
No other moment but this one
Nothing to change or fix
Nowhere else to go,
Nothing else to do,
Nothing to judge, analyze, evaluate or understand.
Just here, just now,
clear sight and the joy of existence
Surrender and discovering the source of peace within–
Let this be enough.
And in this enoughness,
let me know true freedom.