Part 20 of a continuing series, (see Part 1 here), documenting and reflecting on a set of states I mapped and moved in 2008. The set revolves around a deeply buried, internalized violence taken on in childhood and adolescence in response to experiences with my father.
(What follows is a direct excerpt from The Feeling Path. It retains my perspective from 2011.)
I am extremely lucky. Normally this sort of internalized violence gets passed down from one generation to the next. That could easily have happened through me as well. I had absorbed the essential ingredients to become an abuser or worse. The set of nine states pivoting around the Vicious Enforcer, combined with others equally ugly and hurtful I’ve uncovered over the years, was destroying my life. From the outside, I looked like any other screw-up, a failure by anybody’s measure. Few friends, no family, no love, no career, no money — all this potential and talent fully and completely wasted.
In a way, the Vicious Enforcer owned me. I hated myself for having it inside me. I hated myself because within me I harbored the exact thing I despised the most. This was a part of myself which was separated from love. When we hold some part of ourselves separate from love, it is impossible to be fully present in relationship. It is impossible to be fully open to another. It is impossible to love at all, or to receive it from any source.
Our deepest need is to love. Our deepest hunger is to connect. Our deepest thirst is to belong. When something within ourselves bars the door to what we most require to thrive, we lose our commitment to life. We lose our remembrance of the utter mystery and astonishing beauty of simply being. It becomes easy to hurt others without thought or remorse. If one holds the reins of power, it becomes easy to make decisions that devastate lives or decimate populations. It becomes easy to destroy our own lives, whether quickly through suicide or more slowly through drunkenness, addiction, numbness or dangerous lifestyles. It becomes easy to forget what is important, to lose empathy, and to immerse oneself in manipulation and gamesmanship and exploitation just because we can and it is easy and there is no motivation to do otherwise.
This is the condition in which many people inhabit their lives, destroying themselves unthinkingly, destroying others reflexively, unconscious about both. This is the condition in which I was inhabiting my own life.
Yet lurking inside were these amazing and beautiful gifts, a selection of which I am blessed to be offering you right now simply by how I am choosing to show up in my writing. Other gifts which have come to light in doing this work — the ability to be fully present with another’s pain is one I treasure the most — were similarly hidden. All were revealed through this process of going into the apparent blocks, obstacles like the Vicious Enforcer, embracing them fully and inviting them to reveal the gifts within.
Over the years I have done this thousands of times with myself and others. Within myself I have exposed states most gruesome. Other states within myself included intense, howling pain; a nauseating wrenching as if my stomach was being forcibly ripped from my body; a crushed heart; and a chest made of raw, ground meat, as if destroyed by a shotgun blast. One was like the mouth of hell behind me, waiting to suck me into a terrifying unknown. And I have encountered countless fearsome states in others with whom I have worked. Rage and hate, viciousness and despair, crushing hopelessness and devastating pain, paralyzing terror and abject isolation.
In every case, no exceptions, the state released gently into a place of resourcefulness and authentic truth. Always at the core of any human pain or ugliness is beauty beyond what we might ever imagine. We are astonishing beings, and that is always true, no matter who we are, no matter what we have done.
And this is not rocket science. It does not require finding the perfect cocktail of toxic psychotropic drugs. It does not require interminable trudging through the hallways of the past. It does not require finessing the exact right timing or combination of techniques or reconstruction of beliefs. When you get right down to it, this is ludicrously simple! Embrace what is. Invite what wants to be. Embody the difference. It’s not so complicated.
It is, however, hard work.