6. Belonging

Reality Check. How do we know that what we are doing is real? How do we know we are moving forwards? How can we know? We can know it by ourselves, or we can know it if other people tell us so. But how do we know it by ourselves? We can listen to our heart, and hear answers. We can observe how other people react to us, and make notes, but then we actually listen to their voices. What remains then, are the whispers of our hearts and the voices of other people. Our healing emerges slowly, and we need signs to assure us that our direction is right, and that we are making progress. We are not looking after sudden changes or perfection, but the direction in which we are advancing.

Our Intuition

We may have learned to replace a large part of our intuition with reason. Our ability to read the expectations of other people is outstanding. We pick up every small message, and we analyze them carefully, reacting in ways that we think will make people love us and stay with us. Our intuition is excellent, and often we understand messages that people are not aware of themselves. Actually, we are often more sensitive than many other people, since our survival was based on understanding the expectations of others, and acting accordingly. We denied ourselves, and we do not use our great gift for listening to the expectations of ourselves. We do not dare. We have learned not to trust ourselves or our intuition in matters concerning us. The messages we received gradually damaged our faith in ourselves. Yet we know and feel when we are moving to the right direction. The shaming messages have not taken away our ability to understand what is good for us, but they have destroyed our faith in it. We desire to become free of our compulsions, addictions, pain and fears. We know what is good for us. We know when we move towards the right direction. When we have been healed, our intuition and our great gift to understand others will remain with us, and we will be persons capable to love sensitively and compassionately.

When we search for the truth, how do we know when we find it? We will know it by intuition. We are children of the truth, and the truth is already within us. We are searching for something unknown, and when we find it, we will know. When we hear someone speaking the words of truth, we say: "Aha! He is right". We know it. We know when we lie, and we know when we speak words of truth. We know the truth, and we know that the truth is good and loving. We may not trust our intuition yet, but it is there, and it is right. When we heal, our trust in ourselves increases, and we realize that we know what is good for us. Our intuition does not need healing. Our faith in ourselves, and in our ability to understand ourselves, needs healing. It was crushed, but our intuition was not. It was directed outside of us, to prevent us from being rejected by those who were supposed to love us. We paid the price, we rejected ourselves for the sake of survival, and we became preoccupied with other people.

There is one major issue that prevents us from listening to our intuition, and it is panic. There may be so much pain and anxiety that we hear nothing else. We may be afraid of people rejecting us, or we may be desperate about the future. In these times we have to detach, and to work through our feelings. When our minds are humming in panic, we can not hear the silent whisper of intuition. When we are in panic, our mind sees only one good solution. When we find rest, good solutions emerge naturally, and there are many of them. If we panic, our problem number one is our panic, and not the issue that causes us to panic. We might solve the problem, and our panic might fade away, but we would not be healed. We would still be dependent on external circumstances, and if similar issues would arise, we would panic again. If we detach, and handle our panic and our feelings first, we would be in peace in many circumstances. People do not need our solutions, especially if they arise from our panic. Neither do we. We need peace, and they need peace.

Our Experiences

We learn much by experience. Actually, we learn nothing by experience. We learn by reflecting on experience. We heal slowly, but we tend to expect results quickly. If we reflect merely on our own experience, we may make too hasty conclusions. We have to work through painful times and painful feelings, and we do not see the results at once. We have been reflecting on our life many times before, but we were not able to break free and find peace. If we reflect on our history only, we are reflecting on the life of an addict, and we do not see much hope in it. We need to see ourselves and our healing in a new light. We can read about the experiences of other people, and my opinion is that we should read much, and we should listen much. When we find something for ourselves, our intuition will tell us that what we read or hear is right and true for us. We know the truth when it hits us, or when we hit it.

When we start making progress, we begin to understand the process of healing, and we will get much new material to think of. We begin to reflect on the life of a healing addict, and we will see much good in it. When we have made a little bit more progress and gained trust in our healing, our reasoning will be completely turned around. When we had hidden pain, we would have done anything to avoid additional pain. After a few experiences of finding peace by working though painful feelings and memories, we will be delighted when we notice pain arising in us. We already know by our experience that something painful and restless within us is being prepared for good-byes. We could not have come to this conclusion on our own, since our earlier experiences were exactly the opposite. Had nobody told us so, we would have been prisoners of our own experiences.

Below is a summary of some changes we will begin to notice in ourselves. They are not in order of importance, nor in chronological order. Some changes may appear relatively soon, and some may emerge slowly. Do not hurry or push yourself. This is not a list of requirements, but a list of issues to celebrate. We thankfully accept our place wherever we are, and we do not blame ourselves for not being where we think we should be. We are where we are, and the best we can do is to accept it. As we heal, we may learn that the place we thought we should have been was unreal or incorrect for us, and we are happy not to be there. Our healing is a process, often a slow one, and not a destination. We do not know our tomorrow today. As we heal, we learn to surrender to today as persons we are, and not as persons we think we should be. We will rest, and we will find peace in being ourselves. We will find an important element of healing love - acceptance. We rejoice of every change we see in ourselves, and every change, however small, makes our life more enjoyable. These changes do not disappear as the time passes - they accumulate as we continue to heal.

In short, we will see the Signs of Awakening to Power of Love. There will be times when all we know is grief, terror or despair. These times will not be long. Yet we have to work through them. There will be times when detaching is painful, and we think we will lose our whole life with a person or with an issue we let go of. As we continue to heal, we realize that we are grieving with issues that are related only to a small part of our life, and they do not threaten our existence as a whole. Grieving begins to be our servant, and not our master. We can grieve something, then decide to have fun on some other areas of life and let go of the grieving for a while. We know it is there, and we feel it, but we know that it can rest for a while. We can feel peace, joy, hope and happiness while we grieve. We know that a sorrow or a memory is being prepared for healing, and we know that there is nothing we can do to force it to disappear. We know we are on our journey to inner peace and rest, and our journey becomes rest. At times, we can concentrate on grieving, and let the terror take us over, but we know we can lay it aside whenever we wish. We are safe.

Voices of Others

When we live our life, other people respond to us, and we respond to them. We will receive responses from safe people and from unsafe people. We respond to safe people and to unsafe people. They may speak or be quiet, and they may tell us lies or truths. We may discuss surface issues or core issues. The discussions may deal with different issues directly or indirectly. The whole spectrum of people and life exists in front of us, responding and requesting responses. In all circumstances, our reality check is simple: increased belonging. We begin to feel ourselves at rest, and we begin to belong in whatever we are doing, wherever we are, and to whomever we are with. We notice it with safe people and in safe circumstances first, and gradually it becomes our whole experience of being.

Safe People

The number one enemy of our belonging is shame. It is something we wish to hide from everyone, including ourselves. We begin to let go of our shame first by recognizing our addiction as good, and by realizing that there are millions of us. We are not alone. We are humans, and we belong in the human race. We have much in common with other wounded souls, and much in common with everyone else. The best we can do for ourselves, and for our belonging, is to share our shame with someone who is safe. He may be someone we will never meet again, or someone who stays with us in our struggles, or anyone in between. We may join a safe support group, and notice that everyone is happy to meet us. Sharing our shame is something we should do, but there is no need to hurry. We will do it when we feel the time is right. When we do it, we let go much of the fears related to our secrets, and we realize that we can continue to live even when someone knows our most shameful weaknesses. This is an important step in belonging, as we notice that we can share our most dreadful secrets with someone, and still be ourselves.

The first step is often the most difficult one, since we have no trust in our ability to walk. After we have shared our obsessions, wounds and pains with safe someone, we will experience much belonging. We have much in common with someone who is outside of ourselves. We have much more in common with humankind, and we own our place in the world - as ourselves, and in rest. There is at least one person to whom we have no reasons to pretend. If he is someone who remains close to us - a friend, a therapist, or a counselor - we begin to look forward to meeting him again. We begin to experience belonging, and we will find rest in it.

When we are hysterical, a safe friend is often our best reality check. When I was panicking and could not see clearly, my best friend often made me see how small issues I was overwhelmed with. He was free of my feelings of anxiety, and he could see the cause and effect relationships distinctly. He did not push me. He merely presented another point of view, and he asked questions. He led me out of my confusion, and I was able to detach. He helped me see that the external issues were not of my primary concern, but my anxiety and panic were. He made me understand that the horrible 'mistakes' I thought I had made, were practically naught. Some of them were plain stupid actions, and I concentrated to worry over their worst imaginable outcomes. Actually, he laughed over some of my worries, and I realized that my perspective was heavily distorted. Many of my overwhelming worries were almost nothing, and my main problem was that of pleasing people, and trying to find instant solutions to wrong problems. My problem was my attachment to people, and my belief that for each problem there was only one good solution, and I was responsible for inventing it. What a wasted energy! My issue was that of detaching, and of realizing that people don't need my desperate efforts to solve their problems. Many times I found rest in the words of my friend.

When we begin to find our peace, we learn to listen to safe people in a new way. We are at rest, and the humming in our heads begins to calm down. We begin to experience less need to defend ourselves, and we can concentrate on understanding the other person. We become free to learn. Our intuition gradually becomes free of picking up their expectations, and we begin to feel compassion and empathy instead. We begin to belong to the other person. We begin to listen to them in a new way, and they experience being heard by us. We sense that we understand them, too. We will begin to enjoy new aspects of friendship and belonging, and we will see that we are meaningful persons.

When our shame begins to fade away, and our fears weaken, we realize that we have much experience of life that can serve other people. We do not merely listen to them in a new way, but we begin to share our experiences constructively. We know what pain is, and we have much compassion. We learn to respect our experiences, and we learn to share them in gracious and healing ways. We respect ourselves and others. We know what shame and isolation are, and we become safe persons in the most difficult issues of life. Other people experience freedom and belonging, and they can rest with us. We become healers.

Unsafe People

As we heal, we begin to understand that unsafe people are not unsafe because they want to, but because they can not be safe. When they treat us unlovingly, they are not saying that they do not love us, but that they do not love themselves. We begin to understand issues behind their behavior. When we were in pain, we could not choose to respond with any other way than we did. Yet we wanted to love and to be good.

I used to lie much. I used to tell stories to make people admire me, but such esteem was not real. It only increased my fear of being the real weak me in front of their eyes. I used to pretend that I liked something, only to find myself in circumstances contradicting my personality or my values. I wanted to hide my goals, because I was afraid that they would not be fulfilled if I asked openly. I lied about nearly every issue related to my compulsive and scary mind, since I was especially ashamed of it. My efforts to belong only isolated me.

When people tell us lies, they do not do so without reasons. Lying always increases separation, and they feel it. They have good reasons to lie. They may be afraid that we would reject them if they told us the truth. They may lack validation, and when they feel that their lives are empty, they tell us lies to make themselves appear worth of at least some value and respect. They may have goals that they find shameful. They may be driven by their compulsions or they may feel shame. They may expect us to do something for them, but they are afraid of telling us so. They may have hidden agendas, and they are afraid that they would lose their goals if they revealed them to us. Their words and behavior may contradict each other. As we heal, we begin to recognize different issues behind their lies. We learn to respect their lies, and we realize they have their needs to hide. We let them hide, because it is what they choose to do, but we also communicate that we are safe persons and we will not reject them if they told us the truth. We do not force them to truth, yet we do not let their lies control our life. If their lies would undermine our life, we own our power as lovingly as we can, and we stand for ourselves. If their lies are meaningless, we let them lie. We ignore their lies - we ignore what they told us, but we do not ignore the comprehension that they had a need to lie. We may validate some real aspects of their lives. They may be afraid of us. They know that they are lying, and they have their reasons to lie. Instead of shaming and rejection, we communicate acceptance. We do not accept their lies, but we accept them as human beings worthy of love and respect. If we have to choose, we respect their words and not their behavior, but we also take care to respect ourselves and our lives, and we do not allow them to control us with their lies.

We do not try to change people. If necessary, we may need to set limits to their behavior, or detach from them. As we heal, we begin to own our power to be ourselves, and we let others be themselves. If they wrong against us, we let them know that they have wronged, but we also let them know that we have forgiven. We begin to know where we end and where other people begin - we begin to have boundaries around our personality. We can belong only when we know who we are, and we learn to know ourselves when we belong. We begin to realize that we are a distinct person, and that our person belongs in the universe of all kinds of people. We begin to experience peace and rest wherever we are, and with whomever we are. We begin to experience belonging even when we are dealing with unsafe people. We begin to see their shame, their fears, and their isolation. When we are at rest, our intuition will reveal ways to communicate love and acceptance. When we are at rest, they will notice their own restlessness. They may or may not like it, but it is completely their own issue. They may come to us, or they may go away, but our life will continue, and we will enjoy it.

We are not responsible for the behavior of others. We are not responsible for getting them out of troubles their behavior has led them to. If we are their rescuers, we prevent them from colliding with the reality. As we heal, we begin to let people face the consequences of their behavior. There may be times when they need to be rescued from troubles too great for them to handle, but certainly they will be exceptions. We begin to let people face their pains on their own. If we try to remove their pain, we are not helping them, but enabling them to continue living without learning to handle their own pain. We will prevent them from healing. We learn to be with them in peace, as they face the consequences of their actions, and we do not try to solve their problems. We begin to trust that they will grow as they handle their own difficulties by themselves, and they might realize that they need to change. We will be available to love them with healing love. We do not push them or try to control them.

An acquaintance of mine is quite restless, and often he came to me to show what he had achieved. He used to talk about his achievements almost endlessly, until I got enough of it. Before I began to heal, it irritated me, and sometimes I treated him rudely. A few days ago he again visited me, but this time I intuitively recognized many issues behind his behavior. I was peaceful and at rest, and when I looked in his eyes, I felt a deep sense of belonging - as if I was he. I felt much compassion. When he noticed my peace and rest, he became aware of his own restlessness, and he became significantly more restless. Soon he left. For the first time in my life, I missed him after he had gone. I still miss him, and I would like to show him a way to healing.

Events of Life

As we heal, we begin to be at rest in the present moment. We are less anxious to advance somewhere else, to another time or to another experience. We begin to feel the present moment as good, and we begin to understand that the present moment is all we have. We need to plan our future, but in doing so we do it in the now, knowing that we are planning, and we are happy to plan. There is no anxious need to see the outcome of the plans at once. We need to reflect on our past, and on the events of the past, but in doing so we know we are reflecting in the now, and there is no anxiety or displeasure. We know that we are reflecting because we want to learn and to grow, and not in order to regret or to change our past.

We learn to recognize when we age grieving, and we are able to say, "I am grieving now". When we grieve, we let ourselves regret our past, our actions or our losses. We try to use all of our feelings and internal messages to get in touch with the issue. Sometimes we may grieve so much that all we can do are to moan and to lament. We let our feelings take over, and we re-experience the moments of hurt. In doing so, we will be increasingly aware that we are grieving, and that we are able to stop it at any time.

When we are thinking of the future, we will learn to distinguish our actions from their outcomes. We are increasingly aware that we can plan our own actions only, and not the actions of others, or the end result. We learn to let go of the end result, knowing that we have done our best. If the outcome is something else than we expected, we can plan new actions, or we can grieve our loss and realize that we can continue to live a happy life. We learn to trust our Higher Power, and we accept the unexpected outcomes as his gifts that are superior to our plans. They may not be what we wanted, but in that case they are much better. Our Higher Power has a twofold plan for us: to give us a happy and meaningful life, and to make us happy and meaningful persons. His purpose is not to give us an easy life - his purpose is make us people who are at ease wherever they are. When we need to grow, he may lead us in uneasy circumstances, and when we need rest, he gives us rest.

Our Higher Power wants us to love our life, and everything we have. We have his permission and his command to love our cars, our houses, and our favorite coffee mugs. We have his command to love ourselves and those around us. Yet, we know that eventually we will lose everything we love. Our coffee mugs break into pieces, and we grieve the loss. People leave us and die, and we grieve our loss. I have heard many people say that we should not love our earthly possessions. I think we will sacrifice much if we don't dare to love our favorite coffee mugs, our cars, gardens, souvenirs or memories. The more we heal, the more we become aware that actually they are meaningless things, and we can continue to live without them. Yet, they are important to us, since they remind us of good times, and they give birth to pleasant feelings. Sometimes we are afraid to cherish them, since we don't dare to experience the sorrow when losing them. As we heal, we begin to give ourselves permission to love everything around us, and we begin to enjoy the fullness of life in simple things. Everything around us begins to belong to us, and we begin to belong to everything around us. We begin to experience that we belong in our home, in our city or village, in our country, in our continent, in planet Earth, in our galaxy, and in the universe. Separation will cease. We will rest, and we will belong.

 

With Love,
Healing Eagle

Out of Pain

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