We all have stories we tell ourselves. We have an experience and we try to make sense of it.
Whatever story is created is not done in a vacuum but within all the previous experiences and stories of life.
These stories are fundamental. They help us grapple with the unexplained and the inexplicable. They help us provide reference and perspective, context and meaning. As we grow, change, and shift, our stories can also grow, change and shift.
The problem comes not in that we have stories but in the choice or the accommodation to the stories we hold. Just as stories give support and uplift our understanding, they can also create walls and barriers which separate us from the essence of our being. We mistake our stories and our experiences for our truth. The walls separate us from seeing and feeling into the core of who we truly are. The separation divides us from our process of becoming.
Stories begin in early, early childhood when we don’t yet have a sense that we get choice about what we think about ourselves. We are inclined toward taking whatever the grown-ups around say about who we are and who we can become.
As we mature, we mistake these stories as truth. We usually do not realize that within ourselves we have the ability, the right, and the opening for our stories to help get to the core essence of self rather than hide this essence from sight.
And as we get older the stories create a patina, a shellac which becomes a fragile outer shell that we unconsciously work to protect. We fear the breaking of this shell because the breaking feels like it would be the end of the world. That our hearts could not endure what feels like must surely be an utter collapse of everything we hold dear.
In self-defense and within a sense of protection, we create more stories to help protect the worn patina of the years. We pile up and we try to forget the pain, the division, the heartache that comes from being separated from truth.
Love is attention to the whole. Not just the parts we can stand to bring out in the daylight.
Love witnesses all.
Love hears the pain and nurtures our becoming. To stand in love is not to ignore but to be willing without reservation to allow your shell to break. To allow essence to spill out.
Love allows space to become. Love allows tenderness to the uncomfortable bits. Love willingly stands in the dark with that which is not yet ready to emerge. Love is patience in this moment of undoing, of allowing the fear to well up and break through the dam we have futilely constructed.
Love gives support as we let go of the stories which no longer serve. Love helps us learn through attention and reflection about who we truly are. Love witnesses in awe the wonder of your being. And helps you find your way through the collapse.
I wish I could say that once you have broken through you are done. But that’s not been my experience in life. I have experienced many collapses, moments I did not think my heart could endure. In large part, I think of my spiritual journey as the path I have chosen because of the collapses. I always feel something fundamental shift within. And for a while I am left with a sense of not knowing. Not knowing why, not knowing how, not knowing where from here.
When the breakdown occurs, I have found that somehow I make it through. And I am going to have to trust that somehow that will happen in this moment. Through the attention of Love, I will find my way past fearfully told stories, allowing myself to choose new stories to support the expansion of my becoming. In Love, with Love, the essence of my being steps forward.
This article is part of the articles I have written on the personal aspects of growth through spiritual practice. To read more like this, check out What is Spiritual Practice?