Hello Beautiful Souls- My symbol for self-discovery is the Lotus Flower today. As some of you may know, the lotus is a perennial, aquatic plant that thrives in nutrient-rich, murky conditions. Lotuses root themselves in the mud, their lengthy stems reaching upward to find the top of the water. There, the lush blossoms grow, and as the lotus blooms, the blossoms unfold one by one.
Petal by petal, each one emerges pristine from the mucky water thanks to a protective outer coating that repels dirt and water. The petals last for just a handful of days before shedding.
I share this with you to describe the following a-ha moment, or a shedding of petals for me, if you will. In my teaching memoir, My Soul Contract, instead of using the symbolism of the lotus, I explain how I use the dismantling of walls, (the walls I created to protect my heart), brick by brick, to uncover and discover my deeply-rooted wounds. All of us have many layers of bricks to chip away at, or lotus petals to shed, until the foundational experience is realized, seen, and felt. Before I explain in depth, I want to make it crystal clear that I blame no one for my pain or trauma. I fully understand that I chose the people in my life, including my parents, family members, and friends to guide me and teach me what my soul and spirit are here to experience in this lifetime.
Yesterday, I experienced a familiar hurt but it took me until this morning to fully grasp the connection to the teaching moment for me.
I was invited by my closest and dearest friend to join her at a local craft fair on the Saturday following Thanksgiving. Although, I was interested in the fair, I was more interested in spending time with my dear friend.
Rather than sleeping in on Saturday morning, I decided to get up early and get ready for the day so I would be ready to go on a moment’s notice. We both had other obligations and chores to do so we agreed to be flexible on a time to meet at the craft fair. I cleaned my house, did some laundry, and was ready to head to the grocery store. I didn’t want to tackle that hour long chore without contacting her first, figuring that as soon as I did, she would be ready to go.
After about 45 minutes I hadn’t heard back from her. Figuring she must be busy, I decided to head to the store. My phone alerted me to a text message when I was getting gas. My friend’s response informed me that she had already gone to the craft fair with her daughter and apologized that our plans hadn’t worked out.
Immediately triggered, I felt disappointed and hurt. I said out loud, “Just like Kelly.”
In that moment, my memories of an equally disappointing experience with my sister came flooding back. My sister and I had made plans to go shopping in Chicago with her and her family. She was to call me when they were leaving and they would pick me up on the way to the train station. Similarly, I rearranged my day so that I would be available when they were ready to go. I waited and busied myself until I felt a nudge to contact my sister and ask for an estimated time of arrival. Much to my dismay, she explained that they had to leave earlier than expected and were already in the city. I was deeply hurt. I told her it was okay.
Left behind. Not included. Not important.
I have done a lot of work to uncover these foundational wounds to recognize them as triggers for me. That doesn’t mean that I don’t react, it means that I limit my reaction period to honor the healthy boundaries I’ve created for myself.
Less stress equals a happier, healthier me.
Unlike the experience with my sister, I texted my friend back to let her know that I wished she would have let me know about her change of plans. I wanted to tell her that I understood, but the truth was, I didn’t. Not that I didn’t understand her circumstances, I didn’t understand why I was feeling as emotionally hurt as I had so many years ago with my sister.
I started to examine my behavior in an attempt to understand why. Why am I so triggered by what feels like being ignored or not important enough to be included? I was determined to figure out what childhood experience steered this behavior.
As the observer I began to examine my behavior to prepare for our outing. I got up early, rearranged my schedule, and kept my phone on me at all times as to not miss my friend’s text. That behavior in itself was very telling. I had to be ready at a moment’s notice at her prompting. Why? My friend is patient, kind, and understanding and would certainly understand if I needed time to meet her. Why had I attached these unwarranted parameters to our plans and our friendship?
My answer wouldn’t come until Sunday morning
I woke up, poured myself a hot cup of coffee and as I sat sipping and staring out my front window, it came to me. It felt as if I were watching an old 8mm home movie. Something I usually experience in meditation, but I was fully immersed in my three-dimensional reality.
My mind movie starred my sisters, my mom and me and I watched, knowing we were waiting. We were in my childhood home in our living room, waiting for my dad. As was typical before each outing, my dad reminded us that if we weren’t dressed and ready to go by the time he was ready to go, he would leave without us. Ready to go meant, bathed, dressed, hair combed, and ready to walk out the door when he said it was time to go. I remembered the frustration of waiting as he routinely made one last trip to the bathroom. His last trip to the john was our last unspoken notice. We had all better be ready and waiting or else, get left behind.
The lightbulb went on! All these years later, this behavior, this threat of being left behind weaved its way into my current day behavior. The fear of not being ready, conditioned me to believe that if I was bathed, dressed, hair and make-up done, it would allow me to be included at a moment’s notice.
I internalized this childhood conditioning as an emotion of unworthiness and a fear of abandonment. Simply put, if I am not ready, I will not be included and if I am not included, I am not worth your time.
I have so much gratitude for my friend today. I really don’t know all the events that led to her decision to go to the craft fair without me, but it resulted in a deep understanding of old behaviors for me. I will be able to quickly identify when I feel this way again and remind myself that I am not the little girl waiting for her dad to say it’s time to go. And next time, because there will be a next time, I will be able to call upon this experience with understanding and have enough love and grace for myself to recognize it as old conditioning, release my emotional attachment to it, and let it go.
Petal by petal, the old conditioning falls away as we shed behaviors that no longer support or nurture our souls. Some lotus flowers have 1000 petals, reminding me that there is always more to shed.
Each discovery is growth and all growth transforms towards the healthiest version of me.