THESE ARE EXCERPTS FROM THE STORY . . .
Healing has been a whole-life interest, I think. Given my birth into a Christian Science family, healing has always been an issue. It fascinated me: How does it work? What is it really? What’s the process? What’s the aim?
I think originally, my focus was on outer healing and then the more I went along, the more it shifted to inner healing, as it was clear that that’s what has to happen for anything to change. I think in relationships, in my marriage especially, the shift to the inner was most pronounced. Relationships pushed me to do my inner work.
An inner shift
In college, though, I had a call for inner healing that came from my own struggles with growing and adjusting. I had something like a nervous breakdown. It wasn’t clinically treated, but my mind wasn’t working in the ways I needed it to. I underwent a shift way back then that’s stayed with me. I realized I couldn’t entirely rely on my mind. I felt I had to open to a source of knowing and healing beyond me. So I underwent an inner shift, one that’s affected how I’ve approached things ever since.
At least part of the healing process involves birthing a wider perspective, some broader self-awareness and way of being that allows the healing process the space it needs to do its thing. Healing involves going beyond where I am, letting go of narrow, limiting perspectives. I want to feel integrated in a bigger way, engaged in larger processes than what I thought was going on, some kind of process that’s good and brings out good that I wasn’t thinking about or even imagining.
That doesn’t mean I don’t want outer situations to be healed too, obviously, whether they’re physical or psychological or interpersonal. Writing in the fields of philosophy and spirituality, a lot of my work is about the seen and the unseen, so it isn’t all seen, and it’s not all unseen. It’s both of them, somehow converging to tell a story of growth and transformation that takes everyone to a new place, me too. Then healing feels rich. And it creates intimacy, closeness.
Chaos theory supports this view. Self-organizing systems often seem chaotic as they do their thing, defying neat solutions, and yet through what seems like their chaotic complexity emerges something beautiful and amazing beyond what could be predicted from viewing any part or from one perspective. Aligning ourselves to this chaotic life-process, letting it happen, trusting that something good is going on, or opening ourselves to allow this creative chaos to create its own new order—that’s what I get as the general healing ballpark. It’s easier to talk about than to do, of course.
Sorting out what’s mine
If you’re in a relationship, part of what you have to deal with is your stuff and part of it is not your stuff and so naturally, an obstacle is that you have to sort out the two. You have to deal with the fact that you’re not in control of all the stuff that’s going on. I’m never really sure which stuff is mine and which isn’t, who’s projecting what on whom. Sorting out what’s mine and what isn’t, figuring out how to best deal with my own stuff, not to mention figuring out what to do if I’m being impacted by stuff that’s not mine, that’s one set of obstacles. Or maybe those are just the basic challenges for healing—what gets the ball rolling.
Not knowing how to engage in healing raises another set of obstacles: not knowing what the healing process is for myself or anyone else. How do we heal from all this junk we carry around? We can talk about our junk til the cows come home, but how do we heal from it? How do we get whole again? Or is that asking too much? Maybe we get whole by self-knowledge—knowing our issues, knowing they’re there, learning how not to be triggered by them, using the inner places of soreness and pain to keep us growing. How much can we actually ask of healing? What is the healing process? If I don’t know it, how do I know how to go about it? It’s new territory, really. So the biggest obstacle is not knowing how to go forward.
I think a further obstacle is being able to identify adequate resources to know how to go about healing. What would really help? I felt we were on our own trying to figure this out. Being self-employed, we didn’t have the money to get help—no health insurance. Even if we had, I don’t know what we would have done because we didn’t know where to go or what to do. So that’s a big obstacle.
Acknowledging to ourselves that we were engaged in a healing process was a huge step and hugely positive, because then we realized that what was causing pain in our relationship wasn’t personal to either of us. We realized that we were each carrying pain from way back and that it was spilling over into our marriage, so it was a breakthrough to say, "That’s the problem, and let’s start finding out how to heal it. It’s not that you’re being a jerk or I’m a jerk; it’s that there’s a need for healing, and we can do that together."
Another area keeps coming to mind, namely, healing my life, my career: what am I here to do? That’s been an on-going issue for me. I was always butting up against things in my life work-wise. I’ve felt what I was doing wasn’t quite right, or it wasn’t clicking, and I didn’t know why or what to do instead. Again, being self-employed, we were on our own. What are my talents, and how can they be expressed? How can whoever I am work best within the culture? So these two parallel lines have been the focus for my healing work—healing my relationships, and healing my life: What do I do with my life? How do I express whatever I came here to do? These are hard questions when I don’t know what I came here to do. I have a general idea of this, that, or the other, but….
An identity apart
Because my husband and I worked together, my identity got totally bound up with his in our working relationship. In losing him and the way of life I had with him, I felt like I was losing everything. I realized how much I defined myself in relation to him and in terms of being related as a couple. We worked as a team, a unit, and I was losing that. We’d been together all day every day for 24 years. Suddenly I was going to have to experience my identity apart from him and on my own. I know now that that was necessary and healthy, and part of me knew that even then, but it felt like cutting my lifeline.
A hot spiritual flame
The spiritual was involved too. We’d been working, writing, and teaching about the world’s religions, and I’d spent many years with that group exploring metaphysical and spiritual ideas. And yet, it got dry. It didn’t have the living fire for me. It became too intellectual, too much something that went on in my head or in an emotional inspiration that allowed me to escape my issues rather than deal with them, face them. My sense of spirituality wasn’t sufficiently lived or made my own, and this huge upheaval in my life brought that need to a crisis. So I had a spiritual pain that came with having to go through such a painful experience without being able to rely on a hot spiritual flame in me. I felt zapped on all levels.
And yet, on the other hand, there was something in me that knew that there had to be something good going on, some order and purpose at work. The experience proved to be a kind of second birth for me, and some part of me knew that. Whatever was happening, I thought, had to be serving the highest good of everyone, even if it took some doing to get there. I was working on The Mystic Heart of Justice at the time, and the book is all about each of us being who we are and doing what’s ours to do—that justice emerges as we’re each true to ourselves. So I felt that my spouse was doing what was his to do, and if that was so, then I was being called to do the same, even if it booted me out of all sense of comfort, security, and predictability, all my mental and emotional habits. The gap between theory and practice, ideas and life was being bridged, albeit through this incredibly painful experience.
On many levels
So the healing process was going on at many levels at once, and I was aware of that, and it was overwhelming. It also hit me on a physical level, as it inevitably would. I couldn’t eat and lost weight and had trouble sleeping, as most people do going through this kind of thing. Frankly, I just wanted to check out, to die.
What kept me going was believing that I had some purpose here and that these events had some good, healing purpose, though naturally, a lot of times I gave up on that, which is when despair set in. A deep part of me believed in a sense of purpose to things and in the value of the process I was going through, thank God, but an everyday part of me got lost in despair regularly, a lot of crying, like I’d never done before.
Soul based relationship
So, in a way, our relationship coming apart when it ceased to serve its purpose for us as individuals proves the sacredness of the relationship, that it was and is soul based, spirit guided. What’s sacred isn’t about keeping outer forms fixed and static, forever the same. It’s about life and growth, and that requires that forms change to keep pace with the inner, spiritual mandate. That’s really sacred, even if it’s painful and calls us to change. So the sacredness of our relationship lay in its aliveness, its connectedness to our souls, so that when our souls called for a change in our relationship, it happened. I can take no credit for this happening, except that I was somehow able to hear the truth. I wanted to keep the form fixed as much as anyone does.
Yet a year later, I can see that being rigid, static, in a rut, afraid to change, bound to forms—none of that counts as sacred. Sacred means being alive, and that means changing forms, dying to the old so we can be reborn to the new, allowing death so there can be resurrection, new life. Only things that have no life don’t change. Sacred is what’s alive, therefore what’s alive has the capacity to change, to totally restructure. That’s what happened. Our relationship was so sacredly alive that it did totally restructure, and experiencing that has revolutionized my concept of what’s sacred in relationships.