A guest post by Diana Baur
Several years back, I went through a spiritual, emotional and physical crisis of a proportion I had never experienced.
There were moments during that time, many of them, when I thought I might not make it through. So severe was the pain and suffering.
Events and timing in my life had precipitated a fall so deep that getting up again seemed unlikely. I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to get up again, or could. I languished in pain for a good long time, not knowing when or how it would resolve itself.
I couldn’t see clear of the fear and anxiety; it came on like a tidal wave, scaring me to intimidation and submission. I didn’t have the skill set to defend my soul from it.
Around about this time, an important event was taking place.
I had to make a decision not to go to something that I and many others wanted me to attend, as I was physically and emotionally too weak to meet the challenge.
By making this decision, a person I love judged me harshly.
The situation that presented itself between myself and this person set us on a direct psychic collision course.
In a twist that I never could have imagined, she judged and repudiated me, casting me as self-centered and worked to convince others of this as well.
The fear of rejection
I was scared out of my mind that I would lose this person and all the people who she could in any way influence during a time when I was weak and injured.
I was too sick to defend myself; being cast as something other than I actually was terrified me beyond belief and shoved me further and further into a state of depression and anxiety.
I ended up relenting and doing the thing everyone wanted me to do. It was something that I would have, under normal circumstances, loved to do but was not in any condition to do as it required my traveling thousands of miles while I was still too scared, weak and sick to travel alone.
Interestingly enough, doing the thing every one expected of me didn’t change the anger or hostility. It almost made it worse.
This person accused me of wanting to bring attention to myself by actually attending the event. My anxiety and terror at failing this person grew ever stronger, but at the same time I realized at a deep level something was bizarre and wrong.
The real problem, I sensed, was with me.
I felt emotionally blackmailed. I was morbidly worried that I would lose this individual, that she would cut me out of her life.
I wondered, for months, what it was about me that so needed the approval of others so desperately that I would allow myself to be forced into an emotional vice and ignore my own best interests, health, and well-being.
I cried about this for years.
Every single day.
I woke up crying, went to sleep crying.
About how I had failed people, and how they had judged me, and about how unfair that had all felt, how completely powerless I was.
A firestorm of pain
What I didn’t realize was that during those years of crying every day, something else was happening. A shift. A full-blown, top-to-bottom shift. I was actually healing by going through a firestorm of pain.
The hurt was happening for a reason. It started to move me out of the position of the victim. Little by little, I was getting fed up with feeling powerless. I was tired of being scared of someone who I had no reason to fear.
In between the hurt and frustration and confusion, I started to stand up for myself in situations where I would have just shut up before.
I wasn’t always successful or good at it, but I started to say things like, “I am equal to you. I won’t automatically subjugate to you on matters that are important to me. I won’t accept feeling bad or wrong or inconsiderate simply because I disagree with you.”
This was a huge step forward because I was the person who wanted to keep the peace at any cost.
The relationship with this person became tenuous and tense, the kind where you spend a lot of time walking around on egg shells because you know that the shit could hit the fan over the smallest thing.
I had spent a lot of time not saying what I thought to her. Like the entire time. A lifetime. Which should have been completely uncomfortable for me but wasn’t.
It was what I seemed to do best – swallowing down my own opinion instead of owning it.
But whose fault was that? Mine? Hers? Both of ours? Neither of ours?
Maybe there was something else at play here. Something bigger, deeper, more meaningful. Something that I would need to dive into and come out the other side of.
I began to think. Maybe there was something else at play here. Something bigger, deeper, more meaningful. Something that I would need to dive into and come out the other side of.
A big, sumptuous pool of love that would carry me to a place of understanding. Maybe that’s what what I needed to dive into.
- To get another perspective.
- To understand the hurt and the rejection and make it right.
- To move forward.
- To stop being scared.
- To be able to laugh again and to stop crying every day.
- And to be able to do my work, the work I was put on earth to do — my passion.
Maybe, just maybe, this person was put in my path from the very beginning to hold a mirror to me so I could finally see what was real in my life. And to stop cowering around about it.
The events that precipitated the insights I’ve gained through this person whom I truly love could not have gone any differently than they did.
I see that now.
I see that I set her up as much as she set me up.
I had been a doormat for a very long time and that was not her problem. It was my problem.
She had gotten used to a certain behavior where she could take the lead and I’d more or less agree. Even when I didn’t. I’d stew afterwards and get angry and resentful but not say anything to her. That was not her problem. It was mine.
I made myself small around this person because I was afraid that if I overshadowed her, she’d pull away from me. That was not her problem. That was mine.
The fact that she got hurtful when I tried to be honest with her was not my problem. It was hers.
The fact that she judged me harshly was not my problem. It was hers.
That she couldn’t or wouldn’t empathize or show compassion for me when the chips were down was not my problem. It was hers.
I see this entire situation as pretty much balanced. The way I see it, we both need to take responsibility if we want to move forward with a loving relationship that doesn’t involve eggshells.
What pain teaches us
I will tell you the life lessons I learned from this person.
The first thing that I feel most passionate about was that I never, ever, EVER, want to make anyone feel the way I felt as a result of the psychic collision I experienced with this person. I vowed, completely and with all my heart, to never judge anyone to the best of my human ability.
The second thing that I feel most passionate about was that I want to experience and feel compassion for every living thing, every day for the rest of my life.
- I want to understand the hearts of others.
- I want to give them space to be who they really are.
- And I want to help people. Make them happy. Open their hearts to see the good inside of them.
- I want to love them unconditionally, and I want, more than anything, for people to feel safe with me.
- I want to create beauty for people and give it to them with my art.
- I want to let my healing words mend their struggling souls through coaching and mentoring.
- I want them to sit on the veranda at my inn in the Italian countryside and come back to themselves as though they were truly coming home.
- I want to help people work out their struggles and come to a place where they understand what their work is and how they can embrace it fully.
These things, I found, are my work, and it means more to me now to do these things than ever before.
The third thing I felt most passionate about was that none of us EVER really know what’s going on in the lives of others, or what other people are on here on earth to work on or work out for themselves.
We must have empathy for the positions and situations others find themselves in.
There is no “normal.”
There is no “right.”
I want to give people the freedom to be honest with me, and I want to empathize with and honor what they are going through, even if I don’t completely and totally understand it.
I relearned all of these things from the pain I experienced in a very heightened way. I “knew” them before, but I had not completely internalized them and called them forward in my life until I experienced what it was like to be on the flip side of judgment, compassion and empathy.
I don’t know if there could be a more powerful lesson that one person could teach another than this. I mean that with all sincerity. Maybe it was part of her work here on earth to help me work these things out for myself. I know that I would not go back and change any of these painful events because the outcome is so rich and textured.
The most valuable wisdom that this person imparted in me is this: there is a method in the madness. There’s a plan and that plan is that you are love, and it doesn’t matter if you get hurt and obliterated in the process of getting there.
There is a plan and that plan is going to take you to a higher place.
And that higher place is where you will transition from on the day you leave this earth and reunite with your higher Self. The more love you learn here, the more you take with you, the higher your vibration, and the more joyous your future.
The challenges that are put in front of us are there for a reason. They are to help us understand who we really are and what’s most important to us.
Seriously. I mean that. Don’t step away from trials and difficulties. They are there to ultimately heighten your humanity.
There is nothing like push-back to crystallize how you feel about things.
For awhile, you languish and don’t understand.
You get mad. Hurt. Pissed off. Furious. You feel scarred and damaged.
Maybe you get that way for a good long while.
But then you could get so completely and utterly disgusted that you tear down the towers of anger you’ve built up and fall completely apart.
And while you’re down there on the ground and the air is very still, you’ll notice you’re breathing, all by yourself, trying to make some sense of all of these things.
And you start piecing together your soul puzzle. The things that are important enough to you that you start to think about standing up again.
And maybe this time, when you stand up, you’ll realize a little more who you are.
That you’re love.
That you’re compassion.
That you’re empathy.
That you don’t have to live in an angry place just because you’ve had to struggle.
You can live in a wise, beautiful, safe place with your struggle. A loving place. A place from which you can do your work with passion and joy.
And that every part of your struggle, every single blessed part of it, helps make you beautiful and whole and alive.
Your struggle makes you you.
Diana Strinati Baur, a recovering marketing executive, has found peace as an author, innkeeper, artist and creative coach. She lives with her husband Michael and dog Max in the wine country of Piedmont, Northwestern Italy. You can find her writing, ceramics and bed & breakfast at www.dianabaur.com. Her debut novel, True Vines, was published in October 2012 by Gemelli Press.
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