I'm adding this image, which I created last month, entitled "Safety"
It seems relevant. In the image I originally had, the wall went all the way around the figure in the middle. I realized that is no longer how I am... and opened it up. Opening up does allow for some pain to get in, but without that opening I've missed out on a lot. I don't want to do that again, and this experience (below) illustrates why.
I've been on a Spiritual Quest for some time now, and it has brought me again and again to the fundamental beliefs of the ancient Shaman. So, yesterday I was looking at Shamanic retreats and workshops. Suddenly a name I hadn't said out loud in thirty years, jumped off the screen and knocked the wind out of me.
I will call her Nando.
She moved in across the street from me when I was around eight, but we really didn't became friends until I was eleven. Our friendship lasted through middle school and a year or two beyond.
Nando was an interesting mix of shyness and enthusiasm. I loved her in the way many twelve-year-olds love a best friend. I remember sleep-overs and walks to school, the stories she loved to write and how excited she'd get over a new, favorite song. I remember that her first crush was on a boy named Brett, and I can still see how she looked when he held her hand.
I was not a good friend.
I was very troubled. I was confused. I had no idea about boundaries of any kind and found my worth only in physical relationships for most of my teens.
I knew even then that my behavior was not right, I just had no idea why I behaved as I did, or how to change it. I can remember telling Nando about the rape that happened when I was fourteen, as if it was nothing. Closely following that, I confided sleeping with other men, practical strangers, always much older than I.
But the kicker was when I slept with a guy she liked.
Not only did I sleep with him, but then I told her about it.
I know. I'm not proud of it. It was a rough time for me and I'm afraid that spilled out on everyone around me.
So, yesterday, after I caught my breath, I texted a friend of mine who knows about my love of Shamanism:
A good friend who I've not seen in over thirty years is a practicing Shaman!Her response:
You have to get in touch with her!
I told her:
We had a stormy past... a guy came between us. It was ugly.She wrote:
Two Shaman and their stormy past involving a guy? That's a book I want to read! Write it! Now! And you know - she's a SHAMAN. How bad could it be?Me: Do you think I should email her?
Her: There's some reason you found her, now.
So I composed the following email and then closed my eyes and hit send:
My breath literally caught in my throat when I came across your name. So many memories... wonderful, painful, and some full of shame… It would be such an honor to reconnect with you.
How ironic to find you in this practice... I have friends who call me "the Shaman." but I’m only beginning to learn this Spiritual path.
Perhaps, even after all this time, there are things you haven't forgiven, Holding those distant resentments blocks the energy we seek... this much I do know. If you feel as if you can, contact me. There is a place in my heart that will always be for you.
I hope this finds you well, ~Shen
This morning I was excited to see her name in my inbox. I clicked to open it, and this is what I found:
Well, it was certainly interesting to find this email. I haven't really thought of you in decades. I hope you are doing well in your journey through life and continue to learn and grow.
As for myself, my life is pretty full. Perhaps it is because I have a vocation that fascinates people, but I am constantly being asked to be friends with people. However, I barely have time for the small, close-knit and very special circle of friends in my life...and I'm a very private person. So I really don't have the time, energy or desire to pursue other friendships.
I wish you the best of luck!
May joy and peace fill your life!
I mean - excuse my language, but the words 'what the fuck' come to mind. Her "vocation" is "fascinating" and she is "constantly" being asked to "be friends"? I had thought of several possible scenarios, but being treated like a groupie or a member of the Paparazzi never crossed my mind.
And this is how she is after twenty-some years of intense spiritual practice?
It really hurt me deeply that she would so calmly tell me that she had no time for me and her claim that she had such a close knit group of friends that she didn't need anyone else felt absurd. My stomach cramped up and I saw red for a while, but gradually I calmed down.
Email to Nando (this morning):
So, that's my latest emotional crises. A very small part of me looks at her words and the threat of ancient worthlessness pushes towards the surface. However, I'm so much stronger than I used to be. I don't feel bad through-and-through or hopeless as I likely would have even a year ago. That's growth.Well, what a surprising response.I'm glad your life is full, as is mine. The growth and seeking I've been doing for the last few years has brought me many close relationships, so, I don’t find myself in great need of more friends. On the other hand, I’m not in the habit of turning them away when they present themselves.
After seeing your name, I remembered so many things from the past that I haven't thought of in years. I wonder how your mother is. I always thought she was a special person and was so jealous of your relationship with her. I needed someone like that in my life, when I was young. I was so hopelessly unguided.
Of course, I'm hurt by your dismissive response, but I know there must be a reason I came across your name. I will leave you to your busy, private world and wish you the best. I am going on a private retreat next week, and in that solitude, I will let this go. Hanging on to hurt doesn't serve me... that's one thing I've learned well.
Good luck on your journey and should it bring us together in the future, I hope we can co-exist peacefully. If we never meet again, enjoy the ride and I'll see you on the other side.
In one week, I'm returning to the wonderful quiet of the retreat center I've been to, twice before. For two days I will be completely alone, cut off from all outer contact including phone, internet, tv, radio, or actual human contact. I'm hoping to find that elusive stillness that I only seem to be able to get to through isolation and contemplation. While there, I have a list of things I want to release. Now I have one more thing to add to that list.
We all make mistakes and some of them follow us throughout our lives. At least at this time in my life, I'm able to look at her words and realize that the walls she holds up to protect herself keep out as much love and connection as they do pain. It never occurred to her that I might have something of value to offer her. Instead, she saw my reaching out as a burden. It's sad to think how much she will miss out because of her closed attitude.
And... it's joyful to know that I'm no longer inside those walls.