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Angel in My Life: Learning

Posted By Loolwa Khazzoom On April 5, 2009 @ 10:21 pm In Living with Chronic Pain | 1 Comment

This post is a continuation of “Angel in My Life: Changing.

After returning home, I obsessed about what I could/should have done differently with Allen. On the one hand, I was simply reflecting on my own actions, in the interest of spiritual and emotional growth — utilizing the experience to learn new thinking and behavior.

On the other hand, while imagining different actions I could have taken, I was attached to what Allen’s responses might have been. If I had done X instead of Y, maybe Allen would have responded with A instead of B, and everything would have ended up Z – i.e., the way I wanted it to be. And so I was constantly replaying scenarios in my head, wondering what I had done “wrong.”

A woman in my spiritual program suggested that Allen and I had played out the classic “love addict/love avoider” dynamic: The love avoider comes on very strongly in the beginning; s/he is totally present and engaged; the connection feels other-worldly; the love addict throws her/himself into the relationship 100%; the love avoider disappears without explanation; the love addict pursues the love avoider, asking what s/he did wrong; and the love avoider runs even faster and harder.

While I did not resonate with being a “love addict” per se, it did feel liberating to have that script run by me. I did not, I came to realize, do anything wrong, and I immediately felt the obsession lift. Allen’s and my interplay was in fact perfect and delicious, I since have come to realize. I was in a space in my life where things played out exactly as they had to, for me to not only (re-)learn but also deeply embody the following lessons, both through the experience itself and through my openness during experiences that followed:

1.        Trust the energetic experience

While I have had a plethora of other-worldly, transcendental experiences in my life, I struggle with trusting and continuing to embrace them, once the moments have passed:  

If I have a soul connection with someone who later acts like an asshole, I may let his post-intimate behavior undermine or altogether invalidate the connection – as if I am no longer allowed to feel its beauty and impact. If I am so in alignment with the healing energy of the universe that I can see and absorb vibrations and eliminate pain, I think I made it all up. I think it must have been coincidence that I stopped hurting when I did.

I have since come to profoundly understand that all these other-worldly experiences are both real and everlasting. I simply get caught up in the layers of fear, defensiveness, and limited thinking that make me question what I have experienced and block its potential resonance in my life. In our society, that which is on the visual, tactile plane – that which can be pointed to as “evidence” — is presented to us as “reality.” But what is real in fact encompasses an exponentially greater field of consciousness and possibility.

2.       Surround myself with people on the path

I recently went to a “modern day meditation” group, as part of my mission to get out of my isolated state and engage with communities that are in alignment with my path. The experience with this meditation group was profoundly life-affirming.

The facilitator played music that took us through journey of sound – increasingly then decreasingly energetic over a two-hour period. During this time, she guided us to sit with, move through, and vocalize whatever feelings came up for us. To this end, she gave us all “scream towels” and instructed us to yell into them whenever the urge arose.

It was definitely my kind of gathering.

Throughout the evening, I alternately laughed, danced, cried, and screamed, moving with my own internal energy as well as the collective energy of the group. And so I came back into alignment, not only with myself, not only with the universe, not only with the Creator of All, but with the people around me — those courageous beings who shared my journey into the soul.

Over the past several months, I had come to feel that I had “lost my dance,” that I had lost my alignment with the universal forces of healing. I was not sure how to access them again.

Through my experience with this meditation group, I came to realize that I can access and re-access this state of being through connection with others on the path — a bold, spiritually conscious community that supports and validates the “other-worldly” reality, that individually and collectively returns to the place of love and light and healing, again and again and again, as external forces try to pull us out and away from those core places of truth.

Living with chronic pain, my energetic forces are even more aggressively depleted each day. And so a conscious, loving community is all the more imperative to my well-being. Of course, there is a catch 22: Pain itself creates isolation – ie, because of the pain, it is exhausting to simply go outside and engage in the world. And yet that is exactly what I need to do, so as to heal. I must make community a priority and do the best I can to access it at any given moment.

3.       Keep my heart open

Appreciate all the beauty and blessings that the universe offers me. Dayenu, as we say in Hebrew: That is enough for us. See the rest as icing on the cake. Yes I can pursue the further development of what draws me, and so should I heed the call of my soul. But if things do not evolve as I want, take pause. Appreciate what I have received. Let that be enough. Be a responsive dance partner (see below).

In the case of relationships, acknowledge that the other person may or may not relate to experiences as I do, may not want to respond to experiences as I would. Do not take it personally, do not let it shut me down, and do not let it close my heart to the other person – even if I end up needing to set boundaries on the relationship.

Recognize that each person has his/her own set of life circumstances, dramas, and baggage through which to navigate. Practice compassion for the known and unknown factors of each person’s life. Each individual has a relationship with these factors, and every person filters life experience through them.

As such, our relationship to our mutual experience may be radically different, as may be our relationship to our relationship. Always seek the place of intersection, and know that as with all things in life, that place will constantly shift, ebbing and flowing.

Cherish the gifts I am offered, and juice them for the spiritual mileage they are worth. Sit in the eye of the storm and the heart of uncertainty, and pray. Invite clarify, peace, wisdom, power, serenity, and faith. Trust. Call to a loving, nurturing power greater than any power I have ever experienced. Move through the outside world from that deep place within the heart and soul.

4.       Be a responsive “dance” partner

Being a responsive “dance” partner means first and foremost having awareness of my own desires, passions, abilities, and limitations, as well as having the ability to express them. Within that framework, I then need to be in tune with and responsive to the energy and movements of my partner — whether chronic pain or another person. I need to move in simpatico with that entity.

I need to give space for things to develop in their own way, in flow with the energy and timeline of an individual or the universe. I need to draw from my movements in dynamic interaction with the movements of my dance partner, whether a person or force.

And I need to recognize that things can shift drastically and without warning. I may be leaping and twirling, then suddenly pull a muscle and have to dance lying down on the floor. A man and I may have a fiery love connection, then suddenly he pulls back without explanation. Instead of sitting out the song, I need to adapt the dance and keep on moving. I need to trust my body, soul, mind, heart and that of my partner. I need to keep on keeping on.

All of this is of course an art form, a nuanced balancing act, a dance in and of itself, of which I have questions:

  1. How do I ensure that I leave no stone unturned – that I do my work, contribute my part, not allow misunderstanding to dictate the course of events – while also listening, honoring, and being responsive to the feedback I am receiving from another person?
  2. How do I express myself authentically and honor my own spirit and needs in a relationship – not compromising them in the name of respecting someone else’s?
  3. How do I keep my heart open without allowing myself to be taken for granted or mistreated?
  4. Should I not be able to build on a foundation – to take a person’s words and behaviors at face-value, respond to them in kind, and expect a certain outcome? Aren’t expectations a reflection of safety and trust, an adherence to a certain standard of behavior? And is that not a good thing?
  5. How does gender training affect the relationship dance? When is it that I am not being responsive enough to my “dance” partner, and where is it that he simply has not learned to be responsive to certain moves from a woman — and therefore withdraws from the dance altogether? How does that dynamic limit my desire or ability to dance with a man?

The story continues with “Angel in My Life: Returning.

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