Sometimes, you just aren’t ready for the lessons that life has in store for you. Head down, focused on your daily struggles or eyes focused on a prize that is not meant for you…and BAM! The universe reveals itself, huge palm to your face, and says “Hello there Blondie, don’t go this way! ” My lesson came swift and smothering, like a slap and then a pillow to the face. No time to scream, kick or flail. Inner trauma requiring a complete halt of everything I knew to be me. This lesson will change my life course dramatically. But isn’t that what lessons are about? Isn’t that why we are here? To experience pain, joy, love, fear and discover, through these events, who we are at our core. To reveal our essence. To break and then re-build, with love.
I am a health care worker, to be specific, a Respiratory Therapist. Or, at least I thought that was who I was. My work had become my identity, the vibrance and force behind my vitality. Then, for reasons I cannot disclose, my work was taken away from me. My sustenance withdrawn, a struggle ensued. It was messy, it was exhausting. Mud flew and I fell to my knees in exhaustion. I believe that I only survived because of my support system and because I found an amazing guide to help me make sense of this unfairness, this trauma, this… lesson. My guide broke me down into 4 pieces. My body, my Ego, my spirit and my soul. (If you had met my Ego, you would understand why he gets capitalized!) In complete disharmony, my work was to reveal these pieces, understand them, find them balance and set them free.
How can a helper and healer survive if she cannot help? The love that I felt for and from my patients, their families and my co-workers was a connection to my purpose and fuelled my soul (Well, hello Ego!). This energy was a force for my survival. So taken away, I found myself adrift and utterly lost. My Ego was horrified, scrambling to find me some source of love and vitality. So I went deeper, found my soul and saw…the light within. This light was deep buried and like hauling an iron bucket up from the deepest of wells, I work daily to keep it in sight. My soul resides in this well, with walls built thick and dark and wet around it. My life’s work is to break down these walls brick by brick and lift this bucket up for all to see.
I see now that caring for others is not my destiny. It is my destiny to love. But first, I must love myself. I had lost all respect for my body, running it to exhaustion until my heart literally warned me of the danger of this path. Respect for the body, the mind and the soul must come before all else. Only then can we turn this love outward and be free.
Four hard months of caring for and healing my body, revealing my Ego, discovering my spirit and reveling in the light and clarity of my soul. These are the gifts of this life lesson.
I will tell you what I have learned, but know that each of us is on a unique journey and no one story is the same. Your answers will come on your own time. (Have you ever found a book at exactly the right time for reading it? Not made sense of something the first time you experience it but then had a wicked ‘A-ha’ moment at a later date?) I know that every day we can either make decisions – rational thoughts weighing in on pros and cons – or we can make choices. Choices come from our soul, our heart and often feel like intuition. In the words of my favorite guide, “Analysis is paralysis.” To experience your path, you need to feel your way through it. Close your eyes to reason and use your heart to know the answer.
“If experience is viewed in a certain way, it presents nothing but doorways into the domain of the soul.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
It is our perception of every person, place or thing that determines our reaction. We ourselves make meaning in every interaction. A person full of hate can remain so in your mind and be justified, or they can become understood as a fearful child who trusts no one…not even themselves… so resulting in the need to control everything around them and being terrified of human connection. This perception shift requires empathy and as such is challenging for most as it places our own nature under the microscope for review. (What… me? But I’m perfect!)
I am unbelievably grateful for the circumstances that caused me so much pain and confusion…resulting in growth, creation and love. In this, I found forgiveness. The pieces of me that fell shattered, once put back together, no longer form the same person. New boundaries around self care and family have been set. New priorities revealed. A new lens through which I witness sources of love and joy that have been there all along, patiently waiting for me to find them.
Will I remain in health care? Yes, in some form or another, as I have a passion for education and healing. The context is irrelevant. In today’s acute health care, there are limitations that my morals and values will never agree with. (Putting it politely!) My heart speaks to driving change but not at the sacrifice of self-care. My patients deserve the best. Caring at all levels – emotional, mental and spiritual as well as medical. Care without love is not healing, regardless of how much we would like it to be so. To love in our care is much harder work…but as I now know, the work of love gives back 100 times more, letting the pieces come together. Letting our stories weave together. A tapestry of hope, joy and peace.