The pool where I swim is such a powerful teacher because it often puts me in situations that bring up what is asking to be seen. Last week, I had an encounter with a woman at the pool that showed me again how deeply the beliefs we took on when we were young influence our lives now – until we bring them into consciousness.
One of the core energetic patterns I took on, and that I have done a lot of healing with, is the belief that if I ask for what I need or want, I will be rejected (and sometimes it even feels like I will die). This came mainly from sharing a bedroom with my older sister whose survival system was to be the best. She was the master and I was the servant. I kept my mouth shut and did what I was told, and I never touched my sister’s things, even when they were on my side of the room, for fear that I would be annihilated. It took me a long time to trust that it is okay for me to have needs and wants, and I have learned to speak them without the fear of dying. But, every once in a while, this young part of me still shows up.
There is a woman who oftentimes is in the locker room at the gym at the same time I am. There are long table benches surrounded by lockers and she has a tendency to spread her stuff all over the table, leaving little space for other people. When I first encountered her, I was in reaction, but I asked Life, “What are you showing me here?” for I know when I am getting tight there is something that is asking to be seen. As I explored what was going on inside of me, I saw that her survival system was the opposite of mine (which says don’t make waves, don’t assert your needs, and don’t infringe on other people’s needs). As soon as I recognized this, my heart softened to her.
On this occasion, I went into the shower room after my swim and this same woman was there. She always takes two hooks, even though there is only one available for each shower. Usually I go to an available shower and leave a little heart energy for her, but on this day only two were open. One was at the very end and barely has enough water pressure to wash the shampoo out of my hair. The other was the one right next to her and she had, as usual, co-opted its hook. Without a thought, I took her stuff that was on the hook by my shower and moved it down to the open hook at the very end and then I got into the shower. But as I was washing my hair, my heart started pounding wildly. My mind said, “Mary, you are a really bad person.” I felt like I had ‘broken the code’ of the bedroom shared with my sister by moving her clothes off of my shower’s hook.
This ancient feeling of impending disaster came like a tidal wave, and I reacted to it (rather than responding). I decided I needed to get out of there before she got out of her shower or she would know it was me who moved her stuff. But when I turned off the water and opened the curtain, I saw that she was already getting out of the shower. This young part of me was not yet ready to meet her face to face, so I quickly stepped back into the shower. I took a really long shower, and as the warm water was cascading over me, I asked Life, “What is asking to be seen?” I took a few deep breaths, relaxed into those tight places, and saw clearly that this young part who feels the terror of breaking the bedroom code needed me to be there with her. I brought kindness and compassion to the one who is so scared to claim her needs. Slowly and surely my heart opened and the fear let go. When I stepped out of the shower and was walking to the locker room, there was no fear of meeting her or what she might say.
So, how do you come back to Life? You don’t come back by trying. That is just more suffering. You come back by learning to see and be with all of the energetic patterns (feelings) that got bound up inside of you when you were young so they can let go. You can trust that Life is putting you in situations that allow you to see your bound up energy so you can set it free with the power of your accepting attention.
Mary O’Malley is an author, counselor and awakening mentor in Kirkland, Washington. In the early 1970’s, a powerful awakening led Mary to begin changing her relationship with her challenges, freeing her from a lifelong struggle with darkness. Mary’s latest book, What’s In the Way Is the Way, provides a revolutionary approach for healing your fears, anxieties, shame, and confusion, so you can live from a place of ease and well-being. www.maryomalley.com