The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo. I'd never heard of him before, but already – on January 4th – he feels like an old friend.
On January 2nd, he tells the story of a friend who was preparing to paint a room in his house. He went to the store to buy the supplies – the paint, brushes, rollers, drop-cloths, etc. He returned home, then loaded it all up in his arms to carry it into his house. Of course, he reaches the door and has no hands free to open it. He refuses to put any of the stuff down and struggles to get the door open. He juggles, he twists. Eventually, of course, everything crashes to the ground, including him.
Sometimes we've got to put our stuff down to open the door.
It's a pretty straightforward metaphor. But how many of us do it? I know I'm guilty of carrying a whole lot more than I should. I somehow determined that the more I carry, the more I'm a martyr. And I've spent a lot of time over the years polishing my inner martyr until it's blinding.
The problem is that being a martyr doesn't really get you where you want to go. Which, in the face of betrayal, is beyond the pain – or, to stick with our metaphor, through the door. Being a martyr – you know the one who constantly reminds your spouse that you could "never" have done what he – keeps our hands full and our heart closed.
Holding on seems like the easier option. Or at least the safer one. To put everything – or even some things – down to open the door seems like more work. We think that we'll have to pick everything back up again.
But by putting down some of our "stuff" – our bruised ego, for example; our clenched fury – we're then free to pick and choose what we truly need. When it's all spread out in front of us, rather than piled in our arms, we can see what is useful to us and what is perhaps weighing us down.
It's hard, if not impossible, to walk through the door into healing when you're holding on to:
• blame (a favorite of mine was reminding my husband that he'd "ruined" me)
• ego (too frequently I reminded my husband that the OW was truly repulsive, comments that never failed to make me feel small and petty)
• fear (how could I ever be sure he wouldn't do this to me again? Truth is, I can't ever be sure)
• regret (how often did I wish I could turn back time and scream "Not in this lifetime!!" to the "do you take this man..." question)
• and on and on.
Once I could see how much all this was holding me back, it became easier to put it down. It became easier to focus on that which would take me through the door and prove useful to me once inside. Such things as compassion (for myself, as much as for him), patience (Good LORD, healing takes time...), faith (that I would continue to heal despite setbacks), and wisdom.
Is there anything you're holding on to that you could put down (like your 5th martini, for example? Or that Twinkie?) to help you through the door? Consider it. There's no prize for getting through without effort. The prize is simply getting through at all.