Recently I went through a challenging relational experience with someone I’d considered a dear friend, and it left my heart feeling raw and trampled.
Isn’t it astonishing how each heartbreak we experience can bring to the surface every other unresolved betrayal, grief, and disappointment we’ve ever known?
It’s as though the fresh wounding opens old scars, and all our unhealed pain from the past jumps on the wagon of our current pain, hoping for deeper release and resolution.
What might appear initially as a significant yet momentary hurt, can suddenly assume the weight of a lifetime of hurts, darkening the lens of our perception.
After a couple of weeks of working with this challenge in all the ways I know how to do—meeting the pain directly, using my carefully honed skills, calling on powerful mentors for back-up, leaning on trusted allies—still I felt stuck.
The drama no longer felt active, all my inner narratives had quieted, the pulse of reactivity had ceased, I felt compassion and self-compassion, and yet still my heart subtly ached with inflammation.
That morning a dear friend reached out, carefully tracking me in the way she does after twenty-three years of friendship. And somehow the words she offered found their perfect target.
She said, “You took a big hit. To your heart. To your nervous system. To your emotional body. You took a big hit, on behalf of life itself. You received it, you marinated in it, and now it’s time to complete it. You are a medicine woman. So sit down and make medicine of this. Finish the job.”
By some miracle, her words were like cooling ice to what was swollen and inflamed within me.
I could suddenly see: no further postponement was necessary.
And so I turned towards this hurt, and all the old, haunting hurts piggy-backing this fresh one, and I simply opened to them all, fully and completely, without defense.
I let love take care of it. And then it was done. It was complete.
One more massive chunk of heartbreak, met. One more chance to open even wider to life, through life’s pain.
More than a week later, as I write these words, I notice I’m still tender and humbled and vulnerably impacted by the experience. How could I not be?
How could we not feel continuously tenderized and humbled by life’s heartbreaking ways?
Perhaps as we mature in our lives, and become seasoned in heartbreak and disillusionment, we strengthen in our sobriety and our resiliency.
Perhaps we become more efficient in our medicine-making ways.
And yet never at the cost of our human vulnerability, tenderness and humbling.
When I look into the eyes of my most respected elders, and as I draw from their hard-won wisdom and grace, I feel their strength firmly interwoven with their vulnerability.
I note sobriety braided with self-compassion and humility.
I witness radical generosity and fierce resolve in their gaze, their words, and their ways.
And so, here’s to the inevitability of life’s continuous tenderizing and humbling.
Here’s to ever-more efficiently making medicine of life’s disappointments, failures and betrayals.
Here’s to the possibility of no postponement in resolution.
And here’s to love, relentlessly leading the way.
Photo Credit: Natalia Newman