Previously, I shared that I’ll write a blog each week and the next one will outline my action plan for spiritual growth. I will be writing that blog on the weekend. But this one came to me today, so I’m sharing it first.
The early spring of 2013 found me once again in a therapist’s office. My horrific miscarriage that February forced me to look at all aspects of my life. I was determined to heal myself fully. I felt that the loss of my baby would not be in vain. I needed to heal my life for the sake of this child and my living child, if not myself. Up to this point in my life I had seen the inside of many therapists’ offices. I read every self help book I could find, even one called “Shut Up, Stop Whining and Get a Life”. Having a psychotherapist for a mother I am familiar with and had tried many personal growth tools. But things never really seemed to improve. There were periods of happiness and moments of clarity but nothing about my life seemed to get easier. I was always struggling, swimming against the current.
In 2013 I had hit my rock bottom. I would have done anything to feel better. My therapist at this point was actually a good one, a very good one. She asked me if I had read Melody Beattie’s book Codependent No More. I had read it years before, of course. This time for some reason I didn’t give my usual argument against all advice and suggestions I received. I was in so much pain I would have done anything. I agreed to read the book again. I went to the library immediately, got the book and read it and everything changed for me. This time it seemed the book was written about me. My shift began in the ER bathroom in February but that spring day in that therapist’s office a pivotal moment occurred. I was finally truly ready to walk my path.
I now know that this change in my state of readiness happened just as it was meant to, just when it was meant to. That being said, I feel there is great benefit in sharing the roadblocks I experienced. As they slowed down my personal growth and subsequently caused me a great deal of unnecessary suffering. So, I’m sharing 4 of the major roadblocks I have encountered thus far on my journey. I’m sure there will be more to come but what is a journey without a few bumps on the road.
- Don’t just read the books (you have to do your homework if you want to learn). As I mentioned I have read more self help books than I care to admit. I enjoyed them all and had many deep insights. In some cases those insights helped me for short periods of time but I never made any real breakthroughs. Now I know why. I never did the homework. Those, sometimes annoying, always time consuming, exercises that are in almost all self help books. Well, it turns out they are there for a reason. You actually have to do your personal work in order to grow, there is no way around it. You may learn some things through osmosis but you can’t cheat spiritual growth. No one else can do your work for you. You have to work the program, dive deep and face your own fears. You can only do that by actually doing the exercises. If you are not ready to do your work don’t waste your money on the book.
- Don’t sit in a therapist office and whine about all the horrible things that are happening to you. There are plenty of not so great therapists that will take your money and just let you whine (sometimes for years) about how tough and unfair life is. The good ones will challenge you to look at yourself, at what part you are playing in making your life so shitty (hint – you play a really, really big part… bigger than you may want to know). If you want to go to a therapist and not listen to the suggestions they make… don’t go! Save your money until you are actually ready to stop whining and start looking at yourself. (Can you tell I read that Stop Whining book more than once?)
- Finding the right teacher is critical. As I mentioned in my last blog there so many wonderful programs and groups that provide, at their root, the same teachings of “universal wisdom”. They all convey those messages in their own unique way. On my journey I have learned that when I was not in touch with myself (at least enough to know what felt good to me and what didn’t) I ended up in situations that weren’t a good fit for me. I was so preoccupied with my feelings of discomfort that I’m sure I missed the teachings. I see now that my first lesson was to connect to myself and actually know what intuitively feels right and act on that. Once you feel you have found the right teacher or group it is critical to commit to the process as deeply as you can, for a reasonable period of time, before you evaluate your experience. Do all their exercises and complete the program before you are on to the next book or group. There are so many options out there (kind of like buying a tube of toothpaste). You could spend your whole life just sampling all the options and never actually doing the work (we can find distractions everywhere if we really want to). I experienced a major exception in this which I will share, so stay tuned. But sufficed to say that gut feeling trumps everything on this journey.
- You can’t get off this train (even if you want to, I mean really want to… like pull the freaking emergency break want to). This last roadblock is more of a warning sign or the fine print that you never read before you sign. This disclaimer is that once you start on this path, once you have that first major awakening there is no turning back… ever. I have never seen this depicted better than in the movie the Matrix. Morpheus offers Neo a choice. Take the red pill and awaken to a new perspective and learn what the Matrix is. Take the blue pill and stay in the dream of this world as we see it. Once you take the red pill there is no turning back.You may have a brief vacation from your new found perspective, a rest on the side of the path, but you can’t ever get off this ride. Even when you’ve rested so long that you think you can see your old way of being you will never see it as you did before. You cannot unlearn. At times the path is rough, but once you get a taste of the ambrosia of self love you will not want to turn back even if you could.
When I returned to my therapist office her next suggestion was that I try an Al-anon meeting. I was in a state similar to Jim Carrey in that movie where he is supernaturally compelled to say yes to every opportunity that comes his way. I agreed to her suggestion and went to a meeting that very night. Little did I know walking into that first meeting that I was about to be faced with a choice. I took the red pill….and that made all the difference.