A wise therapist once shared the wisdom that experience is not the same as truth. It is probably one of the more profound things I have ever learned, and something about which I need to remind myself regularly. It is kin to the more commonly known adage that perception is reality, but what we experience takes root at a place more deeply seated within us than a cognitive apprehension of our perceptions.
I've been struggling for years to reclaim a part of myself that used to thrive. Following the pattern of my distaff gene pool, I used to be very good at honoring the people in my life with remembrances of their birthday. I would send cards, bake a cake, make a collage... I let my creativity run wild with ideas that actually got executed. My mother provided wonderful examples of ways to make people feel special: I remember especially my freshman year in college when I opened a box from her that was filled with green Easter grass and the contents of what would have filled a basket had I been home for that holiday. (Thanks again, Mom!) I did my best to follow her example, and enjoyed exercising that gene enormously.
And then something happened my junior year in college that wounded me deeply. It was a few years later that I learned from a friend what was behind the behavior that had been so hurtful. I was able to understand the dynamics that led to what happened, and forgive those who had caused the hurt. Though I moved on from the pain of that time the wound had cut deep, and seemed to have severed the connection to the part of me that honored others in expressive ways.
I stopped baking cakes and cookies. I didn't buy birthday cards. My creative well of expressive ideas slowed from an abundant spring to a barely damp creek bed. Occasionally there were relationships that took me deeper into myself than the wound had cut. My goddaughter, Johanna, was one such relationship. My friend Kathy was another. And Sammy. From time to time an idea would strike about something that would be meaningful to another and I would do that. But by and large I have not been able to retrieve the self-less and generous spirit of my youth.
I miss that woman terribly. I'm not fond of the shuttered, inhibited person who has taken her place and fallen into routines of silence and benign neglect. That old, deep wound seems to have redirected the course of my inner river of connectedness and I don't know what to do to experience the life-giving flow that once nourished not only me, but my relationships. The experience of being closed is not the truth of my spirit, but it's shadow looms so large that light has a hard time reaching that spirit. I need desperately for this truth to set me free. It will make all the difference in my world.