The above poem by Goethe, so beautiful, so pure and evocative, speaks precisely to where I find myself now: in the furnace, in the fire, watching the stuff of my ego burn in the fervent hope that my Phoenix will indeed arise from the ashes, and that it will bring not only healing in its wings, but a renewed fire, an overwhelming passion, that will burst forth from inside of me and leave a trail of multicolored sparks in its wake as it hurtles through the sky.
In my last post I spoke of the gritty emotions that have accompanied the dissolution of an emotional codependency I had embroiled myself in for several years, but now I’d like to go beyond that to the heart of the matter. Because that isn’t the heart of the matter. No one person is worth all that pain, as each in my beloved circle of wimmins has assured me over and over again during the past few days, and they’re right. The pain isn’t about that one person at all. I’ve known all along that the only person it’s about is me, but when the fire gets so hot that your skin feels like it’s blistering, you may find yourself scurrying for the nearest oasis of comfort you can find, which – tada – in a codependent relationship happens to be your co-dependent! Funny how it works that way. It’s easier to assign your troubles to someone else than it is to assign them to that holy fire which surrounds only you. Since I no longer have a codependent, the question of what goes where becomes moot: I either accept the fire or live out the rest of my days in increasing bitterness and sorrow, blaming whomever else for my woes instead of taking responsibility to address them myself. I’m accepting the fire.
Probably the most surprising and wondrous corollary to this particular situation is the realization of one of my most longed-for prayers: to once again have a circle of women with whom to share my life. Not in unhealthy codependency, but in genuine companionship, the kind that fosters deep growth in every area, where I’m finally in tandem with the truth-tellers, the story-weavers, the dinner-bringers, the one-shining-word-wonders that were in my life all along and I didn’t even know it. It wasn’t until I started telling my story that they emerged, one by one. The first tentative admission of shame, and the rope was let out a little, releasing my heart just that much. One person told and then another, each time bringing a little more slack to the rope, a little more distance between me and my dark secrets, another loving pair of hands to hold me up. I look around me now and find myself surrounded by all these incredible, courageous, wise women. How did this happen? It happened because I decided to break open my heart and reveal its contents, come what may. And nobody gasped in horror… and nobody turned away… and each one loved me. Loves me. I’m so humbled.
So, what is the heart of the matter? It won’t surprise you because it’s possible that you feel it too, or feel some inkling of it, or have already walked through it all the way to the other side. (If you’ve made it to the other side, please wave your hands and halloo at me so I can see who you are. I might need your phone number.) It’s Emptiness, that’s all. Just your plain old-fashioned garden-variety feeling of emptiness, which – when it suddenly finds itself unfilled by people, activities, accomplishments, all the usual accouterments – tends to scream like a howler monkey and wake you up, heart pounding, in the middle of the night.
This time I’m not going to grab any old banana to throw at it to get it to pipe down. This time I’m waiting… waiting to be burned down to ashes… because bananas are only temporary solutions, for one thing, and for another, I don’t really know what I want when all of this is said and done, when I finally rise again. Except for this. I am going to live a true life. Whatever I do will be done out of my authentic self, whatever beautiful thing that that turns out to be, and it will be beautiful when it appears because it already is beautiful, buried deep down there under the ashes, or wrapped in its silvery cocoon. Butterflies and Phoenixes, finally revealed, always take one’s breath away.
Thank you for being here, friends. Love to you all!