Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Power of the Past

Sometimes as we are moving forward, we find ourselves stuck, unable to take the next step, even if we know what the next step is.  At other times we find ourselves avoiding the steps, sometimes intentionally, sometimes unconsciously.

I'm guilty of avoidance behaviors myself, particularly in the last few weeks.  I've been avoiding doing things that still need to be done, things that I can do even if I'm not certain when I will be moving.  But instead of taking action, I've been running away from home a lot, taking day trips just to get away from the house, with nowhere in particular to go, just driving, taking roads I've never taken just to see where I'll end up.  And even when I've been on the road for hours, and my butt cheeks are screaming for a softer cushion, and I know it's time to head home, I find myself looking for one more road to take.

Why?  That's what I've been asking myself.  Why can't I do the things I know need to be done, the things that would help me move forward?  And time and time again, the answer that comes is: I'm afraid.  I've taken a lot of risks as I've walked this path, some with much greater levels of uncertainty than this upcoming move to Nashville.  So this fear seems a bit unreasonable, as well as unrelenting .

Knowing that as we move forward, old experiences from our past can sometimes get in the way and hold us back, I decided to use tapping (Visit if you'd like to learn more about this technique.) to see if I could figure out where this fear was coming from, why it was holding me back, and if I could release it.  As I tapped, layers of emotions were peeled away.

What came up as I continued to tap through the layers surprised me.  It was my earliest childhood memory from the age of two and a half or three years old.  Up until that time in  my life, we all lived with my grandparents.   My grandparents (I called them Baba and Deda.) were first generation immigrants to this country from Yugoslavia.  They spoke very broken English, and most often spoke in Croatian.  My grandfather was a very intelligent man, and while not being highly educated himself, valued education.  I have vivid memories of going to visit him every Sunday after we moved out and finding him sitting in his chair in the living room translating between an English newspaper and the Croatian/English dictionary.  He was always trying to better himself.

What I remember most about my grandmother is her gnarled fingers, bent and twisted with arthritis, and how she would always sneak a dime or quarter to  my brother and I so we could go to the little corner store up the street and buy penny candy.  She'd look around to make sure my mother wasn't watching, put her fingers to her lips to signal us not to tell, and reach into the pocket of her ever-present apron, withdrawing whatever coins she had managed to pilfer from the grocery money.  That exchange, and the resultant bag of candy, were the highlights of our visits.

I don't have any actual memories of the time I lived with my grandparents, probably because I was so young.  I don't know what life was really like;  how my parents treated one another, or how they treated me.  I do know that my dad was already drinking back then, and that he liked to gamble.   I found a note among my mother's things that he had written to her back then, apologizing for losing the grocery money, and though I'm not sure he was an alcoholic at that point, I know from other letters that I've read since my mom's death, that his drinking and gambling caused problems between the two of them.  Knowing what the environment was like when I was older and my dad was drinking, I have a feeling from the tone of those letters, that our time in my grandparents' home wasn't all that peaceful either.

My memory, what came up when I started tapping on my fear of leaving Pittsburgh, was of myself as a little girl, standing on the front stoop of our new house in the rain, holding a big plastic baby doll under my arm that was almost bigger than myself, watching the moving truck drive away, tears in my eyes, thinking: "Who will love me now?"  Unthinkingly, as I tapped, I said the words out loud, and as I did, they became more of a scream than a question, and before I knew it, I was crumpled into the fetal position, eyes scrunched closed, repeating those words over and over and over again.

Eventually the emotions subsided, and surprisingly, it didn't take all that long.  Only a few minutes really.   I was amazed at the power that memory held for me, as well as at the quickness of the release.  As I thought about it, I could understand why I've felt so much fear about leaving Pittsburgh and moving to Nashville.  It was all connected to that little girl in my memory who had to leave behind her grandparents and the home where she'd felt safe and loved, to go to a new place, a strange place.  She didn't know what she'd find there.  She didn't know if she'd be loved there, or even if she'd be safe there,  like she had been with her grandparents.

That little girl's fears have been buried deep within me for a very long time.  It's no wonder that as I'm preparing to leave a home that has nurtured and cocooned me, a practice that has supported and nourished me, and a community of people who have accepted me and loved me just the way I am, with all my strange chantings and languages, my other knowingness, my drums and my rattles,  that her fears would come to the surface as my own.  

That small child didn't have any control over where she was going all those years ago.  It wasn't her choice to move to a new city and a new home, to leave her grandparents behind.  At that age, she probably didn't even have a cognitive understanding of all that was happening.  She was all feelings and emotions.  And as Candace Pert has shared in her book, Molecules of Emotion, those emotions left a chemical imprint in my body that needed to be released, so that I could move forward free of that past experience.

As an adult, I'm making this choice. I'm choosing to leave behind that which I know and love, in exchange for the opportunity to be closer to my family.  But just like that little girl I used to be, I don't know what I'll find when I get there.  I don't know who will love and accept me, with all my 'gifts.'  But I do know that since I've  released that old fear, my heart feels more open.  In the days since that healing occurred, I've spent more time at home and less in my car.  And I know that the more I take care of my stuff, the more God will work to move me forward.  So I'm looking forward to what comes next, instead of fearing it.  It's a much more comfortable place to be.


Sunday, June 9, 2013

God's tools

I  made an unplanned trip to Nashville last week.  I decided on Saturday afternoon, left Sunday morning, and got back Thursday evening.  I went because someone was interested in renting my house and said that the sooner I found a place to live, the sooner he would take over!  His plan was to pay my mortgage payment each month while renting my house out to someone else for more money than he paid me, and he would keep the excess as payment for managing things.  Eventually - with no set time frame for this - he might even buy the house from me. 

Sounds almost too good to be true, doesn't it?  But I was referred to him by someone I knew and trusted, someone who grew up with this guy and vouched for him.  I was sure God brought us together because this was the answer to my prayer and my way to get to Nashville sooner rather than later.   I was so excited, and so grateful, that I didn't think to ask a lot of the questions I probably should have asked.  

When I got to Nashville, my son started asking me questions that I didn't have answers for, like: what happens if he doesn't pay the rent; what happens if he rents it to someone who doesn't pay the rent and then trashes the place; what happens if he dies?  The more we discussed it, the more my soaring spirits fell. 

I went to bed that night, but didn't get much sleep.  The next morning, as I was heading out to look at apartments, I decided to stop and see the realtor that I had used before.   He voiced the same concerns that my son had, and told me it was a risky proposition, because the bottom line was that I was liable if things went south because I am the owner of the house.  He suggested I get a real estate attorney to look over any rental contract, and also encouraged me to get answers to my questions.

I didn't rent an apartment in Nashville.  I did look at a couple just to see what was available, since it's been thirty years since I rented an apartment, and didn't really know what was out there. I found out that rentals are in short supply in Nashville right now and rents are more than I imagined they would be, at least in any of the places I'd consider living. I also looked at some condos, just to compare the two.   I was checking out my options.

I came back to Pittsburgh with a lot of questions and a much more realistic outlook.   I've talked to the rental guy, and some of my fears have been diminished.  I'm still feeling like this might be a good thing.  But this is a big step, and I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do.  I'm still thinking about it.  It is, however, another option, a tool that is available if I choose to use it.

Several weeks ago I taught a Reiki master class, and during the attunements, there was a very long message from God that came through.  Part of the message was about God giving us tools to use to help us on our journeys.  He said, "...remember that just because you have a tool available doesn't mean it's time to use that tool.  You need to develop discernment."  That's what I'll be doing over these next few weeks, working to discern whether this is a tool that I'm supposed to use to get me to Nashville, or whether it came into my life for another reason.   I'll let you know what I decide.