My way of learning about the world was to lead with my whole heart, to put the squishy sentimental thing right out there on its own and see what would happen. Sort of a Knight in Shining Armour complex I guess - put myself as Distressed Damsel #1 in front of a speeding train to find out if I was smart enough, strong enough to save me from doom. As is easily predicted, I've had my heart squashed several times.
And I think I've finally gotten the message - my heart loves, that is what it was put in my breast for - to feel, to communicate with others on a sympathetic and empathetic level. It is not for seeing or hearing or thinking or analyzing. It should stay tucked away until I've atleast taken some precautions to make sure the coast is clear. If I am to to choose and hold a partnership with the Logue Mathias family homestead for all the generations to come, I need to be able to employ the right tool for the job. My heart is the long-term liaison, not the advance scout. Back behind a breastplate it goes. Actually, I think I'll make that a full kevlar vest as I'll not tolerate any more knives in the back either. Piece #1 of my Halloween costume. (Though I totally wish it were so, this is not a picture of my breastplate but a lovely example of the offerings at www.schmitthenner.com)
In my life, I have been an alcoholic. I used to believe it was a disease that I had contracted in college but I know it was really a tool I purposely used to navigate in a world where I did not belong. I used the terrible medicine to confuse my senses, to blunt the sharp edge of truth so I could walk across where I shouldn't oughta be. Six years ago, Schick Shadel Hospital helped me back from the railroad tracks. I've learned to untie myself before being totally run over and lately, I've been able to steer clear of those dangerous rope salesmen altogether.
If my heart is going to stay disengaged for awhile, I absolutely must rely on other tools for gathering and evaluating information about my world and those who would come into it. To be able to clearly hear hidden agendas. To see all the fine print rather than just a rosy glow. To scent the smoke before I walk into the fire. I would feel right about offering myself as a partner with such skills. Pieces #2, #3, and #4 of my Halloween costume.
When I was a teenager, I treasured my subscription to Seventeen magazine. I would pour over the glossy pages everyday for thirty-one days until the next one arrived. Each page, each day, each month built to the single delicious ad tucked in the back: a Finishing School For Girls. I just knew the six P's of comportment (Persona, Packaging, Positioning, Promotion, and Passion) would grant me entry into the glorious, glossy Seventeen world. Alas, I never made it there.
Near the end of The Fasting Path's preparatory exercises, I was dropped headfirst back into that world with questions about my body image:
"Let yourself sit and get comfortable. Then imagine, standing in front of you, the ugliest part of your body. How do you feel seeing this part of you? Look carefully at this part of you; what messages do you tell it every day? Is there something that this part of you wants to tell you? Is there something it wants from you? How do you feel about what it wants and says to you?"Well, shit howdy. Right there in the middle of transcribing the questions to my journal, I realized I didn't think any part of me was ugly, or fat, or diseased in any way. About fifteen pounds overweight, yes. The same fifteen extra pounds, sometimes a bit more, sometimes a bit less, that I've carried since my youngest daughter was born. But the truth is, I'm done. I don't have any more of the epidemically common body issues we women who grew up in the 80's were infected with. I've still got pounds to lose, but no issues to process.
The same applies to unwarranted trust and alcoholism. I've already done the work necessary to root out and correct emotional and behavioral imbalances. I'm not recovering, or healing, or finding myself, or uncovering any repressed wounds or unrealized potential. I'm 42 years old and finally who I've always wanted to be. Not perfect. But finished.
I'm certain there was never a glossy, glorious invitation to attend the School of Hard Knocks but I'm going to give myself a diploma anyway. Piece #5 of my Halloween costume.