“You faced something that frightened you, and you approached it with strength and the willingness to deal with it directly. This is pretty much the theme of what you’ve been working on over the past few months.”
This was spoken to me by my therapist as she walked me to the elevator this afternoon. Wow. I hadn’t even realized that I had a “theme” in therapy. I thought my theme was staying alive. Seriously.
“Your focus, at first, was survival, but you turned a corner a while back. You’ve been working on moving ahead with strength, courage, and purpose. You’ve been looking deeply at issues and traumas from your past, and you’ve been able to leave those things behind and move on into a different future.”
Wow. Sometimes it just takes someone else to reflect my life back at me to be able to see things clearly.
I knew I was making progress. I knew I was facing my fears. I knew I was tackling painful memories. I knew I was working on rebuilding purpose. I knew I was sensing renewed hope.
But just knowing those things in an abstract way wasn’t as real to me as it was hearing someone articulate the very same things to me. Someone who’s been walking with me through the current trials and traumas.
I had been listening in the car on my way to my appointment to a CD of a lecture. It was by one of my favorite poets, David Whyte. He’d been talking about the idea of things that scare us — that we refuse to look at — as being things we throw into a black bag that we carry around with us throughout our lives. When we’re children, the black bag is small enough, it can fit on our belt. As life goes along, we accumulate more and more things for our bag, and the black bag expands and grows larger until it’s so big, it drags along behind us and catches in elevator doors.
When my therapist noted that I’ve been dealing head on with things that frighten me, it fit in so well with David Whyte’s conversation about the black bag. I think it’s possible to stop and open my personal black bag, and begin dealing with those things that have been out of sight and dragging along behind me for far too long. My bag is quite full and contains memories of past traumas, phobias, nightmares, people who’ve hurt me, gossiped about me, personal failures, mental health issues, abandonment, grief, rejection, bullying, lies, abuse, and plenty more.
So, I’m curious … what themes are you seeing your life? And what things have you put into your black bag?