(Pictured: Emperor card in the Voyager deck)
Are you powerfully connected to yourself and others in the present moment?
My father wrote me a virtual letter in which he told me that he was thrown down the stairs as a child by a family member (his father) just like I was by my older brother. After reading this I wondered if this shared childhood experience was where the character of our lives was born. I know this was the moment I decided that I would no longer allow myself to be at the mercy of another. I chose to become strong and no longer be vulnerable. So strong that I would block my very own family with my mind’s diamond hardness. Better to be safe and invulnerable even if it means closing myself to deep connection and love. Surface level love where I don’t have to be at risk of being harmed seemed so much safer and better.
Stairs going down represents the subconscious to me. My father was thrown by his father down into the collective unconscious. I was thrown by my older brother down into collective unconscious. As I was swallowed into the abyss I chose to become a warrior. An overachiever. This was the only way I could survive such hurt. I would fight. I would grow strong. I would be the exception in our family. The extra-ordinary.
It was so much safer to be loved for my achievements. As long as I was pursuing my own greatness I was invulnerable to really being hurt. I was protected by my own ambition and self-centeredness. As I continuously strove for the future I was no longer at the mercy of the double-edged sword of being loved/hurt for just being. The present moment of time couldn’t catch me in any vulnerability, for I was rarely there.
With my own sense of significance I wrapped myself tight in armor that defended me against being vulnerable to those I so desperately wanted to experience love from. A defense strategy built by a scared child. Brave and necessary at the time, but let us look at the effects of this child’s defense strategy played out over my life and in my relationships.
It led me to close a deep and important part of myself to others. I would no longer allow myself to become too connected or too present. For in deep connection that is where the danger of being hurt lies. So I always held back. Or lived in the future. I always stayed self-centered. I always protected my heart with the might of my mind. I faked deep connection with others. I was even able to fake this deep connection with others to myself most of the time. So cunning was my mind. Saying and speaking words of love and connection, but my actions told another story. Always focused on myself, my own growth & healing, my career and my personal/professional development. Connection and love with my family and loved ones always in second place (or lower). Rarely allowing myself to really just be with loved ones, be loved by loved ones, and love my loved ones.
My father’s letter shared how he wished he had spent more time just being in the moment of life and love with his loved ones. I see how I have mimicked him in this way in almost all of my relationships. With significant others. With my family. With my friendships. Even professional and casual relationships. Basically with all of my relationships. Never allowing myself to connect too deep or become too present. Despite trying to convince myself otherwise. Always lying to myself saying that I deeply connect with others, when in truth I am always holding back or always grasping for something in the future. Always in fear of being vulnerable. That fear of vulnerability always keeps me aloof and unconnected. It pulls me out of the present. And it always leads me back to self-centered thoughts and actions I “think” will protect me. Believing that by being self-centered I am protected and safe. All an illusion. This belief system has led me to be so ashamedly selfish in most (if not all) of my relationships.
I don’t know where to go from here. I am scared. I am unfamiliar with allowing myself to be deeply vulnerable. I am unsure of how I can fully open the flower of my heart to the light of love. The brightness of love is so scary. Will it burn me again?
Well, in truth, I may be burned again. And I guess I have to accept that with courage and compassion. I now choose love and connection. I now choose presence in my life and in my relationships. I will fail at all of this most assuredly. But I’m going to fail forward into ever greater presence, vulnerability, love, and connection. And each time I fail, I will practice self-compassion and self-forgiveness. For I know now that failure is an experience, not a person. And in each failure there is the seed of incredible growth if I choose to water it.
I am committed to life. Life is lived in the present. Not in some future where I am invulnerable or in some past moment that I can never relive.
I now recommit to the divinity of life — knowing one of its greatest gifts is experienced through the connection to others and to oneself. And the gift of connection is experienced through the ever-evolving present moment of now.