In a short span of time, I felt abandoned after one family member after another died. The deaths of my husband, mother, and grandmother were totally unexpected. They were followed by my father, aunt, a longtime friend, and my dog. All of my loving support network took leave and I truly felt alone. I sped up traveling and jumped at any opportunity to get away from my home. I didn’t realize it at the time but I was trying to run away from my life. I had an extraordinary sense of failure not being able to save my mother when she went into cardiac arrest on our vacation. I also felt I had let my husband down when he died by not being able to get him back to good health. These feelings of grief turned inward and made me very unhappy. Outwardly, I seemed okay, but inside I was a churning mass of tangled emotions.
It all came to a head in March 2001, as I spent three weeks of hell lying in bed awaiting surgery. The pain was beyond belief. I found myself out of my mind several times. One day, as I was in much distress in bed, I screamed in anger begging God to just let me die. It was a real turning point.
As I was thrashing around in total agony, I heard a voice say, “Jesus loves all the little children.” Now believe me, this is not my normal frame of mind. I hadn’t been a faithful church goer for over fifteen years so this was quite a foreign statement to drift through my mind. I thought, where in the world did that come from? As I pondered this question, I suddenly had a vision of the “Old Woman in the Shoe” – from the nursery rhyme. I saw the old woman as a representation of myself, and my thoughts were the children that she was trying to pull back into her shoe. The children were seen as the parts of myself that were “misbehaving,” the renegade aspects of my personality that were causing me such pain. There was the angry child, the despairing child, the unworthy child, the unlovable child, the child who fears failure – and those were just some of the “children” in the fraying old shoe (my life).
I realized then that I had to pull all of them back together to make myself whole. What’s more, I had to not hate those errant aspects of my personality. Instead, I was given a vision in which I saw the old woman simply acknowledge the “misbehaving children,” i.e., the parts of my personality, and then gently putting them back into the shoe. Bringing these aspects back was a way of allowing all my natural expressions without shutting down or repressing them. My emotions were like clouds passing by in the sky. The sky was viewed as a space of vast love – no judgment – just allowing the clouds to pass on by.
Can my heart and mind be as big as the sky? Can I allow other people the same freedom that I desire? It seems that there is room for it all.
Resting there, I began reviewing times in my life when I’d felt fear or anger, guilt or shame, and as each of these different emotions would arise, I would merely step back, look at them, and acknowledge them. I wasn’t trying to change them but rather, to witness them. This simple act of honoring my feelings helped dissolve the energy of the emotions. I’d say to myself, “Whoops, there goes one of my troubled children” and I would love that piece and pull it back to my heart. I could see how, in my story, the woman in the shoe represented a very High Consciousness in that he/she loves all of us despite our behavior.
Because of this unusual, unexpected vision, I had found a way to bring balance and peace into my life. My heart had been cracked wide open from the inordinate amount of pain I had suffered, both physically and emotionally, and now I was starting to put all the pieces back together. I could see how important it was for me to remain calm, balanced, and at peace regardless of the chaos that was going on around me. This became my motivating force for 2001 – to try to love all aspects of myself and to walk in peace and harmony. I found that I was grasping this and making some progress. Soon I was able to spread that peace to various friends and that gave me much joy. As I shared with some of them this interesting technique, they, too, were delighted to have such a simple tool. From then on, whether I was in a line shopping at the grocery store or waiting in traffic, I would observe my surroundings. As people “misbehaved” I would think, I wonder which child / aspect of theirs is acting up? Which child is making them full of rage? Is it the “unlovable” piece? Or is it the aggressive child, the judgmental one, the defensive child, the insecure child, or the victim? By observing myself and other people from this viewpoint, I gained greater compassion and much more patience. (I still have a long way to go!)
Then I expanded my thoughts about people’s “misbehaving children” and wondered about other nations as well. What if all of the countries of the world display renegade aspects like our personalities do? Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, the USA, just to name a few, seem to have a variety of aspects of fear, jealousy, anger, and distrust flaring. I believe we need to pull them back to the heart too – to our individual hearts and to the heart of Mother Earth.
Next I wondered, what if the earth is one of many “maverick children” of the universe? I suspect there must be other forms of life on various other planets and stars in the multi-verse which are going through similar challenges. This concept started blowing my mind. What a long distance – from the old woman in the shoe to the far reaches of the cosmos!
I hope this technique helps you too, to gain freedom within, to acknowledge your own maverick rebels, and to help you find a way to love yourself. We are not here just to try to love ourselves, we are to BE the love… every moment… for all living things. It’s about extending love to ourselves, our families, our friends, neighbors, animals, and the world. We ARE the love.
“Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me.”
Resources: Lyrics to “Let There Be Peace on Earth” by Jill Jackson Miller and Sy Miller, 1955.
Copyright ©2014 Lynn Davis Van Gundy • All Rights Reserved