"Overcome any bitterness that may have come because you were not up to the magnitude of pain that was entrusted to you. Like the mother of the world who carries the pain of the world in her heart, each one of us is part of her heart, and therefore endowed with a certain measure of cosmic pain. You are sharing in the totality of that pain. You are called upon to meet it in joy instead of self-pity."
~Pir Vilayat Khan, Sufi teacher.
Asked by one of my dear readers to speak about the grieving process, I am preparing a little primer on the subject. In preparation for that post I thought I would offer you some of the gentle wisdom of Wayne Muller, from his book, "Legacy of the Heart - The Spiritual Advantages of a Painful Childhood".
First, let me say that painful childhoods do not have to be ones of abuse. In fact, neglect is now being categorized as a form of abuse by the field of psychiatry. Perhaps, you were bullied or ostracized during your school years. Perhaps you lost a loving parent at a young age. Perhaps you had a kind parent who suffered from depression. There are so many ways in which we may have experienced a 'painful childhood'.
It is common for people to minimize their particular circumstance and the emotional pain that accompanied it. However, left unattended it makes itself known to you by means of any manner of symptoms. It is your job as an adult to decipher the meaning hidden in your particular symptoms, address your past, heal the wound and move on into the one and only life you have. Here is a bit of the wisdom of Wayne Muller:
"As we make the journey out of childhood, we are invited to grieve what we have lost. However, many of us who explore our childhoods are not ready to let go of the old stories. For some, the anger we feel toward our parents has become a source of personal power; we were treated badly, and now we deserve to be heard ... we have a deep remembrance of the way it should have been for us, and we want to convince our parents to apologize, to love us, and to make right what was done so horribly wrong. We are still trying to work out the same old story, trying to make it turn out right, trying to wrestle a happy ending from the protagonists in our unsatisfactory childhood ...
"How can we allow that loss to simply be true, to feel the truth of our emotional orphanage and know that it has never changed, and probably never will?
"We begin by acknowledging that the old story is over. How long will we keep looking for someone who can make it all turn out differently? Our challenge is simply to let what was true be true: We were hurt. We never had the parents we hoped for ... When we feel the deep sadness of that loss, the pain and the loneliness, we simply grieve the loss of our childhood, the childhood that never was and never shall be. That story is over ... if we finally allow ourselves to feel the depth of that sadness and gently let it break our hearts, we may come to feel a great freedom, a genuine sense of release and peace, because we have finally stopped running from ourselves and from the pain that lives within us."
~Wayne Muller, Legacy of the Heart