It’s taken me awhile to have the courage to write this post.
I have a horrific confession.
Do you remember awhile back I talked about my lovely little tea kettle in my post “Accepting the Unacceptable – Part II”?
I had not paid enough attention to my poor tea kettle, and thus a thick residue had built up inside her, which I was unknowingly serving my family in their brown sugar oatmeal and tea.
I used the sweet tea kettle as a metaphor for our unattended pain. Her unresolved issues were affecting my family (what were we drinking?!) just like unresolved pain within us affects our lives and loved ones, whether we see it, or not.
When we don't take the time to look within, residue builds up, and seeps into our lives.
At the end of my post, I made a bold conviction to pay more attention to her, so she could return to her rightful place as the Sole Hot Water Provider in our home, and maybe even move her up to the front burner!
I had left her on the back burner – a reminder that she needed attention, yet still I didn’t feel inclined to get my hands dirty, grab the baking soda and vinegar, and go at that residue within. She just sat there, on the back burner for days, and looked on longingly as I warmed my water in the big, bad…microwave.
It was much easier to just forget about her, and just find a new way to get my hot water.
But, one day, I put a pot on the front burner to boil some frozen peas for the kiddos, and walked away…probably to this computer to check this blog.
Of course, I got lost in writing as I tend to. (Insert sheepish grin here) I don’t know how many minutes passed, but then I heard a strange sound, and smelled a strange odor. It sounded like a balloon slowly fizzing its air out, and it smelled like…something was burning!
I rushed to the stove, expecting to find charred peas glued to the bottom of yet another ruined pot (yes, I admit, this is not the first time this has happened). Instead, I found…this.
Look what happens when we put ourselves on the back burner and don't pay attention! =)
I left her on the back burner, and she got burned.
The fire within literally burned her from the inside out.
Poor, poor tea kettle.
In case you were wondering, as beat up as she was, she’d lost her ability to whistle awhile back, so that’s why I didn’t hear anything before it was too late.
Now, I don’t know what to do with her.
But, damn, I’ve learned a good lesson about putting myself on the back burner, waiting ’til later to deal with the hard stuff, and making bold claims on my blog about how much I love my tea kettle and want to take care of her!!!!
I had to come and share my story with you, with a grin and a giggle, as yet another reminder to take time EVERY SINGLE DAY to put yourself on the front burner, go within, and look at whatever is there.
In the last three years, more oft than not, what was “there” was hard for me to look at. There was anger, regret, pain upon pain, sorrow and fear. Not so pretty. But, living with those things inside of me, eating away at my life daily, slowly seeping poison into my life, was more painful, more detrimental to myself and others, then doing the hard work of sitting and looking at the hurts, and releasing them.
1) Sit still. Be quiet. Close your eyes. Take three deep breaths in, and out, slowly.
2) With your eyes closed, gently bring your pain to the surface like a bobber on a fishing line rises to the surface of the lake.
3) Sit, look at whatever arises. Ask yourself why you’re hurting/angry/scared. Then, begin to peel back the pain like the layers of an onion.
When my Grandma died last year, I could not understand why I was so upset over her death. She was almost 80, had been ill for awhile, and was ready to die.
It wasn’t until I sat with the pain and asked myself in that still, quiet time alone, “Why am I so angry about her death?” Then, waited, to listen for a response from within…that I heard the answer that granted me great peace.
“I’m so angry she’s gone! But, why?! She was old, she lived a long, full life! Why am I so affected by this death – of all the ones I’ve had – hers made the most sense so far?!”
And I continued with this inner dialogue, “Why am I not mourning her like a Grandmother? Why do I feel like I lost…a…best…friend?”
And there it was. The truth that had been hiding under all my hurt, anger, and pain. I was not mourning a Grandmother. I was mourning a best friend. Losing her had been like losing any woman in my peer group who I call up for coffee and cookies on a Tuesday morning.
4) Give yourself permission to grieve.
As soon as I realized this, I felt a huge heave-ho in my soul, and a gush of a release of the pain. I gave myself permission to grieve her like a best friend. I didn’t need anyone else to give me this permission, or to recognize this and validate it for me. I did that for myself. And, in doing so, granted myself freedom. I was able to work through the grief, consciously, and move forward, treasuring the memory of a woman who I was honored to call a friend and a Grandmother.
5) The last step was finding a new way to meet for myself and others, the needs she had met for me.
So, in her honor, despite my tendency towards hermitville after all this loss, I forced myself to work on being a good friend to others, and creating more relationships like the one I had with her. I have also worked harder at maintaining relationships with my remaining grandparents – and creating “friendships” with them, too.
I believe my Grandmother is still with me, so I gave myself one last permission – to keep talking to her like I always used to. When I get quiet, and still, I hear her replying, “Hi Boobala!” just like she always used to. So, in truth, I have not lost anything in her passing – in fact, I have gained so much.
These steps apply to ANY “negative” feeling you encounter in your life – whether it is a deep, devastating loss, or a less intricate tangle with a co-worker that leaves you riled up at work. Whenever you feel “against” something, take a moment to stop and look within, and you will find the true source of your pain which leads to healing, release, and gives rise to move forward with better understanding of yourself and others.
Now, as for that poor tea kettle of mine, I’m at a bit of a loss. I think the metaphor must end now – because frankly, I think I’m just going to have to get a new one finally! I have definitely learned, though, to look under the lid every so often though, and pay attention to what’s within (and, um, pay attention to which burner you’re turning on before you walk away, Megan!).