In Greek mythology, the bird known as the Phoenix obtains new life by arising from the ashes of a fire it puts itself in. The Egyptians version of the story said that knowing that a new way could only be found with the death of it's worn-out habits, defenses and beliefs, the Phoenix built a pyre of cinnamon and myrrh, sat in the flames and burned to death. Then it rose from the ashes as a new being—a kind of combination of who it had been before and who it had become through burning away the parts that no longer served it. A new bird, even more itself; yet at the same time, changed.
Two years ago today my life changed in a big way. Something in my life that was very private became very public in the matter of minutes. It was like a fire that went completely out of my control and pretty much destroyed a lot of things. A lot of that devastation I never ever saw coming. The other thing I never saw coming is how a hugely painful event like that, can be an amazing gift, if you let it transform you.
I did a ridiculous amount of extraordinarily hard things right after that emotional fire bomb went off. Faced those I cared deeply about, apologized to those I had agreements with, asked for help from my trusted inner circle & mentors, gave those I interact with daily the opportunity to ask me anything – and I do mean anything – they needed to, in order to process the events that took place. Then I left the country for a while… literally. And most of all, through all these “flames”, I worked like never before to find myself. The woman I had lost a long time ago.
So I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to give homage to the dates that people die or dates of when tough things happened. I like to celebrate births, beginnings, that kind of stuff. While this date seems like it falls into the later category, what I am realizing is that it is actually when my whole life changed, and sparked some major personal growth for me.
There are some key things that are very different for me now in my relationships. I’m not claiming to have these items all knocked by any means, but I was barely even aware that I was doing them before this happened and now I have transformed these behaviors in big way. It’s also interesting that these aren’t about adding something, they’re about remembering things you already knew and burning away the stuff that no longer works for you…
1. Chasing. I used to chase Don’s mood day in and day out. I had deemed myself responsible any time he exhibited a "bad mood" and it was my job to find out what was causing it, fix it, ask him ten zillion times “Are you okay?”, “Are we okay?”, was he upset with me?, bla, bla, bla. I had done this in pretty much every intimate relationship in my life – just typing this description makes me say ICK! People pleasing, approval seeking, rescuing, insecurity and codependency – all in high gear at all times prior to the fire bomb going off in my life. That has changed RADICALLY. It took a lot of personal work, awareness, counseling, and working on loving myself to quiet this monster – and I’ve done it. Doesn't mean it never gets triggered, but I've learned a ton about myself in just working on this one part of my pattern.
2. Boundaries. I had plenty of them everywhere BUT in my intimate relationships. Codependent relationships typically lack boundaries. This was a huge thing for me to understand – that having boundaries makes us MORE compassionate.
3. Codependency. I have dialed myself down from about a 10 on the codependency scale, to somewhere around a 3, with occasional spikes to 6ish. I have to stay diligent on this one. Re-framing my victim thoughts to being a CREATOR of my own life and a COACH instead of a rescuer of others continues to have a huge impact for me, when I do it.
4. Compassion. When we go through hard things, we have a choice: become a victim or learn compassion for ourselves. If we don’t learn compassion, I feel the fire of the difficulty consumes us. Compassion for yourself can lead to acceptance of yourself and acceptance of others.
5. Unconditional. This one is the toughest and I’m working on it still. To decide how I want to feel and care enough about wanting to feel good - that the conditions don’t matter. To be unconditional is to feel good/love/be connected to your Source – no matter what the conditions are. No matter how anyone else chooses to behave or what is going on, to decide how I want to feel and be committed to that is to be true to yourself and it’s empowerment. Loop this one back to gift #1 above and it becomes a super power when you remember to invoke it.
6. Ask for help. You find out who your inner circle is when something like this takes place. It’s a major gift to know who those people are. Also, getting a counselor who is on your frequency and can open the window for you to see some light along the way... crucial. Leaning on those in my tribe was pretty new for me. I still have to work on this, as I often am reluctant to do it. Find those who help you remember who you are. That’s your tribe. I am deeply honored by how much my tribe has loved me and shown me compassion. What's really cool... I have seen them all grow right along with me these past two years.
7. Trusting myself. This is probably the gift I am most working to open at this point in my path. I’m not very patient in general and especially not with myself when I think I SHOULD be further along than I am, Or when I slip on any of the above items I start forcing things and judging myself. Trusting, allowing, and letting things unfold and knowing that I can trust myself is crucial, because the only person who is gonna ride outta this life with me, is me.
My whole gig is that I hope that by putting myself out there, sharing what I learn from both my experiences and the training I do to expand my knowledge, that it might help someone else feel hope, like they’re not the Lone Ranger in how they feel or what they’re going through or have been through. Let’s face it, it takes someone who has actually been there to really light the way on what might be ahead when the way gets dark and scary. Sharing our story in an empowering way not only helps ourselves, but also others.
Martha Beck coach training has taught me about the concept of "story fondling". This is where we hang on to our story, keep playing it over and over again and use it to explain our emotional bruises. There is a big difference between understanding the past and being stuck in it. I admit, I think I have been fondling my story a bit, and this "anniversary" I am committing to myself and to you to remember a quote from A Course In Miracles from this day forward... "Your past, except for it's beauty is gone. All that remains is a blessing." I am focusing on my life's work, moving forward, growing, being present and loving through the beautiful blessings my story has given to me SO FAR! I honor that beauty and refuse to disown it. Just understand it and thank it versus discounting it, feeling shame about it or blaming anyone - including myself.
When the hard things happen in your life, remember it’s an opportunity. It’s a chance to remember who you are and burn away the stuff that no longer serves you. Keep your eye out for the gifts of the conditions. It may take time to find them – but they are there. Try what I did here in this blog, make a list of what you’ve learned and show yourself that you are MORE because of the tough things, not less. You renew yourself after the pain of the flames and become even more beautiful. That’s the way of the phoenix.
Sandy Edie Hansen
I use this space to "Chat" about things I am working through and learning in my life currently. Join me!