“If I keep a green bough in my heart the singing bird will come.” ~ Chinese proverb
After writing about my beloved dog, Belle, last week, she got loose on Wednesday night and scared me half to death. I thought I might lose her since she twisted out of her harness and ran wild for several blocks. Luckily, she got interested in a cat sitting in a yard and I was able to walk up and catch her, due to her distraction.
She spent her first three years in rural South Carolina and has absolutely no fear (and no sense) when it comes to cars. Unfortunately, I live in a populated area with major roads nearby where traffic flows at between 45 and 50 mph. It is dangerous, her habit of bolting. I have to get her in hand. I realize this. I ordered a training kit and plan to start using it as soon as I return from a business trip to New York this week. In the meantime, she will be confined to my backyard to keep her safe. (She’s run like this three other times — always because she got out the front door after someone (me or a friend) inadvertently opened it and she shot out like a cannon ball.)
But her bolting is not the issue. Really. I realized when she bolted this time that it brought up waves of grief over a dog I had as a child. That dog dug out of our yard and was hit and killed by a farmer in a pickup truck. He drove her back to our house and he and my father buried her. I never realized how deeply I grieved that dog — and how I nested that loss away someplace that embedded it in my DNA. My inner kid was keening and shrieking when Belle got loose, bracing herself for yet another devastating loss. I could barely function to go find and retrieve my dog. I was stuck in a past that is long gone. However, to that little girl, it is as real now as it ever was. It came up and nearly swallowed me whole the other day. After I calmed down enough to think straight, I contacted a woman who does energy work on me and scheduled an appointment.
We talked on Thursday afternoon because she had a cancellation. (She has many clients here in the US and all over the world. It is not easy to get an appointment with her, so I am profoundly grateful that she fit me in.)
I knew it would be an intense session, and it was. Waves of grief came up over the losses I experienced as a little girl. My earliest memory is of May 22, 1964. I was with my mom at my Nana’s house. Nana died that day. (She had breast cancer.) My mother was devastated. I was terrified because my mom was broken and I didn’t know why. No one explained anything to me. I was only four-years-old, but I knew something terrible had happened. I simply didn’t have the emotional means to deal with the loss. And because life is often about loss, I became scared of really loving anyone or anything. Losing the dog at seven. Losing my best friend at 12. Losing my granddad that same year. Losing my grandfather at 17. These are all simply part of life — but they somehow got translated into deep feelings of abandonment for my inner kid. She did not trust life.
And since our inner kids generally run our adult lives (whether we realize it or not) this was not good news.
The energy healer worked to unravel what the core issue really was.
When it came down to it, I learned that I’ve spent my whole life bracing for loss.
The reason that I got so inordinately upset over my dog’s behavior is because the small, feral child inside of me loves her so terribly and so completely that she could not believe that “her dog” would run off. My healer friend (bless her, she’s helped me so much, so often over the past eight years that we’ve worked together) said that I was “hoarding” my losses. Inside of me was a tiny child who had loaded up a birthday box with examples of every pain, every loss, every hurt. There was also a tree of loss that was rooted at my feet, that grew up through every part of my body. My “family tree” so to speak. I am my mother’s daughter. And she was her mother’s daughter. And so on. My Nana’s mother died when she was five months old. Therefore, she had no mother. She grew up starved for the attention of a female role model. Nana was pregnant with my mom during the worst part of the depression. She starved during her entire pregnancy. This is the legacy of lack and loss that I came from.
Over the course of an hour and a half, my healer worked to uproot and loosen all this calcified loss. And she did get most of it. I realized I will have to work with her a few more times to make sure that the “tree” doesn’t take root again. Afterwards, I slept for three hours. When I woke up, I felt clean and clear and hopeful. I felt like I’d set down a lifetime’s worth of burdens. Probably because I had.
The symbolic meaning of the items I had stuffed into that “birthday” box will take time to untangle. Mind you, I have no plans to spend a long time looking back.
This is the only moment I have control over. This one that is dancing in front of me as I type words on a screen.
What was interesting about the events of the past week was the fact that I unearthed and lanced an old wound I did not realize was affecting my current ability to open my heart. I asked myself — the intuitive, empathic part of me — what was it that had me so upset. I wondered, why do I block affection, connection, love? Within 24 hours, I knew. In my bones I knew that something that had haunted me my entire life, could be lifted and carried away.
In three days, it will be 48 years since my beautiful Nana died. She was 62. I am now 52. I know in my heart, it’s time to let it go. It is time to infuse my life with all that living entails. Love and loss are part of that package.
(Postscript: Bless you, Mary, for your kind, sage counsel. I will be forever grateful.)
© 2012 Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved
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