That’s How It Works!
By Christine Ford
During the first week in June I had the experience of returning to Florida, the state where I lived with my family for the 20 years before I moved to Arizona, for the arduous task of sorting and sifting through a storage unit containing some 37 years of memorabilia, keepsakes, pictures and mementos. Though I was looking forward to seeing everyone there, I was not too thrilled with the task at hand. Having been a sentimental pack rat my entire life, I did lots of self talk, convincing myself that this walk down memory lane would be a cathartic experience and a closing of a door to a chapter of my life which had ended, but had not been properly put to rest. Rather it seemed to be held in suspended animation, entombed in a 10 by 20 foot air-conditioned prison, silently whispering, tugging, and reminding me of its presence. As Dr. Strickler teaches that proper burial procedures must be observed with human life in order for there to be a release of the ties to this plane, so it felt to me that I was haunted by the remains lying in state within that storage unit!
To be brutally honest, I had worked myself into quite a state of expectancy and anticipation, mixed with a good dose of terror as to what was to transpire, as can be best described as what an expectant Mom feels as she psychologically prepares herself for labor. I knew it was inevitable, it had to be done, and that it would be hard, painful work. I also knew that when the task was accomplished the fruits would be a purging and cleansing of the many clinging thoughts and memories that were represented by the tugs coming from that mass of accumulated material items which, more subconsciously than consciously perhaps, held a part of me in a semi-comatose fixed state bound to the past.
Due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control, about two years ago the entire contents of the home in which we lived for twenty years and raised three kids in was transferred to storage in a mad dash in a 24 hour period without having the time to throw away or go through any of the contents. Items were literally transported, jammed into the storage unit, and sat silently awaiting the owners’ return. I was not there for this extravaganza, but I have heard all the horrifying details from my former husband Gregg, and my oldest daughter Jessica, who were the main characters in the feat. The emotional and physical strain for them during this ordeal was enormous, and they did the best they could in the time that they had.
As time went by, the cost of the rent for the storage unit was pretty hefty, and no one was comfortable in making the decisions of “should it stay or should it go” without me there to help pick and choose. I can understand that, and actually am thankful for the fact that they waited for me to help. The trip that I made to Florida the beginning of June was for the purpose of disassembling the contents of that storage unit. It was an extremely valuable action for me to participate in on many levels. Though there were some doubtful moments, the whittling of the contents to the point that we can keep it in a 5 by 10 foot space at a much more reasonable rent, went better than I had feared.
Armed with a slew of big garbage bags and fully dosed on Benadryl, my daughter Jessica, Gregg and I attacked the place the very first day I was there. We made an extremely efficient team, Jessica and I sorting, Gregg taking things to Goodwill or to the dumpster as fast as we could make piles. Dirty stuffed animals from when the kids were little went flying! Old lamps that I had transported from house to house for 30 some years planning to have rewired finally met their doom! Clothing that fir no one found a new home at Goodwill! We were cruising along and I thought, “Hey! This isn’t going to be so bad.” Oh boy! I should have been “vewwwy, vewwwy careful”.
Though I did not realize it until I had returned to Arizona a week later, the impact hit when we unearthed the congratulatory cards we had received when the kids were born. Not having been too great at organization while in the throes of raising three kids, I had jammed ALL the cards from ALL three kids into one big old box. This box traveled from home to home, from the state of Ohio to the state of Florida to the state of mass confusion of the storage unit. Since my youngest child Jamison is soon to be 24, it is safe to say these epistles hibernated in a cardboard box in the back most part of a closet for at least 23 years, never so much as seeing the light of day! I had hung on to these pieces of paper, planning one day to split them up and in some semblance of order, give them to each of the kids. In that brief instant, in a flash of clear discernment and awareness, I saw the predominant pattern that I had imprisoned myself with my entire life of disorganization, procrastination, and nostalgic clinging to memories and material items that really were insignificant to the BIG PICTURE. Knowing that I could not give way to this pattern and complete the task at hand, I had to make a choice. I made the leap to move onward and suppress the rush of emotion I felt. Little did I know that, in all sincerity and in hindsight, this was like opening a Pandora’s Box to my emotions!
I quickly turned to Jessica and said, “Just throw them all away! There is no way to tell whose is whose, we haven’t even opened the box for 20 years, and I don’t even want to begin to look at them now.” Being the terrific daughter that she is, she didn’t even question me. She put the box on the TO GO stack, and that was that! Gregg hauled it out and to the dumpster! Done! Finished! Over and gone! I had changed those 57 years worth of patterns of hanging on to “stuff” and just gotten rid of it! Or so I thought.
A week after returning to Arizona, while having one of those chats with Dr. Strickler that have become so much a part of my life, as referenced in Adam’s article last month, he leaned over and said, “Okay, Grasshopper. Are you ready to talk about what’s bothering you yet?” Whoooosh! Niagara Falls! Tears from places I didn’t know were places within me, as if just by those spoken words the floodgates were opened, and all the feelings of sorrow, of loss, of missed chances, of seemingly shattered dreams, of thoughts of what was and what might have been came in a rush of raw passionate power that engulfed me so totally that I was literally flattened by the shock of it. Good thing I wasn’t driving at the time! And I truly had thought that I had already ridden out the emotional storm and was in calm waters with smooth sailing ahead.
What’s to be learned from this story? Several things, on several levels, I suppose, but the most poignant to me is that I was shown first hand and right up front just how deep the bondage of emotional entanglement goes. It doesn’t matter if your chains are made of red licorice laces, garlands of roses, or cold hard steel; whether it is the sweetness, the beauty, or the fear that binds you and holds you prisoner. You, me, each and every person walking this Earth is tethered to their past, held in constraint and restriction by memories and experiences which can be buried so deeply within the subconscious that you believe you are free of them. Burying them does not work, for they still are alive and have the very viable ability to create new experiences so similar in nature to the old, with perhaps a bit of a nuance of difference, but nevertheless, astoundingly the same. This is why we have such a difficult time with actually changing patterns within this plane of physical manifestation. This is why Dr. Strickler so strongly advises EVERYONE get some kind of psychological counseling from a qualified therapist with at least a Master’s degree, preferably one who uses EMDR techniques. This is why I will soon be returning to visit Dr. Marianne Hutchison here in Phoenix.
And to show you how these patterns cycle, an interesting event happened as I drove to school this morning. While talking with my Mom on my speaker-phone, she brought up a point that we have discussed off and on for over a year. She told me she had finally come to the difficult acceptance of the fact that she is going to have to sell her home and downsize, for she just no longer can afford to remain in the home she and my Dad had shared. This 82 year old woman is looking at having to disassemble the memories and remnants of her lifetime of 82 years, including four daughters, ten grandchildren, and two husbands, and decide what is to stay and what is to go. My heart went out to her, for I know just how strenuous a task she faces.
Then, as she spoke, I could hear the quivering in her usually very upbeat voice, as she described going through a gigantic box of old cards that she had saved for years. She had divided the cards and letters up just yesterday and had a stack for each of her four girls. She told me she would bring mine when she came to visit the end of July.
OKAY! Wait a minute here, was my gut reaction to her words in my mind and heart. I just went through this. I just cut the strings to so many “material” memories and I am still grieving and processing the imagined loss. No way! And so I said, “Mom, please, just throw mine away. I just went through this in Florida, I just got rid of all kinds of stuff, and I don’t want to start accumulating again! I just cannot face it.”
A very long dead silence met me from the other end of the phone. Finally a small shaky voice obviously struggling to hold back tears said something like this. “But they are cards and letters you sent to me over all the years of your life, from the time you were a little girl and learned to write. They are your history; they are filled with what is, was and always will be you. You might find something here that will bring back some good times and some happy memories. Just read them once, and then you can throw them away. Please let me bring them to you, I’ve held on to them so long I just can’t bring myself to destroy them”. Of course, the unspoken but understood by both of us finish to the plea was, “I’ll be gone soon. Don’t you want to keep them to remember ME?”
Well, this time I WAS driving a car. Struggling to see through the tears I pulled over into an empty parking lot, summoned up what control I could muster, and said in what I hoped was a calm voice so as not to upset her any further, “I’m sorry Mom. Sure, bring them with you. I’d love to have them, since you treasured them and held on to them for so long. While we are all here we can read them and laugh and cry together.” An interesting, but really not surprising note; the very next day Mom had almost the EXACT exchange with my sister Kay, living in Florida!
Before I left for my Florida trip, I had spoken to my good friend and Mentor, Dianne Krall, about my trepidations of what the trip might bring, and the emotional quagmire that I knew would be stirred up. As always, in the wonderful way that I have come to know her, she helped me see the inevitability of what was inescapable, while at the same time acknowledging that yes, it would be rough, no way around it! Sometimes things just ARE! Mid week I called Dianne from Florida to see how she was and check on the status of the Arizona crew. Her voice sounded a little distant and strained, but she assured me all was fine. Upon my return as we sat hashing over my experience, BEFORE my encounter with the Truth of the Heart of the matter with Dr. Strickler, I blithely told her it was a breeze, almost a totally unemotional experience, never shed a tear. “That’s great,” she said, laughing. “I must have cried them all for you, because I cried all week.” As I have pondered her statement over the past weeks, it has become clear to me that though it was said in a kind of off-hand manner that is most likely what actually happened. Dianne helped me bear the burden that was too heavy for me alone to carry.
That’s how it works.
So the cards and letters my Mom brings from Ohio from our shared family past will be put in my new box to co-mingle with pictures and letters that I have accumulated since my move four years ago to Arizona; rare written messages saved from Dr. Strickler, notes of encouragement from daughters and sisters, letters and pictures Gregg has sent me, beautiful notes from my mom, and treasured first scribblings and drawings from my grand daughter Natalie. The cycle will begin again, but this time with refined, selective discernment on my part as to what is chosen to go into that box of experiences and memories that I am allowing to be manifest as my new “chains” to bind me to this plane, as we all must do. And with it I will bear and help carry a part of the burden that my Mom must face as her life changes and moves toward that which is inevitable and inescapable in this physical three dimensional world in which we live.
That’s how it works.
May you be shown by the experiences granted to you by the Lord of Life the bindings that hold you in a fixed state of Spiritual stagnancy as you move to break the bonds that prevent you from manifesting that which You were, are and always will be.