This is such a long story about my “Aha Moment” but I have to write it – I’m 71 years old right now and I’ve lived with this for many, many years. I’ll never be able to express enough gratitude for this one – to Oprah, Eckhart Tolle, my husband, and many, many others who shared their stories. Now I’m sharing mine.
I feel my lack of self-value started in my early childhood. One of my most painful memories is my Mom taking me for a ride and then blowing my mind. She told me that my Dad never wanted me, that I had been terrified of him and all other men from the time I was a baby up until …. I could feel myself shrinking down and slumping in the passenger seat of our Chevy. I felt deep shame and made a vow that I would be even more invisible and less bother – to everyone. Except my sister. Of course, I was devastated and wrote a long long entry in my diary that extended to additional notebook paper.
Next chapter. Sometime later, no idea how long, but my Dad read my diary and he was very emotional with a generous dose of anger – now I know it was at my Mom, but it sounded like it was me – when he told me his story. I didn’t ask for it, was extremely uncomfortable and ended up being sad for him. He sobbed as he told me that it was not me that he didn’t want, it was another child. I was born in 1940, he had been suffering pretty indescribable needs during that time, took old broken frames from the factory where he worked, repaired and made them beautiful, and sold them. Sometimes he and Mom sold honey and Mom’s homemade jams door-to-door to make a living. Although it was from a child’s experience and frame-of-reference, I kind of understood that they lived in pretty dire circumstances. He was feeling great weight and a lot of anger, raising 3 young children during the depression and here comes a fourth! I doubt that he told me then, but I clearly knew he had made it clear to Mom that he wanted no more children but that she continued to want more children. (Like he had no part it in!!).
Anyway, he told me that I was a very colicky baby, had difficulty sleeping and he would be up all night with me, rocking or walking me, and then have to go to work in the morning. I felt like even more of a burden by this time. I certainly didn’t feel better. Plus I felt responsible for his lack of sleep, eating more food that he could manage to provide, and on and on. I was pre-teen when this drama played out.
He did end up telling me that I gave him great pleasure with my piano playing and that he was glad that I had been born. I highly doubted that for some reason.
During my school years, when I had to ask dad for paper money, pencils, etc. – which I probably did abuse – (I ask for very little but even then at some level knew I was testing to see if he loved me enough to give me something I ask for). It was torture. He groaned, looked disgusted and grudgingly would reach into his pocket to deliver the nickle, dime, quarter – whatever it was at that time. I was looking for love.
As I’m writing, I’m realizing even more about my AHA Moment that I had yesterday. I realize how I’ve measured my value by my success, external things. Wonder where I started that pattern!! Wow, as I deal with this issue, I’m sure I’ll make some major changes in my life in yet another direction.
Back to my AHA Moment – At sometime in my youth, I had vowed that I would never be in a position to have to ask anyone for anything. That if I couldn’t get it myself, I’d do without. That has not exactly been my experience – but it certainly has been my vow. At some point, I also added this to the equation – that if I could not afford to take care of myself, if I were to ever become dependent physically or financially on anyone, I would die. Not like, “Oh I’ll just die if I have to do that”. No – that I would die. At times I had a plan on how I would do it, other times, even recently, just vowed and knew that if I ever came to that place, no doubt I’d be able to carry it out. That was sent out into the universe!!! A core belief of mine. Unconscious about what I was doing and accomplishing in my body with that vow.
After one of my divorces, I went to a divorce recovery class and clearly learned the mess that we make of our lives with our vows. They’re not a good thing. But somehow I didn’t relate that to my “knowing” that I’d die. But yes, it was a vow.
About seven years ago, I left my business in the Southwest, retired and moved to the Pacific Northwest. I had built a great referral business from my website that was bringing enough income for me to live pretty comfortably with my social security that I had recently started collecting. I had invested in two rental condos in my town, put a good deal of cash down but structured them to protect my tax position with my income. Within a few months, my referral income started dropping precipitously. My real estate expenses were still quite large but manageable. I had a pretty good savings stash so felt protected. I was certain that my business was going to come back so continued carrying it financially for many months but alas, the economy was changing in ways none of us fully expected. It took out my income over the next couple of years. So many adjustments in a lifestyle that I lived for quite a few years – very difficult to change but was working on it.
Then, I got a notice of audit from the IRS for three separate years. I had been having my taxes prepared by a former IRS auditor and CPA and felt fine about being audited. My accountant would accompany me. I made four trips back to consult with my accountant and each time, she was extremely stressed and ask if I could come back a few weeks later. I had other business to take care of there so agreed to do that. On the fourth trip, she still was unable to cope with my situation. By then I was extremely stressed and panicked. I was the only one talking to the IRS and was feeling very intimidated and vulnerable. I ended up hiring tax attorneys near where I am living who dealt with situations like mine and they redid my taxes – after lugging boxes of receipts to Seattle – and said that the IRS was correct – that I owed them $38,000 plus penalties and interest.
I had been in a car accident in 1994, had been receiving treatment for injuries. Short story is – insurance ended up denying payment for all treatment – I can’t remember the details, I’ve put them out of my mind. Basically I ended up feeling that they believed I was faking my injuries. I was not. In any event, I ended up paying about $9,000 in medical fees.
Most of my savings were gone. Over this period of time, I short sold the two investment condos – my cash investment in those was gone – and then some.
Within a very few months I was broke!
There were way too many financial issues and adjustments and personal issues that go with those failures – business and investments – all things financial in my life were changed. And of course that changed my life. In every way.
Right after I had gotten my notice of IRS audit, I had met the man who is now my husband. We traveled for several months in his motorhome. He ask that I pay half of the expenses and I was still ok, I thought, so I agreed. I was still paying all of my own expenses and my income had been dropping steadily, however, my business income had been consistent for sometime before my move, so I was certain that I’d be fine. I wasn’t. My husband had been used to splitting everything 50/50 in his relationships and I tried to do that, but it was becoming extremely difficult. I talked to him about it and we decided that we would change to percentages, based on our incomes. That worked somewhat but I continued to struggle. I can handle struggle and have always landed on my feet. But, I’d always had income and a way to make more if I temporarily needed it. Different now – way different now.
I’ve known for some time that if I were ever to be in a relationship, that I’d need to make adjustments and thought I’d done a good job in educating myself, thinking thru scenarios, was well prepared for a true relationship after years of no real relationship – other than my relationship with my work and friends. I’ve been very independent, and remember my vow – never to be financially dependent on anyone – ever again!! Vows – now I can see clearly why I failed financially – a major life lesson that I was learning and probably the deepest healing I’ve ever experienced. It was so painful and bizarre at the time. As soon as I’d handled one financial mess – not really handled, just paid, tried to let go of anger, feeling trapped, no good options – another seemingly impossible financial situation occurred. It was uncanny after always being able to get on my feet, find a good solution. This time, and in every instance, my only solution was to pay. Until I was broke and dependent on someone else financially!!
All of this really came to a head with I started having serious health problems in January of 2011. Suddenly. I was in a lot of stress with my Son’s botched surgery rendering him disabled, his family in serious stress with very little food, faced being homeless and in severe constant pain after his back surgery. My daughter’s long time marriage was in serious trouble, much pain for my like-a-son, son-in-law and my dear daughter. It was all so tragic – all of them.
Oh, and in 2009, my husband and I were in an accident on a major freeway, overturned our RV and I was injured with injuries that I still deal with every day – not life threatening, thank God.
And in the last five years, there were multiple deaths in my immediate family, and close loves, my Dad, my ex-husband and closest friend, two other closest friends, two sisters and my brother-in-law. Some major stressors here!
Even though I’ve had my share of challenges during my life, I’ve had a fun, inspired, adventurous, pretty fulfilling life, some great loves and problems that were manageable and had solutions. All of a sudden, everything was totally out of control and unmanageable in almost every area of my life. And my son had desperate needs – financial needs, and me with no money and unable to get by myself.
I blamed my medical issues on these stresses – and they did have a part. But there was something deeper and I could never – or didn’t want to – acknowledge what it was. I didn’t put it all together until this month in fact. It came out in marital pain. My husband and I have had many challenging issues since our marriage late in our life. It’s basically a wonderful relationship but not without pain when our issues collide. We are both excellent problem solvers, have great resolve, sincerely want a fulfilling relationship and are committed. We’re both open to taking responsibility for our own issues and working thru them.
Using all the skills that I’ve learned from Eckhart Tolle, Oprah and many others on her shows, I wrote him a letter expressing my pain – about myself. He really listened. I listened. I had been paying almost my entire check towards our expenses and medical bills and failing every month with my finances – reinforcing my feelings of being a financial failure. This has been going on for months. My husband initiated a “talk” about my letter. He suggested that I no longer pay rent and he wanted to pay my medical bills because he felt that some of his issues had caused my hospitalizations – in reality, we were partners in that one. But he “got it” and my immediate relief told me volumes. I felt healed but didn’t understand why immediately. I don’t know if I even comprehend everything yet but my shame is gone. It’s gone and I didn’t even know how huge it was in me until it was gone. It feels like a miracle. It may take some time to figure this out but my gratefulness starts right here!
I flashed back to my Dad grudgingly giving me a nickle, a quarter, whatever it was. As an adult, I have so often thought how loving it would have been for my Dad to look at me adoringly and with love and say – here it is Daughter. I love you. Get some pretty pencils. Idealistic, but wow – would I have felt cherished. It would not have been about the money – it would have been the giving and receiving and the love that went with it, filling a need. The love. Instead it turned into things, giving myself – and others – things to feel love – not from others as that has always been very uncomfortable. Duh. I’ve given a lot away, but I’ve always gotten way too much for myself, as well – way more than I’ve needed. Profound. Now I can apply the phrases to myself and really get it – it’s not what you have, it’s who you are. Now I need to learn more about who I am. My husband freely tells me. I’m really watching to see what it is about me that I love and appreciate. It’s nice to have people – that matter to me – mirror how they see me.
Yesterday, we were on a trip to the mountains to pick huckleberries. I’d had about 3 hours sleep the night before and was semi-dosing in the car when I realized – the vow! My health problems. No words can come close to expressing my freedom and clarity. Suddenly I knew – and now I’m free!!!! Just like that (I’m snapping my fingers:) Free of fear of death – at least if it happens, I’m no longer doing it to myself. I was living in terror – in the night especially – of my death. I believe my subconscious was telling me what it was doing. I had become financially incapable of caring for myself and my mind and body were carrying out the vow. I was killing myself. I knew from all of my medical tests that I am in exceptional health but I was having severe blood pressure problems that were threatening stroke or heart attack and I have no doubt that I was well on my way to accomplishing my vow. It had to be causing damage to my body.
I was in a downward spiral and in a dreadfully dark place. It never occurred to me to talk to my husband and ask him for more financial help. It wasn’t even in my frame of reference. I was stuck, and in my darkness saw myself in a shameful place and a dismal failure and not deserving to be here. I was saying the words to him, not realizing I was asking for help, but without the intent to get help – felt I was stating where I was and why. My unconscious intent was to die. He heard me and loves me and problem solved. Words can’t express – thank you husband. Thank you Oprah and Eckhart Tolle! There are no specifics that led to my “Aha moment” – it was a collection of so many things from the shows and Tolle books and discussions I’ve listened to. How do I ever express how my life has changed.
I clearly understand things I’ve learned from Eckhard Tolle – that once we become conscious of any issue, it’s power is gone, the pain body can never harm us again as long as we remain conscious. I think my husband understands his part in my healing, I hope so. Maybe no one can fully understand but I think he does. I’ll bet Eckhart Tolle and Oprah would know exactly what has happened within me. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!
And I can feel my Dad rejoicing – he never meant harm. I know that.
Right now I have such peace!