by David Park
She awoke into darkness. She groaned softly and turned her head. The clock showed 2:34 AM. She could hear her seminar roommate quietly breathing in the next bed. She’d only been asleep for about 3½ hours. She tried to get back to sleep. She closed her eyes and relaxed her body. After a while, she gave up. It was very relaxing but her mind kept racing.
The dream she’d been having was still vivid in her mind. There may have been other chapters but she couldn’t remember them. She was focused on the last one but she did have a feeling of continuity, as if this dream was only the latest in a long series stretching out over many nights.
What she recalled was almost laughably obvious. She found herself traveling on a train. She couldn’t remember what she was wearing but she remembered sitting on a bench. It seemed to cycle between three or four materials at random intervals. The material it was made of changed but the bench itself stayed the same. At least one of the materials appeared to be wood.
She was alone in a compartment. She watched the landscape unfold past her window but couldn’t remember any of it save for a sense of movement. She got up, stepped through the door, and turned to walk to the end of the train. She could hear the wheels clack against the track as they went over welds. She peered into compartments as she walked past.
One be one, she met her old boyfriends on the train. She always had travel-themed dreams at the ends of relationships. She tended to have those dreams days or weeks before the break-ups. It was as if she were connected to a precognitive sense through her dreams or maybe she had picked up on trouble signs and given herself the dreams without conscious awareness. Maybe she didn’t want to notice the signs in her waking state.
She noticed that she was drifting and brought her attention back to the dream. The order they appeared in didn’t necessarily correspond with the order they followed in her life, but everyone seemed to be represented except for the last one. Why hadn’t her last boyfriend shown up?
She thought back over the encounters she’d had in her dream. She’d met boyfriends in compartments and on open benches. She’d met them seated at tables and sitting at bars. At least one was walking down a hallway when she ran into him. In every case she was done with that person. There was nothing more to do or say. Some of them had healed and grown. Some had so far failed to heal and had grown worse. Nevertheless, she was happy for all of them but she was done with them. She knew that. She could feel it. She could feel it about all of them but the last one.
Laying in bed, she stared up at the ceiling in the dark. She felt frustrated and didn’t know why. She literally asked herself what the source of her frustration was. She heard herself say that it was this question that was keeping her awake. Why hadn’t she met her last boyfriend on the train? The question gnawed at her. Was she still holding on to something about him or the relationship? She played with that possibility.
She let it sit and felt herself for even the tiniest flutter that might indicate that something in her or some part of her was affected by him. She felt for any expectation of a specific outcome or that he might surprise her. There was none. She felt clear. She felt done with him, yet he hadn’t been there on the train. What was she not looking at? What had she ignored without even realizing that she had ignored something? What was her blind spot? The messages told her that it was centered somehow on her last boyfriend or their relationship or both.
For the hundredth time, she felt the sheets with her feet. She moved them back and forth, feeling the textures. She felt the crispness of the sheet beneath her and the weight of the sheet and blanket pressing down from above. She could smell the linens and beyond that, the room. She noticed the firmness of the bed and of the floor below that. She listened to the quietness in the room. And sleep refused to come.
Something flipped within her and she suddenly threw the covers off and sat up in bed. She dangled her feet over the edge for a moment before standing upright in the dark. If she couldn’t sleep then she would go for a walk. At least that way she could work through some of this energy and maybe she’d be able to sleep after that. She got dressed in the dark and quietly closed the door to their room without waking her roommate. It felt good to stretch her legs. She headed outside. She walked softly through the night air, feeling her body move as her muscles responded to the challenge. She felt the temperature on her skin and noticed it change as she crossed from zone to zone.
She walked on the grass along the women’s cabins and followed the road up the hill but it wasn’t the road or the grass or the night that she was interested in. She registered these things as she walked but her main focus was taken up with what was going on within her. Why hadn’t she met her last boyfriend on the train? She turned it around to see if that might shake something loose or bring something up for her.
Why was he treated differently? What was different? She assumed that the difference was real.
“The difference that makes no difference is no difference,” she repeated out loud. She smiled at no one in particular. There was something there. She could feel it. She walked on in the night air.
There was a difference. It wasn’t just an arbitrary, meaningless thing. It wouldn’t just evaporate. She knew that if she healed in the dream, she healed. It was her healed self that would go with her wherever she went. So what was it in the dream?
She remembered her lessons and applied them to herself. She felt things arise in her as she practiced. She felt them and acknowledged them and watched herself feel them. She sat with them in silence. She was present. As they opened in her silent acceptance, she opened to them and explored them. When she had fully explored what was there, she followed them to the next thing, always watching herself experience them. She knew from experience that forgetting herself in her emotions only led to her losing herself, so she avoided the temptation. She avoided getting lost and found again that in experiencing the whole thing, she always found her way to deeper experience and memories. What was the difference between her previous boyfriends and her last one? She continued to explore.
The wound or question came from her own sense of lack or incompleteness. All she had to do, she knew, was listen to it. Her Ego, which came from her wound, tried to distract her. It tried to be central. It tried to convince her that it was a part of her but it wasn’t. She was central. It wasn’t. It came from her. She didn’t come from it.
She continued to hold space. The wound itself would tell her what it needed. She just needed to sit with it in silence. It would open in its own time. It always led to a trail that led to her healing. Her wound and her healing both came from the hole – the lack – that she felt inside. The fact that she felt the lack in the first place meant that the lack was important. It separated her from her healing but also connected her to it. She just had to notice it and notice herself noticing it without judgment or a schedule.
She walked on in the dark and said, reminding herself, “If there’s a boulder on your path between you and the end of your journey, that boulder separates you from the ending but it also connects you. The first step toward embracing the end is to embrace what’s immediately in front of you. Embrace the boulder.”
She walked on, feeling the dark and smelling the air. She listened to the night sounds.
A little farther on, she said, “By understanding and accepting the wound and/or question, you can ultimately move through it to find the healing on the other side.”
She turned the question around. Who knew which angle or which combination might reveal something that was there all along but that she had overlooked? Common perspectives might even have something.
One of the things she had to remind herself of is that she had a choice. She could open to her higher self or she could insist on the same old “solutions” she’d seen before. It seemed clear that the same old “solutions” weren’t working. Her last boyfriend was absent in the dream and his absence was beginning to really bother her. Those “solutions” all seemed to lead to a denial or trying to impose a reality, an interpretation on things, or both. Something new was called for.
So she asked herself what her other boyfriends – the ones she had met on the train – had that was different. They certainly acted differently in the dream. What had she gotten from them that she couldn’t get from her last boyfriend? Why couldn’t she get it? What was stopping her? How had her last boyfriend been different? She went through the list. He had been the last one. There was no boyfriend following him. At least there wasn’t one, yet…
Maybe that was significant. Her training in school and society was that she could not trust her first impression or feeling. She had been taught that her first impression is a lie. Even if she ran with it, unless she could logically understand and defend it, she was taught not to trust it. She was taught that it was misleading. However, she had learned through experience that what she’d been taught about logic had been wrong. In her experience, first impulses were usually right and she couldn’t usually prove they were right beforehand. She thought about it. She couldn’t think of a single instance in which first impulses had proven wrong. She just had to be open enough to hear her first impulse. She just had to feel it. Sometimes knee-jerk expectations claimed to be first impulses but they weren’t true first impressions. They were learned things. They didn’t come from her inner sense.
She’d been trained to think before acting, to know beforehand, to plan and prepare. This was calling her to follow her feeling and act without knowing. On one hand, there was her training. On the other, there was her experience.
In her experience, trusting her first feeling always led to things working out perfectly and delightfully. She couldn’t plan for things to even be as good in the end, because her feeling usually led her to unexpected things.
Turning the question around helped. There was definitely something there. Following her first impulse, she felt that whatever was there had something to do with her last boyfriend being her last. Her feeling was that the difference, whatever it was, was somehow connected to the fact that none had followed since their last breakup.
She felt into it. She watched herself as old emotions surfaced again…
They had gotten together and broken up at least three times. There had never really been anyone else during that time, even when they were broken up. She hadn’t really wanted to be with anyone else. She’d had offers and opportunities. She’d even gone on a few dates. But she’d never slept with anyone else since they’d met. She’d never wanted to.
Why had she never wanted to? Especially after a breakup? Why did she always go back to him?
She had wandered to the top of the hill, crossed the empty road, and started down the other side. Her hands were clasped behind her back and she leaned slightly into the night, as if she were pushing through it with her shoulders.
“Why did I always go back,” she wondered. “To be fair, he seemed to be relatively open to other possibilities,…
“…especially compared to some guys I went out with…” She smiled. She walked with her hands clasped behind her back.
“…there was a… a stiffness there, too…”
She heard herself saying it and recognized the truth of it immediately. She hadn’t consciously known it before she heard it but once she heard it, she knew it to be true. She wasn’t sure he even saw it himself. She could barely even articulate it to herself. It was that new. She felt its shape and let images come up in her mind. She didn’t understand the connections between images or why some came and others didn’t. She let them come. Words formed in her awareness.
“I remember,” she said to no one, “that he once said that he was devoted to becoming enlightened in this lifetime…”
As she heard herself saying that, the memories came rushing back. He’d said it during their first breakup. They were in another state, visiting friends of hers at their new house and ranch…
She had felt at the time that there was something strange about what he said. It was part of a rush of emotion. He was so remote and she felt so much at the time that she ended up saying nothing. Besides, they were in her friends’ house and their plane didn’t leave until the next day. They had one more evening to endure together.
As she walked down the hill, she realized that what had bothered her about what he’d said was the sense that in devoting himself to becoming enlightened, he embraced and took into himself an idea of what enlightenment is. He had a certain expectation.
The expectation that he married himself to limited him. It limited him to receive only the thing that he expected. There was no room for anything else. No doubt, he saw it as strength – the clarity to reject anything else – but it was actually a weakness. Inflexibility. A blind spot. Anything outside of what he expected was automatically rejected. There was no room for the unexpected. No room for the unknown.
In retrospect, she wasn’t surprised by this. They had run well together up to a point. As long he understood the next step, he could take it and run well. They had covered a lot of ground together very quickly. Metaphorically, it was like stepping out onto solid ground during the daytime. You could see it meet your foot. You could picture it taking your weight. You could feel it support you.
Where he balked was at the metaphorical cliff edge. Even though the road ran right up to the edge and picked up on the far side, even though the road (on both sides of the cliff) was in good repair and there was no sign of a bridge and no sign that a bridge had ever been there, he refused to step off the cliff. He refused to accept the possibility that maybe there was no bridge because no bridge was needed. He refused to take a chance that he might soar, which was ironic because soaring was arguably what becoming enlightened was all about. At least she thought it was but he refused to accept the possibility that the Universe might rise up to meet him. He elected to be safe rather than taking a risk. He opted to be small and stop at the cliff edge.
She had wanted to tell him all these things and more. He refused to hear the cliff-edge metaphor and many other things. It was a confusing emotional tangle.
She watched herself feel it and opened herself to feeling all of it. She let it unfold in its own time, without urging from her. After she felt it all, she realized that there was something more underneath. She felt for the trailhead to the next level. She found it and in a rush, she went on. Perhaps it was then, perhaps it was later that she made her promise. She thought it was out of love at the time but now she wasn’t clear if it had been out of love for him or what he represented or out of something else entirely.
She heard herself saying into the night air, “I’ll be with you because I love you.” She realized that in that moment, without consciously realizing it at the time, she had made a promise to herself from her higher self that she would do whatever it took to be with him. She would demonstrate her love. She would prove herself worthy.
She was stunned. Everything fell into place. At the time, she’d thought that this relationship was her last one. She’d thought that this was what she’d been looking for. She didn’t utter the promise out loud then. She didn’t even articulate it clearly to herself at the time.
Nevertheless, it had an effect. The promise that she’d made from her higher self was real and powerful. It affected her choices and the options she saw. It affected the whole arc of her life. It also held within it the path to transcending it. It contained its own healing.
The realization was staggering. She could feel the simple power of her promise. It had carried her through multiple breakups with him and always brought her back to the same old relationship. She didn’t know what else might be possible but she knew enough to take her not knowing as a good sign. It was a sign that she was open, that anything could happen. She didn’t have any ideas about what to expect or what was “right” or what “ought” to happen but she knew that what she had created was blocking her way.
Again, she witnessed herself experience it. She observed herself, feeling into whatever came up in her. She realized that one thing that was fully formed was her expectation for their relationship. She expected that they would be able to hear and see each other and that they would fly off into the sky together. She could see them taking flight and overlooking a desert scene and soaring off into the colors of the sky.
Even now, long after their last breakup, when she had no reason to expect that they would ever be able to get back together and make things work, after she had long ago given up all conscious thought that they might ever go on to the next phase, the image was clear and powerful. It came through unbidden.
He had balked three times. Each time he had balked at the same point. Little was left of their relationship, only memories. No current feelings. No conscious choices. There was only this promise. It surprised her.
She remembered something from her training and opened herself to her higher self while she was open to and aware of her wound and her promise. The feeling of movement and change was extraordinary. Her higher self wasn’t stuck. It didn’t have to wait for the wound to come to it. It was free to go to the wound.
What the wound yearned for, what it whispered for, was love. It yearned for acceptance, to be seen and accepted. It yearned to be cherished. That was where the promise originated. Her higher self heard this. It knew it. She knew that it knew because she heard it. She knew.
It had within it all the love, acceptance, clarity, and cherishment that her wound craved and more. It brought all of that with it to the wound. It was able to see the wound and hold it. In its embrace, it was able to pour all of the love and acceptance that the wound craved into it. It healed the wound.
It was important to release it from the same level that she had made the promise from or higher. She realized as she did it that releasing it from a lower level might release whatever was below that but wouldn’t affect anything higher. It wouldn’t heal the wound. Like a weed, it would be free to grow back. To unmake it completely, she had to release it from the same level it had been created from.
She felt a sense of tremendous freedom as she unmade and released the promise. She was coming back to her full self. Instead of supporting her growth, the promise had come to restrict it. Like invisible plastic walls, it tried to channel her. Now she felt like the invisible walls were gone and a whole universe of possibilities was open to her again.
She marveled at how simple and powerful healing can be. She found herself at the pool, just above her door. She took in a deep breath in her renewed freedom and headed back inside.
The next morning as she entered the room, she saw George already sitting down. The seats were all facing the stage. George was in the center of several empty seats. Many people were still coming in or milling about, not wanting to sit down quite yet.
She sat down right next to George and gave him her warmest welcoming smile. She said, “Hi. Did you sleep well?”
“Yeah. I did.”
“Me too. That is, after I finally got back to sleep.”
“Did you have trouble sleeping?”
“Not at first, but I had a dream. It woke me up and I went walking. I didn’t end up getting back to sleep until after 5 in the morning.”
“Mmm. I know how that can be. If you want, I can try to interpret some of the symbols in your dream.”
“I’ll keep that in mind, but no, thanks. Not this time. I feel pretty good about what came out of it and I want to let that sit for a while. I’m looking forward to where it might take me.”
Derek was at the front of the room. He had his hand raised. He said, “Welcome to the last day of the Intensive. We have something a little different planned for today…”
She only listened with part of her awareness. The other part was going over all that she’d done over the weekend. She decided that after they were done, she’d get George’s phone number and email address. There were a couple of others’ that she wanted but she definitely wanted George’s.
She brought her full attention back to Derek. He was saying, “…so turn to the person sitting next to you and share a little of what you did with this weekend and thank that person for being there for you.”
They each had people on both sides yet they instantly turned to each other. She enjoyed that.
”Breaking Through” at StoriesToEntertain.com by DCH Park is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.