I come from a background of a lot of childhood abuse and neglect. In fact, I learned how to swim because I was left unattended at age 7 next to an apartment swimming pool in Los Angeles. The purpose of me saying all this is not to lay shame or blame, but rather to come to terms with the reality of the situation at the time for the purposes of reflecting and healing. We all do our best with our circumstances, and our current level of consciousness – and that’s all we are capable of doing.
As a result of this background, a message was instilled in my subconscious that I was worthless, and the only way I could win care and approval was to please others, even if it meant sacrificing my own wants and needs. I also found that it could decrease my chances of getting abused. Inadvertently I became a very good listener and empathizer, to gain the emotional trust of the would-be perpetrators. I learned to “behave”, and achieve in accordance to the expectations of others. In that process I neglected my own desires and creative impulse.
When I became old enough and strong enough to prevent the abuse, I learned that violence was a powerful tool in protecting myself. It could literally preserve my wellbeing if used correctly. However, I became a bit crazed with my new found sense of control and began using violence to gain power over others, to compensate for the feelings of victimhood that I’d felt my entire life. I constantly got into fights and yet I didn’t consciously know why, because all the patterns were operating below my conscious awareness. One day, I got into a massive bar fight on Hollywood Blvd and found myself in the emergency room at 3 AM, and then the plastic surgeon’s office by 6 AM to repair an eyelid that had been split open lengthwise and threatened the function of my tear duct. If the tear duct had been damaged, the surgeon warned me that the eye would essentially be crying constantly – how fitting for the level of pain my life had reached at that point.
That was a rock bottom for me and I knew I had to change. I no longer blamed the external world for the fights I got into, but reflected on myself. No one else in my group of friends had been getting into fights, I was the common denominator. I realized that I had been expelling my pent up anger onto others.
From that day forward I made an effort to monitor my mental/emotional state, and avoided potential conflict situations – I can sense people who trigger me – it’s usually other angry people. With the grace of God/the universe, I haven’t gotten into a fight since. That was over 15 years ago.
Collective demons live in our heads and hearts. Some ancient traditions call it karma. I believe it is our privilege to be able to start to uncover these trauma patterns that have been passed on from generation to generation, and transmute them into peace. The process for me has been like this:
- Reflect on self
- Find the patterns of suffering
- Inquire into the possible causes
- Find out what was missing. In many cases it’s love and care
- Give it to myself. In my meditation practice, I feel the feelings of love for 20-30 minutes daily. I recall situations where I felt the most love and feel those feelings.
- Continue to monitor the movements of the mind and heart to be aware of self-limiting patterns.
Is it possible to heal? Absolutely. I am in the process of healing and growing. The buddha said that once the karma pattern has been stopped, reincarnation (or the rebirth of the ego) ends, and the person awakens into pure awareness and union with the universe.