A spiritual teacher once told me "when you get to the place where you really like who you are and where you're at, you'll get grateful for all the s#!t that got you there". She was this little old gray haired lady in running shoes who was my boss when I worked for county alcoholism services back in the 80's. I didn't know then that she was my spiritual teacher and what she said often didn't sound spiritual or make complete sense to me but I knew it was important. She ran the residential program and was always bringing in new ideas, like the concept that we teach best what we most need to learn. "We could use an Assertion Training Program for the clients. Charly, go put one together and teach it. " She had my number..... and I learned how to be assertive.
An "angel mother", according to Clarissa Pinkola Estes, is a woman who appears in your life to give you something that you needed and didn't get in your childhood. Ruth was my angel mother for four years and I am, a quarter of a century later, still in awe of the tools she gave. Even my name came about in one of her fortuitous spelling accidents, teaching even without intention that anything, even accidents, can be gifts.
I pass on Ruth's wisdom to my clients and use it to shine light in my own dark places. I came to understand that everything I experienced, especially the hard stuff, had good for me. Physical injuries helped me to know my unconscious mind, taught me to ask for help, brought me to the Alexander Technique, and provided tools for me to use and teach. Relationship betrayals taught me lessons in acceptance, forgiveness, and compassion, to take risks and to keep my heart open because I learned that my heart is unbreakable when it is open. Catastrophes revealed hidden strengths and stimulated new brain pathways in the process of seeking solutions. Of course, I didn't usually see all the benefit while I was in the experience, but I learned to trust the process and seek guidance and support. Mostly it was in hindsight that I recognized that all the storms and upheavals contributed to my knowing myself and growing myself and led me to other wonderful teachers who furthered my education.
Today I get grateful that I can recognize my fear as it shows itself in new ways before it does much damage. It is illusive and I know it is my unconscious mind trying to prevent additional hurt, struggling to maintain the status quo because that is what the unconscious mind does best. It knows how to handle the status quo and change is scary. Old emotional memories spring to the surface in a misbegotten attempt to protect me. So I befriend my fear, sit quietly with it, observe it, see how it operates and how I can transform that fearful energy into love and gratitude, like my angel mother taught me. Thank you, Ruth, for your grace in my life, for playing it forward before we ever called it that.
Everything that happened in my life got me to where I am today, and I like where I am today. Every single troublesome thing, person and event helped me know myself. So I bless them and thank them and wish them love, happiness, and peace because that is what they have taught me to create.