Safe containers

Disappointment is an old friend of mine. And for the majority of my life, I ran from the fear of it. I remember feeling let down regularly by the people closest to me as a child. And I remember there were times I even felt my mother’s disappointment as viscerally as if it were my own experience. The feeling of disappointment and the fear of it created a well worn groove in the heart.

When we have a pattern that strong, we tend to hold tight to specific expectations in later life, modeled after how things turned out in the past. Fear takes root for some of us. For others, we move along with a sense of hopeless resignation. Both coping methods incite an experience of helplessness, and the feeling heart begins to shut down.

Fear made me run from the risk of being let down again. I ran from aiming too high and ran with the fear of being too attached to people and desires. So that I could wrestle control of life. 

And inevitably when I couldn’t avoid disappointment, I felt trapped and my emotions became weapons of torture, things to be endured. Anger at being let down again. Sorrow from feeling not good enough. Pain at not being able to save myself. 

I remember when I began learning how to work with the breath, how my heart hummed with vibration…a harbinger of opening. I had created a safe container for those emotions to flow again. And a container for what was still sacred within me. Eventually, gradually, difficult emotions felt more manageable as I created a new experience of safety within myself and was surrounded by a community of people who created a safe container for me in the world. 

And one day I was finally able to ask myself, what if I wasn’t trapped by disappointment? What if there was another way to relate to those feelings? We have been together for so long…could we possibly be friends? Could my feelings have been well meaning teachers all along? 

What did they teach me?  The answers flowed: to develop compassion, to be able to align my sense of reality with what is happening, to make healthy changes, to know my own strength and resiliency, to learn I am capable of creating safety for myself and for others, to appreciate the joy of deep feeling.

If we don’t find peace with difficult feelings, they rule our lives, consciously or subconsciously. When we make friends with our emotions, we are free to integrate our most meaningful lessons in life. And inevitably we pass that onto others.

There is tremendous freedom in being able to feel deeply and to speak about it because fear and disappointment no longer run me. So I can safely follow both my heart and my dreams again.

Love and ongoing gratitude to my family, teachers, and all the invaluable people in my safe container.

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