My lovely and bestest cousin the world posed the following question in response to "Grief is a Siren" (Note: An expanded version of this post was featured on Elixher.com). In a nutshell, she wants to know what happens when you are making moves forward but a person from your past keeps intruding in your life. See my response after the letter.
"Good Morning my Lil Sistah, I want to thank you for sharing these words with me as you continue to touch my Heart as yesterday’s Sermon by TD Jake’s touched my Heart and my Spirit. Without even realizing it then that I was doing the same thing Elijah was faced to with in his Life and was to put his plows down and leave that life behind to RUN to what his Destiny had in store for him. When I left Kansas and gave all of our material things away and picked up and moved away to California to start our lives over…I was RUNNING to find my Destiny in my LIFE! The thing I’m having trouble with and maybe you or one of your readers can help me with this…I have moved on from my past just a short few years and as much as I didn’t feel or think it hurt me being I wanted out my Marriage for some years, but it did hurt me now that his Sermon opened my eyes/heart up yesterday. What my question or concern is…what or how do I deal with My past if it keeps coming into my Present? Now granted it’s nothing I do to encourage it to come but it comes and disrupts, causes stress and frustrations in My LIFE!?!? I also learned that you have to GO/FOLLOW your Instincts and NOT your Urges and RUN not walk. Awesome Sermon YESTERDAY…Thank You again My Lil Sistah!!!"
My experiences have been that if something (or someone) keeps coming up in your life, it's because I have unfinished business. As much as we want to feel that we are "over" a person because we've made physical steps to move on and even may have gotten to the point of disliking them, there is more "business" with them for two reasons. One: Things that are buried alive will not stay dead. Two: Hate or strong dislike is proof that the person occupies space in your heart. So let me get deeper into those.
Self-care is not a luxury. It is survival.
I wrote about feelings that are buried alive in this post. We, especially as women and even more as black women, have a tendency to push our feelings deep inside and MOVE. We are often in survival mode and become laser-focused on making sure that all of our physiological and safety needs* are met. We, especially black women, think that our needs (US, not those of our children) are luxuries. Often, love, esteem, and self-actualization needs go untouched. Because of this tendency to focus on fight or flight, we ignore that we have real hurt and deep pain about the situation or person that faces us. To get to the root of this hurt, I suggest three steps.
Step One: First realize that addressing your inner you is just as necessary as the air we breathe. Self-care is not a luxury. It is survival. Pastors, medical practitioners, and the wise women of our past all agree that your body will manifest what's going on in your heart. Your health is at stake.
Step Two: After you realize you are worth it (and even if you're stuck believing that, pretend), pray. Get quiet and reach out to God, your inner spirit, your ancestors, angels or whoever you call to bring you comfort. Ask for peace and the courage to get clear about the truth, and for the Divine to sustain you as you do it. It's okay if you cry and this feels awkward, but this step is crucial. We are spiritual beings having a human experience and we cannot do this work alone. We need to be lifted in light.
Step Three: It's time to break out the pen and paper and answer these questions (from the same post above):
1. When have I been here before?
2. What does it feel like when I’m here?
3. When in my past have I felt like this?
4. When was the first time I felt like this?
5. Who else in my formative years behaved like me?
6. Who in my formative years behaved like the source of my pain?
I don't have a lot of money, but I can almost guarantee that at first you will feel resistant to this process because you have convinced yourself that you are emotionally over this person and your feelings have no connection to why he keeps popping up. I will also bet that same money that if you try this process, you will discover buried truths that will give you a foundation from which to grow and heal.
Always in love,
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