I recall asking my mother if I could borrow her hundreds of slide reels and go through them to see if they would evoke answers for me about my spirit so that I could bring that spirit back to me. I noticed there was not a single photograph of my step-father. He was not my abuser. But having lived in the house with me from the age of 4 until a week before my 9th birthday, he certainly hand borne witness to my spirit.
As I took slides I thought would help me the most to be printed into photographs, I walked about 3 miles to the store. On my way, I saw my friend, Susan. Since my move to San Francisco, I had been writing to for years. She was battling breast cancer. And in my mind, she was the "dream" mother (she was my friend, but I truly believed her to be an exquisite and loving, nurturing mother). It meant everything to me to see her. That story is one which took me years to heal because I was told that she carried one particular letter I had written her with her every day and that her family buried her with it. I wrote my own eulogy to her in the form of an exquisite poem and I sent it to her family (a husband and three daughters). I called many times. And when I finally received a person on the phone, the response was, "please stop calling us."
The karmas I have had to hold have been large ones.
The love I feel for Susan and she for me is a strong thread. The compassion for the family, enormous. The hope for understanding their needs, challenging. But what I have learned through my own losses, it is not for me to judge what others need. My love for her and the beauty I saw in her was perhaps TOO MUCH BEAUTY and too much seeing while they were in a state of grief and to speak to me may have caused a collapse in them during a time when they simply could not bear the pain they were already in. I don't know. But I lost a beloved and treasured friend. And to learn that she not only carried one of my letters every day but that her family buried her with it, left a wound that I did not know how to close.
And seeing her looking beautiful and healthy as I was just on my way to the photo store... attempting to journey into a place of healing, not only was the last time we saw each other, but a great gift to me to see her looking so beautiful and for us to offer that love to each other, even more so. We shared a powerful karma. The one I shared with her family? Not simple.
So I drop the slides off... I place my order...
And then flash forward... I go and pick up my photos...
As I step out... (Remember: I am now, 22 years old.) I see a man walking towards me. I say to him, "Excuse me, are you Andy Levine?" He looked at me puzzled. I answered immediately. "I'm Jill Bacharach." His face changed immediately into overwhelming love and he said, "Oh my god!" He opened his arms and he held me." This was my step father. He had not seen me since I was eight years old, a week before turning nine.
We spoke for an hour.
My instinct has always been that I have very fast karma. When I am in search of something big, it is presented rather quickly (sometimes alarmingly so) if I am awake to it.
I asked him if he still drank his scotch (which was a big problem in my home- at least for me)... I asked him if he was still married to the wife he married after my mother. I asked him a lot of things. But the main thing I asked him was this: "when you knew me, was I happy or was there a heightened awareness in me that showed you I was sad." Without hesitation, he said "you were a very sad child."
I sighed. I thanked him. I hugged him. We exchanged numbers. I felt a healing.
Within an hour I was at my mother's home. I shared nothing about Susan. I told her I saw Andy. She was immediately defensive. I shared only this last part. Her response to me was "well I don't see that AT ALL." My response was, "I don't think you wanted to."
Yesterday, I walked past the site of the most heightened trauma of my life.
I felt a pain arise in me that nearly knocked me to the ground. I needed to be somewhere and as I walked through the tough streets of NYC, tears poured down my face.
Healing happens... it does. Does it take time? Of course. Does trauma get stored in our bodies? Of course. Can we heal entirely by ourselves? I have tried that for years... and my answer to that is it is so damn hard and it is not the best way to do it... because working sooooooo hard at something which needs tenderness and love is oppositional and begins to fry the nervous system.
Surrender is a practice. But efforting at it so much is not real surrender.
Surrender happens in moments. Just like when you feel peace. Do we feel peace all of the time? Maybe the Dalai Lama does. But I am not an enlightened being. So as for me, NO. I don't.
I guess my point is, I didn't expect to be hit with the site of the trauma. Am I okay? Yes. Do I feel remnants of pain? Yes. Am I awake to what else is in there? Yes.
But here's the thing. Is any of it running the show?
Why? Because I have practices and skill-sets to work with and lean into.
And for these things, I can come back to my self, but more importantly, get BEYOND myself.
May we each find whatever "sweet-spot" brings us to a place of ease.
Of strength. Of comfort. Kindness. And openness to love each other well.
Keep practicing. That's what I will be doing.