“Daring Adventures and the F Word”
Helen Keller said, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” Some of us, during particular life transitions would opt for nothing- a little nothingness, a drop in the adrenaline, a simple diminution of stimuli, or as one of my friends says at times of chaos, “Let me just sit on my bed and suck my thumb.” We long for time to emotionally regroup.
The “daring adventure” that is our life is marked by cycles of change- of loss and reconnection, of dependency and individuation, of deep grief and realizations of renewed growth. Our “hero’s journey,” as Joseph Campbell taught us, is a process that guides, directs, pushes, pulls, and ultimately transforms us along the way from innocent children to wise, mature adults.
Psychologically, life transitions call us to transform the energy of the ego and its childlike ways of expecting the world to take care of us. We are tasked with facing and killing the dragons of defense, our early playmates, who taught us to deny fright and wrongdoing, rationalize deviousness, repress our negative thoughts and project our less than lofty impulses onto others. Repeatedly facing down the small to the deadliest fears rebirths us as warriors, able to protect and nurture ourselves as we grow strong enough to recognize, adapt and finally to enjoy and master completely new terrain.
Campbell tells us that we always have supernatural aid along the journey- so hang onto that belief in guardian angels, no matter in what form they appear. In my life they tend to appear as good friends turning up at crucial times with crucial insights, like a Tinkerbell, focusing my attention on how to handle the crisis of the moment. But one night when I was suffering unbearable pain from multiple broken bones in my shoulder, a more traditional angel friend showed up, dressed in gossamer white. She took me to an icy kingdom, which numbed my body and allowed for much-needed blessed sleep.
Angelic friends are folks you can cry in front of. Sometimes, before we take on the dragons, we have to fall apart and weep, say we can’t possibly do it, we can’t bear it, we didn’t even think we’d signed up for this particular trip. And our friends hold us and soothe us and remind us of who we really are… wonderfully intelligent souls, filled with the energy of the gods, and ready to take our rightful place at the vey center of our lives. As one woman said to me toward the end of a conflict-ridden divorce- “I’m taking back my power, my money, and my magic.”
The benefit from every life transition small or large, is the magic of transformed consciousness. This happens in three ways: through greater Awareness, Acceptance, and Action. Three A’s. When we survive and complete each journey, we have a deeper awareness of our values and our self in relation to the world. We accept ourselves, our shortcomings, our skills and our gifts, as well as our current life situation. And we discover greater courage to take the next action steps toward our goals.
There is an important F word involved here- the word is Forgiveness. Often, it’s the most decisive part of this equation. Self-forgiveness, or forgiveness of past wrongs, is the door that opens to the other three. It brings inner peace. To learn more about the benefits of forgiveness, and how to do it, order Megan Feldman Bettencourt’s new book, Triumph of the Heart: Forgiveness in an Unforgiving World.
As a trauma psychologist, I know how crucial forgiveness is to every part of our life cycle. Give yourself that gift.
Many blessings, and thanks to my daughter for writing this important book.