January 9, 2018
How to Heal a Broken Heart
There’s something about a threshold that I’ve always loved. The quickening of a transition. The promise of change. So of course, I love to celebrate the arrival of a new year. This year I did it, alone in my chambre de bonne in Paris, drinking water. I sat down and tried to write a thing about the whole year and then it seemed like it was too much and so I scrapped it.
Writing on the internet has become overwhelming. Every thought either seems too huge and important to fit in these little text boxes or too mundane and redundant to bother sharing with everyone. Of course I’m running around the thing instead of getting into the centre of it. If I just sat down and wrote something I’d feel better. So here I am.
2017 was the most incredible year of my life. How can I begin to describe it? I experienced an awakening. There it is. That’s a cliché, isn’t it? Exactly. The time to be cool and circumspect is obviously over. I’m getting to the point, and that point is located near the centre of the human experience and therefore is just as common as it is extraordinary. Like, La Joconde.
I never intended to wake up. I thought I was already awake. But I was was wrong, in so many ways! And how painful it was to realize all the ways I was wrong, just as it was so delightful to discover what it truly meant to fumble my way into my right mind. Finally. Okay, well maybe I’ll never quite get there but at least I’m finally sure that I’m going in the right direction.
2017 was the year that I had to deal with all my karmic krap. A spiritual awakening, I found out, is equal parts angels and demons. And I had plenty of both inside of me. They all had to come out in the open, in dramatic and embarrassing ways. Becoming my true self meant accepting parts of myself that seemed unacceptable. Once that acknowledgement occurred, I made the choice to forgive myself. Once I forgave myself, it was obvious I had to forgive everyone else and all of their shortcomings too. That wasn’t the end of it though.
It became clear that forgiveness only treats the effects, not the cause. To address the source of my worst behaviour I had to travel inside of myself, to the centre of my heart, and remove a false belief that had been stuck into an emotional injury at a moment of vulnerability.
This thing had been blocking me from fully living up to my potential in so many ways, for years. I had become so used to that trauma being there that I had no idea how jammed up I was. The false belief, of course, comes up with all sorts of reasons to justify itself. The avoidance required to maintain my obliviousness to this problem was making it difficult to empathize and so I was often being insensitive to others, and that was causing all sorts of difficult situations. Yet I thought I was fine! If someone asked me if I loved myself, I would have said, of course I do! Meanwhile there was this false belief inside of me that was profoundly unloving.
In the indirect, accidental way that the best information is noticed, I had learned of a barber surgeon named Ambroise Paré. He was practicing medicine on the battlefield shortly after the introduction of guns into warfare. At the time, medieval medical practices were completely unprepared for the increase in injuries this new technology caused. No one knew how to deal with bullet wounds, so soldiers were mercy-killing their injured comrades. Paré objected to this, believing that with deductive reasoning he could figure out how to remove a bullet from the body. Of course, you have the bloody hole, but how do you figure out which direction the bullet is inside? You don’t want to make even more holes in the body by digging around. So Paré took the injured soldier back to the exact place on the battlefield where he was shot, so they could figure out which direction the shot had come from. In this way, the surgeon could enter the wound from the exact same direction as the shot, towards the point of greatest pain… and remove the bullet.
It turns out that removing a false belief from an emotional injury is pretty much the same process. This must be why karma keeps placing you in similar situations of increasing intensity until you finally own up, learn your lesson, and do the emotional processing required to heal yourself and end the cycle of suffering.
As it happened, in spite of my valiant efforts to avoid it at all costs, fate had persuaded me into a situation nearly identical to my original heartbreak, and I was cornered into reliving the trauma. Which I did, without dignity or grace. Fortunately someone was there to encourage me to right myself. This abject state provided the perfect opportunity to remove the bullet. I returned to the memory of the precise moment that my heart was broken. I had to fully feel the total range of painful emotions associated with that event. Then I identified the exact words of the belief – it was a very common one: “I am a bad person” – I consciously decided to remove the false word, and in that way it was transmuted into true belief, which is simply, I am a person.
The removal of the false belief was the moment I woke up. With my heart healed, energy began to run freely up and down my spine as I practiced meditation. A persistent knot in the left side of my brain was finally loosened and untied. A cascade of realizations began to dismantle a lifetime’s accumulation of mistaken assumptions, demanding that I make further changes. So even though life has become even more beautiful and I feel so much better, adapting to a new paradigm requires a lot more emotional, intellectual, physical and creative effort than I ever imagined. It’s worth it, though. I’m growing, becoming kinder and gentler with myself and everyone else too.
It is clear now that the practice of working with the tarot both facilitated and insisted that I do this self-healing. The information I found this year has increased the sensitivity of my intuition and improved my ability to communicate the knowledge that querents seek in a way that they can receive it.
Raised to be skeptical, I never imagined that at 35 years old I’d encounter the divine. Skepticism has guided me to true belief through trial and error. Personal experiences have led to the development of my own idiosyncratic mythology. Looking back, every single event in my life was leading up to this point. I have so many good stories. Perhaps I will share some on this dear old blog, if you’re interested in reading more. Tell me if you are.
I am deeply grateful to everyone who played a role in this process, whether you realized this was what you were doing or not, I needed you. Especially to the people who I was at my worst with, thank you, you helped me the most. Further, heartfelt thanks to the people who were at their worst with me. Through our transgressions, I found grace.