Lost and Found

 

A Long Way Home

By all accounts, Angelica was born into challenging circumstances. While her mother and father were well-educated professionals, they were poorly suited to raising a child like her. She would be labeled a colicky baby, though in later life when Angelica was diagnosed as a high-functioning autistic, they would come to understand the primary issue was developmental delay.

Angelica did not talk until well into childhood. Though very intelligent, she was prone to dysfunctional behavior. The list of maltreatment she endured is a long one. Somewhere along the way she took refuge in artistic expression. While isolated and lonely in a world necessarily of her own creation, she achieved brilliantly in her education and her painting.

Like so many who do not readily conform to societal expectations, the troubles within her multiplied. Eventually the stress of being Angelica required relief through alcohol and drugs. While she remained sufficiently functional in the world, the inner disturbance only grew.

There came a time for Angelica when she would say she lived in torment. Despite her brilliance, she was excluded from the relationships and community she unknowingly needed. And as often happens when the world does not know of someone’s inner demons and cannot fathom how to embrace someone they see as different, her worldly path became increasingly dysfunctional. No matter what she did with her art or her knowledge, over and over again Angelica experienced failure. The stress was the fuel for raging addictions; ultimately she faced near daily battles with suicidal thoughts.

Angelica never acted on her desires to kill herself. Fortunately however, the devastation of her life finally forced her to seek assistance. It was simple enough. Go on until the bitter end, or find help. And with what she would later call mercy, aid found her. The care and support of one person who loved her created a bridge. A professional medical diagnosis of autism revolutionized her understanding of herself. The recovery rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous provided access to freedom from substances. Slowly but surely mercy brought her a stream of people as the dysfunction eased bit by bit.

Still she was dogged by a foreboding sense of failure and exclusion.

Then one day as she worked with her spiritual mentor in recovery, she was transported back to a particular episode very early in life. It was a deeply disturbing memory of day after day as an infant lying on her back alone on the bathroom floor. As the pieces began to emerge, Angelica realized that her overwhelmed parents had closed her into the bathroom for months. As she explored the experience she came to see that neglect and abandonment had become a self-defining experience. It was her earliest understanding of herself; it was experiential proof of exclusion and failure. Most painfully, Angelica saw that the trauma ran so deep that it had come to define her entire life.

It was into this space that Angelica began a practice of what she calls mercy breath. Breathe mercy into the psychic wounds, hold it so it can seep into her being, and release it over and over again with each exhalation.

Since it had taken thousands of tortured breaths to reach this point in her path to transformation, Angelica knew that path back to herself would take thousands of mercy breaths, that each breath would bring the balm of healing.

Today, Angelica knows there is a solution for her. It is being revealed in slight improvements in her experience day after day. It is a path of a thousand breaths, and more.

Most wonderfully, she is not bitter. Instead Angelica sees that she has the magic and mystery of mercy in her life. Recently she has begun to offer that mercy to others. She teaches what she needs. And the world slowly heals with her.

Seeing True

“You’re looking for yourself,” said the wiseman. “Where did you lose you? It is there you will be found.”

Seeing True in Action

The simple wisdom of the recovery rooms provides a path for those who are lost to themselves. Feel. Deal. Heal. Feel. Deal. Heal. Feel. Deal. Heal.

Then suddenly one day you will be thriving.

The shamans would say that your soul will have been retrieved.