Breaking the Cycle

“Maybe I have been here before.
I know this room. I’ve walked this floor.
I used to live alone before I knew you.
I’ve sen your flag on the marble arch.
Love is not a victory march.
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.”
– Leonard Cohen, “Hallejuah”


Since this refrain has been looping through my head all week, perhaps it’s  fitting introduction to this month’s Cauldron Blog Project theme: Calendars, Cycles, and Patterns.  While I love the idea of spiritual calendars and finding patterns in my work, there are some cycles that are actually detrimental to my practice.  The fact that I’m walking around with the above song stuck in my head is a fair indicator that I’m deeply enmeshed in one of those cycles – one in which I find myself scrambling for any scraps of self-love and self-worth that I can find.

The last few weeks have been difficult.  Things that are happening now carry the echo of old hurts.  Patterns of behavior that began with one or another painful event in the past are being repeated now, much to the detriment of myself and others who would be a part of my life.   Seeing these patterns reemerge has given me the chance to see that the tools I used to cope at the time were not – and still are not – the ones that I actually needed to process those events in a way that was healthy.  I’ve persevered, but in doing so, caused lasting harm in other ways.  In trying to deal with pain in my own ridiculously stubborn and independent way, I have closed myself off from meaningful connections with others, nursed a deep-seated distrust of others’ motives, and created a mental framework that does not allow me to either love or trust deeply.  Yes, a few people did some pretty awful things to create this outlook, but I’ve come to realize that while I cannot change what happened, I could have reacted to it in ways that were less self-destructive.

So what to do to break the cycles that are detrimental?  Simple: Learn to trust again.  Find a way to love that is sustainable and nurturing.  Ask for and accept help when I need it instead of insisting that I can handle everything on my own.  Communicate what’s happening below the surface, particularly when it involves others.  Focus on the rewards of opening myself to others rather than the risks and dangers.  Cope with the fallout of what’s happened without withdrawing or shutting down. Admit my own shortcomings and failings without endlessly being plagued with self-doubt.  Accept that what has happened cannot be altered, that I can only change the way I react to it. Be wholly present in this world when not actively engaged in shadow or threshold work.  Find a way to accept that not having all of these skills already does not make me in fatally flawed or unlovable.

Alright, maybe this isn’t so simple.  One step at a time, I think, beginning with enlisting the help of others.  I did reach out to other people this week , to ask for general emotional support and to schedule counseling.  It doesn’t like much, does it?  Such small steps, such giant leaps, to break the cycle.

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