Sunday, 28 August 2022 15:50

Finding Our Gold

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There is a story in the Buddhist tradition about a clay statue of the Buddha in a monastery in Thailand. Over the years, it was protected in the monastery from outside invaders. One day while it was being relocated, one of the monks spotted a crack in the clay. When the monk looked closer, he noticed that underneath the clay there was solid gold. The clay statue had been made of gold the whole time!

As a metaphorholic, I like this story because it serves as a good reminder for many people. Over the years of life–including school, work, family, friends, stress, health issues, and general uncertainty– we tend to get covered in the clay of all that “stuff.” Our pure selves disappear, and in every nook and cranny of our being are stacks of mail, bills, loans, debt, responsibilities, and technology. Nonetheless, we can make a conscious effort to scrape all the gunk off. Our lost selves are still under there somewhere!

For many years, I was a new wife, mom of a dog and cat, middle school teacher, older sister, obedient daughter, kind granddaughter, thoughtful niece, loyal friend, and helpful colleague. But I didn’t know my true self underneath all of the labels. Figuratively speaking, clay and mud had covered up the gold!

Everything changed in early 2021 when my husband told me he wanted a divorce. I lost my relationship, house, and all those things I thought I was. Moreover, I realized the reality of what that meant. I had vanished under the stress of a career I was not happy with and the growing gap between my husband and me. I did not like the person looking back in the mirror. I did not treat her kindly or compassionately. There was no way I could love another person if I couldn’t even love the person I had to live with for the rest of my life. 

Over the following months after our divorce, I poured over self-help books, articles, podcasts, and TED Talks. I scoured the internet for anything that could make me feel like I wasn’t alone. I started going to counseling. I started meditating. I started taking classes that I always wanted to take. I cried an ocean of tears every week, all the while without realizing it, piecing my broken heart back together and learning that I could love myself. Over months of hard work, I started to feel the traces of healing. I could feel the cracks opening wider. I learned the value of speaking kindly to my inner child. 

It was awkward and unfamiliar at first, like going up to a stranger just to tell them you like their shoes. But the more I marinated in the uncomfortable feelings, the more comfortable I became.

One of the activities I started is pole dancing. I had always loved dancing, but never tried dancing on a pole before! There’s no way I’d be able to do it, I thought. But I was wrong. Not only a physically active pursuit, but also one that inspires aw and confidence in both the dancer and observer. It definitely did for me. Since beginning the class, I noticed a difference in my physical body (more strength in my legs, arms, and core) and also in my mental state (more confidence in my abilities and myself). 

Learning to shed the mud, dirt, and muck off of me and find new meaning in my life was one of the most important lessons I learned from the end of my marriage and my nine-year relationship. Though the grief and pain were devastating and there were times I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, with enough time and perspective, can see the lessons and the growth that served to crack open the clay and reveal the gold that’s always been there. I am not the same person I was a year ago, nor am I the same person I was five years ago. Each day we have the choice to crack ourselves open a little more so that our purest self is expressed. Knowing you value, your worth, and your contributions is a priceless gift you can give yourself. Once you truly believe they are the truth, no one and nothing can ever take them away because they’ve been inside you all along.

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