Breaking a Vow

I’ve spent time this week, mentally revisiting my childhood. It’s not been a nostalgic time filled with happy memories. My childhood definitely contains those, but my purpose was more specific. There is a little four year old girl back there, that I have promised to help. Rescue was actually the word that originally came to mind, but that seems too dramatic, even if it is closer to the truth.

Vows are solemn promises to do something. There is a seriousness involved, a pledge or commitment to complete a promise made. The word vow comes from the Latin word vovere “to make a wish”. Vovere is the same root word that gives us the word vote. Bringing that info together, a vow is a vote we cast as we weigh in on a solemn decision.

Breaking a Vow

Vows are powerful, which is why a couple exchanges them during a wedding ceremony. They are choosing or “voting” to make a commitment to each other.

Childhood vows are extremely powerful. They are made with a sincere heart that may be moving from innocence to greater awareness, whether that perception is skewed or not. I’ve found in my own life that a vow made in childhood is nearly impossible to break. I know. I made one.

When I was four years old, I fiercely made a vow: I will not cry…ever again. I know what precipitated that vote against emotion. It doesn’t matter. What did matter was that I took that vow so seriously that I shut down the ability to cry. By the time I was an adult, I couldn’t cry if I wanted to. My body fought against it energetically, creating a closing off of my throat and a constriction in my chest. It became physically painful to experience strong negative emotions.

So I learned to avoid situations that might prompt a need to cry.

Not a healthy emotional state to live in, but that vow has been honored for a lifetime.

Breaking a Vow

I’ve learned more about my four year old self, as I have spent time with her, mentally visiting her and observing her. Fear overshadowed her life but she didn’t share those fears with others as she grew older. She was gutsy and artistic and loved animals and playing outside. She climbed and leaped and took risks, resulting in some broken bones. And she apparently liked to run around without a shirt on in the summertime, as evidenced by the photos above.

I made another vow, recently, to “go get” my young self and be present with her and love on her. My ultimate hope is to simply accept her and in allowing her to be who she is, help her to free herself from the vow she made. Bringing back the emotions that she voted off the island would be beneficial to both of us.

This is the exercise I have been doing, and I warn you, it may seem very strange. This is something I came up with myself, not a technique I learned in a book or via another person.

I visualize being with my four year old self. I hold her, her sturdy little back resting against my chest as I wrap my arms around her. I surround us both with love and Divine Light. Together we revisit the things that frightened her or caused her pain and experience them together. When emotions arise, and they do, I can feel little Cindy shutting down, reigning in her desire to cry or wail or scream. I become her voice. I can’t sob or shed tears either, but I can throw back my head and cry out, for her…for me.

It sounds bizarre, and sharing these words makes my chest hurt and heat move through my body. But that just means old, old energy is stirring and that’s what I’m after…the release of deeply buried emotion, and the courage and power to break a very strong vow.

Is it working? Yeah. It’s a tender process, a slow process and one that involves trust and love and a willingness to go after that stubborn little kid. I would gladly do this work with one of my grandchildren, if there was a deep hurt that I could help heal. I am just as compassionate about healing this child. Whether I ever completely unlock my emotions or not, it is vital that I lovingly help her to see that she does not have to be afraid. She does not have to turn off her tears and barricade her emotions. She does not have to keep that vow.

She needs me. She is me and I am her. She needs to feel safe and heard. Together we can break the need for that vow.

Breaking a Vow

Letting Go of What I Fear to Lose

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A meme that grabbed my attention this last week at first made me smile. The wise words didn’t come from Einstein or a great leader or a well known author. In fact, they weren’t uttered by a real person at all, but rather by a fictional character that is decidedly non-human. The words stayed with me though, and burrowed deep within my heart, generating ripples of thought.

Letting Go of What I Fear to Lose

Yoda’s Quote

The quote is “Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.”

And the being offering that sage advice is the ancient, green tinged Yoda, from the Star Wars universe. In the scene in which Yoda speaks these words, he counsels young Anakin about the dangers of the Dark Side.

The conversation includes the warning, “Fear is the path to the dark side…”

Those words bring extra clarity, for me, about what Yoda shares.

Letting Go of What I Fear to Lose

Words of Wisdom

My thoughts about Yoda’s wisdom are these:

I notice he says train yourself to let go, implying the act of letting go isn’t necessarily a natural, or easy, response. The verb train comes from the Latin “trahere”, meaning pull or draw. The early verb sense, ‘cause (a plant) to grow in a desired shape’, became the basis for ‘educate, instruct, teach.’ Yoda tells his student to educate himself, grow himself, into one who can let go.

Because, the more natural tendency we have, when we fear losing something or someone, is to cling, and hold tightly. Clenching tenses up the body, clogs up energy, and directs attention negatively to fear.

And that is the key word here…fear. Yoda reiterates that it is fear that leads to the dark side. Fear that causes us to cling. Fear that closes down our world and obliterates the light, casting us into darkness.

Letting Go of What I Fear to Lose

The Negative Impact of Fear

Fear of loss can involve more than losing a loved one, or our own life. We can fear losing status, or a job, or income, or perceived love, or something we strongly identify with. Fear of loss can involve change, which is another level of fear in itself, and the belief that we will lose pieces of ourselves if we lose traditions, habits, beliefs, perceptions, fond memories, comfort or safety.

For me, fear of loss comes down to outcomes. I was afraid I would end up with an outcome I didn’t want, so I did my best to hold onto the way things were or to control what the outcome would be. Both only plunged me deeper into fear.

Training myself to let go of everything I feared to lose meant letting go of outcomes…letting go and opening up to curiosity and faith and trust. I learned to quit clinging, open my heart and quit protecting it. I learned to be okay with not knowing what was just around the river bend, as I entered the flow of life.

Letting go doesn’t mean I push people away or shun them. Nor does it mean I can’t enjoy what I have and relationships and my grandchildren and digging in my garden. Rather, I hold everything with open hands and an unafraid heart. It means the joy of loving is greater than the fear of losing.  I don’t attempt to control people or events. Ultimately, I can relax and appreciate all that is, in this precise moment.

Training…growing…is an ongoing journey. Learning to let go is a lesson that continues to pop up for me occasionally, and rather than react to it, I can lean into it and see where in my life I need to let something, or someone, go…where I am clinging instead of flowing.

Because, to the dark side I will not go. I am open to everything…and attached to nothing.

Letting Go of What I Fear to Lose