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Hip Sobriety School, Day 4

"I can do hard things."

Holly says this is her favorite favorite favorite mantra and I can see why. In a heartbeat, it puts in touch with the strength of our primal warrior archetype and all the tough, exhausting, painful, disappointing, heartbreaking, wrenching ordeals we survived along the path behind us. But it does more than that. It puts us in touch with the priceless gifts that were hidden within all that angst and misery.

I remember sitting knee-to-knee with a partner in a class on the Power of Gratitude for a moment of sharing what we were most thankful for. The first thing that sprang to mind startled me, but nothing else followed so I just told her it was going to sound odd: "I am so very grateful for all the shitty things I've been through—all of it. I cannot even imagine the person who would be sitting here right now across from you without the growth and shifts in consciousness those experiences catalyzed."

And about all that shame we carry around. I also took a class on Radical Honesty where we broke into partners to share something we wouldn't want others to know about us, something we perceive as unacceptable or embarrassing or even shaming. I volunteered to start (I can do this!) and began ticking off a brief litany of my blackest sins, although I have no idea exactly what I said because the experience felt like an altered emotional state, very stream of consciousness. Maybe I confessed the time I slapped my oldest daughter across the face, or the scores of men I had sex with during my "Fuck you, Catholic Church" phase. Most likely it included sleeping with a married man—or two. My partner was a handsome young man who was oh-so-obviously gay, so I was braced for anything. ?After all, I had flung the door open wide for him to be completely free and unfettered. Lay it on me, no worries, I'm obviously deeply flawed and this is a No Judgement Zone.

His thing, and his only thing, was how completely ashamed he feels that his mother doesn't know he left the Catholic Church. "We've been going to Unity for years now and I just can't bring myself to tell her, it eats away at me but I just can't. She lives in another state so it makes it easy to live this lie, but it's killing me. My partner can't believe that I can tell the entire world I'm gay but I can't tell my mom this simple truth." I had no words. That's it? I just laid bare the darkest corners of my soul and he can't tell his mommy he left the Church? I have never felt so completely naked in my entire life. I wanted the floor beneath us to open up and swallow me whole. Or at the very least, crawl beneath the tiny chair where I was sitting, wave out my arm and cry, "Would you at least just hand me my bra and panties?"

We have done so very many hard things. We have not only survived, but in so many ways, we have all thrived. Yes, bad stuff has happened to us and we all have some regrets about shitty things we've said and done, or we are haunted by what we left undone. For some of us, loving and embracing our imperfect precious selves might be the biggest part of any forgiveness work we need to do to be truly free.

But we're here, we're showing up. We called forth a tectonic shift in our lives by just signing up for this journey. And we're doing it together. Ram Dass came up with what is possibly my favorite favorite favorite mantra of all time: "We're all just walking each other home."
 

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