I will no longer allow anyone to manipulate my mind
And control my life in the name of love.
Don Miguel Ruiz
In 1983 Air Supply recorded “Making Love Out Of Nothing At All.” No song has ever affected me as that one does. I weep each and every time I hear it. Not just a tear or two dripping down my cheek. A flash flood. Initially I assumed it spoke to the love between my third husband and myself. Yet, thirty-two years later, long since we divorced, this song still unleashes a flood of tears, and not for a lost love. And until recently, the answer to “What’s up with that?” eluded me.
Eventually I concluded that “Making Love Out Of Nothing At All” speaks to a sacred contract. Bottom line, it tells the story of my soul’s relentless determination to communicate the truth of who I am that was in such stark contrast with my parents’ verbal and non-verbal messages. My intuition gave me one truth, while my parents put forth another. The deep disparity between the two led me to mute my intuitive guidance for over thirty years. Occasionally messages bypassed my mind’s elaborate security system (my Inner Critic, determined to protect me until I had retrieved enough pieces of myself from the lost and found to discern my true identity).
Sacred Contracts, as defined by Caroline Myss, who coined the term and developed the Sacred Contracts process, are agreements we make before we are born to learn specific lessons. They are distinguished by the frequency and intensity of a repetitive situation, one that when the light bulb finally goes off, reeks of habitual self-sabotage, blame, denial, and a pity party. Finding the gift in the shit instantly dissipates the victim story, revealing the truth that there are no victims, only lessons.
This is not a linear process. Recognizing a Sacred Contract takes diligence and deep introspection. It took me many years to accumulate enough aha moments to see the bigger picture of my life, and to dismantle the energetic walls I had erected to keep me from an intimate relationship with my soul.
For example, poor self-esteem has dogged me for most of my life, not uncommon with children who feel as if they don’t fit in their families. A sensitive, introspective, intuitive child, I exasperated my logical, rational parents with all my questions. Their frustration was palpable. I turned that frustration on myself. I wasn’t good enough. We spoke different languages. Mine was unintelligible to them.
Convinced that I was the problem, I repressed objectionable facets of myself, including my sensitivity and innate creativity. Yet, trying to twist myself to fit in didn’t work either. As I further disconnected from my own truth, I disconnected from my intuition. On the one hand, I was unable to be who or what they wanted me to be. On the other, being myself wasn’t acceptable.
Re-collecting all the offending pieces, a necessary part of becoming whole, has been a painstakingly arduous scavenger hunt, full of dead ends and blind spots. Piecemeal, I’ve examined my findings, not quite knowing where they fit, yet each epiphany bringing me one step closer to the clarity I had, that we all have, when we’re born. I knew who I was then.
Richard Rohr, a Jesuit Priest, relates a true story that illustrates this concept.
A family with a three-year-old child came home with a new baby. The elder son asked to speak with his baby brother.
“Go ahead,” they said.
“I want to talk with him alone,” said the child.
Surprised, they agreed, and shut the door, then cupped their ears to listen to what their son said to the new baby.
“Quick, quick,” he said. “Tell me who made you and where you came from. I’m beginning to forget.”
Children become imprinted with the values, neuroses, fears, and prejudices of their parents. Like lobsters slowly being brought to a boil, they’re unaware that it’s happening. With hindsight, I’m aware that my family gestalt was inconsistent with my inner GPS. The inner conflict it generated left me with chronic psychic indigestion, a low-grade anxiety I lived with for much of my life. I never noticed it. It was my normal.
A feisty child, today I would be labeled high maintenance. Without an indomitable spirit, most likely I would have knuckled under and simply accepted my programming. Although I tried my parents’ patience, that spirit was my saving grace. Like a heat-seeking missile, it consciously and unconsciously guided me back to my true self.
I genuinely tried to live the life I was programmed to live, until one day it fell apart. My perfect marriage wasn’t. Soon after that discovery, a mystical experience shook me to my core. God was no longer an abstract concept.
Barely thirty, it turned my belief system upside down. God was not some father figure who punished us when we missed the mark or otherwise chose unwisely. This was a big huge revelation that totally contradicted everything I had been taught.
Another family truth that got busted was the supremacy of the intellect. “Don’t feel that way,” my father affirmed time and again. Feelings only get in the way. So imagine the bunker-busting psychic bomb that blew up in every arena of my life, and was ultimately responsible for my passionate quest to reclaim all the parts I had deemed worthless. The radical new truth that revolutionized my belief system was, “Your mind will always lead you astray. Your heart, never.”
The more I explored, the more I realized how true those statements were. It’s the ego versus intuition conundrum, the Inner Critic that overrides the Soul’s voice. The power of that truth impassioned me to do what “all the king’s horses and all the king’s men” couldn’t do—put Humpty Dumpty back together again. It was an inner imperative that became my raison d’etre. Without knowing how long it would take, what it would entail, what I would find, or the many obstacles, challenges, and demon-confronting it would require, I committed myself to the task of unwinding myself back to zero, to the place where I could begin to “make love out of nothing at all.”
Dumpster-diving unearthed the depth of my inner conflict, along with the toxicity of the build-up of the perpetual angst in my gut due to decades of stuffing my feelings, and “thinking” my way through life.
Throughout my almost forty-year quest (symbolic of the length of time it took the Israelites to eliminate a slave mentality?), I discovered how many choices fear had made for me, and how distanced I had become from my soul’s voice.
This pilgrimage took courage in the face of fear. As if to confirm that the heart’s guidance is to be trusted, the word, “courage” comes from the Latin, cor, for heart. Originally, courage meant to stand by one’s core. And what is at our core, but the heart and soul?
Finding my way back to my core took immense courage. Brick by brick I dismantled the wall of fear and shame that kept my angst contained and fueled. Each brick I extracted brought an aha moment, and eventually the wall collapsed. My anxiety dissipated, and I realized that my outer challenges were merely facsimiles of my inner ones. The betrayals and sabotage I experienced revealed the many instances of self-inflicted betrayal and self-sabotage.
I was free. To unapologetically be me. To be imperfectly me. I didn’t have to fit in. And that I was different wasn’t grounds to beat myself up. On the contrary, it was cause to celebrate my differences.
My self-esteem skyrocketed. All my trials and tribulations had finally brought me home to myself. I was at ground zero, the place of “Making Love Out Of Nothing At All.” And I have.