"When the bottom falls out of your
reality, you then pay attention to yourself, your fears,
dreams and needs in a very different manner. You have nothing
to lose in letting the smoke screens in your life fall away.
As you can learn to look at your life honestly, without
excuses and self-imposed, preconceived conditions, you will
find the levels of fear and anxiousness diminish. The
willingness to re-evaluate the current ‘you" and the
possibilities for a new "you" is what turns
limitation into opportunity and destructive, old patterning
into viable, healthy new paths of growth."
Meredith Lady Young
Language of the Soul: Applying Universal Principles for
How does one heal and grow from an
unthinkable traumatic experience? It helps each of us when
others open their hearts and tell their stories. In this issue
and several following, personal stories illustrate how we can
move beyond staying a victim and how to use painful events to
grow spiritually. Know that the events that wounded us, whether
or not they are as severe as those in these stories, can deepen
our relationship with our Self and be used for the upliftment of
our consciousness. To raise our consciousness out of the
consensus reality of victim/victimizer consciousness, takes
tremendous courage and vigilance.
Allow these courageous people to impact you
and show you the way out of trauma. Their sharing is very
personal and each of them hopes to show you that no matter how
challenging a life situation, there are ways to grow and heal
from the experience.
Some of the best teachers and healers are the
wounded healers who have healed themselves. In the following
months you will read others. If you are drawn to write your
story, send it to me. If you missed previous stories you can
read them now:
Story number 1, Overcoming
Story number 2, Moving
Beyond Childhood Abuse
Story number 3, In
Memory of Betty Sitzer
Story number 4, A
Turning–Point in My Journey from Being Born with Spastic
to Leading a Productive and Fulfilling Adult Life
I am so grateful. I have been given so much.
It was not so long ago that I lived hell. Overnight I lost sight
of heaven and felt only burning flames of hell wherever I
looked. I felt completely destroyed in every aspect of my life.
On August 28, 2004, I came home about 8 pm
after a celebration BBQ in the mountains as part of an art fair
where I had been tending my booth all day. I found my 17
year-old son dead. It was clear he had committed suicide. A few
days later my spouse and I were talking divorce. I felt
desperate about how I would support myself after nineteen years
of being a homemaker and working part-time. I was losing the use
of my left shoulder. My 16-year-old daughter was extremely angry
with me and blaming me for everything. I felt completely alone
and without a friend to lean on, incapable of completing even
the simplest daily activities. A therapist prescribed
antidepressants which made me feel violently ill. This was the
lowest point of my life. Everything was not crumbling slowly
apart. It was instantly blasted—including all the internal
resources I ever thought I had.
I am deeply grateful that I have been a
serious student of A Course in Miracles for about 19
years. Without it I would not be where I am today, but at that
point I could not find enough calm to meditate or use it.
To give you a little history, my son had a
diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome which I am still not sure was
completely appropriate. Basically he was described as being on
the autistic "spectrum." He had difficulty with
empathy—the whole area of feelings, relationships,
communication. His view of reality was very different than most
of the rest of us, yet he was able to live a fairly
"normal" life on the outside—attending regular
school and even "passing for normal". It was very
difficult to understand what life must have looked like from the
inside for him. There were huge discrepancies in
perception—testing at the 0-3 range in social abilities and
yet in the genius range in certain intellectual areas. In short,
it was an extremely challenging 18 years. His thinking was
characterized as very black and white, while the feeling side of
him was a mystery. (No "smug, calm waters" of parental
satisfaction. No superficial self image taking credit for
one’s children's success in life.)
Staying "the same" was not an
option. Being Aaron’s mother was the greatest gift I could
have possibly been given. I deeply and desperately asked for
help many times a day. I know now it was always about me,
especially my self worth, and not about him. For 18 years I was
urgently motivated to "find a better way"--to learn
forgiveness, to watch and try to heal my ego, to heal perception
and projection.--basically, to seek a higher perspective, to let
go and let God. It was about seeing love and wholeness in him
and thus, in myself. I don't think I would have consciously
chosen what I experienced as immense pain, but I understand now
the healing potential of it.
All the pain I experienced was but a result
of my own ego—fear, guilt, attack, inadequacy, weakness,
unworthiness, failure. My son reflected back to me what I needed
to see in order to heal it. What a loving gift. I won't go into
the details. That in itself has the potential of a book. The
relationship here though is that I deeply believe the practice
of forgiveness of those 18 years was a very big help (factor) in
preparing me for this crisis in my life. ("Tribulations are
but a chance to choose again. Where once you made a faulty
choice..." is an important quote for me from A Course In
But, even with this foundation, for several
months I could find no peace, no stillness, no center. I felt
completely lost in the storm, sinking, tossed about, rammed
repeatedly by crashing waves in the darkness. Huge guilt.
Immense pain. I just had to stop—everything.
And be with it. Just be completely with it
all. To look at it. To look at everything as much as I could for
as long as I needed to.
Death. I could not even comprehend it. The
idea of the world I had known, my perception of what was
possible and real was gone. I had never really even thought
about death much. I had no experience with someone close to me
dying. I thought I believed there was no death, just a change in
form. But seeing my son's dead body certainly made it seem real.
How could that be interpreted in any other way? Now I needed to
know death. What is it really? What do I really believe? I was
faced with two very opposite ideas and thought systems around
death. The world's view: death is permanent, loss, suffering,
pain, sorrow, end, destruction, victim, body, sadness, failure,
blackness, darkness, wrong, shouldn't have happened, hell, end.
Spirit's view: life is eternal, changeless, no separation,
Heaven, God, oneness, going to the Light, beautiful music,
guardian angels, perfection, loving care, forgiveness,
resurrection. In the words of A Course in Miracles,
"Loss is impossible."
They couldn't both be true. I needed to
explore. I needed to let go. I needed to just sit. To listen. If
Aaron wasn't dead, if he existed somewhere, someway, I needed to
know all about it and be with him. I had so much to say to him.
I needed to be with him-- to hold him, to tell him I love him,
to tell him how sorry I was.
I asked for help. Mostly, I surrendered. I
had no choice. I no longer knew ANYTHING. I was completely
naked. No defenses. No plan. Nothing. I was at zero. Empty. I
knew it would take time, but not just time. It would take being
present and being open. It would take being with the pain. It
would take looking at all of it—everything I ever thought or
felt. Everything deeply hidden or anything I previously hadn't
really wanted to look at—now was the time. I had nothing else
to lose. I was completely broken open. I would ask and listen.
It was a crack for a whole new pattern, order of reality to
Help was given. After several months and
finding medication I could tolerate I was able to be still, to
go to "The Course" deeply and for much time, and very
much felt the presence of Jesus right with me, in my mind and
heart, completely egoless, wholly loving, so strong and gentle
and pure and so crystal clear, perfect, holy—hard to find
words to share the experience. Many times, unable to find peace,
to see peace, to see wholeness or another way of looking at it
or especially myself and the extreme guilt and pain I thought my
son must have felt I called on Jesus. I knew Jesus could and did
see it very differently. When I saw Aaron's body and all the
details it entailed, I knew he (Jesus) could see Aaron and his
death very differently. Not believing in death or pain he saw
Aaron (and myself) as whole, joyous, unchanged, and always one
with God—perfect and innocent. And so important, I could also
get a sense of how Jesus looked upon me. I was aware he offered
all his strength to every little effort I would make. He was
always right there with me, loving me and offering all his help
whenever I asked. I was not alone.
I have been given so much. I am so grateful.
I don't know how I could be in the space I am now without this
experience. I can't think of anything else that would have
cracked me so open or called for so much from me. I have much in
common with what Nancy shared learning from her experience in
the first article of this series.
I learned to open up and be completely honest
with myself and others, to ask for help—to be completely
vulnerable. I had no choice in this, but the experience made
real for me the experience of oneness and sameness in a way I
never had before. I need people and being completely open and
vulnerable is a great gift. People offered so much love and
compassion and even gratitude. I became aware of more love from
more people than ever before. All kinds of people in all kinds
of places, times and situations. Any sense of judgement was
completely absent. I literally felt like I had been bolted to a
completely different reality.
People feel incomplete behind the walls they
hold up. This complete joining with people is what life is. This
is the key to life. It's not a side-dish or an afterthought or
if you have time after the "important" work you do. I
am trying more to nurture my friendships and relationships. I
know my happiness is intimately tied to others. God is in
relationships. I am learning how to be a true friend and how
necessary it is for my healing. I have an intention to be
available to others-- aware of and ready to answer a call for
love. It's not a part of who I am. It is a new self awakened and
chosen and blooming and being nurtured from the ashes. It also
includes a bigger awareness of letting go of judgement. ALL
people are just like me—no better and no worse. We share a
common identity. It has nothing to do with outside appearances
or circumstances. Everyone experiences loss in some way, and
even losing a child and being the surviving parent of a suicide
was not an experience unique to me. I was not a victim.
I have learned I am here to give, and only by
giving can I know what I am or that I have been given
everything. What I am giving has nothing to do with
"me." I have to let go of all ideas of what I think I
am—self concept, ego—and be still, and only then will I be
able to give. While lying in bed, crying, depressed and feeling
isolated, the words from "The Course" came to me,
"To have, give all to all." That was a turning point
for me and I knew that though I felt completely empty, I needed
to give. Shortly after that I received a letter in the mail
asking me to teach a private art lesson. This was the start of a
whole new life for me. Teaching was and is incredibly healing. I
discovered a whole new arena that I love and am expanding. All
that I give is more than returned to me many times. When I am
teaching art or whatever form it seems to take there is always a
higher purpose. I am really only there to give and receive love.
One of the aspects of "loss" seems
to be losing a place to give our love. I needed to give the love
I always had. My identity was lost. The greatest gift was deeply
seeking to remember what I really am and who created me. The
answer to this is the source of all else in my life.
I had to look very honestly at my part—my
responsibility for how I saw things. I had to look at my deep
feelings of self-hate (suicide), terror, isolation, despair,
desolation, unworthiness, inadequacy, fear, guilt, pain,
failure, weakness, defectiveness. I needed to look it all
straight in the eye and rise to a higher perspective, a bigger
picture. It was not about denying or repressing, but accepting
and healing—transforming through the eyes and heart of a
higher power and presence.
Deborah Coryell in her book, Good Grief,
shares, "Like the art of losing, this metamorphosis is not
automatic. It does not happen simply in the course of time.
Rather, it is a self-conscious act. Grief can be a path to
self-realization because in the process of grieving we
acknowledge that which we choose not to lose. In the art of
losing we can choose who we will be. We break but we break open
so we can include more of life, more love. We get bigger in
order to carry with us what we choose to continue loving."
I would add to this that grief can be a path
to Self-realization or God-realization. For me it has been a
path of losing everything and with completely empty hands
turning to God for everything. There is no answer this world can
give. My healing continues. My path continues. My goal and
desire are only to continue to grow towards a greater awareness
of God. A Course in Miracles is my beloved guide. I am so
As I read on an engraved bench at our
neighborhood cemetery, "Don't cry because it's over, smile
because it happened." Life is about choices. I can choose
joy or pain, life or death. I am responsible for my thoughts and
feelings. We choose how we react in every moment. It's been
about one and a half years since Aaron passed on. I am no longer
taking antidepressants. I continue to do the work I need to do.
I see healing as a lifelong process. I often see teenage boys
that look like Aaron or something happens that triggers grief.
It's not as intense, but every moment still presents a choice.
Grief and pain and loss still show up, especially at times when
I am feeling weak and inadequate. Time does not heal all wounds,
the Holy Spirit does. In Good Grief Ms. Coryell
expresses, "The burden of grief is, after all, a call to
realize what life is....We're all in this alone. Together....The
heart of loss teaches us that nothing –no thing—we have ever
known can be lost. What we have known we have taken into
ourselves in such a way that it has become a part of the very
fabric of our being. It indeed has helped us become who we
I choose to stay open and present to life in
this moment. To say, yes, walking hand in hand with my brother.
Joy Schultz feels blessed to be
facilitating "A Course in Miracles" study group once a
week at the Miracles Center in Denver. She is also gratefully
and enthusiastically teaching art classes and workshops at
various locations in the Denver area as well as at her home in
Centennial. She has recently felt newly inspired to explore
different media and direction for a new body of paintings. For
further information about her classes, future shows or to view
her artwork online visit www.joyschultz.com
or email firstname.lastname@example.org
I met Joy only recently but feel a soul
connection with her. She taught an art class introducing the
medium of pastels, which I attended. When Joy introduced herself
I was touched deeply with her openness about her son’s death.
Now I understand the real reason I was drawn to take her
workshop. Check out her artwork it is very special too!