This year, I experienced, for a brief moment, true timelessness. I made a video about it, which you can watch, if you want.
It happened on my yoga mat. Eyes closed, relaxed, open – I saw it: time, flowing like a river and me, standing above it on a bridge.
What would happen if I jumped in – and started swimming?
I plunged in.
I swam through the river of time – upstream, downstream, I even swam sideways – through infinite onion skin layers of possibility. (Anything could happen in any moment, I realized.)
There were no limits to which direction I could swim.
It was then that I realized: The events of the past may be behind me, but I am timeless – and so is the story I tell myself about what’s happened.
I saw that my life was in a state of constant, liquid unfolding. Seeing this, my rigid ideas and stories about ‘how it is’ began to flex and soften.
I decided to swim back and have a conversation with my past self.
I arrived in her bedroom, in the house where I used to live on the night when I first shouted at my son.
As I realized this, my past self looked up, sensing a shift in energy – my presence.
IF she could feel me; I thought. Maybe, just maybe, she could hear me.
I started to talk with her about my life – our life, the mistakes I’d made, the things I’d done well, the things I wished I’d done differently. She started to cry. With her, I remembered the look of shock and terror on my son’s precious face; and I felt anew the twist in my gut when I realized, I have done harm here.
I remembered, with self-loathing, the conscious decision I made that night NOT to apologize, and the way that I’d justified that decision: My husband wasn’t helping me enough – and even when I’d asked for his help, he’d made it clear – the children were MY job; the bills were his.
I watched her face crumple as she took that in – like a stab wound – the fairy tale of shared parenting, loving home, happy family shattering on the duvet cover before her. I felt it with her, an invisible visitor.
I observed her suffering as I also, re-experienced it. I was separate from and a part of her.
I was me, the older, wiser, more experienced mother; I was, at the same time, her, the younger, vulnerable, frightened woman, just beginning to understand what that role – mother – really meant.
My heart broke for her pain. How I wished I could tell her: Don’t fall asleep. Feel this. Let yourself be sad without numbing the pain. Stay. Don’t disassociate. For in numbing the pain, you numb, also, the joy, the connection, the love.
Feel your life.
I moved closer. Listen, I leaned into her ear. This is sacred practice. One day soon, these children grown, you will look back on this day and you will see that this evening, when you lost control, was not the most important thing. What mattered, in the end, was your presence – to him, to yourself – and your love.
Then, as if gentling a horse, stroking her head, I told her: I forgive you.
And in that moment, I saw her receive it – she ‘got’ it – deep down got it.
Suddenly, I was flashed along some sort of interior memory track – images flashing past like snapshots from the windows of a train. When it stopped, I was in another scene, another day. She was there, my past self, a little older, a little more weary. Together, we listened to the inner litany: The house is a mess, I am a mess, I am alone…
Again, I streamed a message of love – support – forgiveness.
And that’s when, suddenly, lying there on my yoga mat 18, 15, 12, 9, 5 years later, I felt a flood of relief, of gratitude and a fountain of suppressed joy bubbling through me.
This changed me.
It changed me.
Do you realize how powerful this is? I’m not talking about someone or something outside of me giving me approval or helping me heal or patting me on the head.
This was me, mothering myself, comforting myself – and it changed the way that I felt: the way that I felt in the past – and in the present.
This was huge – big big huge – it was radical healing, done without ‘healer,’ therapist or shaman.
By simply visiting my past self, and looking at a traumatic situation through the eyes of unconditional love, I transformed the memory – and in doing so, changed myself.
A few hours later, back home, my cell phone rang. “Mommy,” my son said. “I’m coming home.” As I share this part of the story my eyes fill again. My son had been wandering far from home for some time. Somehow, I knew, he’d felt the healing, too. The thing that had shifted in me had let go of the thing it was locked into it in him – and he, too, had let it go.
Since then, he has come home and our relationship is clear, clean, whole.
The truth is, there is only one self – one voice, one heart. For the soul is timeless, existing all at once as a living, loving, light-filled “I AM” that glows at the center of the heart. My son is a part of this timeless soul – and heart – and so am I.
So are you. That timeless soul is part of the greater I AM, that exists in all places and times at once – forever – the infinite soul of God.
To sum up: We are living all moments at once.
We are always speaking to our past.
Our past selves remind us where we’ve been, what we’ve done and have not done. Unfortunately, for most of us, conversation with the past winds up being about mistakes we’ve made, and all of the ways we have not lived up to our potential.
This year I discovered: We can shift that conversation.
And when we do, things change.
PS We are also speaking to our future – hoping we’ll reach the goals we’ve set. We project our consciousness forward through time.
When we ask, what should I do to make the outcome I want more likely? we receive a response from the future. Take that class – you’ll be glad you did, or Find a job where you feel appreciated, or Move to that little town where you felt, the moment you stepped from the car, at home.
Let your past self help you heal. Let your future self help you become the you that you long to be. (She’s inside of you, right now, waiting to emerge.)