Building Castles in the Sky

The real problem always lives inside us, and the bigger problem is our lack of awareness that this is so.
The real problem always lives inside us, and the bigger problem is our lack of awareness that this is so.

Always, always, always, awareness is the key. When we start out on a healing journey, we have no idea of just how much of reality we are not aware of. And this is the crux of the matter. The parents and life situation we experienced as a child handed us our work. They showed us exactly where our soul dents are by way of the painful feelings we suppressed. And which we now blindly plan to spend the rest of our lives avoiding. We crafted conclusions about how life works and strategies for surviving, using all the fine logic of a seven-year-old. And then we pushed our faulty misunderstandings down into our unconscious—out of our awareness—where they simmer and then later boil.

The real problem with this—which by the way, works exactly the same for every human on this planet—is that once an idea gets shoved down out of our conscious awareness, we can no longer get at it with our adult conscious reasoning. As we grow older, this wrong thinking about life causes us to behave in ways that bring about life experiences that seem to validate our faulty premise. And so, as though in disbelief that this painful situation could be happening to us—again!—we tell our stories about how the universe has done us wrong.

This blaming tactic is one of the many ways we hide from reality. Better yet, we hide from seeing our part. Since we don’t realize we have a piece in this action, we feel we are victim of the crummy things that just always seem to happen to us. For no good reason. And it makes us crazy. This is that highly charged Lower Self coming through, causing us to build cases against other people and continually turn a blind eye towards our own destructive nature.

Bottom line, when we view the world through the distorted lens of our own Lower Self, we are not in reality. We are building castles in the sky with the hope that one day we can escape to a land far, far away from the pain and turmoil confronting us. But life doesn’t work that way. It never has and it never will. To continue to stay in wishful thinking that “if everyone else would just do right, I would be ok,” is to attempt to live in a fairy tale that ends with happily ever after.

If we, in fact, had a fairy tale soul with no floors in need of scrubbing, this wouldn’t be such a bad idea. But then we wouldn’t have come here. No, we came here to clean house, and that’s what we now must do. No amount of finger pointing will allow us to evade this simple reality. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and stop hiding. It’s time to come down out of our make-believe castles and see what’s really going on behind the inner walls we have built which are intended to keep painful feelings at bay.

Here is a reality that can be hard to swallow: where there is a victim, there is also a victimizer. Whatever is being done to us, we do that to others, in some clandestine Lower-Self way. Everything we identify outside ourselves that creates a certain feeling of disharmony inside us is only doing so because the outer event resonates with an inner distortion. The place to look for the solution to our problems, then, is never outside of ourselves. The real problem always lives inside us, and the bigger problem is our lack of awareness that this is so. (See more in Finding Gold: The Search for Our Own Precious Self.)

In Jill’s Experience

When Scott and I each bumped up against our work while we were in Tahoe skiing, I didn’t connect the dots at the time between what was happening between us—in some ways, seemingly nothing—and what was happening in my body—also seemingly nothing. Two days in and nothing had moved through my intestines. I was starting to get very uncomfortable. We stopped at a drug store in search of a remedy that would kick-start my shutdown digestive system.

Days later, after Scott and I had each processed our way through much of what had bubbled up, I had another blinding download of insight: my lifelong battle with constipation is related to this situation of people not talking to me. But that, in fact, is only the tip of the iceberg. What I really react to is the lack of presence, the unavailability, of the one I love.

As this awareness came flooding in, I reflected on my last days with my previous boyfriend; this same thing had happened then. I’d eaten an apple on Friday and felt it was still in my stomach late Saturday. I’d noted Brian hadn’t been talking to me, but what I hadn’t keyed in on was that this just reflected the fact that Brian was already checking out. I wasn’t the one to initiate the end our relationship, he was. And my body knew it.

Sometime later, Scott and I were enjoying our final morning together before a three-week-long stretch of being apart. To use the word “enjoy” is probably misleading as both of us, we came to realize, were somewhat out of sorts. We’d made love that morning, but honestly, my heart wasn’t in it. I didn’t feel the fire that’s usually there. But I wasn’t clueing in to what was happening between us. All I knew was that once again, I felt adrift.

Familiar and old as this feeling was to me, it didn’t prick my ears to tune in more carefully. I did notice though that once again, my bowels were taking a break. This time, it occurred to me try something different and check things out with Scott: “Scott, my stomach is feeling stuck. What’s going on with you?”

In fact, a lot was bubbling with Scott that day. Accustomed as we both are to doing this work, he took the time to get in touch with his insides and surface the turmoil causing him to check out. He felt like he had to do everything on his own, that there was no one on his team. This is an image we both share.

By letting the dam of tears break through, we were both able to find a more comfortable way to be with each other, even as we were still faced with the unhappiness of the upcoming time apart. To feel the sweetness in that sorrow felt way, way better though than sitting in the walled-off pain of our self-made separation.

In Scott’s Experience

When Jill and I both bumped up against our own inner work in Tahoe, I also did not connect the dots of what was happening between us. I got some of it, enough to know to look deeper in myself, but not nearly all of it.

I realized Jill wasn’t present, and it affected me. What I didn’t realize was how much I wasn’t present in return. It turns out there are a number of different ways to not be present. The ones we use feel so familiar, and often justified, that they don’t fully register. The ones other people use, well, they can feel just awful to us.

To step back into the middle of the story, I sensed that Jill had “run off.” This was both figuratively and literally true. It can seem like the person suddenly “isn’t there.” Often their eyes are unfocused, staring into the distance, and they can’t hear what you say. On another level, parts of their energy bodies move backwards and become somewhat separated behind them.

I frequently experienced this energy pattern growing up. I remember standing there as a toddler looking up at this huge adult that just energetically vanished before me. Back then I felt energetically abandoned, and that pattern became existentially terrifying to me. I’ve done enough inner work over the past 20 years that I now respond more smoothly to it.

Still, a part of me went into a funk. For my part, instead of these young parts of me leaving out the back, they tend to pull inward. They just freeze and try to hide in plain sight. The feeling of abandonment comes out in an old story that I have nobody on my team, nobody backing me up. I have to do it myself, whatever “it” is.

So here is where we found ourselves: two adults who like each other, going through difficult outer circumstances—enough snow to be literally buried in—without bickering or creating a visible relationship mess on the surface. There was nothing amiss, yet something was off.

I felt inwardly stuck. Jill reacted to my inward retreat and her inner little girl got shaky and backed off. I sensed part of her leaving, and retreated a bit further. Around it goes, again and again, under the surface. Finally, two adults are standing there in confusion, both wondering what happened. Yep, really, that happened. Twenty years on the path, and we both fell into the hole.

So we started backtracking, trying to see how far back into the trip the patterns went. We could only go so far and then lost the tracks. We had no idea how it started. Even with hindsight and our continuing work to release the patterns, we weren’t able to fully illuminate this.

Keep in mind that we are two healthy, high-functioning adults who really enjoy each other and experience great joy in relationship. My heart is just blown open in love with her. I experience great joy being with her. And yet every once in a while we both trip over each other. We went for quite a while not able to see what was going on in this particular pattern.

Now Jill will occasionally say to me: “My intestines aren’t moving. What is going on with you?” And that is my cue to stop and notice what is up inside me. With enough repetition I have become aware of a new level of this inward retreat and able to work with it consciously.

And, I do the same for her. I have walked through the kitchen to get tea, passed her, stopped and turned around to say: “Jill, your little girl ran off.” Just in walking past her and feeling her energy field, I can sense it. Jill will go inside and check, look a bit stunned, and then begin to sob. I will hold both of them—adult Jill and the young hurting part of her—until they are present again. And then we start the process of working deeper together anew.

Doing the Work : Healing Our Body, Mind & Spirit by Getting to Know the Self

Next Chapter
Return to Doing the Work Contents