Last year a wise friend said to me, “Michelle, it’s okay to hope for good things.” I’ve spent most of my adult life releasing hope as a means of protecting myself from disappointment. It’s actually a very efficient way to make oneself disappointed. I now call it pre-disappointed. It happens when I decide I will be disappointed in advance for something that might (or might not) happen. That way, I beat disappointment to the punch. It’s very smart because then you get to be right about being disappointed and being right is the best, right?!?
This largely shut down my ability to dream and hope. My therapist described this process as “turning to stone.” It happens when you are not allowed to be your true self, either by a threatening environment, or by you holding yourself back. Slowly, you turn to stone. The divine sparks inside of me became layered over with sediment that hardened until the light was almost completely vanquished. I distinctly remember feeling that at two points in my life. I described it then as feeling like a shell. Hollow. A cast of myself but with no substance within. The truth is, I was living for everyone else’s expectations. I wasn’t living for myself. And I had been doing this for so long I couldn’t imagine what living for myself would even look like. Most of the work I have been doing is to encourage my self—that fun, motivated, divine being that God created, lodged inside of me—that it’s safe to come out.
As I’ve done this, I’ve started to see this image of walls being removed from around me. I used to press my hands and feet into them to know where I was in space. The walls were things in my external environment that gave me a sense of who I was and how I was doing. Gradually the walls, roof and ceiling have all dissolved. I’ve pictured myself reaching out in all directions feeling for the limits of space and finding nothing. At times it has been extremely disorienting. Sometimes I haven’t been sure which way was up. As I have considered this image, I wondered, what do I hold on to? What do I know?
I know love. I envisioned love as a golden cord, extending from the heavens, coming down through the center of my head and my body. As my limbs reach and struggle in an effort to examine and understand the space, my being is suspended from this thick golden cord, which is love. Love is the anchor. Love is the guiding light within me. My sense is that if I can stay in love then I don’t need the walls. Love will hold me. Love will center me. And love is the basis of hope and trust. I trust the golden cord, that I am anchored in love, that it will support my weight and my flailing about. And this allows me to hope for good things. For aliveness. For expression. For the surge of spirit that gives me the sense that I am awake, I am here.
This is the golden cord. This is love. With it, I can be human and I can be free.