EMAIL ONE after 9/11
- from Dorsey Cartwright -
Hello Spirit Systems members and associates,
I attended the monthly luncheon for the first time last Thursday, September 13. I was so grateful to have such a group to go to and openly share my feelings, thoughts, and reactions to the terrorists' attacks. At the end of my sharing Cindy Wigglesworth ask if I would put what I said in writing so she could send it to others. The following is my attempt to do so. I begin in the present tense and then moved into the past tense; I’ve forgotten some and added others…it’s long when all of us are already receiving so much to read…my apologies as I can’t bring myself to cut any of it….from my Heart, Dorsey
Holding the Tension of the Opposites: We are One
My name is Dorsey Cartwright and right now I am feeling sick. In my stomach, I feel very, very sick and have since the events of Tuesday started. I can relate to what Cindy Wigglesworth just said about paying attention to both the human part of us that
has fear and anger and wants to retaliate and the spiritual part who feels compassion and seeks a healing response. I can feel both parts living within me. Having trained for many years in how to work with the energies that compose our psyche I know that we contain them all. I also know that what we are not willing to experience within ourselves is then carried by the outside world.
To demonstrate this I want to share a personal story that occurred a number of years ago. A man-I’ll call Jim- and I had mutually decided to end our romantic relationship. As we were saying good-bye, I began to feel an almost unbearable sadness; my heart and body throbbed. I told him I was feeling sad. He responded with, “Dorsey, I’m sorry you feel so sad.” His face then broke out with a big smile and he said, “ I feel happy and excited. I feel like we’ve learned so much together and I’m looking forward to using it.” My first reaction was to want to bang him over the head! However, a sliver of SQ (the Spiritual IQ that Cindy shared with us) presented the question, “Why am I feeling a depth of sadness that is so out of proportion to the situation?” I asked Jim to close his eyes and send his awareness down into his body, especially his chest and gut. Before he said a word I could feel my body and heart began to lighten up. Then he said, “I feel sad. I feel very, very sad.” Energy is Real, what you suppress and deny in yourself, the “other” will carry….whoever that “other” may be.
Judith O’Conner shared her experiences in Iran and how their reality is very different than ours. We perceive the suicide bombers as being crazy; for them it is the doorway to Heaven, a profoundly spiritual act. In my work with couples I teach them that no two human beings have the same reality and I spend hours coaching them in learning how to really hear, understand and respect their partner’s reality and to work with their differences in a way that enables a creative, (unique to them), third way to emerge. It is tough, tough work for most couples to achieve this level of conscious relating. These are people who usually still have a love for each other, a commitment, and a desire to repair and heal their relationship. What a tall order for cultures to do the same.
What can each of us do? Carl Jung said [to paraphrase] that next step in Mankind’s evolution is that of Individuation and the path to that is learning to hold the tension of the opposites….both within us and between us. As one of my teachers, Hal Stone, Ph.D., often says, “That’s when you began to sweat.” One woman shared at the luncheon that she was struggling with the discomfort of being able to see the situation from several points of view. Many of us share that discomfort. The growth edge here is to consciously allow yourself to hold contradictory feelings and realities within you without trying to squash one side or the other. (Though feel the part that wants too!)
How to do that? The suggestion I made to the group was base on a previous discussion of the diversity of the emails people were receiving. An email from a “Right wing, let’s go bomb them” person was met by many of us in our “spiritual” group wanting to set him straight and/or feeling sorry for him. As long as we remain identified with one side of the polarity, e.g. “spiritual”, then we add fuel to the either/or, us/them duality that is tearing our planet apart.
I invited everyone to experience within himself or herself the part that want to retaliate and punish. To do so without trying to correct or get rid of that part. According to Dana Zohar, co-author of SQ- Spiritual Intelligence, one of the characteristics of SQ is “Diversity….thriving in and celebrating diversity…. I look at you and see what is different in you and I say ‘Thank God for that!” I suggest we cultivate a consciousness that can celebrate and respect the diversity of our own Psyche, our own inner family, inner world. Another characteristic is “Compassion….Not pity! This is fellow feeling ‘with’. But it is also a realizing that you are part of everything in this world…… ‘I’ began with the big bang…. ‘I’ began in a one-cell animal.” I would add to that the need to experience that all the world is within me. Synthia Smith led us through a Buddhist Meditation that invited us to be with our feelings about the assaults fully and to know that millions of other people were having the same feelings and have through out history and will in the future. I experienced two very diverse feelings. In the left side of my chest I felt a despair and grief that seemed bottomless. I had the image of a black void filled with eons of human pain and the howls of loss and grief.Yet, in the right side of my body, I felt an excitement, “Wow, what’s going to happen next?” This is the part of me who, as I was watching TV Tuesday morning was eagerly anticipating the next attack and was somewhat disappointed when there weren’t anymore. This is the part of me, who when I heard people were jumping out of the towers wanted to rush to a TV to see what that looked like. That’s probably the part of me who would have insisted on watching the lions ripping the Christian martyrs apart. The energy on that side felt less strong and it was more difficult to stay connected with it. I don’t think it’s because I have less in me; both sides of a polarity are always of equal size. I do think it’s because it’s been much, more disowned in me, I rarely will watch violent or scary movies and I have judgements (very self-righteous ones) about both people who make them and those who watch them!
Tuesday morning I was feeling a lot of concern for American Arabs, I felt very protective towards them. At our luncheon, as I was serving myself from the buffet, my ears heard a foreign language being spoken. In my mind’s eye I recalled the waiters had black hair and dark skin. The primitive, survival part of my brain took over and I felt my body tighten and a flurry of fear shot through me with the thought, “Terrorists! Are they going to attack us?” In the next split second, the rational new brain came in and said, “They are Hispanics and you’re really out of it that you didn’t recognize the Spanish words.” That was followed by the old brain still feeling suspicious and thinking, “Perhaps we should send all the Mexicans back to Mexico. How could we know they wouldn’t join the Arabs?” Then another part of me came in that wanted to shame that part for thinking that way! To hold the tension of the opposites means I intentionally allow myself to experience both the side of me that is protective towards the American Arabs and the side that is protective towards me/us Caucasians – regardless of the cost to others. As I stand between the two sides, knowing there is both validity and distortions in both points of view, I grow, I expand, and I SWEAT, as there are no easy answers.
A powerful daily practice could be that as you receive emails* with various points of view, take a moment to tap into the place within you that thinks, feels, and has a similar reality. Next tap into the part of you that disagrees. Then imagine yourself standing between these parts…knowing and owning that each is a part of you…there is no right or wrong….they just are. Consciousness requires us to be selective in what we ultimately do with the different energies. We cannot be selective about our willingness to embrace all of them. The choice lies in the subsequent action taken, not in the embrace itself. I will end this with one of my favorite sections from Drs. Hal and Sidra Stone’s book, Embracing Each Other: Relationship as Teacher, Healer, & Guide, pg.30.**
“If we wish to surrender to the process of consciousness, we must surrender to it in all its complexities and contradictions. If we want to be loving human beings, we must learn to love our own wolves and jaguars and snakes and dragons, our stupidity and irritability and weakness and vulnerability and darkness as much as we love our loving and rational, competent, caring, and light-oriented selves. To have as a goal the honoring of all the energy systems that exist within us is a highly devotional act. We might say that this surrender to the process itself, and the requirement that we gradually learn to embrace all the selves, is a surrender to Spirit with a capital S rather than a small s. We might even say that it is a surrender to a much wider and more comprehensive vision of Spirit than anything we have known before.”***
M. Dorsey Cartwright, LMFT
* Newspapers, TV, magazines, radio, etc.** Also, Embracing Our Selves. Sidra Stone has written a book, The Shadow King: Ending the Tyranny of the Inner Patriarch. A powerful support for experiencing our own inner Taliban*** I have taken the liberty here of rearranging the order of the two paragraphs. Since you are reading them out of context I feel they make more sense.