Back in 2006, when I sat down to create this mandala, I asked myself the question: “why do I keep myself hidden away?” This is a key question for me. By nature, I am highly introverted. This does not mean that I am anti-social. It simply means that I need time and space to be alone to recharge my inner batteries / energy. Being in groups of people drains my energy. When it comes right down to it, the person I feel most comfortable with is ME. Other people drain my energy, so I tend to spend a lot of time alone. This is a choice I make.
When you add on top of that innate desire to be in solitude, the fact that I have a crippling disease that causes strong feelings of pain and isolation, you have a killer combination that results in the intense desire to hide myself away. After 40+ years of living with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis and all the joint damage that comes along with that disease, I battle thoughts that I don’t fit in with others and that I can’t keep up with others. Sometimes I feel like I am a burden and other times I feel like no one understands what this life is like. I feel trapped in a body that does not move that way other healthy bodies move. I have crooked joints and less physical strength than most people. My young nieces and nephew are far physically stronger than me at this point.
And to throw another fun complication into the mix, as I wrote about in my blog from August entitled ‘To Cry or Not to Cry’, I hate to cry or express the sadness I feel about my illness and how much pain I experience. When you mix all of those things together, the imagery of this mandala makes perfect sense. The center of the mandala is made up of tear drops. They are the profound sadness I feel at my core. They are surrounded by four layers of walls to keep them buried and to keep others out. Then those walls are surrounded my even more reinforcements. Talk about Fort Knox! Nothing is getting in or out. I hide myself away on so many levels: the physical, the mental, and the emotional.
Last week, I had an epiphany that ties into this mandala on an even deeper level. During a holistic therapy session, which is known as Body Talk, my practitioner was able to see information about one of my past lives. Now, I know many people may not believe in past lives. I respect each person’s views on this topic. My personal view is that I do believe in past lives. I believe in the spiritual evolution of the soul, where souls come back to earthly life over and over again to learn lessons and evolve. I believe that things that happen in one life can have a carry-over effect in that soul’s subsequent lives.
The particular past life that was revealed to us, was a pivotal one for my soul. In that life, my soul was a young woman in the 1800’s. She was full of life and had an idyllic life: nearly perfect on many levels with love, family, friends, wealth, and great happiness. She had every opportunity open to her and a bright future. In her early 20’s however, she became gravely ill with a disease that was incurable. Back in those days, the terminally ill were shuttered away. This young woman was literally shut away into a dark room to suffer in solitude until she died. She was devastated to lose all the good and promise her life had held. She felt profound sadness, grief, and agony at how life was snatched away so quickly. She died young and my soul made a decision at that time that it will never, EVER be that happy and fulfilled again. It will do whatever is necessary to never feel that profound loss and sadness again. If it is never that happy again, then it can never feel the deep loss and devastation. This ingrained belief got carried into subsequent lives. It is with me in my life today.
I came into this life and within 6 months of my birth I was showing symptoms of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. That is a very early age of onset for this disease. I’ve always felt that my soul chose the challenge of this disease. I couldn’t really describe that feeling as a child, but as I got older and more spiritually aware that sense grew stronger. What better disease to ensure that I would be locked away into a sick body than rheumatoid arthritis?! I’m not locked away in a dark room anymore, but my soul is locked into this body that limits my abilities. That past life resonated so strongly with my current life. In my mind, things suddenly clicked into place and I recognized that I continue to choose to keep myself hidden away. I play it safe and don’t take risks. I keep myself surrounded by walls. Well, I don’t want to choose that any more. I want to break out of those walls. My first step was to write this blog. I was afraid that people would think I am a freak by writing about past lives. I was afraid to put this intensely personal story out there to be critiqued or judged. But I am going to stand in my truth and say, “No more fear.” I choose to be free and fulfilled! I choose to open up and believe I deserve to be deliriously happy and live fully!
What part of yourselves do you keep hidden away? What can you choose each day to open up your lives?
I’m so happy for you and proud of you for taking this step!! My heart goes out to you for so many reasons. I too am an introvert who has struggled with depression most my life and disappointment. Even though I can’t completely relate to the added layer of having JRA, I feel for you and can relate to so many things you said. I feel like you are my soul sister, and I love you very much. I’m soo happy that YOU have chosen to be happy and to stop the cycle. I’m here for you, to help in any way that I can. So anytime you want to talk, get together, do something, or need a “wingman”, call me.
Love and a big bear hug,
Aww, thank you, Andrea!! You are so sweet. I love you, too! We are soul sisters on this journey of life. Let’s do something FUN soon 😉
Very powerful writing! I’ve often wondered what my past lives were, I do believe in it in some way. Being Catholic we aren’t supposed to think that way but I don’t think all of our souls are just hanging out somewhere waiting for…what? I think we get out and reexperience the greatest gift God gave us, Life!
Thanks, Carol! I know past lives / reincarnation can be a controversial topic. I completely agree with you that it would be strange for all the souls to be hanging out in the ether for eternity. I hope one day you can find out some info on your past lives. It is utterly fascinating. I’m sure we have all done some crazy stuff in our past lives 😉
Hi Wendy. I found your blog through the Living Chronically Fabulous group on Facebook. I can relate to so much of what you wrote as I have RA and am also quite introverted. Lately I’ve been struggling with ways to get more involved in things and get out more. The topic of past lives is an interesting one. When I was very young, I used to have this feeling of a past life. How did you come to have such a clear picture of your past life?
I just took a look at some of your artwork – it is beautiful!
Thank you so much, Helen. I’m glad you found me in that fb group. On the past lives front, the woman who is my Body Talk practitioner is quite a gifted healer. She reads energy very well and can see what most of us cannot see. She is the one who was shown pieces of my past life while she was working on me. I think it is interesting when we feel like there is something just beyond the veil of this life. Trust your intuition! It is very wise. I hope you are able to get out more and do things you enjoy.