Breaking Through the Wall

By Marcia Miller

Memories from the hospitalization of my first daughter have been arising for me lately.  I was in my twenties and she was three days old.  Katherine had been born at home in a very satisfying birth and suddenly we were in the hospital that I had so hoped to avoid.  I wasn’t allowed to be in the room with her while the doctors tried to figure out what was wrong.  The pain of separation and the shock of what was happening left me without any resources that I was aware of.  I squatted against the wall of the ICU where she was because the chairs in the waiting room a few feet away were too far away from her.  At one point the doctor came out and said, “It doesn’t look good.”  I had no idea he was telling me she would die—I thought he was saying that we couldn’t go home together just yet—that in itself was unthinkable.  But by the next morning she was gone and a long period of mysterious and often frightening grief began. 

I have worked to heal the grief of this loss in many ways over the years.  I often feel at peace thinking of this dear child of mine who forever made me a mother for the first time.  The things I have learned from her birth, her brief life and her death are a blessed part of who I am now.  And still there are pieces that come forward to be healed at a deeper level—to be integrated into who I am now.  This image of myself leaning against that wall is one of them.  For many years it has been the main image that comes to mind when I think of Katherine.

How I am thinking about this now is based on the research I have done on trauma studies with Susan Skye and the meditation teachers we hosted recently at Yoga on High, Lorin Roche and Camille Maurine.  My experience with Katherine was so traumatic for me that I have not been able to integrate it fully into my awareness.  This lack of integration of an overwhelming experience is an important protective mechanism at the time of the trauma, but can become a liability over time.  And that version of myself, the terrified and shocked new mother, is still very alive in me and sometimes gets triggered when something reminds her (me) of that event.  At that point, I respond as I did then, rather than being able to utilize the greater resources I have now.  The part of my brain that is activated does not know that time has passed since then—I am not having a memory of something that happened in the past, I am in present time AS that young mother.

But, now another level of healing is happening.  Using the meditation techniques we experienced with Lorin and Camille I am having a new experience of that moment in my life—it seems as thought that young part of myself is coming back to ask me to have a new relationship with her.  Here’s what happened:  I was lying in bed offering myself reiki the other day.  I do this almost every morning and it is a time of deep relaxation and self-connection.  I offer myself the loving energy of reiki and self-acceptance and on this day I remember really basking in a deep glow of peaceful, vibrant energy flow.  I hadn’t thought of the image described above for a long time—months, maybe even a year.  Yet suddenly in the midst of the loving energy here she was, leaning against the wall, collapsed in fear and loss.  I have offered her love before, many times, but generally in the context of a meditative experience I turn away from the images and thoughts that arise and go back to my original focus—in this case feeling the reiki.  But this day, she seemed too real to me and I could not turn away.  I internally gave her some empathy in a way I learned from Susan Skye, and then psychically wrapped her in my arms and brought her into my reiki meditation!  She and I lay there together feeling the glow of reiki and I know I will never be the same again.

This morning when I was meditating again I had more images of myself at that time—my ICU self was there but so was the amazed and delighted mother gazing at her darling newborn daughter before I knew there was something wrong with her heart.  I realized that those memories have not been available to me—the exhausting triumph of her birth, the adoration of a new mother for the most beautiful baby ever born, the proud woman showing off her baby to family—these memories had somehow disappeared in the trauma of her death.  They are starting to return now and I am celebrating each one as a part of the fullness of this experience of Katherine’s life that we shared in person for nine months and 3 days, and in another way for the whole of my life since then.

Even though my meditation is only very slightly different now, the difference is huge. The thoughts and images that arise are no longer “in my way” or to be gotten rid of.  I now understand them as precious parts of myself that are asking for my attention and caring, to be brought into the wholeness of who I am.  And they are more likely to do that in the ground of relaxation that a delicious meditation can provide.  From now on my meditation time will be a safe haven for all of me.

8 Responses to Breaking Through the Wall
  1. Catherine Grow

    Gorgeous account! Deeply moving and thought-provoking. So profound!

  2. Matthew Cline

    What an honor to be given a gift of your insight from something so intimate and profound. Thank you, Marcia. Healing and Peace to you.

  3. Amy Fischer Diener

    My dearest Marcia, I sit here weeping and celebrating this new relationship with yourself and your daughter. Thank you for sharing! With love, Amy

  4. Sue Newell

    Thank you for reminding us that in acceptance there is such truth and healing! N a m a s t e, Sue

  5. Susanna Warren

    Marcia, I am touched by your discoveries around your young self and the memories of your daughter.. Love knowing you more deeply.. Susanna

  6. Katherine Dufrane

    dear Marcia,
    I am deeply and profoundly touched…your words caressed my heart…..I celebrate with you your sweet discovery of this vast, new space opening up …..a space for discovering new memories, for finding a joy that can truly live side by side within the place that only grief could inhabit in the past. The experiences to which you have given words and which arise from being Present with the All That Is never cease to amaze me. I am filled with thankfulness that there is a way through for all of us and that you have so gracefully illuminated it once again.

  7. Kim Carter

    Beautiful. Period.

  8. Rosa

    Buddhism has been a part of many peoples lives since berfoe Christianity. Over thousands of years, the priests manipulated the teachings of Jesus and then implanted in the people’s head feelings of guilt and sin so that they should redeem themselves by paying money to them. But in truth, all you need is in your heart. Your love for others, not for an imaginary man with a beard sitting on a throne. Don’t live for self is the only important part in your comment.