We like to think that what our senses tell us is the whole story about our world. The problem with this idea is that the senses feed into this machine called a brain, and the brain is this pattern recognition machine.  And these patterns are subject to what our beliefs are.  The upshot?  We see what we believe.  
Have you ever heard of the term “Cognitive Dissonance”?  It is something psychologists were all over, from Freud, Jung, and Reich.  It basically means that if you hold a belief in something, you will ignore all evidence that this might overturn the belief.  
You literally will ignore the events in your life that could serve to transform your life by allowing you to see the way things are.  
We live in our own world.  We do.  It is this hologram as some people call it.  But it is one that WE have made.  Most folks don’t like this idea, so they make it someone else’s doing.  But it is ours.  And, like an immovable stone, it waits for us on the day when we wake up to this reality. But having an awakening is not even enough to move it.  I know people still tangled up in their own awakening process just like I was. There is no magic moment when you become enlightened.  It is itself a process and is dependent on how you choose to apply yourself to it. And then?  Then the honesty sets in if you are serious about real change because that cognitive dissonance is most often about a whole host of false or limiting beliefs that make you less than you actually are.

A number of years ago, in the pitched experience of awakening, my marriage dissolved.  It was the most merciful thing that could have happened, actually.  Waking up, I came to realize just how poorly matched I had been with my wife.  It was one of those moments when I just turned around one day and wondered, “What on earth were we thinking?”  But THAT is the result of being able to see things as they are, not HOW we are, or at least a part of how they are.  It wasn’t even about making the other person into the bad guy.  It was just a bad match, and the “match” was more about what needed to be healed in both of us than anything else.  This had shifted significantly in me to the point where it created this divide, a sudden difficulty in being able to relate to this person.  It is, I will point out, something that can happen when you move through awakening and heal old issues.  I had trouble even relating to myself and what I had tried to be for so long.  It was not hard for me to see why I had done what I had done.  It was all laid out in front of me.  I was willing to forgive it and let it go.  But that would be too easy, right?  Oh so human….

My divorce helped to show me just how we choose to see.  It was hard, though, this look. It took a lot of willingness to REALLY look at it.  My wife, unable to just let go, held on to her own anger, a problem that had been there the day I had met her, I knew.  No finger pointing here, it was just how it was.  But like that person who is so unable to really look at themselves, it became everyone else’s fault. It showed me that even when someone is alienating their kids from the other parent, which she did,  that some people just can’t see themselves or what they are doing. But hang on! I was affected by this! I came riding in as the knight in shining armor to save the day, to make the world better and brighter! I was energized by her junk….and THAT is truth!
 It would have been a joke, a funny one, had there not been so much at stake.  I find it comical that someone would hold a grudge about something that was based on something that she wasn’t even entitled to, but this was her junk, and I had ridden right in thinking I could change it. Are you kidding me? Was I delusional, or what?!

By getting in this tangle, I was dealing with someone was was not above alienating my kids in order to hurt me when we were divorcing. I kind of anticipated it. What on earth had I done? What was it in me that led me to such a mess?
I really thought I could make it better. That’s it. Nutshell. But the thing in it for me? Being accepted. Getting approval. And I did this by being with someone who was utterly unable to do this! Wow, now THAT made a whole bunch of sense, am I right??? Excuse me while I hold my sides from laughing so much. 
It is nice to finally be able to laugh at myself. I mean the kind of laughter where you are watching yourself from the past like it’s a home movie that was deadly serious at the time but is now just….utterly hilarious!! Really? Oh my goodness!

 That was what it really came down to.  For me, it was my relationship with my kids that was at stake, and this was the hook for me.  It is a hard hook because it means you have to be super honest about who is doing what and why. It is so easy to get into finger pointing and the blame game. Only then do things clarify.  When it is a mess like what I went through, you have to be really honest and clear or else it is so murky a thing that no one knows what is happening because of what can be the actions of one person who is acting out.

If you know me, my children are my life.  They are.  I grew up wanting children.  When I was in high school I was dreaming of when I would have children, what we would do, how it might be.  So to have someone who had loved me do what she did during the divorce was doubly hard.  It was a betrayal harder than if she had an affair. At the time, knowing how she was abusing her power as a parent by telling my children things that just weren’t true, behind my back and in her own echo chamber, was like being murdered. My kids, me, all of us, just flattened, torn, and destroyed. I read up on this and found that this type of abuse has a name, and I saw every single symptom in my kids and I. The articles described my ex to a T. My jaw dropped. I had just spent 16 years of my life living with someone who made everything my fault.
And you know what? It serves me right!
The consequences of her actions were damaging to my kids.  Sadly, this kind of behavior happens so much during divorces….but it always throws you for a loop when it happens. An intelligent person with all of this education winds up being a kook, or a bully. It is just so strange that someone could hold onto such a deep sense of anger and hatred for so long.  Life is just too short to hold on to the thought that I was doing her wrong by Standing up for what I knew was her sense of entitlement to some things that belonged to my family.  In my case, I had always been very generous with my resources and they were available to my family for whatever was needed.  But deep down what I was also doing was seeking approval. That was my part. I wanted or needed to please people, and you know? I wound up attracting people who could not see the real gift, which was the love, not the family money or inheritance, or car or house, or whatever. 
Waking up, I knew that I could not continue this pattern. Otherwise it would just keep going like it had since I was a kid.  And the result was always the same; the people I was trying to please were never really pleased. They were perennially unhappy people. Something had to give. 
Over the years I have found that the biggest snag for people in my life is often over material things.  I have held to this realization that if I can’t be with someone on my own merits, then its probably about something material.  Here, when its about “stuff” then it isn’t really about love or compassion. My ex really equated material giving with love. It’s nice to give and receive, but not when it’s the main proof that love is there. Then love is a transaction. It feels like prostitution.

Divorce can be a liberating experience, and it was for me.  But it was also like a death.  In my case, I had a child who, caught in the echo chamber of my ex, he was unable to free himself from the words that were being thrown at him.  Instead of inquiring into what was being said, he just swallowed it.  So hard, all the way around.  One child chose to hear the other side and it was this willingness that saved my other child from the very corrosive behavior of a parent who wants nothing else but to make your kids hate you for something that happened between you and the other parent.  Pawns.  She was moving them around like emotional pawns.  
People told me, “Parker, your kids will grow up and they will realize what went down….kids are amazing bullshit detectors.”  I was not so sure, though.  So much was at stake.  I hadn’t signed up for this.  I had done what I knew was the fair thing.  I didn’t ask something of my ex that I knew was not right.  But free will is a funny thing.  And being able to really take that long deep look inside of yourself, equally difficult to do for some.  We all suffer from this in relative degrees.  The deeper you go, the more honest you have to be, it seems to me.

I once had someone who said that what I was doing was pulling out the violins and playing the “poor me” song.  Saying this struck me as the height of stupidity.  I use the word carefully.  I do.  Stupid in its truest sense is a lack of awareness or intelligence about issues which a person knows very little about.  And it is about as insensitive as someone trying to shame a victim of abuse….because that is just what it is. It turns out that this person had been my “twin” (she believed) and engaged in all of the same deceitful behavior as my ex. Why? Because I was not healed from the wounds inflicted by my ex…the things she did that I responded in pain over. My junk. My reaction. My thing to heal

I am a grown-up.  I can handle someone who is coming to me with their own misgivings and saying so and hashing it out.  But to drag children into it is just….terrible.  We want to protect our children from the things that they are not able to handle emotionally.  They grow from infants all the way into adulthood, and as parents, we are carefully feeding them more and more rope so they can go out into the world as they gradually grow and develop and mature.  So when someone says I am just complaining about events that I set into motion, they just don’t get it. They don’t.  I DID choose that person, and I take complete responsibility for that.  But when that person hurts my children?  You just don’t get it if you think this way.  Being a parent is a divine contract.  And yes, my children are their own person, but when caught in the echo chamber of hurt, how can anyone expect to flower?  To dream, to be, to become without this hurt creating unnecessary challenges for them for life?  A parent can do so much by simply providing a loving environment for that child to have the room, safe room, to discover themselves….even if that means that it is done alone.
Cognitive Dissonance also worked on my side, too, keeping me blind to the realities of these people, my identity as a wounded disemboweled male. Wow. That’s a bad combination.

It is a big wake up moment when you turn around and see this all happening. It is urgent that things change.  But we can only change ourselves.  The voice in my head was telling me “Trust in the power to change because it has the seeds that can help the world itself to change.”

We all choose our experience based on how we feel about ourselves….our beliefs, our notions, and those things that remain deeply shoved down within.  The task of waking up is cleaning that all up.  It is a cleansing.  And this is no less evident to me in my own experience because, after all, I was drawn to that which I had not yet healed and obviously had some unfinished business with.

I was listening to a guy I like from India talk about this.  He was speaking to this as part of the path to entering cosmic consciousness.  I like him partly because so much of what he says has been a part of my experience.  Swami Rama. There is no use in trying to convey just how profound these things are.  What they mean to me and how they have changed my life is…well….my experience.  To know it, you have to find it for yourself.  It is less a thought or idea or neat catch-phrase and more a deep well of being that you find within.  Already there.  Ready for discovery.  And to do this means that to go deeper, you have to clean all that mess up within.  It leaves you wondering how on earth you went on for so long in such slumber.

Most folks are not aware of the backlog of this material.  It stands in the way of realization of the self and what it is.  Yogis prepare for this by doing meditation and the seven steps within yoga systems.  I think it is a reasonable thing to do….important….but it does not guarantee results by becoming awake.  To awaken, this is simple.  So simple in fact that it eludes most of us.  Right under our noses, we simply have to settle down and allow ourselves enough time to inquire within.  Instead of looking outward, you just turn the focus within and begin to clean things up.  And sometimes this is enough to spark awakening.  Sometimes just being around someone who is awake is enough to remind you of what this state is.  But what happens so simply leads to a path or experience that leads you deeper and deeper into yourself in order to clean up all that stuff you didn’t get to before this happened.  For westerners who do not have a tradition of meditation or certain types of yoga (or even awareness of what awakening is), this often means that we come to it fresh from the junk pile and we most often get to work chiseling away the mass of our material.

To continue on this path means  a continuing honesty with the self.  We are notorious for hiding from ourselves.  We are.  And we do it out of fear.  But what if I told you that what lies on the other side of that mass of thick junk in you is joy and wonder and bliss?  Many years ago, struggling with my own awakening, a guide showed up and looked at me and said, “You would not be doing this if you knew what lay on the other side of this…”  He meant that I could not see how the problem was all of my own making and that to enter more deeply into who I was would lead naturally to a state of realization and bliss. This is the natural result, the wonder and awe of living in such a place as this. It is knowing who you are in this way that is new, novel, wonderful, and also hopeful because lying on the other side of all your troubles in working through the process is something so simple and great.

What I am working on is the realization that everyone is at their own level of knowing who they are.  Some, by comparison, seem utterly delusional….but isn’t this the human condition?  “My delusion is not as bad as your delusion” is how I and everyone else tends to think.  We spiral out of this, and as it gets better….as we look at those trailing behind and we think, “Sheesh! Wow, how messed up are they??” And yet, I too was there, those miles behind where I am.  The task is to develop a through and through level of acceptance that a soul chooses something for a reason, and sometimes the most messed up stuff winds up being important in their redemption.  Sometimes we just can’t see until we let things get so bad that it shakes us from our slumber.  And inside of that lies the seeds of a new life.  So for as hard as what I experienced in my divorce was, I trust that the souls that are my children came into this knowing that this was the situation and something in them needed it.  Afterall, the challenges I had as a child has led me to being far stronger than I would otherwise be.  There is more work to do.  For all of us, me included.  So I worry about me and trust as I used to before awakening that it will all work out.  I know that when I let go, something tends to take shape that could not take form before I was holding on to an outcome.  My sister was speaking to this as we talked about this on Mother’s Day.  She was saying how important it was to let go of our own hard stuff because it holds people into similar positions within themselves….and this naturally led to talk about a whole host of healing modalities.  You see, my family has been heavily involved in the mental health arena for years professionally.  My mother was a counselor and my sister did the same, running a business that is involved in being an intermediary for helping people get the services they need.  She has in recent years gone from a hard crusty person to someone far more nuanced and sensitive to the more subtle aspects of our own inner ability to heal ourselves.  We come from a thread of interest in how the psyche works and we each come at it from slightly different angles. It makes for some interesting discussions these days.

When you trust in the universe and get out of your own way, you open doors you may have not even known existed.  Knowing that we see things as we are, what does this tell you about yourself?  Can you allow the inner witness within you to turn around and begin to look honestly at yourself?  Its probably one of the most substantive types of inner work a person can do, I think. Onward and upward!