Photo: Erin Doyle
Don’t you just love when you get lost in a great book, and it begins to transform you? Right now I’m in the middle of reading, Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow, by the amazing Elizabeth Lesser. In one chapter she tells a beautiful story about her good friend Ram Dass, who is a spiritual leader and the voice of a generation. Ram Dass spent his career teaching others to live with spirit and grace. Until he came to a critical turning point in his own life.
One night as he was answering the phone, this powerful man suddenly fell to the floor and found himself unable to move or speak. His friend on the phone was calling out to him. “Ram- Do you need help? Tap the phone once for yes, and twice for no.” Ram Dass tapped twice.
Most of us have a hard time accepting help, even when we desperately need it. Don’t I know it. All last year Troy and I faced numerous battles on our own, vowing that no matter what came we would withstand it. But with all the other crises the year brought, and after more than a year of this legal battle, we were unraveling. The financial burden was stressing us, but the emotional burden took the heavier toll. Troy often said he felt like there was a mountain of grief on us, and he was trying frantically to dig us out.
When I had the miscarriage in February, it was the last straw for me. I just couldn’t lift myself up anymore. The trial was two months away, but my fight was gone. Our money was gone. Our hope was gone. I called my attorney, ready to throw in the towel. I told her…if this guy’s intention was to break me down, he’s won. So what now? Show up at court and tell the judge I’ve got no attorney? What are they going to do, force me to give up my dog? I won’t. Let them arrest me.
I really didn’t care any more.
She wisely advised me to take a few days to rest and think things over, and we’d continue our discussion later in the week.
In the meantime, my girlfriends called to offer support. They told me – don’t let it get you down. Just think of all the wonderful family and friends you have! You are surrounded with love! And I said, cynically, Yeah. I wish love could win this court case.
But then I thought about that. Wait a minute….I may be low in financial resources, but man oh man do I have a wealth of beautiful people in my life. I am RICH in love. What is it I’m always saying in my blogs…LOVE conquers HATE. LOVE conquers FEAR. Somehow I forgot. But my friends didn’t. They knew that LOVE could conquer this battle.
As hard as it was for me, and especially for my husband, I had to tap once on that phone. I needed help. And along came another lesson. The lesson of being vulnerable. The lesson of needing people. This is the ultimate “trust fall”, and not one person has let me touch the ground.
I had a friend say to me, “I could never do that…ask for help.” Neither could I. Honestly, it has been gut-wrenching to admit that I needed help. I’ve always been independant. I want to be the strong one who lifts others. But life has brought me to my knees, so here I am, humbled and grateful.
And that brings me back to the story of Ram Dass. He had a stroke that night that would forever change him. Ram Dass, the pillar of strength, would spend the rest of his days in a wheelchair. This brilliant man who spent forty years lecturing and teaching could now barely speak. It was an entirely new state of being for him.
When Elizabeth asked him what the experience was like, he called it “Fierce Grace.” He said,“Ego breaks open, then you see who you really are.”
I get it now. Fierce grace has been at work on my life, forcing my Ego to take the backseat. What I’ve discovered is that when Ego leaves, there is much more room for LOVE.
My favorite word.
And as I get back on my feet, remember this…
tap once if you need help.
I’ll be listening for you.