Homeward Bound

I wanted to continue the conversation on Rumi's "The Guest House" and a reactive response of denying parts of oursevles. We last left off with the question of whether or not we would agree to exile nothing or as Rumi would say, "welcome and entertain them all".

To dispel the often misguided notion that counseling is solely to talk about your feelings, let me tell you that, for me, that is never the end goal I have for my clients. For those who are concerned that the purpose is to dredge up every past, painful memory, please hear me: we are not setting out to be masochistic (feeling pain for pain's sake) or indulge in every emotion that comes our way. While "feeling talk" does occur and is important to good therapeutic work, "the goal of this journey is to reunite us with ourselves" (Stephen Cope). A homecoming. 

What are the narratives that keep you from feeling whole?

For many of us, we've presented a facade that has led to being gone for a long while and aren't really sure how to get back home, back to what is authentic. The breadcrumbs we left along the way got eaten up. Or maybe we didn't ever feel at home in our own skin; we never had a chance to develop a healthy connection to our innermost being because it was not safe for various reasons. Either way, we're lost.

We've attempted to make due with the loneliness of our homelessness by distracting or numbing through various addictions (work, relationships, substances, food, shopping, working out, and on and on the list can go). But we know that in each of those places, you can't truly relax. You're not home. And that is a terrifying feeling.

You may feel like you've been gone too long and wouldn't even know if you'd be welcomed back. Or perhaps you're meant to be a vagabond, roaming around from the next place to the next. Shame tells you that you've pretended and hidden for so long that that is the only version of you that will be accepted. These are all important things to consider and examine and explore. What are the narratives that keep you from being reunited with yourself, from feeling whole?  

Until we can accept and embrace joy, depression, meanness, sorrow, the dark thought, shame, and malice, we leave ourselves stuck in no man’s land.

Our map back home cannot contain exiles. Those parts that have been split off leave us fractured which is the complete opposite of being whole. Until we can accept and embrace each arrival ("a joy, a depression, a meanness", "a crowd of sorrows", "the dark thought, the shame, the malice"), we leave ourselves stuck in no man's land. 

Can we, as Rumi beckons, treat each guest honorably? I love this notion of honoring our emotions, our parts, our self. Each, in its own way, is there to tell us something, sent as a guide. They serve as our compass and have an important purpose. And perhaps, instead of shutting the door in their face, by greeting them, hosting them, having gratitude for them, they may be "clearing you out for some new delight" and lighting the way back home, where the possibility exists of feeling safe, received and accepted. Whole

Tiffany Dang

Tiffany Dang, LPC, Austin, TX