The vacuum cleaner was broken. The on/off button was stuck at “on.” To turn it off, we had to unplug it. Not a huge problem. But still, it called for repair.
I had been stalling on the repair, thinking I’d need to leave it at the shop. That I’d have to wait the proverbial six to eight weeks for the part to come in. That we’d have to go two months without a vacuum.
Imagine my delight when, not only did I get a parking spot right in front of the repair shop (on a busy downtown street), but also the repairman was available. And, that he had the part in stock. AND, that he could replace it while I waited.
Imagine my exuberance. Could he possibly understand how this made my day? (In the world of victories, there are no large or small ones, just simply Victory!)
I was nearly jumping for joy right there in the repair shop. Right in front of the repairman.
As he removed the offending part, looking it over with a frown, he grumbled, “You should take better care of your vacuum.”
Instantly, I am ten-year-old me. I’ve been outside swinging and flipping on the neighbors’ jungle gym. I come running into the house — joyful, exuberant, large with life. Then BAM — I slam up against a wall of shame.
The shame is too hot. Reflexively I toss it like a hot potato to our housekeeper: “It’s her fault.”
Relief lasts a fraction of a nanosecond. Just as quickly I’m submerged in the backwash of the shame and blame I tried to push out of my space and onto someone else.
All of this transpired in less than 30 seconds. Fortunately, 50-something me woke up from her 30-second slumber and realized that 10-year-old me had hijacked the moment.
I paid for the repair, loaded the vacuum into the trunk and settled behind the wheel of the parked car.
It was time for triage.
I called back the blame I sent in the direction of our housekeeper. I thought of the many years she has cared for our beloved home. I thought of the times during David’s chemo when she went above and beyond to help make him more comfortable. I thought of how flexible she is with my shifting schedule. And how she almost always has a treat for Moxie. I sent her telepathic blessings and gratitude.
I opened a dialogue with ten-year-old me. I told her that there is nothing to be ashamed of, and nothing to feel guilty for. That entropy happens. That’s why we repair things. That her exuberance is welcome with me. That she was welcome to ride along and tell me directly what she needs to feel safe and seen.
I sent a silent blessing of acknowledgement to the repairman. Perhaps his inner ten-year-old needed some love and attention too. Perhaps something else was weighing on his heart, the pain too hot and heavy for him to face directly at the time.
Although this interaction transpired a few years ago (vacuum cleaner is still happily humming along, btw), it has stayed with me. An interaction rich with life and meaning for me, that has called for putting to paper.
And, as I’ve thought of writing about it, I’ve wondered which direction to go.
It could be about reparenting the inner child. How the younger versions of me that are stuck in some unresolved wounding will keep piping up, hijacking situations, until the adult me takes charge of the healing, addressing whatever it is that younger me is longing for.
It could be about blame. How blame might give us the momentary illusion of relief, in claiming “I’m right/they’re wrong.” But that mostly, blame is a symptom of deeper unresolved pain and it only compounds the energy of the original wound.
It could be about the importance of having a practice, whether it’s meditation or some other form of mindfulness, to help you have a reference point for presence. To have a felt sense of what it’s like to be grounded, present and connected, so that when the inner child grabs the reins, at some point there’s a recognition and capacity to find the pathway back to yourself.
But what feels most compelling for me today is to acknowledge this journey into human form in the great soup of Earth. To acknowledge that we are each grappling with our own histories while daring to bring forth the truth and exuberance of our essential selves. It’s a beautiful mess, and I wouldn’t change a thing.