It was my mom and me on a hot day in Baghdad (where we lived at the time). I was miserable as I was being dragged on another boring errand to the market.
I wanted to be playing. I wanted to be running around and having fun.
But instead, I was stuck there watching as she mulled over prices at the stalls, looking carefully at the grocery items. I’m impatient and antsy and she senses it. As usual, she admonishes me to stay close to her (I made adults nervous with my tendency to bolt when they weren’t looking)
Then out of the crowd, a man approaches me smiling. He seemed very happy to see me but I’d never seen him before. Although this seems odd to me, I’m thrilled at the attention he gives me. He is asking for my name and giving me compliments.
I felt significant.
I felt special.
I felt alive.
He asked me if I would like to come to his bakery and have some sweets.
I didn't know who this man was but he seemed to know exactly what I needed! A hero had come to rescue me.
I already could taste the sweets and feel the sugar high. I imagined the warm honey and cardamom and the flaky pastry.
He then offered chai and pastries to my mother. Urging us to follow him back to his shop.
She hesitated and did not look happy about interrupting her shopping and I sensed she wanted to decline.
So I began begging her.
I was relentless and stubborn.
She gave in. I didn't give her much of a choice.
We followed him through the crowd. I was so excited my feet barely touched the ground.
As we walk into the shop something strange happens. Instead of staying there where the happy bright-colored candy and fragrant pastries are he continued leading us to the back of the bakery. He opened a door and ushered us in. This didn't make sense as there were places to sit and eat in the open area of the shop.
He behaved as if it was expected that my mom and I would go in.
We would have appeared rude to doubt this kind man, so we entered that room as he held the door open.
We waited for the lights to be turned on. It was dark there.
But the door gets locked and the lights never do come on.
As my eyes adjust I see that there are other men waiting for us.
I thought we were walking into heaven.
This would be no heaven.
We walked straight into hell.
Although initially painful and frightening, I’m grateful that this long-repressed memory surfaced a few years ago.
It was a relief to understand why I carried so much guilt all my life. (I blamed myself for what happened).
I also healed a vague sense of shame I had always felt at my own joy, innocence, and trust. Realizing that there was nothing wrong with those qualities and experiences. I saw that they only needed to grow up out of naiveness and into greater wisdom.
As the blame and judgment toward myself dissolved I was then able to look at the blame and judgment I held toward those men.
The hurt child in me initially thought of my mother and me as victims and those men as “bad guys".
But I saw the deeper reality.
I saw what drove those men to do what they did.
I was able to see the deep sense of inferiority, insignificance, and pain that drove their craving for violence.
I forgave those men when I saw their humanity. I forgave myself for mine.
The humanity inside of them was not all that different from the humanity inside me.
The desperate need for significance was in both of us.
Terrorizing and inflicting abuse on a child and her mother gave them significance. They experienced a sense of “power”.
The more afraid we were, the more “powerful” they felt (we feared they would kill us).
When I was given attention and treated as if I was special, I also felt significant. I felt alive. I also felt a sense of “power”.
Now of course I was just an innocent child back then, about 5 years old. I could not have known better. But as an adult, this child was still very much there, with her overwhelming needs.
My need to be special. My starvation for love, for something sweet. For someone to come save me. These things had too often been more important than my own well-being, self-respect, and safety. I often stubbornly followed my desire to fill these needs with something/someone outside of myself despite the warning signs my intuition always expertly detected.
I felt excruciatingly insignificant and powerless when I did not get those things.
Those men felt excruciatingly insignificant and powerless.
Remembering and healing from this experience was a big step in recovering more joy from within.
More joy with wisdom, rather than the naiveness and neediness of the child I once was.
I put “power” in quotes to express that I mean ego power, not genuine power.
A practice in my daily life is to watch when some kind of neediness creeps up. When I am feeling a need to be significant, loved, important, or special, it’s often because something in me believes I’m lacking something.
I can then compassionately explore this. The exploration allows me to discover more ways to grow up into a deeper potential while reclaiming Joy, Innocence, & Trust.
Through intuition, it's amazing how we can see options that we cannot see when seeing through the lack.
Then when there is an authentic interest or sweetness from the outside world, the experience can be enjoyed more fully instead of the tension of clinging to it so tightly.
I dedicate this with love and gratitude to the soul who so lovingly chose to be my mother this lifetime. May the wisdom I've gained be of benefit to you on your journey.
Author: Leela Haris ~ Intuition