Balancing the Four Rooms

This is part three in my series on Giving and Forgiving…

Forgiving yourself even when you can’t let go.

Christmas gifts.

Image via Wikipedia

In Part 1 of this series on Giving and Forgiving, I began with how my laughing epiphany helped me make the connection between giving and accepting freely. Please stop by to read the background for this post. In Part 2 of this series, I make the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in giving gifts and discuss how giving and object is a representation of the feelings you feel about someone else.

*There is a trigger warning on this post for mentions of child abuse and survivor guilt*

Where did my Yoga posts go? I’ve been writing some about meditation and mindfulness, which are a part of Yoga, but where are the rest of the 8-limbs in my life[1]? Why has my daily personal asana practice disappeared? Why am I not going to the studio daily like I was?

I’ve felt like I’ve been missing a significant part of my life. It has been more difficult to balance and stay centered with things that I used to skip by without a problem. Yoga takes the edge off of everything for me. It’s something I need on a regular basis, but I’ve been avoiding writing about it and practicing it regularly. I’m centered and prepared to do the work of healing and parenting with a sense of playfulness and joy when I have a daily Yoga practice.

Yet, the physical practices of Yoga, such as asanas, or poses, have consisted mostly of restoratives and relaxation poses. I have been shying away from poses that open, expand, or give me a workout. I have been resistant to taking classes with my favorite teachers because they are often the ones who are best at helping me locate and work my edge that day.

I’ve been wondering about this resistance. Then I came across this quote and it started clicking together for me:

“There is an Indian proverb that says that everyone is a house with four rooms, a physical, a mental, an emotional, and a spiritual. Most of us tend to live in one room most of the time but unless we go into every room every day, even if only to keep it aired, we are not a complete person.” — Rumer Godden

I’ve been spending all of my time exploring the mental, emotional, and spiritual rooms in my house. I’ve been tending them and learning about them on my path to healing. But, the physical room has been neglected. I have literally been hiding from my body by concentrating with my mind.

I stopped riding my bike, walking, running and hiking regularly because I was avoiding sensations in my body. I still did these things when I had my family with me because I could focus solely on them and forget about myself.

I can track back to when this began. It started last spring when the memories of abuse started to resurface. The more memories I uncovered, the more I retreated from connection with my body.

I have always heard people talk about abuse and the pain it caused them, both at the time and later. I didn’t understand that there was an element of pleasure mixed with the pain. I can’t admit to any pleasure my body felt because that would be saying that I wasn’t abused. If I liked it, it was consensual.

As if an 11 year old girl could have a consensual relationship with a sadistic orthodontist.

But, my head has yet to let go of the fact that in that warped, manipulated emotional and physical torture, my body responded in ways I didn’t understand. And once I did understand, I think they helped to further repress the memories of horror.

Girl looking up chimney from fireplace.

Image via Wikipedia

I have read about the hold that the abuser has on the victim and how they are often convinced that it is a loving relationship. In my relationship with my abuser, he made me think his causing me pain was helping him. I remember him telling me repeatedly that if it weren’t for me, he would be in pain himself.

I rode my bike to my appointments for years. I could have skipped out on them. No one would have known or cared at home. But, I went back over and over again because I was the only one who could take care of him. And I took pleasure in the pain. Even while I yelled or cried out because it hurt me, I felt physical pleasure.

The feelings of guilt and of being a disgusting person that my body could respond in this way and I didn’t do anything to stop it overwhelm me to this day. I feel dirty in a way that will never wash off no matter how hard I try to wash or cut it out of me.

This is what I am doing. I’m giving that 11 year old girl a gift. The gift of an adult who forgives her. The gift of an adult who knows her in a way that no one else can and will never leave her. The gift of forgiving her for not having enough power to stop it. The gift to forgive my body, which was her body, and no one else’s-not even his.


I’m also linking this post up with McCrenshaw’s Latest Thoughts and It’s Ok Blog‘s Mindfulness Parenting Challenge #2: on Forgiveness. Please go check it out.


[1] The 8-limbs of Yoga and using them in daily life will be in an upcoming post

It is the spirit of exchange that moves someone to give freely. It is interesting to think about the gift of forgiveness for ourselves and others. This can be an especially challenging thing during the holidays.I’ll explore forgiveness, guilt, as well as giving our truth (including the idea of Santa Claus in future posts in this series)

Questions from Part 3: Do you visit the four rooms of your house? Are there any areas you need to offer the key of self-forgiveness before you unlock them?

Remember, anonymous comments are always welcome. I’d love to hear from you.

NaBloPoMo 2011

Questions from Part 1: Have you ever been charged for receiving a gift? Do you have expectations when you give to someone else?

Questions from Part 2: Do you feel that giving and receiving freely is important or is a gift a gift? What do you think about the concept that giving objects are a representation of the feelings inside?

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11 thoughts on “Balancing the Four Rooms

  1. Pingback: FOUR ROOMS IN FEBRUARY! « PM27's Blog

  2. I am behind on my reading, but I’ve marked the three posts in this series as unread several times so that I could come back and really let them sink in. I’m so glad that I did.

    Giving and forgiving are both such challenging things for me, especially since having become a mother. My desire to focus as much of my giving as possible on my daughter has pushed the social niceties related to gifts way down on my list, to the point that I continually fear I’ve become hopelessly rude. I think I’m almost ready to let go of that concern.

    Like you, I desperately want to be able to give from the heart, and only from the heart. Expected giving and receiving causing me great stress, so our family has officially opted out of holiday gift exchanges. Yet I do get so much pleasure from giving when I can do so freely. And I can do so much more freely when I am tending to myself, visiting all four rooms – I love that image. I tend to neglect the physical room as well, and I’m still working out why.

    You have given me much food for thought and helped me to refine some ideas I’ve been struggling with. Thank you for this series. I truly look forward to more.

    • Thank you for commenting, Melissa. I know, I am so behind on my blog reading. I used to find time to fit it in, but stopped during NaBloPoMo. Now, I need to get back in the habit. I appreciate what you are saying here. I believe that even when we try to be polit, if we stray from giving freely, it falls into the payment exchange.

    • Ha! Thank you, Erin OK. I have to do it. It is like a prescription for me. When I don’t, I easily slip into depression. Consistent Yoga and meditation were two tools that got me out of PPD. I literally do not have a choice. I have to practice Yoga.

  3. I have been living in all four of my rooms lately, and feeling accelerated healing and increased balance for it. I tend to be most comfortable in the Mental and Emotional rooms. I’ve committed to a 40-day kundalini yoga kriya for welcoming success and happiness (day 8 today), and it sends me into those other two rooms!

    I’ve also recently learned that it’s ok to just let go of negative stuff without fully understanding and overprocessing it, which is helping me to really release some old pain. That I don’t have to hold it, in fact that pain was only borrowed to me from the universal pain, and I have a responsibility to say “thank you” for whatever I might have learned from it and give it back.

    I wish you luck giving your pain back and leaving it behind you. Namaste

  4. Currently, I am only airing out the emotional and mental rooms in my house. Sometimes I look around in the spiritual and then walk right back out without disturbing anything. My physical house is responding to the neglect in predictable ways.
    I have abuse issues as well, but fortunately for me, I let go of whatever guilt and responsibility I felt for it long ago. Well, most of it anyway. The thing I am finding, and it tangentially relates to my most recent blog post but I chose not to explore it there, is forgiving myself for all the mistakes I made when I was young, when the abuse was ongoing. I understand quite well that I behaved the way I did because I did not know better. But because my behavior was so bad, I was peer-rejected. And I have done a good job of understanding why that happened and forgiving the (now grown) children for their treatment of me, but I still flagellate myself sometimes for something I did or said 20 years ago. I don’t know why it even still comes up.

    • Thank you for commenting, sleeplessinsummervile. I am glad to hear you have let go of the guilt and feelings of responsibility. What you say about the mistakes made is a good one. There are many layers to the healing, many we don’t even realize who far or deep they go. This is why abuse can be so damaging, I think. There are, some call them scars, but they seem more raw to me than that. Unsealed wounds is more apt, I think.

  5. Zoie, I wish for you, my friend, nothing but Peace. And I wish from you, my friend, nothing but Truth.

    Sometimes when I read your thoughts, I am embarrassed by my own selfishness and posturing. I value that so much! You have a gift! Your deep spirituality and consciousness is bringing Light and Love to the Earth. I am grateful to share Life with you and I value you and your spirit as much as my own.

    Peace and Joy be yours, Dear One.
    Much love to you…

I love comments and try to reply to each one. I look forward to connecting with you. Namaste

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