Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Albatross

The word 'albatross' is sometimes used metaphorically to mean a psychological burden that feels like a curse.  
It is an allusion to Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1798).  In the poem, an albatross starts to follow a ship — being followed by an albatross was generally considered an omen of good luck. However, the titular mariner shoots the albatross with a crossbow, which is regarded as an act that will curse the ship (which indeed suffers terrible mishaps). To punish him, his companions induce him to wear the dead albatross around his neck indefinitely (until they all die from the curse, as it happens). 
Thus the albatross can be both an omen of good or bad luck, as well as a metaphor for a burden to be carried (as penance).
--From Wikipedia 
I am letting go of my albatross.  We carry baggage as self-punishment when self-forgiveness can set us free.  Because of the law of cause and effect, there are consequences to our behavior.  But an albatross is a burden that we choose to carry long after the cause-effect cycle.  We carry the burden because we feel ashamed and feel an urge to do penance.  Love is the antidote to shame. Making amends and forgiveness of self/others is the antidote to guilt.

Sometimes we hold onto a job or a friendship/relationship or personal rule as penance for something we feel guilty about.  Tina Turner said she wouldn't leave Ike because she knew what it felt like to be abandoned and she didn't want to put him through that again.  Some women don't leave their husbands because of the children. 

Doing penance for others is not noble.  Loving self is noble not narcissism.  Ultimately, truly loving yourself is good for others.  I love being around people who are whole, happy, and filled with self-love and self-acceptance.  I expand and relax into myself in their presence. 

In recovery, an albatross is replaced with an affirmation.

I am loved.  I matter.  I make mistakes.  I get to be myself.  I can be happy.  I have a right to make my own choices and deal with the consequences of those choices.  I can take the opinions of those I care about and respect under advisement, however no one but me has a vote in my life choices.  I deserve to be loved, respected, understood, cherished, happy and free.

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