|SAVIOR OR SERVANT?
Escape from Codependence
By Lakshmi Collins
Lakshmi Collins, ACHt, MBA, offers Heart-Centered Hypnotherapy and Breathwork. "It is our natural state to be joyful," she enthuses. Her dedication to service is a role model for us, as well:
I have been a Disaster Volunteer with the American Red Cross since 1982. I got hooked on the adrenaline and the illusion of saving people who have been through a trauma. When the Red Cross first arrives, people are happy to be alive and grateful for even a sandwich. As time passes, it becomes apparent to many victims that they have problems that are not going to be fixed by Red Cross or any other agency. Their lives will never be the same and no one can change that. We will leave and they will be left with the months and years of cleanup and recovery. They feel disappointed and sometimes betrayed.
As a card carrying Co-dependent, I judged my self worth from the perceptions of those around me. I felt bad when people were disappointed. I recognized a pattern of addiction - the high of the arrival which gradually turned to depression when I had to leave, feeling that people still needed me.
Because I had become a Disaster Volunteer before I started doing Hypnotherapy, I had not transferred the tools I was learning into that world. Between disasters I was creating a life of magic and miracles for myself, where anything is possible. But when I entered the world of disaster relief, I regressed. I knew I would fail before I even started. In my disaster script I was a martyr, forced to burn myself out trying to do the impossible. I didn't know how to do it different, so I stopped volunteering. I felt it was safer to just stay away from the whole rescue thing.
Then came the test - the 2004 Hurricane Season. In September the Red Cross called me after the 1st hurricane (George) and I said "No." (My 82 year old mother said "Yes" and went for 3 weeks.) They called again after the 2nd one hit (Hurricane Frances) and I saw that the whole state of Florida was affected. I was asked to identify vulnerable populations who were not receiving assistance.
I decided to take a chance and try to do it from a different perspective. I would go not as a "Savior," but as a "Servant." It was an opportunity to help get food to several thousand Farmworkers and Haitians, who might otherwise have been ignored in the chaos. Many of them were undocumented immigrants, and keeping a low profile even though they had lost what little they had.
I felt that my Spiritual Teacher, Ammachi, would want me to do it. I offered my efforts to the Goddess and set my intention to do my very best for as long as I was there, and to leave knowing that I had offered what I could.
It was also very interesting to put myself back into the world of disaster relief, which can be quite militaristic in a catastrophic disaster - imposing structure onto chaos. Really a different energy than the world I have created in my life now. But I reminded myself that the same energy principles apply wherever I am.
I arrived in Florida and the familiar scenario started to play out - we begin to document the needs of the vulnerable populations. There are so many of them and their needs are so great that they appeared overwhelming to an already tapped out system. Within a week a coworker and I had requested several thousand pounds of food and supplies to be shipped to 7 labor camps and poor communities.
Our assessments were challenged. Instead of fighting "the system," I used the tools I have learned (conscious communication, visualization, meditation, and prayer). I focused my attention on my goal of getting shipments of food to as many people as possible. But it began to appear that the "discussions" could stretch out until my co-worker and I had to leave, and the majority of the food shipments might not go out. It was hard to hold my energy level and keep from doubting.
I focused on the energy underneath drama. What would cause Administrators to block food shipments for hungry people. These were not cruel people. People usually go into the Red Cross to help. Maybe fear of being taken advantage of, fear of being punished for spending too much, anger at having attention called to a situation they had overlooked, fear of bad publicity, fear that the job would overwhelm them and they would never get out. It allowed me to have compassion for them and energetically address their fears instead of arguing. I was also thrilled to realize that I have released my fear of failure - that people would go hungry because I didn't do my job. Every day I did my best and every night I prayed for the higher good of the everyone involved (including myself).
Three days before we left and one day before the 4th Hurricane (Jeanne) hit, truckloads of food for over 20,000 people finally rolled out. I left Florida essentially the same as when I came - a big mess. But I chose to focus on the 20,000 people who would eat well for a couple of weeks and not the 200,000 who wouldn't.
I was grateful for the opportunity to release control of my environment and put myself in the hands of the Goddess. It was the only way to experience the huge change in my response to a stressful situation. I was able to stay centered and release my personal attachment to the outcome. I am becoming a better Servant and that was my reward.
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