And then the Rabbit said “You are indestructible. Don’t you know that?”

March 12, 2011 by  

This winter I found myself facing betrayal and the accompanying painful issues of abandonment.  Anyone who knows betrayal and abandonment knows that the emotions these events precipitate are absolutely staggering.

There is loss and rejection. Bewilderment and confusion. Shock and numbness. Despair and grief. Longing and yearning. Denial, anger and shame. Self-blame and depression. You find yourself suddenly thrust into a whirlwind of conflicting and intense emotions. If you are a highly sensitive person like me, the wound feels much deeper, more lasting, and more personal.

An added difficulty is that betrayal is often a private grief.  The animalistic, gutteral sounds you make as you wail and howl in the middle of the night are only for you to hear.

Yet you move along day-to-day, accomplishing the many tasks on your to-do lists, smiling at and greeting people, taking care of your children, remembering to send the family birthday cards, paying your bills on time, etc.  You go to work, do your job and do it well, win awards, and receive praises. You work out at your health club. You drink your water, get the car washed and pick up the dry cleaning.

So you may even find yourself thinking “You know what? I am doing okay. I am going to get through this.”  But only minutes later you discover you are suddenly in a bathroom stall with your forehead up against the door, gasping for breath from the blow that has hit you out of nowhere deep below your belt. If it’s not the bathroom stall, then it’s your car. You make it all the way home, properly using your turn signals, but as soon as you get to the garage, you collapse into the steering wheel and weep. Once again you are out of breath. It’s the kind of breathlessness you feel when someone hits you hard across the middle of your back.  That “backstabbing” pain that leaves you panting. It’s all so unexpected.

It catches you unaware. You feel powerless like the pain will overtake you, cover you over, and bury you.

At times you feel suffocated from it. So you tell yourself to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Just like the yoga teachers and massage therapists keep telling you. Now you are constantly sighing.

It’s amazing to me how while many parts of ourselves continue to operate in a highly functional manner other parts of ourselves go deep underground, buried, hidden underneath the surface, where they either wither and die, fester like an ooozing sore, or rise up in a series of empowered acts that serve to protect, nurture and strengthen our wounded spirit.

That is exactly what I learned this winter–  this winter of my betrayal — during the worst snow storm in Chicago’s history since the 1960’s.

We had a record-breaking 20.2 inches of snow with drifting up to 6-8 feet. A State of Emergency was identified and the National Guard was called. Every single road in my county was closed. Massive plow trucks were derailed into road ditches.  Commuters were stranded on the famous Lake Shore Drive for 8-10 hours. Emergency vehicles were unavailable. Everyone was advised to stay home.

It seemed as if, like my pain, the snow would just not stop. My house and its doors were surrounded by snowdrifts up to 6 feet high. I couldn’t get out.  I couldn’t go anywhere.

I was stuck. Emotionally and physically.

My back deck was covered in snow to the top of the railings. I could not open my sliding doors — they were buried in snow nearly to the top. Plowing and shoveling created piles of snow eight feet high  just outside my front door. The wind howled and howled and blew the snow around into even higher drifts around all sides of my house. The day of the storm was gray, gray, and more gray. And the days ensuing brought even more colorless skies.  Everything felt dark, quiet, empty, and closed.

Inside my house I was literally buried by snow.

And…so was my rabbit.

Remember her? I have written about my rabbit companion many times now and the lessons she brings me. I have often said that she has become the greatest Teacher of my life. And now, during this snowstorm, and this emotional crisis I was facing, I would come to see how she would once again inspire me to take hold of my life and empower me to heal myself.

She lives under the back deck of my house. She has been there for several years now. Year round, she loves to sit under the big pine tree in my back yard. She always appears to me when I am filled with fear. This time would be no exception.

Rabbits teach us about survival and agility.

I saw 4-5 feet of snow surrounding her enclave. Every inch of opening under the deck was covered by piles of deep snow. I felt my heart quicken and panic ensued. Using my own crisis-driven emotions at the time, I began to project the fears I had for myself onto her. All the feelings I had about the pain I was experiencing came out.

She can’t get out!  She can’t breathe!

She can’t eat! She can’t take care of herself! 

She’ll suffocate!  She’ll be buried alive!

I worried and worried. I went to the sliding glass doors to see if I could climb out through the snow and somehow make an opening for her. But the doors were frozen shut.  And the drifts were way too high on all sides of the house for me to get to her.

What is interesting to me as I look back on this event is that I desperately wanted to rescue her and get her out of that that dark, dark place under the deck that seemingly offered no way out. But I felt helpless and hopeless. I resigned myself to the idea that she would die under the deck and I would bury her this spring. Sad, huh? I didn’t see any other possibilities.

I cried. And I cried some more until the logistics of the storm forced my attention elsewhere — and I temporarily “forgot” about my little rabbit under the snow-buried deck.

It wasn’t until three or four days after the storm that I had noticed what happened.

I saw a dark, gray shape amidst a sea of white out of the corner of my eye from my bedroom window that overlooks the back deck. I peered out the window to see a hole in the big pile of snow at the edge of the deck. It was at the very edge of the deck where my rabbit likes to scurry in and out from under it.

Up and Out of the Rabbit Hole

And near the hole were rabbit foot prints. Little trails of them.  They settled under the pine tree, her favorite place to hang out. And there she was, just sitting there, huddled in her usual ball of a pose, gazing about, her sweet little whiskers bobbing to and fro.

There she was. 

She’s alive! She got out!

She survived!

She dug her way out!

Rabbit Totems are Powerful Teachers for Life Lessons

The joy I felt was truly palpable. My heart was lifted and my spirit soared. I burst into tears of gratitude because I knew this little totem animal of mine who has come to live with me for the last five years had taught me yet another incredibly powerful Life Lesson.

Reeling from rejection and loss, betrayal and abandonment, I saw that my little rabbit was saying to me:

“You are indestructible. Don’t you see? Nothing and no one and no one thing will ever destroy you. You will go on.  Even when you feel like you can’t breathe, you’ll suffocate, you’ll be buried alive with pain.  Even then. Why?  Because I have shown you that you can dig your way out of anything.”

And that is what my little rabbit has taught me during this winter of my betrayal.

Rabbits Teach Us to Conquer Our Fears

I’m starting to dig now and I can breathe again.

Rabbit Medicine Teaches Us to Dig Our Way Out

There are teachers everywhere. To read about more life lessons from the Pinwheel Girl’s rabbit totem, click here.


4 Responses to “And then the Rabbit said “You are indestructible. Don’t you know that?””
  1. Rhonda says:

    You’ve learned quite a bit from this adorable creature! Thank you for sharing this story. And I love the pictures that clearly show the winter turning into spring. I’m glad you are digging out and can breathe again…

    • says:

      Thanks Rhonda! Animals have so much to share with us if we are only aware and open. You are right that I have learned much from this precious little rabbit! Who knew? Yes, I am digging out and it feels so good. Do you have a special animal totem from whom you learn? Sending you hugs…xo

  2. Janice Masters, The Everyday Joy Coach says:

    Kendra, I can totally relate to this post. My betrayal happened almost 30 years ago and shook me to my core…it triggered original abandonment issues from when my beloved grandma died when I was 4 years old.
    And recently, as she approached her physical death, the message my mom kept giving me and all of us was this that you wrote… “You will go on. Even when you feel like you can’t breathe, you’ll suffocate, you’ll be buried alive with pain. Even then.”
    I learned this over 30 years ago, and have had other shockingly painful things happen that triggered that core issue again…but I stuck with it. I knew it wouldn’t kill me, like I thought that first trauma would. I hung in there and did everything I knew to do and then some. And I am strong….and I survive…and I go on…even then….
    Thank you.

    • says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience and thoughts, Janice ~ abandonment and betrayal are so very, very powerful, aren’t they. I too had an original abandonment experience at the age of four and then a massive betrayal about 25 years ago. I can still find myself reeling from both experiences if I am not staying “aware” of what is happening and what the triggers are. And, like you, shockingly painful things, too. But as you say, and as your mother told you as well, we will go on, and we do. We are indestructible. There really is nothing as strong as the human spirit. Betrayal is excruciating for me to endure ~ it is only recently that I am learning that betrayal serves to teach me that I cannot control my life according to my fears and that I must trust the Divine Order of things and let go. It has not been easy. Still, I find that my inner reservoir of strength, honed from the abandonment issues, helps me both survive and thrive, push through, and go on. Janice, you are an amazingly gifted woman of talent, sensitivity, expression and spirituality ~ you WILL go on. You are THAT GOOD. I recognize you. xo

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