Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!--
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.
I love this excerpt from Machado's poem as it states so beautifully a very important truth: That so much of the sweetness and richness, the depth and beauty in life, are born directly from what may seem like a failure, a catastrophe, or an unspeakable nightmare.
So often you may have an image or idea of how your life is supposed to be, or how or with whom) a relationship is supposed to be, or a job, or your body, or an endless number of things you may have very strong opinions about. And when these things don't come to pass, or they fail or you feel that you have failed, you judge yourself harshly and often cruelly.
Yet so often, the "old failures" have to be experienced to learn what is and isn't you, what works and doesn't work for you, what are truly your passions and what were simply things you thought you were supposed to be, do or have. How can you know without trying?
Yet often you may feel deep shame for not being what you consider to be perfect. It's a set-up for a life of self-hate and self-doubt, where nothing will be enough, nothing will satisfy.
Can you imagine that things that feel like failures in your life provide an opportunity to grow a "beehive in your heart," where something new and as sweet as honey is being produced from the very fiber of your failures? Can you imagine the bees at work at this very moment "making white combs and sweet honey from your old failures?"
Peggy Handler, MFT, is a psychotherapist in San Francisco's Noe Valley