Lessons From a Dysfunctional Coffee Grinder

breathworkbygenevieve | Sep 11, 2020 | 7 min read

Updated: May 11

There are a few things we need to take on faith for a while until we start to experience the power of our creative minds, and they are: this is an attractive universe, and we create our reality every moment. In A Course in Miracles, the Holy Spirit tells us that it will use everything in this world in order to communicate to us. What does it want to communicate to us? Our beliefs. It wants to show us where we are holding untrue or limiting beliefs about ourselves. It also wants to communicate to us the truth, which is we are love. We are love; we are loved; we are whole; we are one. We can no more separate ourselves from other people or from the things in this world than we can separate ourselves from figures in our dream. As in a dream, all figures in our life and every moment in our life is a reflection of our mind. These are huge concepts, and they don’t sound relatable or true at first, but if you can take the first two on faith, you will see from your own experience over and over that this is all true.

I’d like to tell you a story about a coffee grinder as a way to illustrate how the Holy Spirit uses everything to speak to us and to lead us to the truth about ourselves.

Last summer a friend of mine asked me what I would buy if I could have something new, and I responded, “a new coffee grinder,” which struck my friend as odd, considering this is such an easily attainable item. I had been using a broken coffee grinder for years; the bowl that held the beans was completely shattered, and there were gaping holes in the sides; the rim was just shards of plastic. I had to cover the holes with my hands, pour the beans in and hold it together while it ground the beans.

Sometimes I didn’t think about the absurdity of the situation; sometimes I laughed aloud at the ridiculous process while holding the grinder together, and sometimes I felt frustrated by the situation, as if I were powerless to change it, wondering when someone would replace this goddamn grinder.

I told myself that I didn’t replace it because it still kind of worked, and this was a habit I had; if something still sort of worked, I made do. I adjusted to the dysfunction. When I didn’t notice the absurdity of the situation that was a way of avoiding the truth of it. When I laughed at the process, that was a way of coping with it. And when I was frustrated, that was a way of playing the victim. My psychological dysfunction was completely reflected back to me every single morning as I expended huge amounts of energy to function in a dysfunctional way.

I didn’t really see it that way though, I just sort of got embarrassed when my friend was appalled at this behavior and offered to buy me a new grinder. I said, “No thank you,” and immediately ordered a new one. If someone was going to change this situation, it was me. I saw that much.

OK, so you might think this is the end to the lessons of the coffee grinder, “I am in charge of fixing my own life.” Got it….clap, clap, and done. But no…this coffee grinder was going to take me deep.

This summer, a year later, I was telling my partner, Lee, the story of how I kept a coffee grinder for years and had to cover the holes and hold it together in order for it to work, and all of the sudden I realized with a gasp, “Oh, my God, I AM that broken coffee grinder!” I have been covering my holes and holding myself together so that I can function. I have been expending huge amounts of energy in order to function in a dysfunctional way! I seem functional, but really I am broken!

This “realization” came after a long year of avoiding looking at my avoidant response to conflict. I expended huge amounts of energy to avoid having to establish and maintain boundaries as well as confront my students, their parents, and even my own children about boundary-crossing behaviors. As I’ve come to realize, this is a trauma response, and not one that is conducive to a functional way of life, especially when you are a teacher and a mother. Since I was operating from a trauma response, I was constantly relinquishing opportunities to take the reigns of my life. If I made a decision and someone didn’t like it, I just changed my decision in order to appease them, and then of course, not seeing this as a trauma response, I felt totally victimized by the judgments and criticisms I received.

Ok, what does this have to do with the coffee grinder? When I had the “realization” that I was the broken coffee grinder, that for years I’ve been covering my holes in order to function, I was only almost there. I am NOT a broken person, but in the moment, I thought the Universe was showing me that I was, that I am in serious need of fixing, or throwing out.

No, I didn’t quite get the lesson, and so it had to come back bigger so that I would see. Lee had a hard time accepting the dynamics he was observing between my daughter and I, where she would cross a line that seemed a clear boundary to him. To his observation, I had no boundaries and would not confront her when she crossed them. This upset him because he saw that I was hurt many times by this dynamic. When he expressed his consternation, I became very defensive, and we had a huge blow-up. This is called a manifestation event, when you attract a situation for yourself with your unconscious beliefs so that you can see them….so you can become free of them.

The events that unfolded between my partner and I are only interesting in where they led, so I will not bore you with the details, but after several days of trying to understand one another with more and more manifestation events showing me where I was operating from a trauma response, I finally unearthed the belief I held about myself that caused me to operate in such a dysfunctional way….the belief was this: “I am fundamentally broken. I am hopeless.”

What an insidious belief to be operating under! When it arose, let me assure you it was not in a cute and funny way. I had a fucking meltdown. I spoke it aloud through tears and snot, “I am broken! I can’t be who you want! I am hopeless!” I could barely breathe. And this is the truth about these untrue beliefs we hold about ourselves; they drive us to despair because they are not true! Your spirit tells you what is true and it communicates to you with happiness and serenity! Your ego tells you what is not true and it communicates that through the pain of all kinds.

NO I am not a broken coffee grinder. I am not a broken person, but yes, I have believed I am for so long. And so I have been functioning in a dysfunctional way…I still sort of worked, and since I believed I was fundamentally broken that was still pretty good; I could make do.

I want to be transparent about the process of healing as it shows up for me when I am relying on spirit to heal me. I didn’t call a therapist the next day as I might have a few years ago…I knew that the Universe was giving me everything I needed to heal….firstly the realization of the limiting beliefs I held. Next, to my utter delight, would come the reassurance.

A few days after my snot-filled cry fest about my brokenness, Lee and I went on vacation. I was still feeling raw, processing so much about the manifestation event I’d just had that seemed to set me back years and years in my growth and development. The first night we ended up in Newport, Rhode Island, and Lee had brought some plant medicine with him that aided in opening the heart. We settled into our beautiful hotel room and went outside to the lawn on the cliffs overlooking the ocean, choosing a couch near a firepit and next to an archway and an open space where people could get married.

We set an intention to move back into alignment and took our medicine. We dropped into a beautiful heart space together, a space where ego defenses are way down, and we could communicate clearly with one another. In that space, it is very easy to move back into love and to integrate what our minds had been incessantly processing over the last week. We felt intimately connected, peaceful, and happy.

Nearby were a group of children playing under the archway; Lee and I watched them playing happily in their imaginations and running around. They were all adorable of course, but there was one child that I was particularly drawn to. She was probably five or six, and she had long blonde hair. She wore a sundress and a straw hat. She was a very dreamy child, lost in her imagination, singing to herself and collecting flowers to put into her hat. She was with the other children, but she was mostly in her own world. After quite some time, I turned to Lee and said, “look at this child; she is so beautiful. Look at how safe she feels, how loved. She is so secure and trusting. She is perfect.”

Shortly after, the mother came up to get the children for dinner, and we chatted briefly. “I’m sorry the kids are playing so near you,” the parent said.

“Oh my gosh, we love them! No problem at all!” I replied.

The parent smiled and turned to the little girl that so captivated me, and in a sweet voice she called, “Genevieve!”

Gasping, I exclaiming, “Oh that’s my name!” But the mother and daughter just walked off as if my partner and I were not even there anymore. It was something out of a dreamscape…an experience manifested just for me. Lee and I looked at each other with mouths gaping open…having both witnessed this unmistakable message and the way in which the mother and daughter simply dropped it and left us to absorb it without any more dialogue or engagement.

It was the most surreal and reassuring experience of my life. Yes, we are creating our reality. I asked for healing, and it was delivered. My inner child that experienced trauma and believed she was broken from that moment on was healed. I am safe. I am secure. I am loved. I can trust. I am perfect. I am not broken, not in the least, and I do not have to operate from a trauma response anymore. Now that I have uncovered that belief, have seen past it and released it, I have a choice. I can function in a functional way.

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New Hope, Pennsylvania, USA