– Jean d’Ormesson, French novelist (1925-2017)
Love is funny. It comes around and then it leaves…except it never really leaves because the imprint of its memories live on within our hearts. We become flecked with its gold dust. Love stays for awhile sometimes. Yet we make the mistake of thinking that Love is something we can hold onto or cage. Love is a free bird – it flies where it feels free. Caged birds are trapped and do not feel Love. They feel small, they feel depressed. They think longingly of the wide open skies in which they once soared close to the heavens.
Control is the opposite of Love. I have tried to use control as a way to catch Love. It doesn’t work that way. But the attempt to control as a means to secure Love is an “adaptation” some of us learn early on. It’s an attempt to get our needs met – our very human need for Love. We can get trapped into thinking that if we “control” the variables, we can “control” the outcome. This is limiting because the ways in which we adapted in order to try and get our needs met as children no longer serve us in adult relationships. Control creates co-dependency, conflict and distance. Control breeds judgement and disconnection and ultimately more pain.
Security is different than control. Security is entirely necessary in relationship. A sense of security brings trust and openness. Secure relationships behave very differently from controlling ones. When we are young we desire to go out and explore the world. Everything is exciting and new and our young minds are growing and expanding so quickly. Security means we can go out into the world and know that our care-givers are there watching us and welcoming us back with open arms. We feel safe and secure to explore. Most of us did not experience life this way – either our caregivers were unavailable to us physically or emotionally, or they consistently made us feel that we had to do things by their standards. Or they simply were unable to really see us or acknowledge us and our big ideas or little wins as much as we needed. So many of us did not learn a “secure” attachment style. We either became more anxious or avoidant. Or a combination of both. Now, as an adult, trying to build a securely attached, healthy, Loving relationship can feel a bit daunting or difficult.
This thing we all crave and desire at the Core of our Being – this LOVE. It is not submissive – Love is wild and free and Soulful. Love is Her own force field. Her own element in nature. Love is the Universe. Love is holding us all together. Love brought us here. Love must be released into the wild – into it’s natural habitat. Among the birds and the fishes and the trees. Loves breathes deeply in the forest.
We were not meant to be tamed or caught. If we want to be in Love – we must become it’s energy. We must learn about it’s nature. We must adopt it’s freedom and flow. Love is not a contract or chains or vows. Love is the energy of the purest place in your heart. Seeing another’s Soul. Seeing their goodness and uniqueness and expansiveness. Love is feeling those things in Yourself. That is true Self Love.
Love is Sacred. You are Sacred. Untamed, a free bird flying – heart open.
We are all full of polarity and contradiction. We desire comfort and structure, yet crave spontaneity and adventure. We want rhythm, flow and routine – but we feel bored when we start to follow the same patterns. Existing within us is the groundedness of the mountains and the fluidity of the ocean. We are ever-moving and flowing, while at the same time remaining solid and structured. Our bodies are tangible and weighted and yet the energy that exists within us and around us is airy and not quite graspable in the physical form. We are both energetic and material beings. These two things co-exist and operate together, influencing each other simultaneously. When we become physically stronger, our energy picks up. When our energetic field becomes clearer, we attract a higher vibration to us. We are less easily taken off course and become stronger in our path and purpose. We are our own anchors.
We are both of these things (energy in motion and a physical being). That is why human beings are so complex and intriguing. We want new, yet we fear letting go of the old. We dream of things lasting forever and we dread things staying the same. Yet nothing truly lasts forever and things rarely stay the same. For things to stay the same we must exert alot of energy into resisting change – which actually creates resentment. That resentment follows us until we release what we were spending so much energy trying to hold onto. That release is when we are leaning into the change and the natural flow of the world.
Often, the actual letting go is easier than the anticipation or thought of having to let go. When we let go of something that was no longer serving us, we create more space for the things and energy that does serve us. Two things happen when we let go: we feel pain and we feel relief. It is healthy to titrate between these two places. We cannot feel all pain all the time, yet we cannot simply avoid the pain and stuff it down. We have to allow space for both to show up. The polarities of pain and relief help us to restore to a more natural, balanced and open space. Our hearts open, we see bigger. We look around and our perspective has broadened. We appreciate more. We trust in ourselves and our ability to do hard things.
We start to trust in our own innate Power – now we can feel it is real and it lives within us. It is the very core of us. We love the feeling of being powerful. So much so that we will spend our lives looking for that Power everywhere out in the world, except the one place it truly exists – INSIDE OURSELVES. This is the one place that our Power always has been and still resides – burning, smouldering, waiting. This Power is ours for the having and it is entirely sustainable.
It is sustainable without all of the “things” we think we need to feel powerful. Our unique gifts, these precious jewels inside us – that’s our Power. The Universe is very clever and She is always testing us to see if we are ready for our Power. Giving us little riddles to solve and mysteries inside ourselves to decode. We are constantly being presented with opportunities to show up for ourselves in big and small ways. These opportunities are always gifts in the form of lessons. The decoding of our own mystery isn’t actually the hardest part. The hardest part is the willingness to do it. Once we start accepting and leaning into our Power and Soul – the answers are actually all very accessible to us. It starts by choosing to be open, willing, curious and hungry.
Loneliness feels like the grey sky
It feels empty and cold
It feels vast and unforgiving
Loneliness feels like nothing and everything at the same time
It feels heavy and yet I feel like I could float away
A drifter in a sea of tepid waters
Float on little drifter, find your way
Out into the big blue – I know you’ll be okay
Love feels like ice and chains
Love feels impossible
Love feels like a safe haven
Until it’s not
Loneliness sinks in again
Surrounding and drowing
Gasping for air
Let me live again – I want to live where the Love lives.
Inside my own heart
There is Love
A force unreckonable and wise beyond all hell
A force so strong
She will never let me sink
She will always keep me afloat
Even if it feels like I’m on the brink
My own weary heart,
Weary of love but still a believer
Never lose sight
Never stop trusting
Loneliness feels like hope
Hope that I am still here
Existing , feeling this
Moving though this
One day at a time
Searching for moments of peace and knowing
Knowing my own heart
Scars, fractures and all
I love my heart
She is strong
She is capable
She is boundless
She searches for the purest and deepest Love
The Love She can give Herself.
What does it mean when we talk about our shadow self or our shadow side? First of all, we ALL have one. Everyone has a dark side, a side of us where the hurt lives. A part of us that was wounded and still carries those wounds. Sometimes the amount of pain we feel inside can be overwhelming. So overwhelming that we actually don’t feel it – we numb out, we avoid, we distract. Because it’s too much. We aren’t meant to feel all of our pain at once, it is meant to be uncovered and healed with time. With safe spaces and supportive environments. Have you ever noticed that once you enter into a committed and safe relationship, your pain starts showing up in ways you hadn’t experienced or been aware of before? Our bodies know when we are supported in some way and send us signals that it is time to unload some of what we have been carrying. Most of us have a hard time feeling the deeper parts of our pain until we feel some sense of safety. Sometimes, however, things can bubble over or we are triggered and the core wounds reveal themselves. They offer us a little glimpse of what is really there inside us…if we get curious enough to pay attention.
Giving our inner selves this kind of attention isn’t easy, because it is not promoted in the dominant male narrative aka Patriarchy. We were taught to shut it down, to avoid our feelings and to keep driving ourselves to the point of exhaustion. Being in a state of perpetual exhaustion works simultaneously with avoiding our inner selves. We can’t do the work when we are too tired. Being over-burdened and under-appreciated is the state in which Patriarchy operates. Women suffer. Men suffer. People are depressed and anxious and desperately trying to find some sense of meaning through the newest, next “thing”. The better house, the more luxurious car, the expensive sporting equipment they won’t use, the new pair of jeans they don’t really need. Only to find it is never enough, it somehow never quite feels like enough.
That shadow part of you is still lonely. That loneliness still feels too unbearable without that next thing or next project. When I feel down, or even when I feel happy, I like to shop for clothes. That’s my “vice” you could call it. It’s my way to avoid staying with that loneliness or that feeling of “not good enough”. Do I think I should cut shopping out of my life altogether? No…another piece of the truth is that I love fashion and I see it as a way of outwardly expressing Myself and my style says something about who I am. But what I wear doesn’t say everything about who I am, not even close. So – yes, shopping is my security blanket, my loneliness or “not-good-enoughness” antidote. I have to be aware of that. I also have to carry compassion for Myself and allow Myself something that does bring me joy. There is a balance somewhere, and I don’t have it all figured out yet.
What can I do to Love my Shadow Self a little more? That part of me that is a scared little girl? That part of me that does feel lonely, that craves feeling seen and validated, who is scared of being abandoned, who is worried She didn’t do enough or do it right. That little one inside who longs for true acceptance. That shadow Self who yearns to feel Loved, whole-heartedly for who She is. I can sit with Myself, BE WITH those parts of me. Not abandon Myself and my needs. Ask Myself what I truly need to strengthen my Life Force. My needs can change daily, even hourly. That is normal and totally okay. If I know what I need and can communicate it with respect and integrity, that IS Self Love. Wether or not someone else can meet those needs is for them to decide. It doesn’t actually have much to do with me (or say anything about my worthiness of having those needs met). When we Love someone, however, we do try and meet each others needs if and when we are able to.
How can I learn to start meeting some of my own needs? It’s a continual learning, and I won’t get it right every time. But getting it right isn’t exactly the point. The point is the time spent with my Shadow Self is never wasted time. The point is I try my best. And that’s enough. Totally and completely enough.
Because we feel lonely
We feel unloved
We feel separate
From ourselves and each other
Without our mothers
We are raised
To fight until we bleed
All the way down
Hearts left wide open
We bleed still
Attack and defend
Until the end,
Unseen and scorned
Shamed into submission
This life is a lie
We keep on living
It was supposed to be
More beautiful than this
So much more
We dreamt it to be
Now this is it
This is all we have
Each other, raw
Vulnerability at its finest
Behold our paths laid out before us
Which will we choose
Will they be
Together or separate
United or divided
Headed or sealed tightly shut
Stuffed and re-buffed
Until all the shiny finish is gone
There is no more hiding
Everything is in plain sight
Will we accept each other
Scars, marks, bruises and all
Adaptations, protections and shields
There is no absolute certainty
In this trepidatious time
Will we choose the light
While accepting all of the shadows
That illuminate this light
But only for those brave, those courageous
Those wise love warrior souls.
Until then, we bleed.
I’m going to start by telling you a story. This story is about me. About 5 years ago, when I began experiencing anxiety in a big way, I literally had no idea what was going on with me. My body felt so strange and the sensations I was feeling felt so scary that I literally thought I was dying. I took myself to the emergency room twice because I didn’t realize that what was happening was a panic attack. If you’ve ever experienced a panic attack full-on, then you know how scary they can feel. I won’t go into too much detail of describing what that felt like, because I wouldn’t want to trigger someone else who is reading this, and I also don’t want to re-trigger myself. Those times were very, very scary and are difficult to talk or write about.
Back to my story…when I went to the emergency room the doctors checked me out and said that I was very healthy. They checked my heart, they did an x-ray and checked my vitals. They asked me if anything major was stressing me out in my life and I said no, not that I could think of. Of course, there was plenty stressing me out in my life I just didn’t want to admit it. The doctor recommended I talk to my family doctor and also consider getting some counselling. I went to see my family doctor at the time who was pretty useless and just wanted to prescribe me some addictive anti-anxiety pills. Tricking my body into thinking it wasn’t really anxious didn’t feel like the right thing to do, so I didn’t even get that prescription filled. **(Sidenote: there is nothing wrong with being on medication, but what he was prescribing was more of a “quick-fix suppressant”. Talk to a doctor who is experienced in working with mental health issues if you are looking to go on or off any medication.)
I had recently started to see a therapist around this time. Honestly, the level of discomfort I felt in my body and the anxiety I felt were so intense that I had trouble believing it had anything to do with any past experiences. I was convinced at the time that there had to be something physically wrong with me and I was terrified of dying (this fear still comes up for me). After a few weeks of me describing my symptoms to my Mom, She suggested that what I might be experiencing was something called post-traumatic stress response (I was later evaluated by a mental health specialist). My Mom knew the symptoms well because she had experienced it herself only a few years prior. At first, this idea seemed crazy to me. Post-traumatic-what?!! That didn’t make any sense to me at the time because I didn’t believe that I had experienced any trauma!! Sure, I knew that I had been through some hard stuff…but who hadn’t? These very real physical bodily sensations (body pain, tingling sensations, numbness and what felt like energy moving around my body, hyper-alertness) were in no way, in my mind, due to something that happened in my past. After all, the past is the past – I had moved on and had always been super tough and got through things pretty well…right?! My point is this: I LITERALLY WAS IN COMPLETE DENIAL OF MY OWN TRAUMA. I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW THAT IT EXISTED.
Just because I couldn’t remember all of my trauma or wasn’t conscious of the fact that it actually happened, doesn’t mean it didn’t exist. Trauma isn’t just “a bad thing that happened to you”. It’s not just a memory. Oftentimes, as a way of protecting ourselves, we actually don’t remember much. This is our way of defending ourselves from our trauma when we are not equipped to deal with it in a real way. Not knowing how to deal with trauma is totally NORMAL, especially when we are young. That’s why our memories fragment it and push it away so that we don’t have to deal with it until we are ready. When we are ready to heal (and even that is not usually a conscious decision) memories sometimes return to us but they are fragmented, so we only remember bits and pieces. What we remember and what we don’t doesn’t actually matter…because WE WILL NEVER THINK OUR WAY OUT OF TRAUMA. The experiences live in our bodies. They will stay there and take up valuable space in our bodies until we actually re-connect with our true Selves and feel into what is there in our bodies. This isn’t something you can usually start doing on your own. It requires a well-trained somatic therapist to help you though this and guide you. It isn’t something you just start “doing”. It is a learned practice, and the more you practice the easier it will be, to be with your body in this new way. You actually won’t want to go back to any other way because this is true Self-connection. It will feel so empowering that you will only want to grow into further understanding yourself.
I have seen 3 somatic therapists over the past 5 years and each time I continue to grow. Each time, with each new therapist, I am ready for a new level of healing. A new level of understanding myself. The work is never “done”, I just get hungry to know more. It is my ultimate life journey. There is no greater understanding of anything or anyone other than yourself. I am the person I will have the most important relationship with. So if I’m not good just being with me…I’m not gonna be okay being with anyone. Until I’m really, really okay being completely in Love with Myself, I will just be looking for someone to fill that space. I will be looking for someone to fill me up, instead of learning to fill Myself up.
The good news about our bodies is that all of our positive experiences are also stored within us. So when we are working with our trauma it can be very helpful to “titrate” between these two places…the place of pain and the place of comfort and joy. A good therapist will know how to guide you through this. Other good news is that the work does get “easier”. Well, I don’t know if easy is the right word but it feels easier because you understand what the work is and you know more of what to expect. So when you feel super shitty or scared or vulnerable…you accept these uncomfortable feelings easier. Learning radical acceptance with the trust that the discomfort will pass is huge. You also develop tools to help you though those tough and sticky places. I have learned so much about my Body and getting to know what my Body likes and doesn’t like and what is comforting and soothing to me. So when I get into those anxious spaces, I usually know how to give Myself the environment I need to re-balance/re-centre/re-harmonize. Sometimes I can’t give Myself this environment right away…so until then I BREATHE. Seriously just breathe…stay with your breath. Sit and just pay attention to your breath for at least 2 minutes a day and do this several times a day or as often as you remember. Sometimes I am adrenalized and don’t even realize it until I start sitting with my breath. Then I come back to peace, I come back to ME.
The work of healing and recovering from my trauma has been the most important work of my life. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It has given me my sobriety, the ability to Love more fully, to feel deeper, to experience greater intimacy, greater bliss and more joy. Ultimately, I feel more fully ALIVE. I feel more Myself… my True Self. It’s kind of like when you workout your muscles – they will tear and you will be sore and feel pain. BUT – your muscles repair themselves and when they recover they are even stronger than they were before. They can bear more weight, recover quicker and also help your body overall to metabolize fats, carbs and proteins. Just like working out our muscles, our emotional healing is painful at first. Usually we don’t even want to do it. But after we find our groove, the rewards are huge and the possibilities for our lives are more magical. Working through my trauma has made me so much more RESILIENT. This is something I didn’t understand for awhile but now I really do get it.
There is sooo much more I could say on Trauma – it deserves an entire encyclopedia. These are my thoughts for now and I could say more on the affects of NOT doing your trauma healing but I will leave it here for today. Turn towards your feelings, not away from them. They are your teachers, your friends. Choose openness. Many situations in life are actually an opportunity for growth and healing, should we choose it. Choose, as always, Love.
Sitting here on this dusky evening, it is blue hour. Everything has an indigo hue with touches of the softest pink and lavender in the clouds. Sunset is my favourite time of day. The lighting is mysterious and magical, as if to say…there is hope yet for another day. Rest your eyes, calm your mind, ease your heart. Rest, my child and all will be well. The sky loves you and the earth loves you. The ocean is here for you. The ocean IS you, wave by wave…breath by breath.
I watch two birds flying simultaneously alongside eachother. For no apparent reason, they decide to fly apart and away from eachother. Off they go, in different directions. One flies over towards the buildings and one flies over the ocean. Their parting was seamless. Perfectly in sync and flawless. I wonder…will they meet again? Will these birds fly together again someday? Do they even know eachother? Or were they just happy to fly together for a short time? They don’t appear to question it, they just do as they are called to do. Clear and precise.
The sound of the waves caressing the shore is soothing. It clams every part of me from the inside out. Here I find peace…or maybe peace has found me. I was still long enough for peace to see me and sit with me awhile.
The sky majestically grows darker blue. I continue to sit on my rock. It feels firm and solid and supportive. I trust it to hold me here for awhile. I’m not sure how long I will sit but that doesn’t seem to be the point. The point is that I continue to notice the peace. Breathe it in deeply. Exhale it evenly. Nothing else seems very important in this moment. I know that I am held.
I don’t know about you, but this pandemic has created a shit storm of messiness inside me. But what feels messy is usually needed. When things remain too prim and proper for too long, we miss the beauty. We miss the innuendos and small saplings trying to grow. We miss our growth opportunities.
For me, this time has been a huge growth opportunity – and it’s scary as fuck. I don’t have all the usual distractions of daily life as I knew it, before this ‘social distancing’ began (work, social gatherings, family visits, appointments etc.) What I am left with is My Self. I do enjoy my own company and I am not afraid to be with my own thoughts and feelings. The trouble is trusting the time and the process it will take to unravel these difficult emotions.
I was out in my backyard gardening yesterday, feeling pretty out of it. I am also weaning myself off of my anti-depressants (which is a whole other post). So the feelings coming up are more alive, more tangible than before. They refuse to be ignored. They refused to be flatlined. So – I was “spring cleaning” my backyard with the help of my partner. To be honest, neither of us have done any gardening in our lives so it is kind of like the blind leading the blind. But we did our best and I think a lot of it is instinctual. Example: “this looks like a weed, lets rip it out”!
Here I am, using my big gardening shears and cutting and pulling out big thorny, un-belonging branches. The weeds had become intertwined with the flowering trees and bushes; stifling their beauty. It felt really good hacking away at these monstrous thorny weeds. They were so persistent in continuing along their path of growing in, around and through whatever was in their way. Destructive little devils. Their thorns hurt like hell when you touched them.
These weeds are like my childhood wounds. Persistently there, willing to cloud the beauty of life. They are there, making things messy and hard to decipher. Left unattended, they will continue to grow and be there; taking over more beauty. BUT – I gardened. I took a step at clearing these weeds. I got a lot of them out and now as I look at my garden of shrubs and bushes and flowering trees, I can see clearer. I can make out a little bit better what is what and where each one ends and begins.
Today I took a walk down a short pathway through the overgrowth in one corner of my backyard, to a viewpoint where I can see the creek below. Something called me there. I squatted there near the dirt and looked at all the giant overgrowth and weeds that are too much for me to take out at this point. This is a whole other hidden section of our backyard that will be cleared at some point (possibly by a professional). I realized that there, right there are my wounds. Hiding in plain sight. Even as I admire our hard work yesterday, I can see there is more work to be done. I can see things that need more clearing and more openness.
Still hovering there close to the dirt, I gazed down at the ever-flowing creek below. “This is the goal”, I thought. This is where I want to be. This creek is Peace. It’s steady, rhythmic flow – everyday different and yet it sounds the same. Peace may always be with me in different ways, but it will sound the same to my Soul. Clearing the overgrowth of my pain will lead me to this creek, this Peace. This Love. The work won’t be easy, but I promise Myself it will be worth it.
I can recall so many times before, when I have had to do brilliantly difficult things. I recall how I made it though, even when it seemed impossible. Even when I thought it would kill me – it didn’t. I am still here. Am I Afraid? Yes. Is it Impossible? No. Can I get through hard things and clear more space for my Soul to be known and Loved? Absolutely. I’m not expecting it to be easy – that I know for sure. People have been marching and protesting and fighting for Peace since…since a long ass time. I feel this message in my Body as I think “maybe Peace isn’t in the fight, but the surrender”.
Surrendering to Love.
All of this “stuff” is coming up. Coming to a heated momentum. What courageous next step is being asked of me? What next move is ready for my making? What dark shadows are being brought to light? Abandonment pieces, anger pieces, shadowy solemn pieces. Sadness, pain, real deep pain. Layers uncovered, scars exposed, energy unstuck. What is too real to reveal? These wounds remain unclaimed and untamed.
Here the hungry wolf feeds. So she may breathe another breath, breed another Life. Transgress the darkness inside and leap over the pond of gloom and doom, into the vast depths of Herself. To find Herself, awaiting her own arrival. My own best friend of mine.
These wounds don’t make sense – not in the literal way. They are raw, unedited, scathed and unbathed. Nor are they here to be made sense of. They are here to be felt – witnessed and passed through. Like a city you are just visiting. A tourist into your own pain. Not to stay forever, but to stay long enough to get the feeling and sightsee the important landmarks. Write a postcard home so you may, one day, lovingly ponder a memory of that place – as if to look upon an old photograph. Not forgotten, not lost, just…a time that has passed. It was real, but it is no longer here today. A distant, somewhat neutral, memory of lands yonder and darker days.
These days and nights that crafted You – made you the resilient being YOU ARE. Transformed you into this wealth of wisdom and valuable knowledge. You and I, together we have turned our pain into practice – the practice of a better life. Turned wounds into water so that they flow through us and continue evolving into a sparkly circle of misty fluid confidence. Our own crystal glow. We are Home.
A Home no one can take down, ever. No one can touch this new Home or us here. We have come back to ourselves – our greatest challenge and greatest reward here on Earth. Once we find ourselves amidst the fire and the cold grey loss, we never lose sight of ourselves again. Now we know the real truth and it is impossible to un-know it. Our ignorance has blissfully escaped us. We may miss it at first. Until we realize that WE are the ones who will save the others. We have evolved further than some were ready for. We, sweet angel darlings, we are the lucky ones. We were born special with the ability to go through these things. To be tried and tested and re-tested again. To be SURE, that when the time comes, We will be ready. Ready for our Big Purpose.
Trust the unfolding.