Tag: fear

COME HOME TO YOUR SOUL SELF

COME HOME TO YOUR SOUL SELF

soul self
Night of the Mystic by Freydoon Rassouli, an Iranian-Born, American abstract surrealist and visionary artist and author.

When the world knocks you about and you feel as though you’re living in a foreign land, come home to your soul self.  It is always there, waiting for you.  You will recognize it as the place inside of you that is safe, familiar, and always sane. We all have this place . . . the core, essential, authentic place in our being.

Painful, difficult, mind-boggling events happen in our world every day.  We are shocked, dismayed, angry, disoriented confused, and afraid.  What happened to the world we once knew? we say to ourselves. Innocence lost. We do not know where or how to ground ourselves. This experience is trauma. An experience that our mind can not make sense of throws our psyche into disarray. This is the definition of trauma.

OPPORTUNITY AWAITS US

The events we experience in life, no matter how confusing or alarming, always offer us an opportunity. They elicit powerful questions when we dare to listen for them. The question that most often arises is “why is this happening to me”.  This is a trick question to divert our attention from the harder questions. It is one that has no answer but will waste our time and drive ourselves crazy as we struggle to answer it.

When we look beneath the why question, we come to the how and what questions, and the answers that will bring us home to our soul self.  For example, when we ask, “How am I to understand what is happening to me in a larger context?” or, “What can I learn about who I am and my place in the world from this experience?”, we are heading in the right direction.

Will I dwell in anger, or, live in fear? Or, will I look for the cosmic meaning and purpose for myself and the world? Will I give in to victimhood, or will I go inward and forward, by building trust and deeper, more honest connections? When we look for the choice point in this way, we are driven to ask more difficult and more important questions. Then, we offered a choice.

some home to your soul self

Each and every time we reach a choice point while taking time to listen to our inner guidance we have the opportunity to choose. Our choosing and acting upon our choice not only strengthens us but anchors us more profoundly in our soul self.  When we spend life skimming the surface, afraid to ask what we believe, instead only asking what we “think” we miss out on the vastness and the mystery that is awaiting us. It is only our fear that holds us hostage – our fear of emptiness, void, silence, nothingness, annihilation. Only… fear. Not reality. HOPE is always ours for the asking.


Truth ~ What Are We Fighting For?

Truth ~ What Are We Fighting For?

The value of truth seems to have lost its influence. 

The world keeps turning. I get up in the morning to the sun, and go to bed each night with the moon and the stars shining their light on my broken heart. The world is a “hot mess” as my young millennial friends would say.

Navigating life now is not an easy task! Walking the medial way, with one foot in the world and one foot in Spirit, isn’t easy to do under “normal” circumstances!  Now, it feels impossible, and yet it is certainly an excellent opportunity to practice! I, like many I talk to, long for simpler times.

SPEAKING THE TRUTH AS I SEE IT

What is the Truth?
I woke up this morning feeling exactly like Alice in Wonderland. ART BY: David Hoffrichter

I keep choosing, every day, to speak the truth as I see it; to ask the questions, explore the answers, look for what lies beneath the surface of things. Even as I try to be kind about it, not attacking or name calling, my words seem to cause sparks to fly.  People rant at me and call me names.

In the past week, I was called a bigot, a pseudo-intellectual, an irrational feminist, and a few other choices names I’d rather not repeat here.  The nastiest, meanest comments came from men, who I previously believed were highly rational, intelligent, educated men. The comments I received from women were angry and upset, more aimed at the belief that I should be taking about the politics on an aging site, nor should I take sides. I weigh this question constantly.

“JUST GET ALONG!”

The most common concern I’ve heard from women has been, “don’t you think you should play nice and just accept what is happening?” To this I say, yes and no.

Nothing infuriates me more than the part of our culture that wants us to get on board with the status quo. What we are experiencing right now IS NOT NORMAL. It is not business as usual, and I won’t pretend it is. I protested in the 60’s and my values with regard to peace, love and acceptance remain the same. I’ve never been a fan of the establishment, but this is going too far!

NAME CALLING HURTS!

It hurts being attacked.  Conflicting feelings rise to the surface, adrenaline pumps through my body and I’m suddenly in fight or flight mode. I want to lash out, and with my weapon of choice write an epistle explaining exactly how and why I am not what they say I am.  When I realize that more conversation would be pointless, I sink into despair. What am I to do with all these feelings now?

ASK THE HARD QUESTIONS

I have no choice but to go inside myself and ask the hard question. Are they right? Do their labels fit?

Am I a pseudo-intellectual?  I’ve never thought of my self as an intellectual, so that one was lost on me as a true reflection of myself. However, by asking the question I began to see the perpetrators projection. The particular label came from a man who, even at 16, took abundant pride in his intelligence. He believed his intellectual abilities made him superior. Sadly, all these years later when we reconnected I discovered that he has not grown past his arrogant, narcissist ways. He still needs to be intellectually superior, and when he feels threatened, he does what all great thinkers do, call people names.  I told him he was behaving exactly like the President-Elect, which he was. He didn’t like that a bit and unfriended me. I now consider it a victory to have stirred that particular pot!

A bigot – that one got me.  A bigot is “a person who is intolerant toward those holding different opinions” – this coming from a man who unfriended me because he didn’t like what I was saying on Facebook. Am I a bigot? We all have our blind spots so I’d have to say yes, I’m intolerant toward some who hold different opinions. Our president-elect would be one of them. Trust me, I am working on this. I long to find a place of acceptance that does not mean acquiescence.  Right now, I can’t see the divine in this man just yet. In fact, I tend to think he’s evil incarnate and see it as my job to speak out against him.

COMPASSION FOR ALL WHO HAVE BEEN & WILL BE DISAPPOINTED

Beyond that, I have deep compassion for the people who elected him believing he would change their unhappy lives. I have less compassion for the meanness and hatred that a few carry and choose present to the world. I want to say, show me your misery, this I can understand. But anger, rage, hubris, entitlement? And yet, tolerance is tolerance. I’m working on it.

Here’s what I do know. The women before us modeled tolerance and acceptance as a virtue, and to some extent it is.  They did not feel free, however, to rebel or speak up when perhaps they should have.  We feel freer to do so, and yet the past that lives on in us often keeps us feeling guilty and wrong when we do.

Making nice is not always possible, nor is it human. We have a wide array of thoughts, feelings and reactions. it is to our detriment to keep them buried. They will erupt when we least expect them to and it won’t be pretty.

THERE IS A TIME & A SEASON

There’s a time to fight and a time to stand down. There’s a time to speak and a time to be silent. We must each in our own way and find a balance between speaking our truth and taking time for deep reflection. None of us are totally clear on what we are fighting for. Those who are, seem to be fighting one particular battle. Maybe that’s the best any of us can do.

We must continue to ask ourselves challenging questions:

  • What am I really angry about?
  • Are there unacknowledged feelings and thoughts beneath my anger? Are the thoughts I’m thinking true?
  • This feeling of fear, what is it really trying to tell me?
  • When have I felt powerless before? How was that similar to what’s happening now?
  • Is this situation triggering feelings I’ve had all my life?
  • What are those feelings?
  • Can I be proactive in giving myself what it is I want from others?
  • Have I taken time to sit in silence?
  • Have I expressed my feelings honestly?
  • When I speak my truth am I using “I” statements?
As I navigate these strange times, I take comfort from the wisdom of great teachers.

“Wholeness is possible only through the coexistence of opposites. In order to know the light, we must experience the dark.” ~ Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams and Reflections

“Always go with the choice that scares you the most, because that is the one that is going to help you grow.” ~ Caroline Myss, Defying Gravity

“The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them”
Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

“If you have never been called a defiant, incorrigible, impossible woman. . .have faith. . . there is yet time.” ~ Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

“Doubt is not the opposite of faith; it is one element of faith.” ~ Paul Tillich, The Courage to Be

“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” ~ Elie Wiesel, Author of Night, Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize
“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” ~ Elie Wiesel
“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” ~ Elie Wiesel

A Father’s Day Gift for the UnFathered

A Father’s Day Gift for the UnFathered

Father's DayFather’s Day is a day, created by a culture whose moral, ethical and spiritual foundation is a times questionable, and yet we are sucked in by it. How many of us are feeling guilt today because we don’t feel a generosity of spirit towards our fathers? Or, sad because our fathers were taken from us too soon? Or, a hole in our hearts because we did not have a father? Not everyone has a Hallmark Father’s Day. I would guess most do not, and yet, we feel somehow that there is something wrong with us when we experience negative feelings on this contrived holiday.

My father died fifteen years ago, but our relationship never got off the ground. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t experience discomfort from the lack of love in my early life. This emptiness, however, has been a gift to me. It has driven me deeper and deeper over the years into an exploration of the inner life; to a richer understanding of psychological and spiritual growth. I have more compassion for those in pain than I might otherwise have had, and a powerful desire to walk with those who suffer through their pain and toward the light.

Our discomfort in life is our signal to take a deeper look inside of ourselves. When we feel the nudge of anxiety, fear, sorrow, or depression, it is our cue that something needs attention. Although we are not meant to dwell in our discomfort, I do believe it is a useful tool for opening our wounds to the light of truth, and in doing so heal the past so that we might live more fully in the present. Our journey in life is to learn from our pain and discomfort and to set it free, in order to create space in our hearts for something better.

I have no real reason to feel sorry for myself because my father was emotionally absent. I know that now. If you feel uncomfortable with Father’s Day, and the memory or thoughts around your relationship with your father, be compassionate with yourself. Use your discomfort as an opportunity to go deeper, to grow in your understanding and acceptance of what was, and most importantly to find the real you, the ember of truth and wholeness that lives within you still. Each of us carries an ember within us of love and truth. It may be buried beneath years of hurt and despair, many of us have built walls a mile thick around it in an effort to protect ourselves from the pain, but it is still there. It will always be there. It is just waiting for us to remove the debris that covers it and blow on it gently until it erupts into a flame.

Replace your pain today with a prayer of gratitude because even in the midst of pain and sorrow there is eternal hope. It is our birthright.

How Long Does It Take A Wound to Heal

How Long Does It Take A Wound to Heal

Christina's World by Andrew Wyeth 1948 The Museum of Modern Art, NYC
Christina’s World by Andrew Wyeth 1948 The Museum of Modern Art, NYC

The wounds of childhood run deep. They run broad and wide and fester when they do not experience the light of understanding, of compassion, of acknowledgement, of love. Tears may be shed, cries and protests may erupt in the moments during or following an injury, but when unattended, the wound is covered up with ignorance, indifference or cruelty. The injury  is ignored as if it doesn’t exist, as if it never happened. The sands of time, layer upon layer, muffle the sound of the heartbreak, cause the bleeding to disappear from sight, but healing cannot occur. The bleeding and heartbreak continue on out of sight, underneath a layer of scar tissue.

I received a laceration to my hand in an accident, now four years ago, that has a left a scar. Shards of glass from the window beside me, the window I instinctively pressed my hand and arm against to brace myself as the car rolled…and rolled…sliced the tendon between my pinky and ring finger as it shattered against me on impact. Once the car came to a standstill and I found a small portion of my senses I knew I had suffered a serious injury to my hand though I could see nothing but blood. Somehow I knew that beneath the blood my fingers had been rendered useless. I even thought I had lost my pinky. It was instinct, out of sight awareness that led me to this conclusion.

The surgeon craftsman in the trauma center repaired the damage to the best of his ability though he had to be creative with what was left of the sinewy tissue. He enjoyed the challenge. I was grateful for his confidence.  After two hours of surgery, it took twelve weeks of bi-weekly physical therapy and home treatment  to regain some use. It took better than a year for the pain to stop and two years for me to stop being aware of the discomfort of the minor malfunction. This wound, was a simple, fairly obvious wound to attend to and heal, in the overall scheme of things.

The deeper wounds, the ones that are out of sight and remain unattended, discounted by ourselves or overlooked by those who have the power and awareness to help us heal, do not receive the treatment they need, the support of a team of experts, the attention of skilled rehabilitation specialists. We are left to carry them by ourselves, live with them and to attend to them in whatever way we can.

The accident left me with a TBI and PTSD. Both were not diagnosed or attended to in my post-accident medical treatment and it wasn’t until my hand began to heal that it came to my attention that I had been crippled in a far more significant way by the accident. I had not lost my finger but I had lost my life as I knew it,  my sense of security, my ability to trust myself or the world around me. I could not think. I could not remember things for five minutes. I could not plan or execute. I could not leave the house.

In that car, that day, I had been a sitting duck. I was a passenger in the car. I had no control over any part of my life. I was a victim just waiting to be victimized again. And, I was. Thank God. In spite of the pain and anguish I experienced during the years since, it does not compare to the anguish I suffered for a lifetime prior as I lived with buried wounds day in and day out, fighting depression, anxiety, self-doubt, deep, deep despair, fear, insecurity, uncertainty, failure, failure, failure. That accident shook everything loose in one fell swoop. I was turned inside out and upside down, literally and figuratively, my insides poured on the sidewalk to be picked through and inspected.

One by one, piece by piece, bit by bit, day by day I sort through and heal, sort through and heal. If the truth were told I’m still afraid to let go of the deepest numbness that replaced feelings too intense to hold, too lethal to bear. Yet, I know this is the only way to continue healing. One must open up the wound, must shower it with attention, understanding, and above all love, allowing tears to flow, anger to surge so that healing can take place. If we keep the lid on it, it we keep the bandage on the cut it is slower to heal and may never heal at all.

Ripping off the bandage is painful. It is best done with another, with someone who loves us and who can hold space for us. It is not something that can or should be done alone. Allowing love in is part of the healing process. Allowing others to care for us, to hold us and touch our hearts again is what we all long for. It’s what we all require.

So, how long does it take a wound to heal? It takes as long as it takes, but it begins when we take notice of the wound and give it the attention it requires. The healing process moves forward each time we shine the light of truth, understanding, love, acceptance and forgiveness on our hurting places. It ends when we no longer think about it.

A Child without Edges

A Child without Edges

art by Molly Brett
Fairy Artwork by Molly Brett – click on image for more info.

A childhood of abuse or neglect sets the stage for an adult who does not know who they are. Healthy boundaries are either a mystery or non-existent. They are either too rigid or too fluid. When we don’t know who we are, we may unconsciously cling to the rules and belief systems that were imposed on us as children, or we borrowed them from an external belief system such as a religion, a political party, or a social group. It gives us a sense of identity and security. It gives us the edges we are unable to create from within as children.

Or, we may exist without edges and live the life of an emotional and psychological amoeba. In this case, we allow whoever or whatever is in our life at any given moment to take up residence within us. We live in a constant state of reaction to, rather than action toward. Never having learned to validate our own wants, needs and desires, we wander aimlessly through life falling victim over and over again to the whims, desires and manipulations of those who don’t hesitate to tell us what our boundaries should be. The child who is ignored, drowned out, or in any other way taught to ignore her own inner voice and guidance, is a child without edges and a child doomed to suffer as an adult.

These two different reactions to abuse are a match made in heaven. They attract one another like iron to a magnet, perpetuating the chain of abuse in an endless dance. The rigid must constantly remind themselves and all with whom they come in contact, of what they believe and who they are. Beneath this drive is the unconscious fear that without constant feedback and validation they would crumble and disintegrate. It’s a life or death activity that keeps the veneer in place.  What better way to do this than to seek out those with porous boundaries, who are looking for their edges, who are willing to be influenced, and who have learned not to question or challenge?

If, however, we have the opportunity to see, sense or become aware of the ember of our real self that still glows in the recesses of our heart and soul, we can begin the exciting, albeit terrifying journey of self-discovery. We must go back and raise ourselves, give ourselves the adult guidance and structure that allows our inner child to blossom.

We once had our very own responses to life. We once had our own thoughts, our own feelings, our own deep physical and emotional expression of all that we are. We can have it again.

The disassociation I experienced after the accident was the most extreme expression of my own disconnection from myself, though it began much earlier. It is an utterly terrifying feeling to be without boundaries, to feel utterly powerless and helpless. How many children feel this way every day of their lives? How many of these children grow up to be deeply troubled adults?

As a victim of abuse or trauma, finding a connection to oneself is an ongoing challenge, but one that is not only essential but worth the effort. When we heal our own suffering, we stop the cycle. It’s time to stop the cycle of abuse.

In Search of My Edges

Still Learning

Still Learning

Still Learning

HydrangeaWhen I stop and close my eyes and breathe in what peace I can find around me…in the breezes that blow, the hum of the chime as the air lifts it in song…I find fear when I want desperately to find comfort. It is a hard journey finding my way out of fear. It nips at my heals and haunts me at every turn. Just when I think I’ve escaped it, it’s back sitting beside me on a quiet evening.

I’m surrounded by beauty. Lush green trees, fields of grass, the sun low in the sky casting its golden touch across everything. The mountain air is fresh and the smell of boxwood lingers on the breeze. There’s everything to be grateful for and yet, I want to run away, to hide, to stop trying, to stop yearning to be something. I want to rest and be satisfied. I want to be enough just as I am.

But the fear awakens my fight or flight response and makes me want to move, to do, to try again, and yet, I know it won’t work this time either. Running frantically never does. The fear locks me in its trance and mounting desperation clings to my throat.

Fear, or more precisely, the feeling of not being safe takes over and when I look deeply into its eyes. I realize the feeling is more that I don’t know how to protect myself. The unknown is shapeless and threatening. My edge-less, boundary-less being seems only to be able to lie in wait, vulnerable to any attack, and there’s no way of knowing from which direction it will come.

I am still learning. Still defining myself and learning to live from within. Still seeking my edges, my truth, while standing in love. New lessons come almost every day, as long as I stand open to change and movement and learning.

Knowing where we begin and end, and where another begins and ends, is a lesson that most wounded children must learn. Wounding causes one to put up barriers of protection, to pull back within oneself, to create false facades to fool the oppressor, which once defined morphs into the planet at large. As children, we feared. I feared. I feared the utter alone-ness that became my constant companion.  Not known, not allowed to acknowledge what I saw in others. Isolation. Annihilation.  I learned to pretend that I was wrong and they were right so as not to feel alone.

To begin to speak one’s truth, to state clearly what one knows to be true is to begin to find our edges. To stand up for that truth as we grow stronger, to state ever more clearly what we see and know and experience and our edges stronger. It’s one thing to know oneself. It’s another entirely to bring it forth into the world.

And the process of healing continues. For a lifetime, or longer.