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Confession

I have a confession to make.

For all the healing I have chosen to do, I still don’t quite trust myself.  Not totally, not completely.

I have not done a lot of therapy.  I might have a year’s worth, total, accomplished over the last 17 some odd years.  So, yeah not much.  I’ve done a lot of reading, I’ve talked with other people and in some ways that is therapy too so I’m not knocking that I haven’t done a lot of therapy, I’m just saying that as a preface for what I’m about to say.

I’ve heard a lot about “inner child” work.  There’s a whole theory within therapy about the inner child, of which I know basically nothing.  I assume it is exactly what it sounds like, that somewhere in the psyche are the various child versions of you at different ages in your life.  I suppose it could be looked at sort of like a chronological psycho-historic collection of yourself.  Wow that probably isn’t any more clear but bear with me (remember, I don’t really know what I’m talking about, as far as psychological theory goes).

Anyway, the point of that is this; I’ve gotten in touch with what I assume is my inner child.  Different ages, different stages.  I’ve reflected on her many times.  I keep pictures of her (me) in my home and look over them at times.  It is a strange thing to see a picture of a very young me and know the entire context of that person – and the nightmare that it is – and wonder… how does a picture of this exist?  How is it possible that it leaves so much out yet… contains it all?

My first experience with the inner child was through a reiki session (I have come to see reiki as a facilitated meditation in which the practitioner does nothing but allow you to exist exactly as you are.  I’m not too certain of the metaphysical stuff, don’t believe, don’t disbelieve…).  I traveled backward in time first, to when I was about 3 or 4 and “met” myself.  Then progressed forward up until my early twenties.  What a trip.  This was my first taste of feeling compassion for myself, for the little person I was who was carrying so much all alone.  Since then I have gone back in meditations (this is a loosely used term here; I don’t really meditate but I do sit and ponder things a lot… I ruminate… rumidate?) to… touch point with this part of my psyche.  It is usually… painful, uncomfortable, stressful.

Last night, after a weekend of both positive (I got some beautiful and loving gifts from My Safe Person, went to an excellent event and even saw a circus cabaret, listened to some beautiful indigenous story tellers) and… more difficult stimuli (the cabaret is one I used to perform with and the feelings it brought up were… challenging… I was also constipated [we will likely talk about poo one day but not today]) I could feel something wrestling inside me.  I was restless and also tired.  Maybe depressed though my feelings were dulled by my efforts to contain myself at the cabaret and during the story tellings (had I not I would have just sobbed through the whole damn thing and detracted from the performers/story tellers efforts to entertain and enlighten us).  So I did what I have begun to do when this happens.  I moved my body.  Movement brings to the surface what can not be spoken.  It gives shape and expression to the things my articulate mind recoils from but my hearticulate spirit wishes to release.  Simple stuff; a vinyasa of cat/cows, planks, down dogs and other poses to massage my over full intestines.  Afterward, I lay on my back and placed a block under my hips and just breathed.  My guts started to feel better.  Some minutes later, I removed the block and just lay on the floor, palpating my stomach.  As I dug around in my low belly I found a sore spot.  Cranky!  Oh it was tender and I could feel my emotions welling up.  And so quickly, I was remembering other times when my guts were compacted and the childlike fear, anger and sorrow I felt.

And I knew… it was her.  If there’s a place in my body she goes to hide, it is at the very bottom of my gut, just before the small intestine joins the large intestine (illiocecal valve, for you anatomy buffs).  Now I’m not saying that memories, personalities, emotions or any of that is actually stored in the physical tissues of the body, but I am aware that our bodies have receptor sites for the physiological components of our emotional experiences and I do know that, given enough repeated exposure to certain neurotransmitters and hormones our bodies become hard wired to process those chemicals thus those organs and tissues can go into a sort of hyper reaction when those chemicals are expelled into the blood stream.  So anyway, for me, stress/depression/fear land in my guts and I get terrible gut rot.  And when this happens, this scared little girl in me comes rushing to the surface.

As I poked my belly and sussed her out, I was mentally transported to me at younger ages.  First when I was a pre teen and was grieving that I could no longer go to horse riding camp because the bus changed stops and I would have to ride the bus across town alone in order to get to it… Then when I was 6 and was told I would no longer be going to ballet classes because we moved too far away and I would have to ride the bus across town alone to get there… And I said to my sad brown eyed 6 year old me… Gee that’s rough.  You always get just a taste of something nice, something you want, and then it is taken away from you… I tried to tell little me that, when I grew up, I would return to dance and I would see horses again but something about it felt empty.

Then I was transported back to me as a 2 year old.  A tiny distorted face, red and swollen from crying, baby teeth just pushing through, screaming in fear and sorrow and anger.  I had just been betrayed by my father.  My hands were held out like claws, fingers stiff from clenching into fists and trying to fight away The Monster.  And then I could hear myself screaming through the bathroom door and there was no one there to save me.  Just a two year old alone in a bathroom with The Monster.

And then I was with her (me) again, looking into that face, making myself look into her face knowing how desperately she needed to be heard and I asked her “what’s wrong sweet heart?”  And she sobbed “he hurt me.”  And I asked, “what did he do?”  And she didn’t have words for the thing that had just happened to her, so she cried and gagged and choked and then said “he made me sick.”  And I felt so much compassion and love and need to protect this tiny little person and I asked “would you like to be held?”

And she said, wailed, sobbed “no!”

And I knew, she didn’t trust me.

I don’t trust me.

And in this I realize that, even to myself, I am alone.  I can’t ever hava, truly have, the support, love, encouragement, guidance and care of those around me if I can not have that within myself.

I have begun reading a book called The Anatomy of The Spirit and honestly I am taking a lot of it as… interesting, and worthy of much salt, but parts of it seem to be really hitting home.  The parts about power, and how some of our remembered betrayals are like holes through which our power leaks, are making a lot of sense to me.  I can see how my own ability to care for myself leaks through these holes and I can be irresponsible with the things I need, most often money, time and love.

As I chew on this, connect the dots, I can see how, with regard to the cabaret, art classes I want to attend, friends i want to see, places I want to go, I am now the one telling myself you will have to ride the bus all alone across town in order to get there.  That is a big part of the story I tell myself for why I am not in the cabaret anymore (there are a lot of other, legitimate reasons for why I stepped away, see the post “The Time I Chose To Heal”) among other things.

And it’s no wonder this tiny little 2 year old can look into my face and think she can not rely on me.  I’m a leaky boat bailing as much water as pours in.

Ahhh and so… tomorrow I start on step one.  And perhaps the step that follows is how to be true to the word I give to myself.  How to prove to myself that I CAN be the reliable adult I need in my life.

But first… Let’s just wake up tomorrow morning.

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Acknowledgement

Ok, I want to acknowledge that another blogger, Professionally Depressed Professional (I keep wanting to write *Developed* which I think speaks to how much I’ve been enjoying her blog and that I think she is doing a pretty fantastic job of Being and Doing and Thriving, not to mention coping, surviving and struggling with GRACE) has nominated me as a Very Inspiring Blogger.

That’s just pretty darn swell.

I’m supposed to tag other bloggers, tag the nominating blogger but I don’t really know how to tag… is it like on facebook?  @TheProfessionallyDepressedProfessional … Hmm… not quite but anyhow, thank you for the nod.

I’d like to acknowledge another thing… I haven’t read too many blogs.  I’m supposed to nominate 7 but at this time I have really only dug in to 3.

The Professionally Depressed Professional

Soar Inspire Love

In Others’ Words

These three, currently, have left me with some fist pumps to the sky, some tears, some heart expanding ‘me toos’ and a general all-round feeling of the world being right and ok.  If we can rise up, well, that says a whole damn lot.

The Journey: Step One

Step One.

Every day is step one. It doesn’t matter how many hours, days, months, years or decades it’s been. Every day is step one.

It has been 27 years since it stopped. 29.5 years since it started. I am 30 years old. Much of my life has been no more than an observation of step one;

wake up.

That’s it. Open your eyes and return from sleep. Don’t even really have to get out of bed because sometimes, for some of us, that just isn’t doable.

It doesn’t matter how much healing you’ve done, how much art, poetry, therapy, exercise or screaming you’ve done. Tomorrow is step one again.

You may jump from step one to step 3576; you may linger at step one. You may have been on step 3576 yesterday and proceed from step one to step two. Because the beautiful… and excessively frustrating… thing about this process is that it is non linear. This kind of healing moves in a spiral; you can jump from any point, loop around old ground, step off to somewhere different or simply sit still and hang out for a while.

It’s your spiral.

Step one: Wake up.

Step two…

PTSD < I Am Safe

I spent most of my life avoiding this problem; PTSD.  I didn’t even know it existed for a long time, and then wouldn’t have known it was associated with any kind of trauma other than war vets.

I guess when I was a teenager, maybe 15 or 16 I started having flash backs.  They were really strange though; I knew they were memories but they were more like remembered emotions and the contexts in which they arose, not so much memories of events or places or people.  They were really disturbing, I didn’t know *what* they were but knew what they meant.  I would try to ignore them, smoke more pot and sleep more frequently.  They didn’t come up too often.

I moved out at 19 to a new city, away from my family, and this was a HUGE shock.  I was unprepared for the loneliness I experienced, the total isolation.  I had been isolated most of my life, but this was different because I was LITERALLY alone.  No friends.  No family.  Just me, a job I slowly grew to hate, and a host of anxieties and sorrows I was ill equipped to deal with.  Eventually I had a boyfriend.  And the intrusive feelings started.

He would touch me with sexual intent and I would freeze and in an almost child like voice I would think but that’s not what I meant!  I didn’t mean for this to happen! As though I could really be responsible for someone else’s responses to me.  It was deeply disturbing and eventually we broke up.  Some time went by and I was dating again.  After a few months, I began to have extremely intense, intrusive, clear visual, full body rememberings of what had happened to me.  I would suddenly be screaming and crying and pushing him away, utterly incapable of explaining what was going on, how I was feeling, why I was suddenly in a full blown panic when seconds ago I was enjoying myself.  And they just wouldn’t stop.  Eventually we broke up.

This pattern continued with each relationship I have had and I have pinpointed exactly when these intrusions start – 6 months into the relationship.

It took me a few years to realize I (probably) have PTSD.  I’ve not been officially diagnosed, but it sounds about right.

I am thankful my PTSD does not include lengthy periods of remembered trauma.  I’m thankful that for most of the time it is well under the radar.  I’m thankful that I am at a point now that I can start recognizing the signs of the response happening and take control of the situation.  And I am thankful that I have found great counselors and support people to lean on and learn from over the years.

A very simple meditation a fellow survivor offered to me is one that I have recently found invaluable; it’s great for being in the moment of a flash back, and it’s great for this relatively new experience of anxiety I seem to have encountered too.

(Inhale) I Am

(Exhale) Safe.

I use this frequently.  As soon as I start to feel something that might be fear (I’m not the most in touch with my feelings) I begin that exercise and within a few moments I generally start to feel a little bit better.

Blessings ❤

shift

it is close at hand
a shift in the
winds of my soul

one step
two steps
the skin prickles rise

my path winds
i walk
on the back of a snake
it rises and 
I am the toad caught
in the distended jaws of fate
I am the 3 sisters
that weave and trim the threads
that lay and polish
the scales
on the back of
undulating time

the toad struggles
old programmes firing
no real hope of surviving
and in the eating
the snake is made
vulnerable

the assassin gives way
for the midwife

The Body is Sacred

Currently I am steeping in a pot of Priestess Training.  It is as Mystical and Intense and Spiritual as it sounds and, secretly, it is also rather humble, just kinda normal… I haven’t learned how to levitate yet 😉   But it is doing exactly what I wanted it to be doing; making me address and ask the hard questions.  Making me look the boogey man right in the face and try to understand what he is saying.  I have begun to follow the tracks of Inanna and descend to the underworld to meet Erishkegal, her forgotten, rejected sister.  More on that another time.

Along the way I have picked up some books, additional reading you could say.  I finished reading Starhawk’s The Spiral Dance about a week ago and… It’s an interesting read but something in it seemed to be falling a bit short.  It could be that, in much of the pagan traditions, the people who developed them lived a little further south than I do so, at this time of year, early February when we are in the season of Imbolc… the celebrating of spring returning from under a foot of snow just seems bit ludicrous.  I’m all for positive thinking, I know winter ends at some point (like… mid April?) but I’m also about observing the real reality around me and doing justice to it’s presence.  There are NO snow drops poking their heads up from under the earth, no sir.  We might be seeing them and crocuses in the next 10 weeks.  Maybe.

I began her second book, The Earth Path, and thankfully it leaves a lot more room for finding your own sacred ideas, rituals and pathways.  It does more to encourage witnessing the world around you, the flow of nature from where you are and honouring it for what it is.  She also has a section in the beginning of the book for making a Sacred Intention Statement.  I haven’t gotten quite that far yet because I was a bit hung up on the first question; What do I consider Sacred?

I mean really, I could have so many answers to that, but what’s the one thing that I would stand up for, that I would defend, that I would speak out about without worry for what would happen to me.

It’s funny because my first instincts were immediately shot down as being unoriginal, done before, too simple.  And yet those are all perfect reasons to celebrate the sacred.  Sacredness doesn’t require anything other than my witnessing, my honouring, my truth telling.  If it is unoriginal, great, there are more people on my team to do The Work.  If it has been done before, perfect, there is a foundation on which I already stand, from which I can build higher and add my contributions to the movement.  And if it is simple, well thank the holy hole that it is because complicated is just too much effort right now.  I could do with a dose of simple.

The other funny thing is that I have already been working in the realm of this sacredness.  From the title you already know what the answer is.  The Body is Sacred.  The body is what I would stand up for (and have) is what I would defend (and do) and is what I would speak out about (and do) without worry of what may happen to me.  When I finished high school I basically just moved out and cleared my head out for a few years.  Took my time figuring out what to do with the rest of my life.  Took a bit of trial and error but go figure… I settled on Massage.  I am a registered massage therapist in Southern Ontario.  It just felt right.  It had come up many times throughout my life that this is what I would do.  And even in my conversations with my clients and colleagues I would talk about the body, it’s right to pleasure, health and autonomy (and thus our rights to our pleasure, health and autonomy) and offer guidance on how people can honour their rights, or at least acknowledge that they exist.  Through working I was getting closer and closer in a sidewise sort of way… Like when you need to see in the dark, the peripheral vision works better than looking directly at it.

And now here I am making the statement that to me, the body, my body, your body, our bodies, are sacred.  I could go into a bit of a rant about the injustices but really, it’s been done to death.  You already know.  The body has become weaponized.  I want to free myself from all of that nonsense.  Perhaps help the rest of us become free of it too.  I see the body as worthy of praise, as something to marvel.  It’s kind of incredible that these soft, squishy, terribly vulnerable things propel us through the world, give us the capacity to sense, observe, take in what is around us and interpret it, turn it into something that is ordered and rational.  These bodies allow us to interact with our world, they are the physical manifestations of who we are.  With them we create everything, without them we are dead… Whatever that means.

The body is sacred.

What more is there to say on that?