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Having met David many years earlier in a Gurdjieff school where I briefly participated, I was surprised when he brought an “at risk” adolescent for treatment at the mental health clinic where I was employed. We developed a mutual mission to keep this child alive, with the hope that she would eventually thrive. When we reconnected at a play in Abita Springs, I felt both a connection and an aversion, which confused me.

Around this time, I was preparing for another personal retreat in New Mexico to do breath work. I had completed the fundamental healing with “Mother;” I had become comfortable with my internal feminine and, as always, I was open to whatever next piece my healing would reveal. During my breath work session, I was transported to Egypt for a sacred healing process where I was lying on a table. As with many significant breath work sessions, I can recall it today in great detail. The healer was a cat walking around my body and spreading healing. This scene reflected a certain initiation ritual which would allow me to deepen my spiritual process. After the session, I completed artwork and remained contemplative.

The following day I had an astrology reading schedule with a local astrologer. The session affirmed the trajectory of my healing process. I felt an unusually strong connection with the astrologer; in fact, the session ran longer than most of her sessions. After returning to Arroyo Seco, the astrologer stayed in my mind. I decided to ask her to join me for tea and I brought her flowers. I didn’t completely understand what was happening to me internally, but I felt giddy and somewhat undone. While reflecting on my visit and my breath work session, it occurred to me that the astrologer’s name was Kat. Was there some significance to “being initiated by a cat?” I was filled with a mixture of curiosity, excitement, and terror. I considered what a decision like this would have on my life. I impulsively called David long-distance, which injected energy into that relationship. I realized that i knew that I was entering this relationship with David out of fear, but I could feel comfort that it was at least conventional. I remember telling David about this encounter and I shared my suspicion that an encounter with Kat would bring deep healing on the feminine level. He truly empathized, but he personally preferred for it not to become actualized. As it was, I stayed with David and the symptoms gradually progressed over the next eleven years. It is likely that the illness that was in remission would have exacerbated either way, I just can’t know that answer from this vantage point .

Two decades later, I have few regrets for the decisions I have made. As I sit in my solitary meditative space, I look with awe at the profound healing in my life. I’m remembering my hypothesis, that this illness can be an opportunity to heal the deepest wound for a woman, disconnection from the Feminine. While watching a documentary regarding Edie Windsor and her revolutionary fight for marriage equality, I learned that her partner had lived with a progressive form of multiple sclerosis until 2008 when she succumbed to the illness. When I watched Thea, I was struck by how unusual it was to see another woman so profoundly disabled, yet as joyful as me. I was curious about Thea’s early mothering and it was revealed that her mother had died when she was an infant. Coincidence?

I am not at all concluding that one’s sexual preference leads to deeper healing; I need to be clear about that. I also believe that masculine/feminine energy is not necessarily gender-based, however in my situation my healing had to come through women. I can see a deep level of healing that has occurred through the love and care of my female caregivers. I have developed an ease with them and with my body that I never could have imagined possible. There was a level of self-hatred that I lived with on the level of the body that is no longer there. It is less important to me how the self-hatred gets cleared, but that it gets replaced with volumes of self-love.

Thank you for entering into this Journey with me and witnessing the ups and downs, the losses and wins, of an ordinary soul having an extraordinary human existence.

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“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.” Victor Frankel

I am developing a working theory. The population of my study is T=3. I am using a small population based on a limited field of study, myself, a woman that I know personally, and a woman in a documentary I watched a few nights ago. Different from my graduate school thesis, I am the sole creator of this theory and I can choose any number of individuals for my study. Unlike in graduate school, my theory can be totally wrong. My own subjective experience represents one third of the accumulated data for my inquiry. It is liberating to be able to be wrong. After all, this is my blog, my journal, my thoughts that I offer with gratitude, reverence, and generosity (and a little satire). I invite anybody to please enter into the conversation, if you have input. And separate from right or wrong, this is how I would like to share my process, my inquiry, and I hope that it will resonate for others as we may collectively inquire into our most challenging curricula with love and empathy.

The hypothesis of my inquiry is that some individuals with a progressive form of multiple sclerosis become regressed physically to an infantile state of development in order to heal our deepest wound from this lifetime, an interruption in the bonding process with the primary, maternal parental figure. Early in my disease process, I had an insight that was my greatest fear actualized, that I might become completely disabled in order to heal this very early fracture. The insight came in a flash and I did not have the courage to entertain the concept in much depth, due to my paralyzing fear. Coincidentally, around that time I had contact with another woman facing similar circumstances. She referred to her mother as a non-nuturing type. I thought it was coincidental that my mother, too, was certainly not wired for nurturance and could be quite combative and emotionally abusive during her worst moments.

My mother was raised with male siblings, exclusively, and she was strongly bonded to her father as opposed to her mother. This family constellation mirrored mine exactly. For at least two generations, there was little feminine bonding. Although I had many girlfriends in my childhood, I identified as a tomboy. When I entered intensive psychotherapy during my twenties, the therapists suggested that I associate with women. My greatest therapeutic intervention involved a triangle with a male and a female. I was convinced that I was being rejected by the male and while doing the emotional work, communicating this with much vulnerability, a deeper pattern revealed itself. To my shock, it was actually the fear of the loss of my female friend that actually devastated me. This piece of work shed light on the greatest illusory pattern in my life; realizing that I would not meet my emotional needs with my mother, I transferred these needs to my father. This revealed a recurring pattern of making men overly important in my life, and now I knew why.

After this revelation, my life turned completely around. I became much more available for deeply fulfilling relationships with women. However, I still had a long way to go in healing the Feminine, but I, at least, was finally on the right track. My relationships with men were still mostly compulsive, but something significant was balancing internally.

In 1990, during the beginning stages of subtle neurological symptoms, I met a woman who would be my mentor for the next fifteen years and began holotropic breath work, an experiential form of transpersonal psychology that opened my world to the deepest healing of my life. Mathilde was unconventional to say the least, but for the first time in my life I was able to let in nurturing to my deepest wound by a woman! Mathilde observed that my process of letting in nurturance was like feeding a Biafran baby, sometimes one drop at a time. I would travel to New Mexico many times a year to do this Sacred work and relish in the the freedom that this unconventional modality provided. There were many nights that I climbed into Mathilde’s waterbed and slept beside her. Never had I felt this comfortable with a woman. Today, so many young couples have “a family bed,” but that was not a part of my acculturation.

Finally, I was able to see my pattern of entering into serial, addictive relationships with men. I was able to extricate myself from this pattern to spend three years developing a relationship with myself exclusively. Initially I felt terror at the prospect, but over time I found tremendous joy as I deepened my understanding of who I was. As I grew, my profession grew, and the feeling that my clients experienced deepened. It was soon after that that I met David. For this discussion, I will go into part two.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“First I was raw; then I was cooked; now I am burnt.” Rumi

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Okay, sometimes I get totally thrown. During those times, there is no escape from my mind, from the feeling in my chest. It vacillates between a Shakespearean play and a banal soap opera. I have some control for redirection but the intensity remains unaffected.I sit. When I’m not standing every morning for an hour or riding a motorized stationary bike, I sit.

I sit facing multiple, snowcapped fourteen thousand foot mountains, or fourteeners to the locals. I love where I sit. I would rather be here than anywhere else. I sit and examine my life. It is a sacred task and one for which I feel much gratitude. Who gets to do this? When something from my past feels incomplete, it gets tweaked. If there is something that I haven’t said to someone, I see it and say it. There is a flow with every relationship in my life. I have corrected the imbalance of giving too much; I have learned to receive.

I believe that when we leave this majestic world, like nearly all of the near-death experiences portray, we have a life review. I’m fortunate to begin that self-reflection while still in my body. There is an old Hasidic saying, “on your deathbed, you never say,’ I should have worked more.’” Whether this chair in which I sit is a deathbed or a temporary place of rest, that is merely a matter of semantics.

I have partial use of one hand; that is it. From a competitive swimmer, runner, and horse rider, this is my Sacred Curriculum. I accept this curriculum and all that it involves. Would I rather be riding my horse or snow skiing? Honestly, there are moments I would. Would I rather be flying to New York City to be with my children and grandchildren? Clearly, there are moments, many moments that I would. However, doing this Work is what I am here to do in the present moment. All I have, all we all have, is the present moment.

It is in the present moment where true joy lives. For me, the past brings grief and the future, fear. That is generally true for everyone, whether dealing with a life-threatening illness or not. The present moment is where I try to live. Our bodies join with our spirits to partner with us in this endeavor.

Everybody gets thrown sometimes. It is a sacred practice to metaphorically pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off, and begin again. It is the means to the “end” that grows our soul. It is that perseverance that grows self-love. I believe that this is the essence of why we are here.