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“Having progressive MS isn’t enough, you have to have THAT, too.”–Sage Brown

12997006-charleston-sc-plantation-live-oak-trees-spanish-moss-azalea-flowers-blooming-spring-bloomsSage is one of my closest friends here in the community. My friends don’t just spout superficial pleasantries to merely make me feel better, they go right where I am and feel WITH me. That’s just the way it is here in Crestone, in this community of compassionate souls.

People never die of multiple sclerosis; they die from the complications associated with multiple sclerosis. Secondary infections like pneumonia are a major culprit. Hell, Christopher Reeves died from bedsores that became septic. My decubitus has cleared since I began riding my stationary bike a few times a week. You have to die from something, right? But really, guys, a hemorrhoid?!

Everybody has got their issue and many of them are where the sun don’t shine. Why is it that so many people have trouble loving their bodies and for many, it is the southernmost regions? Is it our cultural toilet training methods? Is it just where our self–hatred is housed?

There is an expression, “God is the wound.” I have seen so many people dislike their bodies until they begin to fail. Mine began to fail while living in the deep South. This is geographical, not biological. I began a rigorous program of reclaiming and reconnecting with every part of my body. It was like a wave of love and care that continues to this day. Is that part of the design? Does one’s body have to scream to get our attention?

North, South, East or West, Love is what it’s all about to me. Whether the entry point is through nature, a Beloved or THAT, as far as I’m concerned, whatever it takes.

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“I’m restless. Things are calling me away. My hair is being pulled by the stars again.”–Anaïs Nin

124282d46c7c0997e8fd573cbd4020d2It is interesting what we bury in our unconscious, to what we give a pass based on our own limited perceptions and beliefs, and perhaps our own blind spots based on low self-esteem from shame and harsh judgments about ourselves. While I was listening to one of the dozens of accusers of Bill Cosby, a memory was jarred into awareness of a facet of unexamined self-hatred. The woman being interviewed was obviously complicit in the abuse, complicit by her own vulnerability and naïveté. Her complicity was what I first noticed, her clear victimization was a later insight.

In my book/blog I referred to this incident thirty years ago, but only today has my perception of this incident shifted. Thirty plus years ago I met a man while swimming with my daughter in Key Biscayne. Little did I know at the time, but this man was a professional baseball player, actually a pitcher who had won a Cy Young Award. I knew nothing about baseball and repeated that he had won the Henny Youngman award, or something like that. I quickly noticed that people’s reaction was a big deal.

At the time, I was a single mom trying to extricate myself from an abusive marriage while naïvely navigating the legal system. In retrospect, I see that it was a perfect curriculum in the area of worthiness that I seem to be undertaking. This story could have ended right here, but much more insight was accrued while watching the illuminating interview today.

This player asked for my contact information and pursued a long distance relationship with me. He was not interested in my journey as a single mother, he was not interested in my goals and daily pursuits. Had I been less vulnerable, this might’ve been a red flag, but due to my inadequacies and immaturity, I needed to play it out. Excuse all of the sports metaphors and puns.

And play it out I did. I agreed to visit him in Baltimore while visiting my family in Pennsylvania. Upon arriving at his condominium, I told him that I wanted the guest bedroom. That request was met with laughter and ridicule. Had I had more confidence, I would have reversed course. Unfortunately, his arrogance yielded the desired outcome. He whisked me off to a commercial where he was the star and on to an Orioles game, where he was the pitcher. This naïve young woman, barely understanding the vicissitudes of victimization had no chance. If I had existentially told the Universe I wanted to learn self-love, this was the PhD program and Steve was my professor.

Reflecting back, I feel huge empathy for this woman/child who lost a big chunk of her innocence that day. Thirty years later I still feel shame that has been trapped. It’s interesting how emotional healing happens; after healing much trauma, a “trigger” can illuminate what has not been transformed into love. Healing happens in layers. Feeling empathy for the interviewee, offered an entry point to my own unhealed shame. I feel humbled when I realized that the layers can only be available for healing in their own time. I had released a lot of suffering around this issue, even turning my beautiful cotton teddy into what I called my victim doll, which initially elicited much self-hatred as I identified with the aggressor. Over time, I began to forgive and love this doll.

Little did I realize at the time, that that was only half the story. Once again, I had given the predator a pass. Another pun, too bad, get over it, I’m pissed. I lived with one half of the story for thirty years, a story of victimization at the hands of arrogance and predatory behavior. Why had I missed that part? I missed the part about the man with fame and wealth taking advantage of a young woman. Was I a victim of his predatory behavior? Yes, at the time I was. However, if I had not experienced all of the feelings on both sides of the equation, I am still being victimized. Where did that rage go? Had the rage turned into shame that I learned to accommodate? I can see that it is a collective societal construct that the men get a pass and the women bear the shame. Who thinks that OJ did not kill Nicole? How could Dr. Huxtable possibly been a predator? There is a collective propensity to blame the victim. And that propensity has been living in me as well. All these years that occupant has been living rent free! What a revelation. Now I can retrieve that piece of me entirely and that is worthy of celebration.

Of course, the relationship was consensual. I was not a minor, at least not physically. Today they are educating men and boys that, “NO means NO.” I could have received this education as well. Abuse of power can be paradoxical in its subtlety, yet aggressive and devastating. Integrating the teachings can be a powerful tool for the elevation of consciousness, if one is so inclined.

As I have mentioned many times in my blog, I believe in a Just and Loving Universe that is created for our evolution toward Self-love. Learning to hold space for these feelings resulting from our own and others’ victim and predatory behaviors and allowing spaciousness around the pain, is the first step to healing these archaic behaviors. It is within the spaciousness that awareness and forgiveness can provide the alchemy for deep healing to occur.

In retrospect, I seem to have healed only half of the equation. Perhaps if I had created a predator doll as well, I could have healed the whole constellation. It is essential that the predator acknowledge his or her behavior and that acknowledgment needs to be on a visceral, emotional level or on the level of empathy. In my experience, the predator has also been a victim.

I just befell one of my number one pitfalls, healing the whole constellation before I am finished being angry at the predator. For now I will sign off and continue being pissed off. Feeling the depth of the despair and powerlessness is tantamount to true healing.

As I said before, it’s complicated.

“When you become a lover of what is, the war is over.”- Byron Katie

In order to fully understand the significance of this illness in my life and to open to the possibility that it was, in fact, for my highest evolution, I engaged in conventional and unconventional psychotherapy, holotropic breathwork, energy work, as well as hypnotherapy to open to the bigger picture perspective of my soul’s trajectory. I understand that many people do not believe in reincarnation, so the concept of past lives might be be a stretch. In those situations in transpersonal psychology, perhaps it would be more acceptable to use the term “symbolic story.”As in dreams, the symbolism is never arbitrary. Through hypnosis, I was able to explore a past life, or symbolic story, where I was in Eastern Europe during the 40s. I was a wealthy Jewish woman who clung to her material items and was thrown into the street with all my neighbors, “like cattle.” I died in a gas chamber while I realized that I had focused on materialism rather than love. Then we fast-forward to when I was exploring choices for my present lifetime, I realized why I chose a catastrophic illness as a strong possibility, and how something as horrific as that could be for my highest purpose. The hope was that I would realize that I am not my body. The body is merely a vehicle that is chosen and used for the lifetime, then dies. I chose a strong, beautiful and dependable body in order to support my evolution and the evolution of others around me. It seemed significant during hypnosis that the element of surprise was added to shake people out of complacency. A major teaching for me in this lifetime was to feel deserving of love.

The information during this hypnotherapy session confirmed earlier insights regarding the illness. Early on, I’d “heard” internally the phrase, “With the symptoms, comes the Renaissance.” Although I was far from understanding this challenge as being regenerative at the time, this was consistent with that understanding. Since my life has always been about transformation and service, I felt joyful to do my part in forwarding the evolution of the planet.

The constellation of my life has changed tremendously since my diagnosis. Many friends have moved away from me, and some at lightning speed. I have compassion for them as my circumstances can elicit much fear; “if that happened to her, it could happen to me or my loved ones.” I myself can remember feeling that way about frightening circumstances. The people in my life, however, who could hold my experience, grew exponentially. Actually, everybody grew including the friends who left. When you see your limitations, that can be transformative as well.

Accepting the comings and goings has been a large part of letting go of will and moving toward acceptance. Through acceptance, I have felt liberated and moved into a state of joy and deep connection. Inner and outer connectedness is the likely outcome when one has the spiritual maturity to stay. Pema Chodrun, a Tibetan nun teaches a whole practice of “staying,” staying in the chaos of transformational change. When I realized that I could find joy in these circumstances, I knew I could find joy in any circumstances. After all, who gets to deconstruct their life one event or person at a time? Who gets to unpack and consider every aspect of their life one event at a time? This week was spent going through all of my clothing and jewelry choosing their destinations. This is for Casey, this is for Jordan, this goes to the Free Box in Crestone. I am concurrently grieving and celebrating every aspect of my life over a sixty year span. Also this week, I completed my end of life paperwork which will enable me to have an open air cremation that is legal in Crestone when the time comes, whether it be in ten years or ten minutes I have created my closing act down to the Native American flute and Taiko drums. Who gets to do that?

I don’t want to give the impression that this process has been easy; on the contrary, it has been fraught with much grief, thoughtfulness, and life review. What have I left incomplete? What relationships are less than clean and loving? I can even project into the future, to anticipate future needs of my children and grandchildren and communicate with them, like time travel. Casey set up e-mail addresses for her boys for me to date in the future so they will have communication from me.

How fortunate I feel to be able to be present with myself and with my children through this process. Really, who gets to do this?

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Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. more...

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