Personal evolution

During a morning meditation a few days ago, I pulled Grouse from my medicine cards. Grouse is associated with the Sacred Spiral. It asks us to focus on how we move through life. The night before I had pulled Swan and Swan’s words “I will surrender to the flow of the Spiral and trust what I am shown” leapt out of the page and onto my heart. Go with the flow. Surrender. Resistance. I love it when the Universe speaks so clearly.

So in my morning meditation with Grouse, I considered my locomotion through life. Through lives. The image that came to mind was of occasionally moving forward and then not merely halting and standing still, but some times, fighting so hard that I appear to move backwards. Think of a cartoon cat trying to be pushed through a doorway who has its claws dug into the frame, doing everything in its power to resist forward movement. I decided to dig deeper into this, and I imagined myself traveling a spiral carving deep into the earth. Why did I fight so much? And more often than not, why do I fight the very things I claim to seek and desire? Because it is what I know. When I got down to the end of the spiral, I encountered a deep rage accumulated from numerous lives when I was a warrior – both literal and figurative. Lives when I had to fight to live, fight something to survive. Rage against having to fight and rage directed toward unknown targets that were my opponents in lives past. In this life, I have had little foundation for this kind of rage. I have lived a life many would desire to trade with their own. My main source for suffering in this life has been feeling lost and trying to find myself, experiencing the battle of separating from my conservative Christian parents and repairing damage done when they realized I was no longer a miniature of them (this is a work in progress – 3 yrs and counting).

After talking with a friend, I realized then that one of my purposes in having had such a life to this point is so I can be completely separated from those previous lives filled with pain. I have stepped outside myself and my experiences for an incarnation in order to put them into perspective. And yet, this rage was still present. How could I go about healing myself? Another wise friend offered the idea of healing by not going back to the past, but by freely stepping into the future; that the past could be healed by opening up to what is now being offered.

I sat with that a while and later that night while lying in bed before falling asleep, something new occurred to me. The rage I had connected to in my earlier meditation was not a negative thing in and of itself for it had served the purpose of keeping me alive. It was a force with which to be reckoned, but an unpredictable one. Its base substance was a deep connection with living; an active living – continually engaged with the act of being. There was great significance in that. And I realized then that it does not need to be healed by means of being extinguished, rather it needs to be transformed, refined. Directed toward a new purpose. I also recognized that in the very act of considering it and considering my history of fighting/resisting, I am not resisting. I am engaging. There is great meaning in that.

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On growing…up?

Have you ever noticed when you set out to be profound it never works? The result just ends up being a bunch of pretentious and sugary nonsense that has little to no substance whatsoever? That’s what usually happens for me anyway. It’s kind of funny when I think about it. Why do I feel the need to be profound? I think it’s because of feeling insecure in my own intellect that drives me to want to create something that will make people sit back, scrunch their eyebrows together, and say ‘hmmm…’ I think it’s also about being “grown up” and held to different expectations. And in writing this, I come face to face with how very ridiculous the whole practice is. I’m reminded of my friend, foxchild, and our conversations about desiring validation from others. And I’m reminded of how much room I have to grow, but not necessarily up. And that is a positive and exciting thing.

I am sitting outside and there is a little boy, maybe about 5 or 6 yrs old and a young woman playing together in the pool and tossing something back and forth. Every 45 seconds or so, the little boy erupts in giggles and my mouth instinctively stretches into a large smile and I giggle, too. The air is warm and the wind soft and gentle. And in hearing the boy’s laughter and adding my own to the harmony, I am happy to just be.  When do we lose that joy? Why do we lose it? Why is it that mainstream culture encapsulates that warmth and boxes it in to only the early part of our lives, deeming it inappropriate, immature, or naive after a certain age? Responsibilities, “cognitive complexity” – honestly, to me it sounds like a bunch of shit. Excuses. Who’s to say that responsibility and youthfulness aren’t compatible? Why does everything have to be polarized? I look at the little boy playing, and I find myself connecting to a part of myself that doesn’t get to see the sun as much as it should.

This is certainly not to say that I don’t value introspection, reflection, analyzing, intellectual capacity, and other things that are maybe more”adult-like.” But I think that, as a whole, we, as a society, take ourselves too seriously most of the time and don’t place enough value on things we should. Why do we have nap time in kindergarten when we’re full to the brim with energy and don’t have it when we’re adults and are desperately in need of it? Why do we love playing in the rain when we’re 8 yrs old but worry more about our hair getting messed up or mascara running as adults? I need to play more often. I don’t think we need to grow up. I think we need to grow out. Out of the compartments and boxes the majority culture endorses. Outside of lines and constrictions so that we can see ourselves as whole, as we are seen and known by Spirit.

Being…

I’m finding myself these past couple days feeling simultaneously surging with creativity too much to be able to funnel it into coherent thoughts and needing to use that energy to finish up my first semester of school. I also feel like after reading Venus for a Day, everything is still sinking and settling in. There are books that change our lives, and this one was one of those for me. I notice I am in the process of integrating it into my being and my living. Little shifts are taking place within my consciousness. The actual reading of the book was a finite event (and one I will no doubt return to again and again as I do with all my favorite books), but the ripples across the pond will continue to stretch and reach, I think, for a long while to come.

Things are brighter, more alive. I am no longer just living life, I am feeling life, moving within life, undulating and coursing, I am being in a way I have never been before. Not in this life. And in all of this, I am sensing where I need to make alterations within my self, what I need to do to be more fully.

One of the main issues that has come to my attention is that of resistance. Resistance is something I do very well and have done for a long time. I am an expert at fighting. Not fighting other people, per se (though I do take kickboxing and am itching to get back to karate), but fighting my self, my emotions, the situations in which I find my self. So much of my energy in the (very recent) past has been spent railing against situations I experienced. Over the past several days, I have been consciously telling myself NOT to resist. Can’t connect to the internet? Do something else. Sitting in traffic? Take some time to breathe and reflect on my day. Obviously, these are the more mundane sides of resistance, but it’s often where resistance starts. In thinking more about when I resist, recent times when I have come to mind.

I had a rather rough morning the other week. I had just realized everything I needed to do before the semester ended and was feeling amazingly overwhelmed. But, I got to a place where I had all my spinning plates balanced in the air, atop my mountain top where there was only room enough for my feet when the Universe took a proverbial finger and gave me the tiniest of pushes in the form of a crappy morning. In the middle of the crappiness was an angel who reached out to me. An unknown woman who offered me kindness and unnecessary assistance on her part. Unfortunately, I was so busy fighting the existence of my crappy morning that, despite thanking her profusely, I buried her kindness under my frustration, anger, and general emotional upheaval. Even after I made it into town and was safely in my class, I could not calm down. Because I was still fighting. Fighting what had happened that should have been over with completely.

And while all of these changes are going on in my life that are for the very good, I find myself itching to share them with people who are experiencing similar life changes. I think of foxchild’s post on community, and realize my longing for it has become much stronger. And it will be realized…somehow. I’m just not sure how at the moment.

A new feminism

I have struggled with defining what feminine is for the past few years. For most of my life, I have resented femininity without knowing it. I will not say that I am a product of society and point fingers in every which way but toward myself, but neither will I deny the power of developing and living in a patriarchal world where the true language of the feminine has been rejected and buried alive.

When I first began studying Paganism and Wicca, the concept of divine femininity was both frightening and enticing. No doubt part of that enticing was a streak of rebellion flaring up against what was ingrained in me since my birth and what had never really felt quite right. And while I sidled up to the notion of feminine divinity and began to embrace it, something was still off. It was at this time that some close friends gently guided me toward a mirror where I saw a reflection of resentment. Resentment of what I’d been taught was ‘femininity,’ resentment toward being a woman. The image sent me reeling. After the confusion and anger settled down a bit, I ventured to define feminine and became completely perplexed, yet without understanding why. I could make some meager attempts at identifying what feminine was not (and these were tenuous at best), but I couldn’t articulate what feminine was and is.

This plight is not my own. It belongs to all womankind, the vast majority have been right here with me. We stand together, but separated, attempting to express something deep in our being that is only just out of reach. Something for which we yearn, for which we ache, but which we cannot describe. We are reaching for our selves. Our true selves. And one of the obstacles standing between us and embracing our selves is language.

The reason why defining what is feminine without expressing what it is NOT is due to the masculine context in which we find ourselves. As women, we are aliens in a foreign land trying to verbalize an intimate and boundless expression and are forced to use someone else’s language to do it. The translation of what we are, our very essence, becomes lost and muffled as we take up masculine words and concepts like shackles and irons pulling us ever downward, suppressing that essence further within our selves so that we start to resent its presence or forget it is even there. So when you begin to try to define what feminine is, recognize that the language you have been trained to use is a corrupted, bastardized expression of something pure.

The women’s liberation movement was the beginning of a shift in modern society. It led us to begin to identify what feminine is not, and it started to define what feminine is. But consider what happened: when women were portrayed as strong, the masculine culture twisted that strength and acknowledged it as woman adopting masculine traits. That strength did not belong to woman. It was on loan from man. It said, Sure, you’re strong, but that’s only because you’re taking our traits upon yourselves. Furthermore, it dared to declare that those women who were assuming strength were consequently NOT feminine. By that very change, they were supposedly becoming masculine.

But now, a new feminism is taking shape. A feminism that redefines the very concepts of feminine and masculine. A feminism that is balanced. A feminism whose roots are in Spirit, not a patriarchal society.  A language that is Feminine is being formed and taught to women everywhere.

If you are a woman and you are reading this entry, and anything that I have written has in some way struck a cord within you, has triggered some feeling – any feeling – and caused something within you to sit back, to raise your eye brows, to question my incredulity, has cried out ‘Yes! But now what?’, has cried out ‘Not another one’, then I invite you to view the source of inspiration for this post. http://www.venusforaday.com. I dare you to enter the site. I dare you to click ‘download’ and begin reading. I dare you to be open when you do. Open to change, open to the unknown, open to new ideas, open to learning, open to rediscovering that which has been lost, open to becoming. Open to the Feminine.

Hiccup

Yesterday I found out that I will not be the recipient of the out of state waiver for this coming fall semester which means, unless I can find something – some means of getting in-state tuition – my tuition bill due on August 10th will be about $14,000. For a single semester of school. Does that seem absolutely ludicrous to anyone but me? Damn capitalist America. Needless to say, I had a moment with myself akin to feeling like I was wrapped up in a big blanket and someone came and yanked it away leaving me standing there naked. Not in the embarrassment sense, but in the, ‘Oh shit – now what do I do?’ sense. And in the sense of feeling very vulnerable. I knew, even in the midst of that intense emotion, that something would work out. The Universe hasn’t brought me this far to just leave me on the side of the road now, but it was the not knowing and not seeing how it could work out that weighed on me.

I planned to research scholarship opportunities, I decided to go in to school early today to speak with the people in financial aid to see what my options were, I told myself I would speak again with a professor I’d spoken to previously about an assistantship (either with him or anyone else). And while my plan was in tact, it didn’t provide any real reassurance. My meeting with the financial aid office was not encouraging, offering either an additional federal loan whose interest rate was 8.5% or advising me to seek a private loan. Since I have been contemplating grad school and have entered the wonderful world of financial aid, I have vowed to myself that I will not get any personal loans to cover school.

I headed back to the building where my department is located. Hesitantly, I knocked on the door of my professor, not expecting him to be there. “Come in.” I had previously told him about my desperate need to find something if I didn’t get the waiver, and I was coming back to him, essentially pleading for some sort of assistance. I told him of not receiving the waiver, of trying to find a GRA unsuccessfully, of the loan predicament. I asked if he knew if any of the other faculty had a position open – even just a partial – or if he had anything. He eventually explained that the student he had lined up to fill one of his positions was doing it as a partial, and he had another one left. I think I must have asked for it or looked at him in such a way that he told me we could maybe work it out. He needed to see what kinds of projects he was working with and talk to her, but then the three of us could maybe sit down together. I breathed a mini sigh of relief.

I’ve been working on trusting the Universe more with my life, and if I were to assess how I did and how I’m doing during this little hiccup within my plans, I think I’m doing pretty well given that it wasn’t too long ago I would have completely melted down. But it still throws me. I still get frantic and reach out for something to hold on to that will provide some safety. Perhaps instead of reaching out, though, I should be reaching in. What is inside seems far more valuable than anything I could get a hold of on the outside.

I’ve had a number of girl friends come to me after or during nasty break ups with boyfriends, ask me for advice, promptly ignore all of it, and marvel at how strong I am when I tell them of my previous experiences. I try to tell them that strength is an odd sort of thing in that in order to grow it, you need to practice it. It’s like a muscle – it needs to be used in order for it to build up to the point where using it becomes second nature and effective. I think that trusting – the Universe and one’s self – is the same. The more we do it, the easier it is to do.

This morning’s medicine card was turtle – Mother Earth. Turtle to me signifies, among several things, the Great Goddess, the Great Mother. Because my spirituality is feminine-focused and mystical in nature, it also speaks to me of magick. So, while I continue to trust myself in that this situation will work out, and I will be stronger for having lived it, and while I continue to trust the Universe in that this is all part of a large mosaic in which I can find great meaning, I think I’ll give the Universe a little hand to help tip the balance in my favor… 😉

Perception as reality?

I have been incredibly productive this weekend.  I had two group meetings, completed one project, did my homework for tomorrow, wrote a paper due on Tuesday, saw the new Harry Potter movie, did some reading for fun – Gavin de Becker’s Gift of Fear (highly recommend it), did laundry, cleaned my room, and slept in this morning.  It was a good balance of work and play, and somewhere in the three days, I learned two things: 1) I can balance work and play and 2) the schoolwork I needed (and need) to do that seemed so ominous and challenging ended up being relatively easy.  There’s some popular metaphor for this, but the only thing I can think of right now (because I admit that my brain is a bit fried) is that it was like viewing a gigantic shadow on the wall and then, when I turned a corner, I saw that what had created the shadow was only about three inches tall.  Or, since I can relate just about everything to Buffy episodes, like that one Halloween episode where Buffy and co. got stuck in this house when they were at a costume party and they were all confronted by their fears because of some demon that somebody summoned, and when the demon actually materialized, it was a bunch of noise and floor shaking but it was literally about 2 inches tall.  Giles realized that the picture in the book was actually drawn to scale, and Buffy stomped on it and killed it.  The end.  Now, this is certainly not to say that some obstacles might actually be as large as they seem when I get close to them, but even then, that doesn’t mean they cannot be overcome.  All of this led me to start wondering about perception.

Perception is an odd sort of thing.  A couple weeks ago, I decided I needed to do something concrete in an effort to break the pattern of poor choices I have a history of making when it comes to romantic relationships and the men with whom I choose to involve myself.  I started a list of the positive and negative qualities of three men that have either had a significant impact or were recent and therefore more pertinent to discuss.  We’ll call them 1) Historical Ex, 2) Middle Ex, and 3) Recent Ex (I could be more creative with their names, yes, but I’m maintaining this detachment because it’s good for me).  Historical Ex was an off and on thing that lasted about 5 yrs, and was extremely unhealthy.  He was closer to me than anyone has ever been, and, consequently, hurt me more than anyone ever has or ever will.  I extricated Historical Ex from my life successfully after a few attempts back in 2005.  Middle Ex was something of an anomaly in that the sole problem stemmed from a rather significant misunderstanding.  Middle Ex was also a very brief matter that transpired in October of 2006.  Recent Ex is discussed in the second post on this blog.  Recent Ex and I were together for 2 months, but you wouldn’t know that to read that post.  More on that later.

In comparing the positive and negative traits of these three men, I noticed frightening similarities and was disheartened when I saw the amount that Historic Ex and Recent Ex had in common.  Had I learned nothing in the span of the 2 years that divided them?  What happened?   I was somewhat encouraged, though, to determine that Recent Ex had fewer negative traits and was lacking in the seriously harmful negative traits that Historic Ex possessed.  I can think of a few reasons right now as to why I ignored certain signals or just plain didn’t see them.  I hadn’t been involved with anyone romantically and significantly for almost two years, excluding the interlude with Middle Ex that was very short-lived and a few rather awful first dates thanks to eharmony.  There was a large part of me that wondered at the time if I would ever find happiness in the face of a romantic relationship.  Bluntly put, I was overeager.  I was walking into a situation in which I would need all my faculties and I was blindfolded and drunk with loneliness.  My perception as to what reality was, subsequently, was perhaps a bit skewed.  This is not to say that Recent Ex lacked qualities for which I was looking.  He had some of the most important ones. Unfortunately, he also had some of the ones I desperately need to avoid: immaturity, poor communication skills, and emotional unavailability (I sure can pick ’em, no?).  Recent Ex and I were (and I’m sure continue to be) on very different developmental levels.  I’m not saying where I am is better – there is no nature of value in developmental levels unless one adds context.  And in this context, it just would have been better if our levels were complementary or the same.

After the extreme emotionality dissolved when Recent Ex and I broke up, my perception altered drastically.  I began asking myself how well I really knew Recent Ex.  Was I just projecting on to him what I wanted to see?  Or did he merely change the face of who he showed me he was at some point during the 2 months we were together and I never realized it?  I honestly don’t know.  To a degree, I don’t think that part is important.  More importantly I think is stopping myself from jumping in to something without really knowing what it is.  Part of my pattern of behavior is building things up in my head and creating meaning where there isn’t any – altering my perception (dangerously) from the very beginning.

In The Gift of Fear, de Becker addresses the notion of constantly reminding one’s self of context.  While the context he discusses involves being addressed by a stranger and reminding one’s self no matter how friendly or charming this stranger  is – he is still just that, I think the idea applies and serves as a tool for keeping myself in the present.  Most will agree to not being able to understand or foresee the future as a whole.  As for the past, I, personally, don’t agree with the concept of hindsight being 20/20.  20/20, to me, implies perfect clarity and an absence of context, which is not possible to achieve.  Having lived the past experience, we are changed by it, whether positively, neutrally, or negatively.  Either way, we do not see it on some pristine, white background.  The present in which we find ourselves each moment seems the only of the three that stands the chance of being accurately perceived for what it truly is.

Evicted: Fear. Welcome: Exhilaration.

I find myself suddenly moving beyond fear to exhilaration. Last night I was studying for a quiz I had today and in my readings I came across Fowler’s development of faith model. I had recently read about this model (and other models) in Pagan Spirituality, so you can imagine my excitement when I saw it smiling up at me from my textbook (not that Fowler’s model has anything to do specifically with Paganism – I was just tickled to identify something I’d already read for fun). I am fascinated by development, particularly spiritual development. I found myself bubbling over with excitement that I had a hard time focusing on completing my reading, even though it was the very material about which I was so thrilled.

After the quiz today, our professor conducted an exercise called ‘clearing a space.’ The exercise was very similar to guided meditation. When we finished it, we had a discussion about the technique and how and when it can be used with clients. I began to get very excited. During the break, I talked with my professor and showed him the sections of Pagan Spirituality and asked him about other psychologists and philosophers that were mentioned in the book. He was familiar with some of them, yes. He mentioned other similar techniques used in therapy and brought up the concept of ‘mindfulness’ – a buzz word in the counseling profession right now. He mentioned another psychologist who works with unblocking energy in the body by tapping different body parts, and affirmed my somewhat hesitant comment noting that sounded a lot like chi. If there are therapists doing legitimate work with energy therapy, then what’s to say they’re not realigning chakras? Even if they may not call it that (I honestly don’t know anything about this yet, but I can’t wait to research it)…My professor told me and the other student involved in the conversation today that all of a sudden, counselors are “rediscovering” techniques, ideas, and philosophies that have been around for millennia and are largely eastern based.

You might be wondering why it is I’m so excited about these seemingly mundane events. My ultimate long-term goal involves work with applying both traditional and alternative methods of healing (acupuncture, reiki therapy, massage therapy, crystal therapy, chakra work, theta healing, meditation, etc. along with traditional therapy). However, the more I learned about competencies and ethics and professional practice throughout this semester, the more discouraged I was becoming. It had been beginning to look like my dream might not be possible the way I had envisioned it.

I felt a surge of energy that is still rocketing through my body. Not only are professionals beginning to understand the significance of – and research – what has healed people for thousands of years and learn from historical predecessors, but I have the opportunity to be a pioneer in this particular area of the field. And while I had intended to be a pioneer the whole time, I had imagined potentially having to be the among the first to take my machete and start hacking away at the jungle of institutionalized thought to get down to what has always been present and is beautifully simple.

And to make my day even better, I found out that His Holiness the Dalai Lama is coming to Atlanta in October when he will officially accept a Presidential Distinguished Professorship at Emory University, be installed, and hold an interfaith summit and one-day conference. Tickets for the interfaith summit are sold out, but tickets for the conference have yet to go on sale. Then, I came home and ate chocolate pudding. Yum.

Couple of the year: Fear and Change

When I reached the point of being head over heels for an ex of sorts several years ago, I discovered that I had the amazing power to connect any- and everything I experienced, saw, felt, and heard to him. This power was really pretty astonishing, and in discussions and experience with friends, it appears rather widespread. Suddenly, all of life seemed to revolve around that other person and I could think of little else.

I’ve noticed that when the Universe taps me on the head (or as it were, smacks me with a ‘clue-by-four’), I experience a similar reaction. The image that comes to mind is that of the cartoon who gets smacked and sees miniature versions of birds or whatever it was that the cartoon was trying to catch floating around its head. Since I identified this theme of fear and change, it’s everywhere I look. For the past several days, I have been inundated with thoughts, “signs”, literature, conversations, etc., that all relate to fear and change. They’re like a codependent couple, except in this case, fear could survive by itself, but change cannot. Change is the clingy, whiny, annoying partner who refuses to let Fear out of its sight.

Pursuant to my previous entry, and in light of facing this fear and change, I decided to take Doreen Virtue’s advice and begin meditating twice daily. I’ve embraced a routine of drawing a medicine card each morning. Today, I asked Spirit to show me a tool that I already possess that can help me through this time of change. The card I drew was snake – my inner totem. My inner self was the answer to my question and snake was the context in which to view it.

When my friend assisted me in finding my totems, I remember being alarmed at seeing snake as my inner-most totem and even more so after reading about snake. To be honest, I’d never really liked snakes, and perhaps the biblical association to the serpent in Genesis was one of the reasons. Snakes were dangerous, difficult to control, scary (see a theme here?). Over the past year or so, though, I’ve come to appreciate snake and seen it as an animal to be respected – not feared. Each animal totem is associated with one word that is meant to capture the essence of its purpose. Snake is transmutation. To me, though, snake is also about power. Power to not only transform one’s self but to transform how the consequences of any experience will be integrated into the self.

A question I’ve been turning over in my head last night and this morning is ‘Why am I so afraid of this change?’ I don’t think it is just the fact that it is unknown. The unknown in and of itself doesn’t frighten me much. And I realized that it was the effects the change would have on my life that was what I am most anxious about. The last major change I underwent was when I decided to embrace the spiritual path of Paganism, and in doing so, truly identify and embrace who I am. As a result, my relationship with my parents drastically changed and I am still working on building it back up. My relationships with certain friends changed. Certain friendships were lost. In general, that change impacted my life on such a fundamental level that I continue to feel the aftershock of it, three years later and counting. I understood then that is what I fear.

Even as I write this, though, I have to smile. Although that change altered my life completely and was terrifying, it brought so very many blessings (this would be the positive asset search of my session today in counselor-speak). I have made some of the most meaningful friendships that I now possess thanks to this change. I have met some of the most amazing women I know who inspire me every single day and whose love, encouragement, and affirmation were integral in giving me the courage I needed to pursue my dream of graduate school (my angels – Jade, foxchild, mynerva, Opal, Crystal, dragonspring, Tirya). In embracing the spiritual path that fit me best, despite the challenges it introduced, I found myself – an invaluable gift well worth any cost.

Searching…

I’ve been feeling off today.  I’m not sure if it’s PMS, stress in light of all that I need to do for school before the semester ends, or something else.  While the first two items in that list are relevant, I lean toward the something else.  I stopped studying for the night and felt like I should meditate or do “something spiritual”, but I lacked motivation even for that and was confused about where to start or what to do.  I felt frustrated at not knowing.  I feel like I opened something within myself over the past couple days and now I am no longer who I was, and there’s a sense of dis-ease (not to be confused with disease) in light of that.  I feel like I am currently not myself, though it is not my old self that I am missing – it is a different version of me that I have not experienced in this life for which I now ache.  I am searching for something (maybe that other self), but like in a dream where everything seems to slip out of reach as soon as one extends a hand out, I cannot fully articulate what it is that I am so desperately searching for which only causes those feelings of frustration to increase.  And in increasing I feel like I am pushed further away from reaching what it is I want. 

I looked to Strands to help guide me.  In doing so, I opened to the page where Mirya and Terrill are fighting and she finally gives herself to the starlight vision.  Terrill explains when they finish that he had wanted her to lose her fear of giving herself.  When my eyes read over the words, it was as though they were in bold print.  Throughout Mirya’s progression of change, she expresses a fear of losing herself.  I remember Terrill making an eloquent point that I think I should keep in mind: when he gives himself to the starlight, so does it surrender to him.  There is something in me that knows I need to commit this act of surrender in order to grow into what it is I am meant to become, and yet, I have no idea as to how to go about giving myself.  To what or whom am I giving myself?  How do I do it?  Am I capable of doing so?  Will I lose myself?  And even as I pose these questions, something inside me assures me that I will not be lost.  I will be me, only different.  I find myself longing for an explanation, some type of guidance. 

There were several instances today in which I caught a glimpse of familiarity of that which I am not yet in this life.  The first one, I think, occurred when I was in the clubhouse with my laptop.  A young African American girl came in and began watching cartoons.  As is typical of me, I became easily distracted and found my attention wandering to the TV.  She periodically looked back at me, and we continually smiled at each other.  There was something magickal in her eyes.  The other instances were on another study break during which I made a trip to the grocery store.  I was walking in and a man and woman were walking out.  The woman almost ran into me, as I was walking more along the left side of the door.  I smiled reassuringly at her.  She smiled back warmly.  I can’t remember if I said anything.  I also saw a Latino male-female couple while in the store who I smiled at.  There were others, as well.  Everyone I smiled at today smiled back, and when they did, they radiated beauty and wholeness.  Seeing that beauty and wholeness was a powerful experience.  I felt more like myself, more comfortable when I identified it and shared that experience with them.  I yearn to superimpose that feeling on my entire existence – fleeting instances are not adequate.  

So now what?  I hear a familiar, yet distant voice posing questions.  It is my voice, but also other.  How much do I really want this?  How will my actions prove that I seek it as desperately as I claim? 

Raised with fear

In the foreword to Doreen Virtue’s The Lightworker’s Way, Louise Hay writes that we are born knowing we are perfect, whole, and complete, but forget as we grow up. She cites one of the possible reasons for this forgetting: being “raised by parents who had learned to see life through fearful eyes” (p. ix). In reflecting on my childhood, I think that this is a somewhat accurate description of the way in which my parents saw life, saw me, and raised me.

I love my parents very much. I accept them for who and where they are in their personal evolution and recognize that they have acted and continue to act in what they think is the best way. They are conservative Christians and tend to see the world in black and white. Their faith is the core of who they are and they rebel against and condemn most things that conflict with it or that they see as not fitting in with it. I think that what they identified as my “sensuality” at an early age scared them, and consequently, they didn’t know quite what to do with me. As a result, sensuality and sexuality were repressed in the name of religion. I remember being in the church parish hall when I was a young adolescent and my mother telling me that I had this aura (kind of surprising that she used this word as she was very anti anything occult) that attracted men 15-50 yrs old. I don’t think that she intended to make me feel badly or different, but that was what happened. I felt like some sort of freak and like I was dangerous. I picked up on her fear and became afraid of myself and terrified of losing control of myself. The solution was easy – keep going to church.

Eventually, enough space developed between me and the oppressive religion that was restricting me and convincing me to be afraid of myself. I had been taught that I could not control myself – not that I shouldn’t because that would imply possessing the capability of doing so. Ironically, the power that the Church had over me was only that which I gave it. I knew this enough to take it back, but having been raised to see in black and white, if the Church wasn’t controlling me then I thought nothing could. As a result, I gave in to my primal urges that had been confined for so long and began a downward spiral laced with a curious and exploratory free-love motif reminiscent of the 60s and 70s.

While my parents might have raised me to be afraid of and distrusting of myself, they instilled in me some very positive values and capabilities, one of which was practicality. This practicality has stepped in and helped me numerous times, of which this was one. I knew I was out of control and knew I needed to separate myself from my situation in order to change. My salvation came in the form of my first professional job. In another country. A bit extreme, maybe, but I honestly think I needed it at the time. I was to begin working at a church where I would be in charge of a youth group. Not exactly fitting given the way in which I’d been living my life, but my plan was to reform and give my power back to the Church. When I arrived, though, and began to pick up where I’d left off years before, the landscape with which I found myself surrounded seemed out of proportion and nonsensical. Answer-less questions I had been taught to accept as faith now needed desperately to have real answers. Pockets of blaring hypocrisy and contradiction stood out like vibrant neon against the black and white background. I clutched the reins of my life in my confused and nervous hands and wondered at the change in scenery. Had it been like this before? Where I looked for peace and solace, I found politics and bureaucracy. where I looked for Spirit, I found doctrine and dogma.

Thankfully, I came to find the peace and solace for which I was so desperately searching in the face of a spirituality I had been taught was akin to the most egregious practice in the eyes of “god” – Paganism. Suddenly, I was now fully capable of being responsible for…myself. Sexuality was no longer something of which to be afraid or controlled. It just was. Thinking back on how my parents had treated me, I think things would have been very different if they just hadn’t made such a big deal of it.

Fear leaves an impression that fades slowly. Learning to live without being afraid of myself, or of that which I am capable is very much a work in progress. I have come a long way, and yet, I continue to notice little thoughts that come into my head that catch me off guard. This deprogramming, like many changes we consciously make to our lives, seems like something that I will need to continue to do for a while to come.