The first time I remember being deeply depressed was when I was 17 and went away to college. Every time my mom would call me I would dissolve into tears. I didn’t know exactly why I was sad. I knew I didn’t want to be there and that I didn’t feel in control of my life. Adult me knows now that I had just removed myself far enough away from the culture of my family to begin to start separating out what was me and what was them. Another big piece was that I had just stopped drinking. Taking alcohol out of the equation was allowing me to feel my feelings and they were leaking out everywhere. I drank heavily as a teenage girl to numb out and then decided drinking was for unevolved people when I got to college...a pretty lonely position to take as a freshman. So, what do you do with a sad girl when you don’t know how to help her? Therapy and anti-depressants, right?
I said no.
I knew that wasn’t the answer. I knew there was something behind my feelings that was real and true. The secret to myself. All the healing I ever needed if I could just start to untangle the knots around my heart. And so, I began the search to deeply know and understand Me.
Over the past 25 years, I have tried almost everything-psychedelics, Buddhist meditation, yoga, hypnosis, past life regression, acupuncture, Reiki, herbal medicine, soul retrievals, shamanic drum journeys, sound healing, astrology, psychic readings, Akashic records, bio field tuning, crystal bed therapy, EFT, plant medicine, ecstatic dance, crystal healing, therapeutic massage, traditional therapy, Hakomi therapy, and books and books and books! I threw the kitchen sink at my healing. I followed my curiosity. I followed my intuition. I kept all three eyes open-always looking, always searching for the next thing that might shift things a little bit more.
I didn’t do this in a feverish way or make it a second job. I did it with the intention of finding peace in my spirt and in my heart, more joy and more freedom. That is my one true driver of all the things that I do.
And what I found after years of devoted investigation of self and seven years of clinical practice is that the evolutionary superpower of understanding our emotions appears to have been missed. Identifying, owning and validating your emotional experience is essential to your healing. Being in denial and dismissive to our emotional truth is a self-betrayal that creates even greater pain. Nothing changes when you deny your history or your trauma, whether it is little t trauma or big T trauma.
I finally realized I was “Enough” on October 22, 2016. I was standing in a circle around a fire on retreat with my teacher. Two days before I had felt a rush of shame come through my body. The mean voice in my head that criticizes and judges me was strong. I called myself out. I admitted to everyone in the group that I was feeling small and comparing myself. It felt good to say it out loud.
We were offering prayers to loved ones of people in the group who were really sick or struggling or who had died. Sprinkling sage, tobacco, corn, rose petals, pinon needles and other offerings to the Earth on the fire. As I was listening to fellow friends and seekers talk about two-year-old nephews with terminal illnesses, sisters with brain cancer, and friends who died too young, a piece of my healing clicked in.
“Who the f*ck are you to not be good enough? (this is the voice of my encouraging inner football coach talking!) People have terminal diseases and you in your healthy body with your bright mind and all your skills aren’t good enough? What?!”
I was actually appalled with myself. That I had created this tiny cage and put myself in it. In that moment, it felt like blasphemy to have ever put myself down. To have ever disregarded myself or disrespected my life. And just like that, good enough was locked in. It only took me 41 years to do it. I’ve gone at this one hard in about a bazillion different ways. It all mattered and it all added up to this moment. Now, I can’t even remember why I wasn’t good enough. Something about the color of my teeth or the lack of muscle tone in my thighs or how much I sit around when I should be doing something.
The last 13 days since the inauguration has felt like five years. I’ve been rabidly glued to my news feeds wondering what this man is going to do next.
So, here’s the good news. And you can take this or leave this. I am consciously choosing to look at this experience as a global healing event. I don’t think this choice is delusional or “being positive.” I actually think of it as completely realistic.
The collective’s dirty laundry is being shoved into the light of day-all of the rage, grief, misogyny, racism, fear, xenophobia, patriarchal conditioning, rape culture, etc. Everything unsavory is now in a steaming pile in the middle of the room for all to witness. This is the collective shadow aka the dark, distasteful, hidden side.
We all have our own shadow side-the parts of us that we have decided are “bad.” The parts of us that are jealous, afraid, angry, wounded, sad, lonely, ashamed. As a person, you make up part of the collective shadow. Every icky thing we are seeing outside of us right now reflects the sum total of billions of people’s long standing internal pain and suffering projected onto the world stage.
You can’t heal a wound that you can’t see. The collective had to get to a tipping point that forces us to act. We finally have a true opportunity to do let old structures fall away and create new ones that reflect our humanity and love.
In the midst of these wacky times, I have never felt more purposeful or alive. I see the most engaged, turned on, three eyes open, brilliant, tender, compassionate cavalry charging together and bringing support and all their full open hearts. It is a joy to see during the chaos. When your world gets turned upside down, you get to see what you are made of and we are made of some pretty amazing stuff.
I did a Death Meditation Wednesday night with the dark of the Moon. I lit some candles and spent some time being led through the last twelve hours of my life. I wrote down all my regrets, all the things I wished I’d said to people, what’s holding me back, what I’m imprisoned by, the lies I tell myself, what needs to die, my last words to my loved ones, and what matters to me.
Heavy, yes. Intense, yes. Cried buckets, yes.
Just what I needed…absolutely. I allowed that death energy to move through me and my life to clear the debris and the old patterning and all the places I was still stuck. You let things die for new things to have space to come in.
We are closing out a nine-year cycle with the ending of 2016. This was a year of completion and loose ends and closure. That’s why it’s been pushing you so much. When life is asking you to wrap something up and you continue to fight it, it’s going to feel pretty bad. Life lessons come at you with a whisper and a feather touch and they amp up to a shout and a hammer if you’re on your tenth opportunity to learn it.
Next year is a One Year in numerology. A One is a new beginning and a clean slate. There is a lot of magic available with a new year because we have a collective agreement that this is a fresh start.
We know that when the page turns over to 2017 that we’ll have a cosmic do over. But how your year goes is up to you. It’s also up to the Universe but your job is meeting it half way with inspired action. Your world only changes when you change. When you change your boundaries, your relationship with yourself, the way you relate to other people, how much space you allow yourself to take in the world, how much you can receive.
“If you think you’re enlightened, spend a week with your family.” – Ram Dass
Nothing is truer than this statement, since THIS is the real spiritual work. Take it off the mat, take it out of the personal development book, take it off the cushion – family time means time to walk the talk.
If you are mentally steeling yourself for holiday family time this year, know that you are not alone. We always revert to children when we go home, no matter our actual age. And this inner child will always re-experience the same unmet needs for attention, affection, allowing, acceptance or appreciation.
This inner child may even be coming into a family gathering with an expectation of feeling old hurt. This child may unconsciously be watching and waiting for familiar signs that he or she is inadequate, unwanted, or less than.
And if these wounds haven’t been addressed and healed, even if there isn’t an overtly toxic situation to navigate there will always be people present that push these buttons.
The trigger might be a casual remark about your job or relationship status, your parenting style or appearance. The deeper the wound, the more power these off hand comments can have to throw you off your game, creating a spiral of anger and insecurity. Happy holidays!
And we’re talking deep, subconscious stuff, the kind of stuff it’s hard to see coming. One minute you’re “fine,” the next, an insecure little girl who wants to lash out teenage rebel style – or else go hide in her room.
With this in mine, here are a few tips to keep in your back pocket while you navigate…
I don’t care about who you voted for. Or even that you didn’t vote.
All I care about is what you do next.
This time last week I was walking to meet a friend with tears streaming down my face, fighting the urge to collapse on the wet sidewalk in the rain and put my head in my hands. I was shocked and sad and disappointed. Incredulous but also not. I’ve been comfortable in my little bubble of people who think like me.
The bubble has officially burst.
So THIS is what we’re working with? Ok. I accepted this truth with tight lips and a fire sparking in my chest. Game ON.
We can’t heal something we can’t see. We can’t fix something if not everybody thinks it’s broken. What is happening right now is not new. The man who won the electoral vote did not create racism, misogyny, or degradation of rights for all people. This was already on the menu.
We, the people, created this. We, the people, are the only ones who can heal it.
We all have someone we need to forgive. Probably several someone’s. Often the person we really need to begin with is ourselves.
I have wanted to write about making peace with painful relationships and situations for a while now and this felt like the right time. There is a lot of volatility and collective shadow that is being dredged up right now and I wanted to offer some tools that I have used in my own life.
Forgiveness is NEVER about excusing abuse of any kind or implying that what was done was acceptable or okay. It is about lessening the severity of the punch in the gut feeling, dialing down the shudder of revulsion or the wave of nausea that moves through you, and softening the ferocity of the anger or grief that you feel when you think of that person or that situation.
It is creating a little bit of space between you and them so that you don’t have to carry as much pain. Forgiveness can reduce the intensity of the trigger and the spiral of shame, blame and sadness that can come with it.
This is a personal choice and only one you can make when it feels safe and right for you. These are tools that you can use as a first step in softening the pain you are carrying. They can help you work out some of the sharp edges or make peace. The person you wish to forgive might not be alive, you might not be in contact with them, they may not be in a mental/emotional space to receive your words, or it may not be physically/emotionally safe for you to engage with them. These tools are perfect for when you are not ready or it is not a good idea for you to be in direct communication with the person involved.