Tag Archives: healing

On Remembering Dad

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Oftentimes September 20th comes at me by surprise. I wake up one morning and suddenly it’s here. This year is different. This year I’ve been watching it approach, anticipating its arrival, waiting to greet it like a guest stopping over on a long journey.

Maybe it’s because of the work I’ve been doing around the energy that September is ushering in, bringing awareness to any unfinished business or unresolved intentions in my life. Letting go of them once and for all, applying dedicated discipline and persistence towards practice and completion. Cleaning out material possessions I no longer need. It feels right and good, like I’m expanding my lungs with a deep, baby-bellyful breath.

Or maybe it’s because I’ve been contemplating grief a lot these days. Grief long hidden and unexpressed. Exploring what grief looks and feels like, turning it over, feeling it in my hands, probing with my fingers for any nooks and crannies where grief can hide like infinitesimal grains of sand. We, in the west, aren’t practiced or comfortable in the ritual of grief, either outward or inward.

I thought I was well prepared this year for the coming of September 20th, the twelfth anniversary of my father’s death. We siblings have our own small ritual to mark and honour his death and it begins with a morning email from my oldest brother with the simple subject line, dad. For me, this exchange of emails always brings me back to that day in the hospital when we all gathered around his bed one last time, his spirit in the room but no longer within his body. The string of time folds in and I am both here and there at the same time. And always I’m surprised.

This year I’m in the best place possible, in the peace of Hollyhock, immersed in the loving, holding space of my Art of Spiritual Guidance community. We’re beginning our second year of training/instruction/practice (it’s all these words and a hundred more) and I’m drawing the Home of my Soul. I have a handful of crayons and pencil crayons and a large piece of paper in front of me. It’s full of promise and potential and suddenly I’m filled with incredible sadness. It spills out of my eyes and stops my hands. Around me the air rustles with crayon strokes and the papers fill with beautiful, colourful images and my sadness is tinged with guilt. I’m not doing this right. I’m not grateful to the gift my soul is giving me. I can’t draw. I can’t…

I sit back with my sadness and sigh three times, letting go of my judgements, both around my drawing ability and around my sadness. Then I pick up a rose-red pencil crayon and begin writing instead, my words creating the images, enticing me to remember what my hands cannot draw.

And then I remember. Today is September 20th, the day my first spiritual teacher died. The home of my soul remembers and gives me the gift of sadness, a sadness that draws me inward to the source of my healing. Today is a day to sit with my sadness and be okay with that, because I know that this too shall pass. I know that on most days I remember my dad with great joy and delight. I know that even as I type my last word here, the sadness will leave and the joy will remain.

As my brother wrote this morning, “Yet, on most days, and particularly on this day, I only remember the infectious fun, joy and intelligence that Dad imparted to all of us.

That will always remain alive.”

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The Quiet Gift of Desperation

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I seem to be at a pivot point in my writing ‘project’ and feel like I’m standing on a slippery moss-covered rock in the midst of crossing a fast moving stream and suddenly the way forward is blocked. Perhaps the reason I’m blocked is because I keep calling it a ‘project’ instead of admitting and committing to the fact that I’m writing a book.

Because it’s scary to even think I’m writing a book.

Because, “Who am I to think I can write a book?”

But then…..who am I to think that I can’t write a book?

I’ve written a lot of words, almost 50,000 of them, covering the wounding-enmeshed-in-Victim part of the story. My story. This part is called The Red Bird of Betrayal because I like the colour red, which is also meant to convey the blood of the wounding. And because I like alliteration. And because it’s only a ‘for me’ title, not one which will carry forward into the book. Yes, it’s a book.

Red Bird of Betrayal ~ line drawing by Patrick O'Neill

Red Bird of Betrayal ~ line drawing by Patrick O’Neill

Now I’m at the pivot point, the point where the healing begins. Where I begin living by my new mantra of I will show my children what is possible in a time of crisis (which later, much later, became shortened simply to I will show what is possible).

And this is where we find me standing on the slippery moss-covered rock in the middle of that fast moving stream. Confused and frustrated. I’ve written the first part in almost chronological order, but that doesn’t feel right for the next part, so the way ahead isn’t clearly marked with stepping-stones. I have to find a new path, a new way to forge the river.

And maybe that’s just perfectly fitting because that’s exactly what I had to do in my life, in my healing. Find a new way of Being. Perhaps I need to just begin where I am and trust in the process.  Trust that the right words will find me.  Step off the rock and slip into the flow of the stream and stop trying to row the boat.  Now is the time to let go, to surrender completely into the writing and be surprised by the discoveries that move through my fingers.

And now I’m excited because I know the words are there, that the wisdom is there, just waiting for the opportunity to download onto the page.  I simply have to surrender to the process and delight in the discoveries.

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By the way, the title of my newly proclaimed book is, Transcending Forgiveness – Healing into Wholeness After Betrayal.

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Turning Trauma Into Art

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I’m sitting in the Anchor Eatery in the next neighbourhood over from mine, which is currently without power for the next two to three hours.  I’m cozily ensconced beside a gas fireplace with my custom ordered vegan smoothie, listening to the conversations floating past from this table and that.  The rain continues to pour down outside, but we’re all warmly happy here drinking our smoothies and lattes and eating our scones.

I’ve just returned from NYC where I studied with my great teacher Larry Moss, who is not only my acting teacher but also one of my most treasured spiritual teachers.  Acting has become one of my most profound spiritual practices.  When I immerse myself in the study of a play, in the world of “my” character, I oftentimes find lost fragments of myself that I hadn’t known were lost.  I find where and when I’m not breathing fully into my whole body, and where and when my voice becomes trapped or choked down.  My character speaks to me from the inside out and reveals herself to me in colours painted from the well-spring of my glorious swampy reservoir of memories and emotions.  So, so much of great acting is learned and practiced technique.  And so, so much of great acting is the unfettered access to that deep swamp of healed wounds.

To dip into the ink of sores still festering, that we have either long forgotten or have actively chosen to ignore, is to step into dangerous territory.  We risk losing ourselves once more in the darkness of the injury and our physical bodies act instinctively and stop our voices and our deep, belly breathing, which is the conduit through which we travel to the magnificence of our swamp.

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To honour the writer, to honour the story and the truth of the character, I have to know which parts of myself to bring to the table and which parts do not serve.  In order to allow the character to animate fully into the truth of her being and in order to fully serve the story the writer has imagined, I have to first not only learn and become proficient at the technique of my craft, but equally, and perhaps more importantly, I have to do my own deep, ongoing inner work.  I need to work on healing all of my wounds on every level – physical, emotional and spiritual.  It is only when I come from a neutral place of being that my character is fully brought to life.  And when that happens….it is magical and mystical.

Which brings me to the impetus for writing this in the first place – I have always been a tangential writer.  My last post pulled back the curtain to reveal the sexual abuse that happened to me as a child and it was shocking to many and instigated a domino of clunking healing.  My job here – and by here I mean here in my physical existence – is to free my voice, in all ways.  To stand in and speak the truth of the feminine.  To crack open the feminine heart.

Larry Moss says, “There is no higher healing than turning trauma into art.”  By writing the words that shines a light on the childhood sexual abuse, I am calling on the power of the Midas within me and I’m invoking the powerful alchemy of turning my wound into a powerful force of healing.

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And here is the important element – without this there is no healing, there is no gold being offered.  In order for my words to be an agent of healing for others, I must FIRST HEAL MYSELF.  Otherwise I am doing a great disservice.  If I have not done my own inner work and if I am not writing from that powerful place of higher healing, then what I am doing instead is spreading the poisonous toxins of a still infected wound – and that is dark magic.

However, if I dip my pen into the blood of my healed wounds, then my words can act as a catalyst of higher healing for others.  And this is where the reader of my words can sometimes become confused.

If they read my story of sexual abuse and find themselves feeling great pain and discomfort, then that is their body speaking to them, telling them that they have an unhealed wound inside of them.  The arrow of the story has pierced their own wound and the blood they feel flowing is not mine, but their own.  The pain they feel is emanating from their own wound.  And this is the both the rainspout of their confusion and also of their possible cleansing.  They think they are feeling the pain from my own original injury, when in fact, they are feeling the pain of their own, long-hidden wound.

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It is the healed Truth of my wound that is the alchemical agent.  As I write and as I act, I pull from the blood of my healed injuries to bring the alchemical truth to light.  I never, ever write or act from the poisonous venom of unhealed wounds.  If you feel pain when reading my words, lovingly ask yourselves what within you is asking to be healed.  What a gracious opportunity you have been given.

“The soul always knows what to do to heal itself. 
The challenge is to silence the mind.” ~ Caroline Myss

 

 

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Balance In The Healing

I have pulled away from much in my life.  Slowing down, disconnecting from without to connect within.  My blogging and tweeting life has been non-existent as I focus my energy on hearing and healing.

This does not mean that I have not been present in the tweeting stream or the blogging world.  I have sometimes logged on to check in on the inter-connective world I seem to have put aside.  I have floated unseen in the twitter stream and bookmarked several of my beloved blogs to read when my inner journey allows.

IMG_1255 I take a sip of my chai latte and look up from my laptop at my corner table in Delaney’s.  The little    coffee shop is bustling with people and the bright background music competes with the buzz of conversation.  A cocoon of noise that I would not have been able to tolerate in the years before my diagnosis in March 2010, and that even now almost induces me to leave.  There are days when the stimulation of too many people causes my head to ache and the fog to descend.  I have learned so much and recovery sometimes seems too slow.  I am constantly practicing awareness, patience and acceptance.

There is a difference between exhaustion and sleepiness.  Between being tired and being sleepy.

I’ve been working on healing the Severe Adrenal Fatigue that has plagued me since 2006 and which was finally diagnosed in early 2010.

The shattered illusion of my marriage was the first of five emotional ‘traumas’ to roll through my life in three short years.  Added to that was a head injury which resulted in post concussion syndrome.  No wonder my body reacted as if I were living through a wartime siege.

If I’d known then how to support my body and mind….

I’ve become somewhat of a born again self-care person.  Suggesting and advising friends and family how to be mindful and support their adrenals when confronted with a stress challenge in life.  Support the behind the scenes workers who struggle every minute to bring balance to the physical body while stressors of various kinds threaten to tip the scale into illness.

I’ve been writing this blog entry for close to a week now, ever since a dear twitter friend sent me a private message of concern, followed by a note from another bright light of support and friendship in my blogging world.  The connections I’ve made in the online world mean much to me and that is what I miss dearly with this self-imposed withdrawal.

Each time my fingers start tapping a rhythm and before I know it five pages have gone by and I’m only just beginning.  Writing is calling to me once more and now that I have pared down my obligations and taken the time to rest after a very full 2012, I can breathe and let the words come.

Limiting my time looking into the brain stimulating light of my laptop screen is one way I am coaxing sleep back into my life.  Turning the lights out and closing my eyes in bed by 10pm is another new routine – something that was so foreign to me that it was the change I fought against the hardest.  I have long been a night owl and often found it easiest to write into the wee hours of the morning.  Allowing time for a transition I thought would never happen; to find the open doors to my creativity before night descends.  I am so pleasantly surprised by the joy I now find in my quiet evenings with a book and my early to beds.

I am finding a balance and a new way of being.  I am so incredibly grateful for all the gifts that each of the ‘traumas’ brought to my life.  I am so grateful that I am fortunate to live in circumstances that afford me the opportunity to learn and to grow.   And the time to release the hold that time may have on me.

And….if you find yourself being battered by stress, please take the time to support your body with good nutrition and supplements.  Find a way to allow your mind and body to decompress.  Everything is connected….

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