It was just past sunset in the Central Valley. The inside of my car glowed neon pink, and Caroline Myss was talking to me through the speakers of my car stereo; an audiobook on energy medicine. (If you’ve ever heard Caroline Myss speak or listened to an audiobook of hers: congratulations, brave human. The woman is not for the faint of heart. She sandblasts truths in a way that leaves the soul raw and ready to be scabbed over.)
Mistress Myss, via her audiobook, was suggesting I “really settle into” some of the core memories of my second chakra to find their root. After driving all day on a solo trip to Portland, and feeling like I had a rowdy bat flying around inside my chest, I hardly felt up for it. I was quipping expletives into the air around me, snarky and heady and just barely holding on….
A funny thing happens to me right before I break: I become a total hard-ass. I think I am, as they say, “the shit.” I roll my eyes, get (even more) sarcastic, and use humor to deflect everyone and everything. But let’s be honest: if you’ve hung out ’round these parts for any length of time, it’s pretty clear that I am — by any and all standards — the furthest thing from a hard-ass. So my hard-assery doesn’t last long, for I find (as most of us do if we hang out in denial for very long), that hard-heartedness is quite painful.
Therefore (unsurprinsingly) triggered by Caroline Myss’ spiritual dominatrixing on the subject of my second chakra, I began to weep. And then I was sobbing. You know the kind. I had to take off my glasses, and the night lights blurred around me. I was driving a stretch of Highway 5 that smelled like a catacomb full of cow shit, and that made me cry harder, and then she said, “…Can you feel your power leaving you? Can you feel where you have given away your power to heal yourself??!”
I fumbled for pause.
It was a long many miles before I managed to stop wiping the hot tears from my cheeks.
• • •
I landed in my AirBnB in Sacramento exhausted. Raw like a newborn pink-fleshed baby. I took a shower. I turned on the tiny end table light from Ikea and brought out my journal. I was in something too familiar to ignore, and all around me, I could feel the hungry ghosts of my heart clawing for attention, to be soothed, placated, put to bed. They told me to reach out, to make someone responsible, to ask for cradling. They wanted me to believe that how I was feeling was outside of my control, and if the world would just behave better, everything could be set right.
But the hungry ghosts were all full of shit and I knew it: I would have to get through this one alone. I would have to sit down with the small child inside myself, and — if I truly wanted to break the pattern — I would have to treat the hungry ghosts in a way I never had before….
I would have to not feed them.
So I made myself as still as possible. I breathed long, shallow breaths up and down my spine. I noticed where the breath caught on some snag of bone and shadowed past, and I offered myself grace. I wrote and wrote, spilling the words in pink ink to my journal. And line by line and breath by breath, my hand steadied. My heartbeat slowed. The hungry ghosts, ever slowly, shape-shifted into winged creatures — angels. The energy around me congealed into something no longer hungry, but… neutral: a gently-observing quality of light as warm and disarming as the light coming from my bed-side lamp.
A weighty, loving gaze fell on me from all around, and for the first time maybe ever, the hunger had not set me gnawing on my own heart or someone else’s, but instead had passed through a gate into some other need: to simply be allowed to be. Not to be shut away, or denied. But allowed to be hungry and not have me run from it, hide it or else bludgeon it with shame.
Here, I was truly with myself. There was nowhere else I could go, and I knew if I tried to run, I’d miss an opportunity to learn something tremendous about my capacity for embracing my whole self.
What if you just let this feeling be? I heard myself ask.
What if there is nothing to ‘do’ or ‘fix’?
I drifted into a simple sleep in my strange borrowed bed. I woke in the morning with the precious feeling of tenderness on my skin. There was nothing to protect myself from, and never had there been.
• • •
The term “mother wound” has been floating around me in my circles and conversations for weeks and weeks now. It seems we’re all aware of the ways we weren’t properly “mothered” as children, but I also wonder if we’ve given ourselves permission to step outside of that scripting and appropriately re-mother ourselves.
“Mother wound” could just as aptly be called “human wound,” or simply… Life. When we finally give ourselves permission to let go of what we couldn’t control and what can never be undone, we truly become the mothers that we — and no one — ever had. Because to be this kind of woman would require God-like perfection, and we do ourselves a great disservice by handing out tokens of power to anyone who gets near enough to us to remind us that healing is a process we are always in relationship with.
Giving someone the power to keep you small
is no worse than giving someone the power
to make you great, whole or healed.
There are gradients of wholeness, and brokenness is a myth. What we have only ever needed… is presence. The kind of deep, abiding presence we find tucked deep inside a green gorge carved by a river; the persistence of the ocean against the shore; the wide expanse of sky and her arms open enough to hold all the stars and planets and light in the Universe and not be shaken in the least.
Do we know how this kind of courageous, unwavering presence with ourselves might change our lives? What we might do with the ability to truly stand with our experiences? What we might create?
Be who you needed when you were little. Or when you were twenty-five. Or twelve seconds ago. Be brave enough not to run from yourself so that you can be here now. Not back there, where the record plays and the room never stops spinning.
It’s an act of extreme bravery to step out of the dog-eared pages of yesterday, but it is the only way we will be able to touch this life and truly feel it moving through us, healing us with its persistent, second-by-second invitation to breath.
[Image of Christine Mason Miller, by yours truly]