Sometimes our inner world throws us a curve ball, we are thrown into chaos or confusion internally, the way ahead appears to be lost. I finally got up the courage to see a counsellor to work through some resistance I felt to starting my list of projects. It was the beginning of fall, and I was busy planning workshops, retreats, and proposing to write a book about my father. It’s difficult to not feel like my usual creative self. And it’s even harder to ask for help, to admit that I feel stuck, and uninspired. I set myself up as the Inner Wisdom Guide for Pete’s sake. It took me six months to make the call, but I’m glad I did, even if it feels very vulnerable to even talk about.
We started talking about my life, my family of origin, and of course, my mother’s alcoholism and how I was raised to be the little mother, a good Catholic girl, the eldest, responsible one. For a few sessions, she asked me to prod into any residual anger that may be blocking my energy. I couldn't feel any anger, just sadness.
Good Girl Saying Grace (angel watching)
Because I work with SoulCollage®, I showed her some of my cards and she was willing to work this way. Talking was helping, but I needed to consult my cards to see what they had to say about how to deal with any simmering anger hidden under the surface. Who would help me deal with that? The first card that appeared was one I named Healing the Masculine.
The image on the card is of a bronze statue with a broken right arm, being cleaned by a female archeologist, against the backdrop of the Aegean Sea, or ancient Greece. My right arm has been chronically stiff, first with calcific bursitis, then a frozen shoulder and has been bothering me for almost ten years. I’ve had every kind of treatment, from physiotherapy, osteopathy, rolfing, acupuncture and now talk therapy. Looking at this card, I realized the one who carried rage in our home was my father. I looked up to him as a role model because my mother had collapsed, checked out in my teen years with drinking and depression. My dad was an engineer, a logical thinker, an army captain, a man who always wanted to excel at what he did, who graduated with honours. But who had demons of his own.
Healing Inner Masculine
In search of more answers about this imbalance of masculine and feminine, I’m also consulting books, getting massages, and trying to figure out how to be less numb, more in touch with my body.
What I’m learning and what I feel intuitively is that the way to heal the masculine is by approaching the inner feminine, those values I always forget are my healing medicine – rest, receptivity and allowing feelings to arise. Being at home allows me to take the time required, and embrace my Inner Hestia, the side of me that loves to putter in the house, who heals herself and others with chicken soup, slow simmered stews, herbal tinctures and teas (especially in fall and winter). The cozy home and sanctuary is already here, if I can only appreciate it. They say compassion begins at home, so Jennifer, it’s time to lay down the sword and mantle, the staff of being the one in charge, put aside the crown of Overarching Boss of Everything. Descend, my lady, to your inner comfort zone and refill the well.
This does feel awkward, not in line with the goal setting I’ve been doing. Since last year I’ve been revamping my website, gearing up to lead trainings for facilitators, which involves more workshops, outreach and marketing. I also have a few creative projects, singing with my husband in a band, as well as a barbershop quartet, publishing a book of poems with translation, there are lots of pots on the burners. So it feels a bit backwards to be focusing on doing less when there is so much I want to do!
It feels absolutely unheroic and unproductive: instead of going up and at ‘em, dreaming big, and expanding my reach, for the moment, I’m headed down and in, asking questions of my body, and composting the dark shadowy stuff in the heart. I’ve always been one to counsel others to listen carefully to the body’s wisdom and practice self-care. Now it’s my turn (menopause was also a big teaching moment about descent into feeling). It’s not time to Go Big or Go Home. It’s time to find out where Home is.
At 65, I have accomplished most of my dreams already: I am grateful for my wonderful hubby and grown children, beautiful home, a creative community of women, working with SoulCollage®, and journaling. There were a few disappointments - two miscarriages, and none of the books I published were best sellers. But the books did bring me out in the public for speaking engagements. And I have had the opportunity to study with some amazing teachers, Dr. Clarissa PInkola Estes, Nathalie Goldberg, Joan Borysenko, Cat Caracelo, and Mariabruna Sirabella. Maybe this is a good time to digest what I have learned, and explore where my passions lie. I still have lots to share, and more to grow, but my soul purpose will only be achieved if live in connection with my heart and body, not just my head.
It’s not always about being productive, and doing more.
For some of us, who are always striving for bigger and better, an illness we need to be cured of – embracing our flawed, imperfect selves and limitations can be a huge relief and healing balm. When I accept myself, and feel enough, when I know that I am small but mighty, I can relax. I can trust my intuitive knowing to lead me (which often goes against the received wisdom of coaches and marketing execs). I do not feel the need to go faster, dream bigger or be better than I am. It feels like back peddling sometimes, this downward, inward work, but it also feels good, like a big release, like something transformative is taking place.
Ideally, I imagine standing up for myself with self-protection, rooting and grounding in presence and real-ness. Learning to acknowledge and know my limits, being able to say, I can do this and no more, and calling in my angels and guides to support me. Maybe I’ll even learn the ability to say no without feeling bad at displeasing others. Mostly, I realize, the one I fear displeasing is my own inner Father figure, who expected only the best from me but installed a very loud critic voice in my right ear.
I think it’s also time to release the superwoman rescuer. I cannot take on all the woes of the world and still feel my inner Wow. I feel a deep need to self-nurture in a cocoon for a while, and have that be ok. I have one foot in the underworld these days, as I release the hold of the inner tyrant, and learn to snuggle in the arms of the Great Mother, the eternal feminine. Some weeping happens, as I write in my journal and of course, having the support of a counsellor lightens the load.
Great Mother/Nurturer as Tree
I had a curious dream last night – I was playing a violin in a trio with my husband, for a party indoors. We were looking in at them, from outside on the porch, and a very tall woman stood there, bare breasted, with large pendulous breasts, nursing a baby. I leaned over drew the bow across her breast and drops of milk came out through the skin. I was in awe of the power of those breasts. It felt like a puzzle, and I was not afraid, only curious. Intrigued.
The power of the feminine is like the power of milk, it feeds our hunger. The power of the feminine is to nurture, hold, soul tend, be tender.
That is how my path is unfolding right now, on this healing journey, moving towards embracing what I am, and what I was born to be, a woman who forgives herself for not being perfect, who can hang out here in the shadow realms as long as needed, so I can learn to love myself, just the way I am.
Battling Dragons collage