Sometimes I have feared spending too long with an old pattern of behaviour, commonly called a ‘habit’ and how it found it’s way into so many different areas of my life? If it had only affected one small part of it, the one part that was obvious, it would be well cleared, well known and now completely ineffective, but it didn’t stop there, it began there of course but the pattern and the habit were strong, so it found its way to weave itself amongst my work and my friendships, it wove a web around my finances and even how I supported my children or even received support for us all. I saw it unraveling within organization and knew I needed to break this pattern in a really kind way.
I had given myself away. It began at the root, as these things often do. Much of our life’s experiences is connected to our sexuality, to our root chakra, to our pubity and how we first met with the genitals and our orgasmic states. As we age if we look at how we are sexually, we will be able to see similar patterns being played out. I don’t want to give the idea that shame is all to do with sex! Its not at all, but the language of our bodies can often give us clues to its role in our lives.
Partly due to my own abuse, I learned to give myself away, but then as I grew older I began to see how I gave myself away within my work for example. Doing things for nothing, not taking care of my own needs, working myself to the bone, with no boundaries and no possible way of saying ‘no!’
This however would lead to finding myself in deep service to others. So there is light as well as shadow. This showed what the ‘actor’ in me was able to transform the wound into. So as well as it being a dysfunction I carried, it was also a great teaching.
And knowing the possibility of shame does not need to diminish me, making me feel small. I know that shame exists in many of us, me included. We feel guilt over something we have done and we feel shame because we feel ourselves to be wrong. I believe that difficult they both might be to deal with, they are great teachers in the art of humility and being humble. They are both extraordinary pathways into feeling deep into the core of ourselves and the teachings that come from that. They can take us out of body too easily, cause dysfunctions and addictions, but ‘spoken’ to with care and tenderness will show us deeply who we are, offering many gifts in the form of love and compassion for ourselves and others.
This work lead me through the Phoenix process, which is part of the Movement Medicine world and I write much more on this in the third part of my book.
This time it took my shame on a further dance of exploration within ceremony. I did not expect to, it just happened when a wall of shame suddenly appeared before me. Someone had said something. I knew it had come from a good place, but it had still struck a cord in me. I sat with pain and discomfort within my body, feeling into the silence and the deep emptiness of what was beneath my emotion.
For awhile I slipped out of my body to take a look from the outside, witnessing what had just happened from a distance. This was a more comfortable place to be and I knew the part of me that had spent many years in ‘soul school’ knew how to gather good information from this place. I drifted for awhile, no movement and with very still breath, not daring to breath too deeply. Still it was necessary to be in my body and I knew that movement would have to happen, but for now it was not coming and I would not push it, for here was very valuable information being gathered. I had slipped into an altered state, one that I knew and one that changed many perspectives on things. Gradually I began to find the movement of this pain body, very slowly, no rushing anything. It needed its time. Still so still, I could barely move but energy was moving on the inside, I was doing what I needed to do.
I am faced with the gateway of shame. It leads to a deep dark pit that has no bottom, no end, it goes on and on for ever. I am looking into it knowing I cannot fully emerge myself in it because there would be no end to its journey and for sure if I jumped into its depths I would be lost for ever. So I move around the entrance and rather carefully, taste the essence of what it means, I smell its putrid and agonized suffering as one lick at a time, gently run my fingers around its rim. Better to move very slowly with this. I know from the depths of my soul I must move slowly with tenderness and stay in my altered state, I must be alone with my darkness and not connect for now with another. I’m aware of this journey and how to now be alone with it. For sure to explore it with another might be beneficial but no, for me this is a solo journey that I need to take responsibility for, no one can know the shame I feel, no one can dare visit that well with me without either completely misunderstanding, or being dragged into their own deep well and where their weight would simply pull me further in? Who could really be this gentle, who could hold this moment with such care that their own agenda would not interfere? As I search into the tapestry of my mind, I discover the stories that have been with me a life time and the patterns of behavior that have sculpted part who I am now. the lone wolf, the isolated dreamer, the one who would go it alone and in some cases the pioneer. Better to stay that way than face the trauma of being pushed to the edge of that pit by any one, I realised at some stage I must have decide to do things a different way to others, because if I did things ‘my way’ then no one could tell me I was wrong and no one could shame me! What a clever plan, my childlike brain must have thought! And so that unconscious part of my mind cleverly sculpted life in order to control and create in my own fashion. What I had not realized at that tender age, was that actually I was likely to become very very lonely, because there was no possible way of collaboration with others, no way of joining in with others, because it would have to be on my terms. Suited to my clever ways of doing things, that actually I didn’t want anyone else to do in any case, I preferred it that I was the only one, why change anything? But lonely I would become and when there came the possibility of collaboration, would I know how to join in? Would I have to then face a level of shame, a certain amount of shame when I got things wrong and had to be corrected? Would the shame be too difficult to bare? Too deep, too traumatic? For sure there would be some of that. I would need to strengthen myself in order to face this if I was not to be so alone any more. It would be yet another journey needed to crawl around that deep pit just to get a taste of this sourness. In time it would pass and I would find my way with a better sense of self-esteem and love of myself; of all of myself. And in turn now I would have learned how important it would be to honor others and the deep shame that they might feel. How to be gentle when approaching those issues in others, never fully knowing just how deep that shame might go and how it might be for them. Collaboration takes tenderness, care and awareness of vulnerability and historical wounding. Shame or no shame, we have to move on. Sometimes carrying it with us as it is gently unfolded or slapped in our faces sending ripples of pain through our hearts. How do we react to it and become friends with our shame? Feeling, breathing and gently unfolding. Paying attention to the old stories and changing what they mean to us if possible.
I am a determined woman, determined to make a difference, beginning with myself and extending that to others. Yes I can screw up plenty, I can make a fool of myself, I can cringe sometimes at my dysfunctional habits and the way I can push myself into discomfort! But I will not stay small. I will recover from shame and humiliation, I will accustom myself to others remarks and criticism’s. I will get over all of this and more, groaning with disbelief sometimes when I just wont let something rest and I keep going back for more, asking one more question, making that one more statement, reaching in and saying ‘are you sure its that way?’ Just to be certain in my own mind, but knowing some where actually I know there is more to be said. My shame and guilt are manageable, they have crafted me as much as any other deeply felt emotional challenge. But they will not keep me small, humble yes, but humble does not need to be small.
I’m tired, the rain is falling and I sink into the dreamer, letting those darkened shadows surround and engulf me in their warmth. There is nothing to do, just allow that shroud to begin to show me the visions and pictures that emerge. Tiredness comes as a welcome friend, I let it in as it slows me down, making me stop and reflect on my life, my world, the one that lives inside me and so close to my skin. I see the mists forming and know there is a new wisdom, a new teaching that wants to present itself to me. I wrap myself in my own circle, it is there to support me and guide me. Two small wings unfold and speak to me of freedom; freedom to follow my own path. I wonder what it means just for a moment, but soon I know too well, simply from the sensations in my body. The kinesthetic part of me knows what I need to let go off. I have gathered in many fruits for this path, now I must return to the being I once was, before all of this started. I know this from the way my eyes look at the ways of human kind, I know this by the way my dissatisfaction shows me that there is nothing in that world I need or want. To find simplicity in a chaotic world draws me ever closer to the core of myself. I have gathered my tools well, for all is in place and sits within the cauldron of my own making.
I wonder did yet another pattern cause me to not step out alone and make something of my life? Did it keep me stubbornly connected to one path, to support a body of work that was not my own making. A time when my own fire was not quite strong enough? This valley runs very deep and hides itself in the caverns of my mind and underneath my skins own bed-linen of shame and confusion. Turning over the covers I begin to see some of what may have been lost, the possibilities that never came to fruition and it hurts to think how much I may have prevented, unknowingly, because I was too busy following a worn out habit that I feared was going nowhere.
But it was going somewhere, I knew in my heart and the hearts of others, that it was and was always a necessary part of the journey.
If we imagine standing at the edge of a forest, and we want to reach the other side, would we walk a straight line through it? Or, might the path we take meander in many different directions, around rocks and boulders, trees and streams, feeding deer and rabbits, conversing with owls and woodland folk, we may take every direction possible in order to fully experience the forest. Same too with life if we really want to live and experience fully.
Maybe the threads woven had created a vast expansive carpet
of new possibility that had yet to be trodden upon.
Maybe it was stronger than anything I could have imagined
or created anyway,
but until I had uncovered those different colors
and pulled out some of those broken threads that did not serve
or belong there,
I knew there could never be any completion.
from ‘Circle, Fire & Phoenix’ soon to be published
Goodness me how similar our expression. x Lou
Whilst reading your story/post here, when you describe your process and experience, my mind immediately responded with the last verse of a ‘poem’ I wrote early nineties. It went like this, the last verse being the one which sprang to mind.
You dance by the fire,
Where we in times sit by it’s side
And play the game of life. Not daring acknowledge your power
Lest you confront us.
How can we be easy by you?
Become The Maiden for a moment
Let us look into your eyes. You are stalking The middle,
Knowing The Way.
Eons old, forever young.
Arouse gentleness in us so we may look
And take us slowly.
Laugh softly lest the world breaks.
Your timeless hand pressing down
Till the world breaks.
x Copyright Lou Ropner
Wow thank you Lou, what a beautiful poem! Thank you for sharing it and being you, Cx