Rescuing the Traumatized Baby

This was first posted in July 2010

(Written in June 2004)
In a session of the “Wave Work” at Kripalu: there was a confusing struggle with my body’s tendency to cramp up (esp left hand) and kick, shake, jump.  Finally I let it shrivel up into a crippled, spastic child (I could see the starving baby from my collage book) — and it felt, not exactly good, but valid, solid, like this is who I really am.  I stayed with it for a while, feeling huge compassion for that shriveled, spastic, starving baby.
Later came a sense of “wrong” — “Who’s saying it?” They are, mom & dad.  Then I got angry and started to growl & she said “Let it get big” — and it got huge, a shell of fire expanding outward.  I felt safe inside it.  The wounded child guarded by Tigress Mother Durga.  I could feel both at once and like the baby really was safe, and fiercely defended, and OK just as she was.  As I stayed with the picture, the limbs of the baby began to plump up — tho her skin was grey black.  At that point Helah said I was integrating and just to stay with the feelings of huge compassion.

Told Karen about the Wave Work, about being the baby — then about feelings of resistance and disgust to the idea of taking care of myself.  She said it was OK to have those feelings.  We explored the reality — that it’s not an infant that requires 24-hour a day care.  When I paid attention to the infant I got that what she needed was just my presence, my attention, my willingness to be with her, and to see her correctly.  OF COURSE!  She’s not a physical baby but an emotional one, she doesn’t need physical nurturing so much as  emotional nourishing — and I can do that.  I told Karen that this time being with the baby was different — I felt compassion go out to her, but not that I had to fix it or make it better.  Karen said she could tell that, that in the past I had seen the baby as a ‘chore’, a ‘burden’.  (which of course is how mother saw me).

(Written in December 2004)
Dear Guides and Guardian Spirits, I’m having a hard time.  I feel so bleak and despairing and empty.  At least I’ve been able to cook & eat breakfast, make phone calls, wash dishes.  But I feel so bereft.  My life stretches out in front of me like a bleak grey wasteland.  Please help me.
Dear Jenny, we love you a lot.  This is a difficult passage you are going through, but it is a passage.  You will get through it.  There is life on the other side, never fear.  It’s going to be OK, it really is going to be OK.  It’s OK for the moment to sit with this level of despair.  This is truly the experience of a baby who has been left alone by her mother.  She can’t take care of herself, all she can do is wait to be rescued.  The longer rescue does not come, the more everything looks utterly hopeless.  There, there, dear.  Imagine yourself holding the baby who is so frozen and scared — too frozen to be able to feel your presence.  And we are around you, holding you as you hold her.

(Written in December 2005)
The hopelessness and helplessness feel so HUGE. I say to myself “These are the feelings of a baby who’s been left alone too long.”  At the moment I’m feeling, overwhelmingly, “Nothing I do makes any difference.” I can see that’s the baby’s experience, but it doesn’t bring any change.

When I don’t have a Neskaya/Circle Dance activity, when I’m alone in my house, then I fall into the lost baby — hopeless and helpless, who will die if no one rescues her.

(Written in January 2006)
Bleak.  Cold stony wasteland bleak. This hard cold stoniness is not who I am.  It is the product of trauma and adverse brain chemistry.  This is what a baby feels when she has been left too long by her mother.  The hard cold stoniness is a defense, and it’s also how the world feels when mother is gone: no hope, no warmth, no love. My job is just to stay with her long enough for her to get it that I really am here for her.  Until she gets that, my attempts at self-soothing aren’t going to work.  So I need to just sit next to her, with kindness, reassurance and patience, understanding that her anger and rejection and mistrust are because of her pain at being left for so long.  I know and understand that pain.

Somewhere in here, I had an experience of committing myself to the traumatized baby. I didn’t write it down so I don’t know exactly when it happened.  I was imagining a war zone, wrecked buildings, burning cars, dead bodies, a few people wandering dazedly around, smoke drifting, colors all grey and black except for the fires.  I see a shriveled dark grey baby lying on a garbage can.  I think of picking her up, but I realize the orphanage has been bombed.  There’s nowhere to take her.  If I pick her up I’m stuck with her for the rest of my life.  I spend a moment wondering if I really do want to take on this task.  Then I pick her up.

Saw Deborah St. Cyr for acupuncture yesterday.  Told her about the feeling in my chest, and that if I said to myself “It’s a traumatized baby” then everything softened and it was easier to be with the fear.  When she started putting needles in, she said something about “strengthening the container.” That reminded me of Beth’s sculpture and the one I had wanted to make and how I had seen that the heart was shielded because it needed to heal, and then the heart needed to connect with the baby, not turn outward again.  Then it came to me — the baby is in the heart!  That’s why the heart is all grey like the baby was.  That was very exciting — it’s not the grey of stuckness, degeneration and death, it’s the grey of a frozen traumatized baby.  Even writing it down I can feel the shift — from being angry at myself for waking scared again to compassion for the terrified frozen baby, and willingness to stay with it as long as it takes.
And if it takes the rest of my life, I’m willing to do that.  It’s amazing that I care so much about this baby, who is me, as though the baby were the earth, or all the babies traumatized by war, and not Jenny who I’ve never thought was worth that much focus and effort.  But the baby doesn’t seem like “me”, more like the task I’ve been given and I’m willing to take it on.  My work to heal this traumatized fragment of the universe is meaningful.  And I think one thing that’s helped this shift is Sharon Salzberg quoting the Buddha as saying there’s no one more worthy of your love in the whole universe than yourself.

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Guidance from the Past

This was first posted in April of 2010. It’s worth checking the original because there’s a beautiful response from Jalaja Bonheim that I turn to again and again for support.

(Written in February 2003)
Dear Guides, can you help me out?
Dear Jenny, we are so proud of you.  You did a splendid job of working with the pain on Sunday — you were courageous enough to face an enormous pain and learn what it had to teach you.  Not many people are able to use this kind of opportunity.  Your whole relationship to depression and terror has changed.  Instead of rushing to get away from these painful states, you are willing to go toward them with compassion.  Like the way you always met your mother’s misery with compassion.  Unfortunately, she could not see those times as opportunities for change, she wanted to hide and deny her vulnerability in order to keep “looking good.” You on the other hand have always been willing to face any amount of pain if it brought you to the truth.  For you, truth always had a higher value than your own comfort.  This time you faced the core of your pain directly, its source in the anger and merciless judgement of yourself for not living up to ideals that you could see, but had no foundation or guidance for actually living out.  To make this big a change from your earlier conditioning is a huge piece of work and we congratulate you.  Furthermore, your work on yourself has enormous ramifications and ripple effects on this planet.  As you work to bring compassion and mercy to your hatred and anger, you are making compassion and mercy more possible for everyone struggling with hatred and anger.  The direction the hatred and anger are aimed is immaterial.  Those who struggle with hatred for a traditional enemy find it no harder to transform their hatred than you who struggle with hatred for yourself.

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Write My Way Down to a Truth

Thursday, November 4

Yesterday was an odd day. It felt disjointed somehow, things did not go smoothly or naturally. I think I kept want to “write my way down to a truth” and not getting to it until finally, just before 3:00 when we went out with dogs.  I got down  to the important thing.  Two things.  One was Matt saying that the wounded parts need to be held, not healed.  The other was just a flash of knowing that Who I am, wounds and all, is fine.  I simply can’t find the words for it.  I’m going to have to track down the Vet’s story.  I used to think that I had to be healed from the trauma in order to “have a life.”  Now I see that I have spent my life in the service of truth.  Not in the attempt to do something “important” in the eyes of the world.  In a sense I gave that up when I saw that “Written in Blood” was coming from a wrong motive.  “To prove that I deserve to live.”  I dropped it, and felt a huge hole in my life, but that was just as Neskaya was coming into being.  Teaching Sacred Dance at Neskaya was clearly my vocation.  But now I’m seeing that rescuing Little Jennys is also a vocation, and it might not have happened if I hadn’t come to Kendal — shepherded just as clearly by the Universe as it guided me to Stonehenge.  The pandemic was also a factor, driving me in on myself and forcing the appearance of all the terrified ones.  I see the whole universe conspiring to guide me on this path, and at the same time I see myself doing it for everyone else, and everyone else working with me to create the wider, more inclusive, participatory, sacred cosmos.  “I am not a somebody, I am not a nobody, I’m a cell in one body filling all space…”

[“I am not a somebody…” is from a song we do a dance to called “Child of the Universe.”]

“Wider” because it’s bigger and more complex than the Big Bang theory, “more inclusive” because Black Lives Matter.  “Participatory” because, as Stuart Kauffman says “We make our world with one another, you, me and the goldfish.”  “Sacred” because God, Spirit, Creator did not create the Universe but became the Universe.

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My Wounded Part Needs to be Held, not Healed

This is from the Richard Rohr daily meditation for May 3, 2021. The writer is a Vietnam Vet.

I suffer from a disturbed sleep pattern that has been a part of my life since a nighttime attack in Vietnam in 1967. Since that time, I haven’t slept for more than two consecutive hours in any one night. . . . My sleeplessness became the central symbol of my not-all-rightness, of my deepest fears that I would never be all right. . . .

Part of the reason I had difficulty sleeping was because of my night terrors: the sounds of artillery (that isn’t there) firing in the distance, of helicopters on assault, that special look of everything illuminated by artificial light, the sounds of small arms fire, of the wounded screaming for a medic. For me, this is what rises up out of the silence that is special to night. I hated the sun going down. I fought and struggled with my inability to sleep, and the more I fought, the more difficult the nights became. So I turned to alcohol and drugs (legal and illegal) for relief, but my suffering just got worse. . . .

Some years after getting sober, I was standing at the kitchen sink in my cottage in Concord, washing dishes. Above the sink was a window through which I could see a row of fifty-foot-tall pine trees that lined the driveway. That day as I did the dishes, I was watching a squirrel busy doing whatever it is that squirrels do, when I had a powerful experience. A voice inside me, the voice of awareness, said to me, “You can’t sleep, so now what?” I began to laugh. It was a moment of complete acceptance. I finally understood that I just was how I was. To resist, to fight, to attempt to alter the essential nature of my life, was in fact making matters worse, and now I understood that I simply needed to learn how to live with the reality of who I was. In this moment I discovered that it was here, in the midst of suffering and confusion, that healing and transformation can take place, if I can stop trying to escape.

But I’m not special, you know. You can do this, too. You can face your own sorrow, your own wounds. You can stop wanting some other life, some other past, some other reality. You can stop fighting against the truth of yourself and, breathing in and breathing out, open to your own experience. You can just feel whatever is there, exploring it, until you also discover the liberation that comes with stopping the struggle and becoming fully present in your own life. This is the real path to peace and freedom. You could do this for yourself; you could do this for your family. Our whole world will benefit.

Reference:
Claude AnShin Thomas, At Hell’s Gate: A Soldier’s Journey from War to Peace (Shambhala: 2004), 152–153, 154.

When I first read this, back in May, I couldn’t imagine ever accepting that “this is just how I am.” I did a blog post about it.

From my journal for November 1

What’s really strange is that even this recent difficult time has not broken my connection to the wider, more inclusive, participatory, sacred cosmos.  I can still feel it there, under everything, like the floor that caught my pieces after starting S.E., like the “goodness beyond goodness.”  I thought that if I got to this stage I would be happy all the time, but there’s still a slightly scary unfamiliarity.  I think it’s because I’m breaking all those old family rules — Thou shalt not think thyself so great, Thou shalt constantly push thyself to prove thee deserves to live, Thou shalt do everything right, etc.

The “recent difficult time” was because we had to go back to just picking up our meals, couldn’t eat meals at a table with other people.  It’s generally a trigger for me.

From my journal for November 3

Want to write.  My brain feels blunt and sleepy, betwixt and between.  Hoping I could “write my way down to a truth.” What is sticking in my mind is Matt’s thought that the wounded parts of us need to be held not healed.  I also had a flash of knowing that just as I am, wounded, I am myself, not some distorted version of myself.  I’m not being able to find the words to express this.  The wound is not all of who I am.  The wound did not prevent me from being my true self.  It perhaps prevented me from doing as much in the world as I might have done.  But what if the inner work I’ve done to heal myself has been just as valuable to the planet as any further outer work I might have done — any expansion of Neskaya, or book I might have published, or work I might have done teaching the ideas in the Web of Meaning.

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Relational Trauma

From Matt Licata’s blog:

The tragedy of relational trauma presents itself as a cellular fragmenting, more primordial than a mere cognitive dissonance, neurally-encoded and rooted in the soul.

In addition to the chronic empathic failure and narcissistic injury which goes to the very core of our sense of self, what can be even more devastating is a deep knowing that “I’m alone in this.” The absence of companionship, of feeling felt and understood, is at the heart of trauma and devastating to a human being wired to rest within a relational field.

To provide even a sliver of hope, a moment of safety, where they can feel felt and understood, just one moment where they can re-link, re-associate, re-embody, and know a new world is possible.

I’m dealing with “relational trauma,” due partly to being left alone, and partly because Mother’s mirroring was non-existent.  Her way of treating me convinced me that I was not the person I am.  Erica calls it “mis-representation.” I notice that, if I can do something easily, I assume everybody can do it, if I have difficulty with something, I assume I’m the only one who can’t do it. I remember when I discovered that I had been gifted with all the skills to teach folk dance.  Someone was teaching a dance, we went four steps into the center, did a four step turn, and started the dance again. I asked her if the four step turn carried us back out to the circle, and she didn’t know what I was talking about. It was clear to me that if you took four steps into the center, then you had to move back out somehow. I realized that I have a very strong sense of the geometry of the dance, the shape it makes in the space where we’re dancing.  Not everybody has this.  Not everybody can talk about what they are doing while they are doing it. It wasn’t until I was in 8th grade that I learned that not every body got A’s. I always got A’s so I assumed everybody did.

Another helpful thing that Matt says is “neurally-encoded.” I often get angry at myself that I have been working for so many years and don’t seem to have got anywhere. The “neural-encoding” expresses how deep trauma has made a physical difference in the body.

Last night, someone in my Quaker support group — for which I am enormously grateful — pointed out that I am very good at giving language to my experience, and also able to stand back and witness myself. That started me thinking about how I learned to do that. It’s the scientist in me.

Because I had so many experiences in my 20’s of being left by a man before we had even really started to have a relationship, I often thought “nobody ever loved me and nobody ever will.” When I was in my 30’s, I bought a house in Brunswick, Maine, and settled down because I decided I would probably never get married. A gay friend of mine had moved out of the relationship he was in and needed a place to stay. I invited him to stay with me. At one point, we were both working in the kitchen, I said “Nobody ever loved me and nobody ever will.” Ron said “That’s not true. I love you.” A short time later a woman friend responded the same way. The next time I thought “Nobody ever loved me and nobody ever will” my scientist popped in with “That’s not true. Ron loves me and Trudy loves me.” I created an imaginary page headed “Data to disprove the hypothesis that Jenny is unlovable,” and put down Ron and Trudy. I added to the list everyone I could think of that I knew loved me, and would recite it to myself. Eventually I stopped saying “nobody ever loved me…” I still struggle with feeling unloved occasionally, but it’s not a big deal. More important to me is the belief that I am unable to love, and I have been helped a lot by the quote from Elizabeth Goudge: “Love is not some nice thing that you feel but some hard thing that you do.”

Another practice that I started doing, I don’t remember when, was called “Take a big step back…” I used it when I was feeling angry at myself for something — being depressed again again, not being able to get something done, numerous things I criticized myself for. Then I would tell myself “Take a big step back” and look at myself, as best I could, from outside. “Here’s this woman, traumatized in infancy, struggled with depression most of her life…” Sometimes it doesn’t work, but more and more often, I see a person up against huge odds, and my heart goes out to her.

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Inner Teacher

I stopped writing to my “Guides and Guardian Spirits” to ask for help, because at one point they suggested making a loan to someone who wasn’t really trustworthy.  This is something I’m very vulnerable to because of my childhood training that I had to sacrifice my own needs for someone younger and needy.  I saw that my “Guides” had been hijacked by that old training, and stopped writing to them.  At some point, maybe it was after my experience of the “Goodness Beyond Goodness,” I started asking my “Inner Teacher” for help.  My first recorded session with the Inner Teacher was in April 2021.  Since then I’ve been asking for help regularly.  Here are all the recent ones.

From my journal: Thursday, July 29

Dear Inner Teacher, I am feeling so confused.  I am desperately needing to be forgiven, or needing to forgive myself.  I feel/see myself pushing God away, and God looking at me kindly.  I don’t know what to do with this.

Dear Jenny, many spirits are gathered around you and we all love you  You have stopped trying so hard to “be good” to please those old childhood gods, and part of you is very scared that you have “lost control.”  You are learning to allow your life to live you, but this is so opposite to everything you learned growing up that it feels like you are wrong.  This is what you want to be forgiven for, breaking the oldest rules in your life.  And also why you are puzzled and confused about it, because deep inside you know that this is the right way to live.  Courage, Dear One.  This is the most courageous thing you have done in your life.  Yes, you will make mistakes, but mistakes don’t matter.  You are learning how to improvise with this process.  You are doing very well to notice how the Universe is supporting you.

PS  Desmond Tutu’s way of listening to God rests on a foundation of years of faith and practice.  Yours may not be the same, and that’s OK.

Thursday, August 5

Dear Inner Teacher, please help me with this suggestion to “relentlessly trust.”

Dear Jenny, it is very hard for you to trust the Greater Presence because of your experience of your parents being untrustworthy.  Because of the trauma it is easier to stay stuck in that place.  Choosing to trust is a very good way to keep “relentlessly trusting” even when you can’t feel a trustworthy presence.  Recently things were so bad that you weren’t even able to “choose to trust.”  You have managed to pull yourself back from that to where you are choosing to trust once again.  Right now, you are not feeling terrified so you don’t have that false urgency, but you are also not grounded in your true self.  You did have an experience of that recently so you know it’s possible.  Keep choosing to trust that the Great Mystery is unconditionally loving, that you are in a healing process, that the Universe bends toward consciousness and compassion.  What about teaching a course in your understanding of the universe?  That might be the best contribution you could make at this time.  I remind you that you have relentlessly chosen not to give in to depression and fear, but working with them, and continuing to search for the truth.  Well done, dear Jenny.

Note: the suggestion to “relentlessly trust” came from someone connected with Friends Yearly Meeting of Quakers.

Saturday, August 21

Dear Inner Teacher, I am very confused about which way my life is going.  Enough Buspar to stop the terror has made me lethargic and unable to use my mind for more than the simplest thoughts.  Please help me!

Dear Jenny, Spirits are with you, holding you in compassion.  You are in a neutral place to give yourself a rest.  You have been doing good work for the planet but you have exhausted yourself.  Because of the pandemic, you no longer have the “support of the ordinary.”  Once again you are beyond the end of your resources.  It is OK to rest.  There are many others working hard to save Planet Earth.  You are helping them by refusing to give in to negative, despairing thoughts.  The fact that you are having trouble creating positive ideas and visions does not matter at all.  Your job right now is to relax and take care of yourself.  Doing puzzles and reading Crombie mysteries is a fine use of your time.

Tuesday, September 28

3rd cup. coffee.     I asked Inner Teacher what to do about the sadness — which I’m feeling again today.  Heard: Stay with it – Bring compassion to it.     I could feel my heart soften.

Saturday, October 9

Dear Inner Teacher, what is going on with me?

Dear Jenny, you are moving on in your process.  You accepted the loss of your “good” feelings with equanimity.  You were able to recognize that even in this unfamiliar, shallow, practical experience, you are still connected with your deep self.  Well done.

Thank You

Thursday, October 21

Inner Teacher, what do I need to pay attention to? 

What’s happening in each moment.  Messages from the Universe are coming all the time.  Stay open.  Yes this process is uncomfortable because you can’t figure it out ahead of time.  The talking piece is coming your way but it hasn’t got to you yet.  Your job now is to listen with the ears of the heart.  Don’t worry if you miss something, it it’s meant for you it will come around again.

I offer myself to this process.

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How I’m Feeling Today, written long ago…

from my journal for January 14, 1993

This describes exactly how I’m feeling today.
written in writers’ group, listening to music

Changes like the Moon.  20 minutes

The river flowing, underneath, under the soil, down in the sand.  Massive, heavy, slow, dragging downward.  Leaking gently through the sand.  Like ink, indigo, blue-black, so dark.  Dark and enormous. And on the surface the little houses stand, nice little houses, each with a painted door and a bit of garden.  The people who live in the houses have worked hard to make them snug and cheerful, keep them clean and warm.  They visit with each other, call across back fences.  Are they aware of the river of grief that flows slowly under all the houses?

My friend Miriam Dyak wrote in a letter to me: “This river of grief that flows under all of our houses.”

The great winds blow, and storms and seasons pass.  Snow falls, blundering and blinding, the sun comes out glittering, then it all melts to mush.  Grey days and sparkling days pass like rain on the wind.  The moon goes through its changes, flowers and birds come and go.  Some days all is quiet, the river is peaceful, flowers nod under the sun, rain runs down the windowpane and soaks into the soil.  Other days the great powers of the universe shake everything and turn it upside-down reminding us that we live on the edge of chaos, that anything could be unmade at any moment, that the world itself crystallizes out of chaos a moment before we look at it, fluttering out of the interaction of titanic forces like clouds flowering on a mountaintop.  Our lives so precarious and fragile, trying to keep our balance on ice floes rushing down a river.

Unable to capture it in words, or even to find an analogy to the vision I’m seeing.  Titanic forces, great darknesses and blazing light and boiling winds and where they meet a momentary brief flowering of color that is our life on this planet.  A sense of all the complex forces that come together at the edge of chaos and especially how they are fighting each other, acting in opposition, tearing things apart, and right in between, where the forces are in balance, life and consciousness makes its delicate and fragile appearance.

Not so delicate and fragile either if people like Stuart Kauffman are right.  Any particular bit of life is fragile, but life itself is a natural outgrowth of the forces of chaos.  Life itself is tough and persistent and opportunistic.

For Stuart Kauffman’s ideas see my blog post.

Is it blind luck or synchronicity that I’m rereading Complexity now?  See my previous post which mentions Jeremy Lent’s book “The Web of Meaning.”

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“Priestess of Neskaya”

It feels very scary to call a part of myself “Priestess of Neskaya.” But I think if I were living out of my True Self, that’s who would be manifesting. This blog piece attempts to document a process toward integration of two very different parts of myself.

On Monday, September 13, I went to Neskaya to connect with Sandy Cooper and Mary Brubaker who have been working on putting together a video of how I created Neskaya and relevant stories from my life. Since I started having the parts wake up, I have had experiences that I think are a kind of dissociation. I’m not sure I know what dissociation feels like because I don’t experience leaving my body. One of my first experiences of knowing I had dissociated was when my mother said something really cruel and I wrote it down in my journal.  When I read what I had written the next day, I wasn’t sure it had happened and had to ask my sister who was there.

My experience at Neskaya on Monday was very odd and disconcerting. I know that I have had trouble internalizing the knowledge that I am a very good dance teacher and create ceremonies that are very powerful. There are times when I feel that I am “on” while I’m teaching. I think what I mean by that is that magic, spiritual power is flowing through me. I’ve never tried to give it words before. The part of me that was so hurt by mother telling me “Don’t think you’re so great” and so terrified by the threat to send me “back to Sears & Roebucks” keeps me dissociating while I’m teaching so I won’t feel the pain and terror. Which allows me to enjoy it in the moment, but it never gets built in as part of my identity. So I suspect that this recent experience is opening a possibility of actually beginning to have a felt sense of embodying the “Priestess of Neskaya.” This is similar to something that happened when I went to Dance Camp at Neskaya after moving to Kendal.

from my journal for Friday, September 17

Wanted to try to connect with the two parts of me that were trying to mesh gears on Monday.  One of them is the Priestess of Neskaya, and the other is Adult Jenny who used dissociation as a protection.  The Priestess of Neskaya makes me think of the one who appeared in body work at Kripalu in 1989.  Debra recognized her, or I might have been able to disappear her.  Too small for God, too big for my soul.  Taking the abuse of the Earth into my body to help heal it there.  9 years later I painted the Red Woman.  After teaching Dancing the Sacred Calendar.  I remember that the Red Woman started with a series of concentric circles, representing the cut down stumps that I saw at Genesis when I was there for contemplative dance.  I saw them as images of my life, cut off from its fullness by childhood abuse.  Then the information that my energy was not getting to my hands — stuck in the elbows.  Shift from what “looks good” to what “feels good.”  I “destroy” the first painting with torn fragments of paper.  Parts of me?  Building up a rich surface.  A “placenta red” oval at the center, pointed at top & bottom.  I think it might be a vagina, but when I go away and come back I see the Balinese Dancer.  She woke up at Samhain, and 9 years later (period of lunar standstills) she manifested her image at Beltane.

Then there’s Adult Jenny who dissociates from anything that her mother might have called “thinking you’re so great.” Her enthusiasm, her knowledge of esoteric things, her intuition.  How do I bring them together? Maybe they are negotiating their relationship right now. The process is in motion, and I can offer myself to it. Turn to a puzzle to occupy my neo-cortex because the process is going on in subconscious?

By a week later, I was beginning to feel pretty good. I had finished Jeremy Lent’s book The Web of Meaning, which I see as beautifully describing the paradigm we have to shift to if we are going to save the earth from global warming, pandemics, etc

from my journal for Friday, September 24

I have moments of sadness, moments of bummed out, but mostly I feel pretty good.  I think what happened is that Jeremy Lent is describing the wider, more inclusive, participatory, sacred cosmos that Francis Weller talked about.  I am continuing to read Complexity, partly to get a handle on that piece of the puzzle.  The idea of emergent phenomena, when a population organizes and becomes something greater that couldn’t have been predicted, where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  Perhaps, if enough of us work hard enough in all the areas that need changing, some kind of positive climate shift will emerge.

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Feeling Compassion for Myself

One of my constant struggles is to find compassion for myself.  Most of the time I’m angry at myself and hating myself for being such a failure.  I’ve treated myself worse than any other human being.

From my journal for August 9, 2021

Trying to remember what else I did yesterday.  Several puzzles, lay down on the couch, don’t think I slept, lunch with Carolyn and the Racusins.  I feel a chill in my heart.  Asking it, what I get is that I’m wasting my time, I should be working on healing.  Doesn’t doing puzzles with enjoyment count for anything?  What about lunch with folks, even though the conversation wasn’t anything special?

I think “What should I be doing with my time?  Maybe talk to God?” sending my attention upward, and then remembering that of god in me.  I think “Inner Teacher” and check my heart.  What I feel is amused affection.  Dear Jenny.  She works so hard, tries so hard to “get it right.”  Anita Moorjani says loving yourself is the most important thing.

“That of God in me” is a Quaker teaching, something I’ve been working on for a long time. Anita Moorjani had a powerful near death experience, and has been teaching about her learnings.

I become aware of Jenny, sitting in this room.  Plants inside and trees outside.  The incredible diversity of nature.  But there are also my painted wooden angels and the Ben Shahn — works of art made by humans — and my little dog next to me.  More amazing things created by the Universe.  The sun has moved on, out of my eye.  What an amazing person to have gathered all these things in her journey, things that she loves, that gladden her heart.  And it doesn’t matter at all that the room is a mess.  Can I love Jenny, who has managed to create this beauty and meaning even while struggling with the pain and difficulty of her life?  Yes I can.

Walking Mocha I began to feel really scared.  Trying to reassure the Little Ones, I realized that part of the problem is that I, Adult Jenny, is having trouble trusting that I am loved, that it doesn’t matter if I don’t get things right, that there is a bigger Universe that holds this small one in compassion.  I look at that terrified Jenny, walking her dog as best she can, and I feel a lot of compassion for her.  

Back from seeing Lisa Blackburn.  Feeling terrified.  I told my Little Ones that Lisa is entirely trustworthy and so is the Universe.  I choose to trust that the Universe is also an unconditionally loving presence.  I choose to trust that grace is available to me whether or not I “do things right.”  I choose to trust that the wider, more inclusive, participatory, sacred cosmos is real, and holds our materialistic world view in a larger context.

Lisa Blackburn is an excellent physical therapist whose office is nearby.

I look around my room and am aware of how happy I am to be surrounded by these beloved objects, and how much I enjoy the color of the walls, and all that went into getting them that color, and I see how all of it is gift.

Posted in Guidance, Journal, Present Day, Trauma | Comments Off on Feeling Compassion for Myself

The Body Knows, the Heart Knows

I haven’t posted for a long time because I’ve been doing so badly.  When I read this the other day, it described so well exactly how I’ve been feeling.  I even found myself able to cry, which rarely happens in the absence of a witness.
From Matt Licata’s blog for September 8, 2021

The body knows, the heart knows

So many of us feel shame related to our trauma, wounding, and sensitivities, as if they’re evidence that we’ve failed, it’s our fault, that something’s wrong with us, and that we’re broken and beyond repair. Even if we “know” this isn’t accurate, that cortical knowing is no match for the subcortical fires in our limbic and bodily circuitry, where unmetabolized grief, sadness, and rage dwell as the shattered children of our unlived lives.

The emotional pain is tragic in and of itself, but underneath is a psychic homelessness and deep sense that we’re alone, which is really at the root of trauma. Here, we long and burn for the missing companion.

As human beings, we are wired to co-regulate – to rest, explore, and play within a relational field. We were not crafted to “do it all on our own” – the nervous system that goes with this particular star is one designed to flower in a relational vessel.

We can do so much for one another, to transmute personal, collective, and transgenerational trauma and trance: The words we use, the softness in our eyes, our presence when we listen, taking the time and the care to ensure that the other feels felt and understood.

So many of us are living in a way that has been toned toward a felt sense where it’s just not safe to be who and what we are.

If you want to help someone in your life, start by helping them to feel safe.

While the mind may conclude that a moment of safety is inconsequential, the body knows, the heart knows. If we look carefully, we may see just how that one moment ripples out into the neural circuitry of the world.

Posted in Trauma | Comments Off on The Body Knows, the Heart Knows