Do you ever become mildly obsessed with a song because it resonates with you or something you’re going through? I had been listening to Salt and Shadow by Thrice over and over again after hearing it for the first time the other day. I kept trying to understand what it was about it that was moving something within me because it didn’t really apply to my current situation or how I feel, other than being a beautiful, soulful song. Then it hit me, it’s because for the first time in my life I do NOT relate to this feeling and that needed to be acknowledged.
The song’s lyrics are beautiful and they express how someone can be physically present but just be ‘salt and shadow’ always so far away. I have lived most of my life as salt and shadow. Wherever I was I wasn’t really there, I wanted to be somewhere else and even if I got to be in the place I imagined, with the person or person(s) I thought I wanted to be with I wasn’t really there either. Where was I? I was ‘half a world away’ always. I wanted to love but never felt safe to do so, not truly. Even when I was loved, I could feel the other person holding back, projecting, hiding, or they simply just loved differently than I did so I stayed far away. This didn’t help any relationship issues obviously; tensions grew and I grew further and further away before physically removing myself.
This is all something I knew was happening. I spent so much time and energy protecting myself, keeping my guard up, I had no energy to invest in myself or anyone I loved including my son. I had never truly known myself and therefore had nothing to offer anyone else and the more someone tried to reach me the further I would pull back. Only recently have I been given the opportunity to shift this pattern. I spent almost 4 years alone to do the work I needed to do on myself so that I would never allow myself to be in a relationship again where I felt like I would be remotely tempted to pull away. In this new relationship I would witness those old patterns creep up and with his support I had to force myself to look at the pattern and step back to look at the entire situation objectively. I needed to see if my desire to pull away was necessary as it had been in the past. It wasn’t. I knew that logically, even in my heart, but my body… my body hadn’t caught up with my mind, heart and spirit.
Each time I was triggered by something that reminded my body of something from the past I would pull away, in a sense abandoning the man that just wanted to love me in that moment. Each time though, I would open up just a little more as he continued to prove his genuine, pure, honest and very real intentions. Part of me needed to see how he would respond to me when I’m triggered or experiencing a PTSD moment before I would open up. I went from shutting him out completely the first time this happened to most recently, feeling what was happening in my body and being with it instead of trying to escape it. Then I needed to tell him what was happening in my mind and body, no matter how ridiculous it sounded so that he could be part of my experience, being allowed to love me and not being shut out. This last time was the most powerful, I cried and he just held me and then it was over. It was as though I had always had chains around me and in that moment of acknowledgment and embrace I realized the chains were made of mist and they faded just as easily and mysteriously as they appeared.
This song haunted me because I needed to acknowledge how far I’ve come and that there are still moments when a part of me, usually my body, is triggered by something from the past and I can feel myself fade into just ‘salt and shadow’ ‘half a world away’ and I don’t need to do that now. What I need now is to completely show up and remain present, especially when it’s most difficult because now I am loved and supported as well as always accepted for who I am regardless of how that may change from moment to moment. I am able to feel empowered in my vulnerability, not taken advantage of, taken for granted, exploited, belittled or abused. Remembering when I needed to escape and knowing that I don’t need to feel that again is one of the most divine feelings you can imagine, it continues to leave me in awe.
We are often told that once your heart has been neglected, abandoned or broken that it will carry scars but what they don't tell you is how comfortable you can become with those scars. In the journey of healing, you become aware of your scars and through healthy self-love, you learn to stretch your heart around them. People come into your life, bursting your heart open in ways you never dreamed and you remember what love can feel like. Tears fall as the scars are stretched because you feel something you had forgotten you were worthy to feel. The simplest, sincere act of compassion and love can expose how terribly vulnerable you still are and you feel it in those scars. You begin to accept that this is part of what makes you who you are and it helps you connect to others in a more meaningful way so you treat your embarrassingly vulnerable expressions with the compassion you know you deserve.
As you become more adept at the process of transmutation, no longer seeing yourself as something that needs to be healed but instead someone with gifts to offer others, you will be sent people and circumstances to push your development further so you can step further into your truest potential. It's easy to become comfortable in our aloneness where it's safe and constant. Solitude predicates transcendence and transcendence can become addictive but once it is an addiction it's no longer transcendence. One of the many paradoxes of spiritual pursuits. The continued need to transcend can become a way to avoid what we are on Earth at this particular time to do. It can lead to disconnection when not in balance. When something happens to make you feel uncomfortable, to test your resolve, that is your lesson to unite heaven and earth within yourself and demonstrate it in all you do.
What we aren't told is that sometimes, the deeper the love that comes along, the more uncomfortable it can be but in the best possible way. The best kind of love shows you the atrophied pieces of your heart buried in adhesions and brings it to life again. There's a pain that comes with this, a pain that reminds you of how these wounds came to be, simultaneously showing you how the past can still, ever-so-subtly affect you. If you want to keep growing you will have to let your heart stretch through and around everything that has kept it restricted. You will begin to forget why the adhesions came to be and only care about lovingly working through the pain of massaging and stretching them, knowing that doing this is to expand who you are and what you are capable of.
This kind of love doesn't feel like falling, it feels like a mindful, intentional surrender to each of your greater good. This kind of love comes along to challenge you to decide if you want to remain comfortable and settled in how things are or if you are ready for an adventure that will change you and those you influence for the better if you allow it. Honor the past with reverence in all it had to offer you and release what is no longer helping your (or anyone else's) greater good. Trust yourself and trust the process as you explore love in a wise and profound way. Feel your heart guide you, your body doesn't lie. Learn the difference between your body warning you and your body ready to embrace something wonderful if you allow it to.
Photographer: Ted Scanon of TedScanon Photography from a project we did together titled 'Becoming'
This simple exercise, just laying in bed, changed my life! In response to a viewer's request, here is a body meditation to help you manage your own energy when feeling drained, especially if it's because of energy vampires, abusive or toxic situations and people.
The spiritual laws and how they relate to physical laws and how they effect us and what we want vs. what we need. Look up Charles Eisenstein here: https://charleseisenstein.org/
Someone demonstrated their love for me yesterday. This happens everyday in one way or another but this moment left me awe-struck. It was one of those surreal moments that your mind is having so much trouble computing you feel frozen knowing that moment will be captured in a timeless resonance forever. I've had a lot of painful moments like that but not as many beautiful ones which may be why it hit me so hard. I was at work on a slow day and went to the back for a moment and when I came up front a young woman was sitting in my chair. I had worked with her for nine months at a location 45 minutes away so I stopped in my tracks and just stared at her. I was so happy to see her sweet face I am pretty sure I said out loud, "Is it you?! Am I dreaming?" She was teasing me about getting to work but knowing how far away she lives and works from the location I now work at had my mind reeling with why she could be there. That's what trauma brain does to you, it searches desperately to look for holes in something that seems too good to be true to keep you safe. The computer part of my brain accepted that there was 'no threat here' as she stood to hug me. Did I mention she's in her early twenties and pregnant too?!
She had drove all the way to our location to bring me a present with the most heartfelt card. I cried. I'm crying now as I write it. Another girl I work with bought me a small heart music box that plays, "I Only Have Eyes For You". How romantic is that?! To be clear, everyone is straight. This is what loves looks and feels like. I've noticed that younger women are the ones who seem to be most open and honest with expressing their gratitude to me. I connect with young women quite easily. I guess this surprises me because I grew up in an environment where the girls were petty and cruel. I never had real friends as I was the sensitive, awkward outcast, different from everyone else. This didn't change when I was married. In fact, it got worse. The venom that women came up with to make my life hell was beyond my belief, especially when they knew the danger their blatant lies would put me in. I didn't realize how much this needed healing until now.
I'm nothing extraordinary. I have my stories of pain and struggle too. The only difference is I see people; I mean, really see them. I see them outside of my own stories. Sure my stories come up because I'm human and I look for reasons to relate to other people and feel accepted, but when someone is in pain or needs a listening ear I give them everything I have so they don't have to feel alone or any of the other awful things I've felt. This young woman who brought me this gift, let's just say that she was sure she wasn't going to like me from the beginning but to her credit, she let her guard down and let me in and the rest is history. The most caring and sensitive spirits are usually the ones that care the most though; that's why they feel they need walls or at the very least, very firm boundaries you need to work to navigate around in a respectful manner. You never want to manipulate boundaries, just honor them and show up as you are anyway, they will do the rest in their own due time.
I share this for two main reasons... the first is that I don't want to hear crap about Millennials and their attitude. I raised a Millennial and can tell you that any grievance you have with that generation is on the shoulders of the generation that raised them. I made mistakes too but people are people and every person and every generation has its own unique approach to how you deal with them. Don't be lazy, see them as another human being, do the work, be the example! If I can do it anyone can! The younger you can reach someone and show them what it's like to be accepted as they are as you reflect their true gifts and talents the better the world will be. It's like tending to a young garden and watching it bloom. It's awe-inspiring. Of course, this goes the same for older generations, respecting the work they did, the lessons they learned and can offer - which brings me back to all these young people showing their love in so many ways towards me. They're already learning that without any prompting from me, just watching me and getting to know me.
The second point is that my heart bursts open thinking about how this seemingly small act burst my heart wide open. In my mind for the years I've been single I have told myself over and over again the kind of love I deserve and won't settle for less in a romantic relationship. Then, through all these small acts of kindness and love from people sending me cards for the first time to the little acts from the heart from people I work with, all this shows me that I'm openly receiving the love I know I deserve already. This young woman had the courage to reflect to me what I have offered others in a way that resonated deeply with me; a way that seemed to encode in my DNA my worth, my value. I don't love for attention or to gain anything, love is its own reward and now the people demonstrating it more get to see and experience that which is the greatest gift any of us can receive. Love grows exponentially when it comes from a space of gratitude and an abundance mind-set rather than looking at where we are lacking or feeling bad about what we don't have.
Two years ago I wrote 'A Step Deeper Into Love' and ended it with this, "...love is meant to show us and others our vulnerability and how this only empowers each person that has the courage to stand in that space and to hold that space with another person. Love does not come with restrictive expectations but with respect and honor. Love affords you dignity as you offer dignity to others. Love holds people when they are in pain, it sits silently when someone invites you into their experience, it reflects everything in the self and the other person and accepts it with compassion. Love is our fortitude." The Yin/feminine energy of December is a beautiful energy to experience.
Micah's confessions and lessons that have helped with self-forgiveness, healing and acceptance.