A brief explanation of the recent project I did with Save the Family and why I did it.
To see the videos go to savethefamily.org
It was my pleasure and honor to be featured in this video. I am at 2:14 but I encourage you to listen to every person's insightful perspectives on empowerment. Please feel free to share the video as well as your thoughts on what empowerment means to you.
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.
When I first saw this image I immediately recognized myself as a grandmother. I have had difficulty seeing myself as a grandmother ever since I found out I was going to be one and in this image I recognized that archetype in myself for the first time. I wasn't ready to be a mother when I became one, I did the best I could under the circumstances and with my limited knowledge of what the role of a healthy mother would feel like for a child but I always knew I was lacking.
After years of working on myself so as to embody the archetypal Mother and eventually (hopefully) the Crone (along with my natural 'Magician' archetype) I was concerned that when I get to see my granddaughter I won't be ready once again, to 'show up' for her the way a grandmother should. But then I saw this image and in an instant I saw the work I have done. Of course I see age but I also see experience, knowledge, love and a dignity that I never knew before. I see someone who has strived to be worthy of my heart's desires that are just now beginning to be fulfilled.
I reflect with reverence on the journey I chose which was heavily influenced by the women before me - the Sages and Crones that passed on their anguish, their lessons, their hopes, their dreams and their love. I will continue to pull away at the layers laid on me by my past, appreciating what was once offered - trusting that as I continue to reveal my deepest self I will give the generations to follow the courage to appreciate what I and other ancestors offered without needing to adapt what does not serve a greater good. I will vow to honor the naivete of my youth as I honor the wisdom that comes with my advancing years.
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'
Micah's confessions and lessons that have helped with self-forgiveness, healing and acceptance.