I’m still dealing with the fallout from the conversation with the elephant in my head.
She’s moved over a bit and I’m working on stuff.
(and I realized that I love the elephant for protecting me)
(and I also realized that she might be Ganesha, the elephant headed Hindu deity revered as the mover of obstacles and the God of beginnings…. Isn’t that awesome?)
It’s been a difficult time and I’m feeling very raw and vulnerable, but some good things are happening.
Really good things.
I’m working with an amazing woman, who somehow miraculously lives in this tiny village in Mexico at exactly the same time that I do and exactly when I need her the most. She is a shaman, energy healer, therapist and a saint, probably. You know how some people just exude love and peace and presence? She is one of them. And I get to work with her.
(thank you, universe)
I think of her as my teacher, rather than my doctor or counselor or healer — as I have finally realized that no one else (and, no magic pill, apparently…) is going to come along and heal me. I can be guided and supported, but I am going to have to do the heavy lifting all by myself.
The teacher approaches everything from three (seemingly, but probably not) different perspectives — energetically (chakra-ish), from a shaman perspective and from a more traditional, Western, psychotherapy viewpoint. It’s perfect for me, because I am more familiar with the Western view (having been the recipient of years of that kind of therapy/self-help), but am open to and have benefitted from energetic healing and am fascinated with the work of the shaman.
And I need help. So, at this point, I’m open to all possibilities that allow me to live a life that doesn’t involve repeating the same negative behaviors ad nauseum and despising myself until I die. Alone. Under a bridge. Unloved to the end.
(see how I think?)
Just a little drama to lighten the mood…. 🙂
So, it turns out that I have been on the right path! The teacher is thrilled that I’ve been identifying and having conversations with parts of myself (kim, kimmy and Kimberly, the walls, the monsters, the elephants, oh my!) and writing about it here on the blog, which in turn thrills me, because I am nothing if not a girl who always wants to be the teacher’s pet…. (hello, people-pleasing ISSUES)
And she thinks that I may need to befriend a few more parts of myself. Which immediately makes me nervous.
There are more?
(and then I start thinking about Sybil, and multiple personality disorder, which isn’t called that any longer, now it’s dissociative identity disorder, but really it’s the same thing and how many more parts can I identify before I start qualifying for a little “rest” at a clinic, which of course I can’t afford because I don’t have medical insurance and..)
And I’m resisting this idea because I’m pretty sure I know what led to my tragically low self-esteem, which, it seems, is the root of everything I’m dealing with now and, knowing that, I thought that all I needed now was to learn new ways to behave, not dredge up the old crap. Not find new parts of myself to chat with. Ya know? Why go over it again? I’m so tired of my story. Seriously.
But the teacher explains that it is not enough to have a general idea of when and why things started falling apart — i.e., it’s not enough to say “my parents were alcoholics with huge boundary issues, on top of that, my mother was a manic/depressive artistic genius and my dad was a charming, brilliant womanizer, and don’t even get me started on the sadistic step-mother, of course I’m fucked up!” — you have to go back and investigate what actually happened.
(and also, “how can I do that when I’ve got so few memories of my childhood?”)
She says that when there is trauma early in a child’s development, a part of the life force/soul/psyche becomes trapped or locked away. And while the child/body continues to grow and function, a vital part is left behind and if the pattern is repeated (and it usually is, because for most of us, life can involve some trauma…), the body/soul/psyche can become depleted, exhausted, unrooted from the source, literally split apart.
And that is where I am, folks.
I can feel the truth of it as soon as she says the words.
I am tired. I have no passion, no energy, no life force to work with. It’s depression, but not depression. If that makes any sense. When I first met with her I described that I feel unrooted. Lost. Like I’m watching this person, in this body that I don’t even recognize, living my life and I don’t understand her. I don’t know her. I’m completely disconnected from my body. I don’t know what I’m doing here. And not just what I’m doing here in Mexico, I don’t know what I’m doing on this planet. I don’t know my purpose.
It occurs to me that this might be far beyond simple low self-esteem issues.
And I’m scared.
So. The teacher explains that the goal is to try to find out when parts of your soul/psyche/energy were affected by traumatic experiences and to try to retrieve that energy and return it to the whole. Or release it back into the whole. Something like that. In shamanic terms, it’s called Soul Retrieval.
And it looks like I’m going to have to do it…
The teacher wants me to identify when, as a child, I was the most terrified. This freaks me out because (a) as mentioned above, I have few memories of my childhood and (b) for as long as I can remember, I’ve been worried and scared, so it’s hard to pinpoint which thing has been the most terrifying, when my experience has been that pretty much everything is terrifying.
Also I have this sense of loyalty to my parents — I quickly tell the teacher that I’ve never been “traumatized” — I wasn’t beaten or locked in a closet and I always had food and shelter and clothing, I mean, who am I to even complain about anything, really? So then we have to deal with THAT. Shame. No, I’m not like many of the kids that I spent my career in child welfare law trying to “save”. Those kids were traumatized. And what about the kids who don’t have food or clean water and die of AIDS? That’s trauma. And she helps me see that we all came here (to this earth, to this plane of existence) for different reasons and I shouldn’t trivialize my stuff, just because it doesn’t seem as bad as other stuff. It’s mine, it’s painful, and I’m here to work on it.
So, we decide to talk to four-year-old-me. The teacher helps me — she walks me through trying to find the four year old — What is she doing? Where is she? What is she wearing? What does her hair look like? What is she feeling? Will she come back to you? — and here’s what happens:
Me: (I find her — four year old Kimmy — under a table, in a blanket fort of sorts, holding a doll) — “Hi Kimmy, do you know who I am?”
Kimmy: nods yes and scoots back so I can sit down
Me: “I’m you, but I’m all grown up now. How are you feeling?”
Kimmy: “I’m worried.”
Me: “You’re only four, Kimmy, what are you worried about?”
And then it all starts flooding out — Kimmy isn’t talking (umm, obviously, since she’s in my head…) but I’m somehow remembering what happened when I was four — my brother was born when I was barely four and I was excited but then it was scary and there was a fire at my dad’s office and there was fighting and locked doors and my mom was unhappy and she painted a bad picture with a knife and blood and she cleaned out our house when my dad was out of town and we moved away from everything – away from my dad, away from my grandparents, to a new town and she was sad and she was angry and I wanted to stay in my house and I wanted everything to stay the same but she said I had to come with her because I had to help her. She needed me. And the baby needed me. But didn’t my Dad need me? And I didn’t understand.
Me: (crying) “Wow. That’s a lot, Kimmy.”
Kimmy: “Who is going to take care of me?”
And there it is: WHO IS GOING TO TAKE CARE OF ME?
And then I really fall apart (in real life, lying in the middle of my teacher’s loft office, while she gently holds space for me) and I see that little girl was so scared and she was too young to even comprehend what was happening, much less to soothe herself and she had no one. All the adults who were supposed to be taking care of her were caught up in their own drama and their own mental illness. And then I start getting mad:
WHO THE FUCK IS GOING TO TAKE CARE OF ME!!!! I’M FOUR YEARS OLD, PEOPLE. I’M THE CHILD. YOU ARE THE ADULTS.
And eventually something comes over me and I start to feel a little energy come back. And I started to remember that that was then, and this is now and that it’s ironic that my biggest fear has always been “who is going to take care of me?” when the truth is that it’s always been me who has taken care of me:
Me: “Me. I am going to take care of you, Kimmy.” And then I start showing her that we grew up, and we were ok, and we kept taking care of mom and then we had a baby (sweet Austin) and we took care of the baby and he grew up and we kept taking care of mom, and now she doesn’t need us anymore.
Kimmy: “But I can’t go with you, I have to help mommy and that baby.”
Me: crying again — she doesn’t know mom is gone. Is there really some part of me that doesn’t know, hasn’t completely accepted that mom is gone? And so I try to explain to her that we did help mom, and now she doesn’t need us anymore and that baby brother grew up and now he has his own baby to take care of and we even had a sister after that, and we took care of her for as long as we could and now she is all grown up and has her own little girl. But Kimmy still doesn’t want to come. She doesn’t want to leave mom and she isn’t sure about me.
Kimmy: “How can you take care of me? You don’t even want to take care of a dog.”
Me: …… (thinking: well that was a low blow, Kimmy…. but you’re right – everyone in this dog crazy town is trying to get me to adopt a dog and I keep resisting because I don’t want the responsibility of another living being, I’m done with taking care of other people/beings for awhile, I’m tired, I don’t trust myself to meet their needs…. but YOU are ME — I want to take care of you, I need to take care of you and I need your energy. Maybe if you come back to me, I will find that I have the capacity to take care of a pet, or not. Either way, I can take care of you.)
Kimmy: (climbing into my lap and wrapping her arms around my neck) “Are you sure?”
Kimmy: (clinging tighter) “I’m scared. This is all I know. Are you sure mommy will be ok?”
Me: “Mommy is ok, Kimmy. And we are going to be ok, too. Will you come back with me?”
That was huge.
I’m not quite convinced that the four-year-old is back with me. But the teacher says to talk to her and comfort her and be patient while my body/psyche try to make space for her. She says to rest when I need to, cry when I need to and to write all I can. So that’s what I’m doing.
p.s. I think the picture is the elephant with kimmy… isn’t that sweet?
p.s.s. I realize this is a bit woo-woo, and I’m not asking anyone else to believe in what I’m doing or take a position on shamanic Soul Retrieval or anything else, for that matter. It’s just me, dealing with my stuff, the best way I know how. And I’m sharing it with you, just in case it can help.
p.s.s.s.s. We all have issues with our parents, don’t we? I felt angry for the four year old, but the forty-eight year old knows that you do the best you can with what you have at the time — my parents were sick for most of the time I was growing up — and they did support me financially and they did love me and they did try and I know they wished they had been there for me (and my brother, and my sister) while growing up because they both told me that while they were alive. I love them both dearly. Maybe this should be a whole separate blog post, but it seems to be coming out here…. Anyway. I don’t want to discount my parents, or my extended family who did, and still do, provide me with unconditional love and a place to call home. I just need to sort it all out now and put the ground back under my own feet. And part of that is looking realistically at the bad stuff that happened.
p.s.s.s.s.s. And if you’re wondering how this post and the woo-woo work relates to the last post and the self-esteem stuff and the repeating patterns of trying to get my needs met by other people (read: usually men) join the club. I mean, obviously it’s related, I just didn’t pull it all together here. Stay tuned. I will work it out… 🙂
p.s.s.s.s.s.s. One of the very last things my sweet mommy said to me was “I think Mexico is going to save your life.” I wonder if this is what she meant.