Our Healing is Our Justice

Our ability to believe and feel is a testament to the self-healing we are choosing and have chosen. I feel the weight of these choices in every cell of me. How hard you fight. How powerfully you surrender to the demands of grief. How vulnerable you have to be. Our healing work is our justice and it requires more than we think we have within us. Far more than this world offers us. 
I am both grateful and devastated you know it.
I hope today there are breaths of assurance, relief, and peace that you can identify without struggling to. That you are met with grace and compassion when you need them the most, even if you’re unable to truly feel concretely safe in receiving them. Because safety is relative and individual and complex.
Like a human partnership, the partnership we enter into with ourselves is similar. It isn’t fixed, controllable, or even comfortable. There are two parts, and each is fighting for their autonomy to be acknowledged; fighting to be heard. However, most often, our inner child doesn’t know they have autonomy yet. It is our task as adults who are healing to invite them into it. Once they begin to settle into their voice, having a conversation, building a partnership, becomes more accessible.
Your self-healing doesn’t have an expiration date.
The way you are fighting is loud in me, honoured in me, even if it is silenced elsewhere. –written by Skler Mechelle on her website

I am exhausted from caring for sick children at the tail end of my recent move. I am aware that there are many, many feelings actively dwelling in my body right now but I do not have the energy to access them. I can feel the pain swimming through me like a snake slithering just beneath my flesh. It settles for a while in a warm spot and while it is sunning itself I don’t notice its presence. When it decides it has absorbed enough warmth it glides around, surfacing in my left calf then ankle, and moves upward to a hip and then the base of my spine. Another pain snake has wrapped itself around my shoulder blades and seems to have taken up residence there.

I wanted to write about what I’m experiencing right now, to honor it and work with it, but could not find a way to do so. For inspiration, I read some of the underlined passages of Descent to the Goddess. It just felt overwhelming and like something I couldn’t truly access. Then I remembered my friend’s website about trauma and I went there to see if something she’d written might help me. And I found the words above and remembered that healing is a many faceted thing; sometimes it is the tireless work of building a partnership with my wounded selves, or allowing myself to relearn what safety is, while other times it is knowing when to pause because I can’t do the work when I’m overwhelmed or when my children have need of me.

Reading Skyler’s words left me feeling seen for the path I have chosen. The not simple or easy path of finding my way back into my body and becoming autonomous. And I especially love the idea that “Our healing work is our justice…”

Even More Liminal Space

Part 1

To say that this divorce/move/mothering half-time is a time of change, does not begin to evoke the depth and breadth of what I am experiencing and have access to. I have a deep sensing that there is much material here for self-growth, if I can just stay in as many moments as I’m able to. It would be easy to focus on dedicated unpacking and developing a new routine but such liminal spaces are, for most of us, infrequent occurrences in our lives. They are not meant to go on forever; if they did, we might be driven to madness.

A dear friend and mentor (Ian/Bill Scheffel), who took his own life a little over a year ago, wrote the following:

Accessing the intangible means to be near a margin; passport control between countries for instance, a place where ones credentials are required, or where they might be taken away. It is to be in a bardo, an in-between place of “liminal time” where vulnerability increases. Liminal means “to occupy at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold.” I love that, to be on both sides at once. How long can we be on both sides at once?

As he points out, the liminal is not a space in which we are secure; rather, it is a time/space in which vulnerability increases and there is the potential that we could be denied safe passage if we do not possess some way of identifying ourselves. It is also a space in which being on uncertain ground can make us more open to synchronistic happenings and congregation with what I will call spirits for the sake of not going into a long explanation of all the beings and visitations that dwell in this place between places.

As someone who has worked with their own trauma for many years, the liminal feels at least somewhat familiar to me. Most victims of trauma I have known have a very keen sense of the intangible. It is as if the experience of extreme woundedness requires so much energy to survive that a thinning occurs in perception and there is access to both terrifying and wonderfully healing connections with the natural world and those things of which most people are often unaware.

In the physical realm, I still have boxes of things at my ex’s and the list of random things I remember I need to get from there continues to grow. My new home is just livable. My bed is put together and last night was the first time in over a year that I’ve slept in a bed of my own and in a room of my own. We got a shower curtain yesterday so after 4 days of living here, I can finally shower off the sweat and grime and wash my hair. Being differently abled, I cannot move quickly and efficiently. I pushed myself with the big stuff (and had a lot of help) so I didn’t have to spend a lot of money on the moving truck, but I am now paying for it with pain, exhaustion and a tendency to dissociate more often than I was. Seeing my younger children very little and now having 4 days without them is also an immense change in my daily life.

Emotionally, I am so very done with my marriage and yet we are still legally married and have to learn to coparent.


Part 2

Several days have passed since I wrote the above. My younger children have been with me for 3 days and are currently in the midst of a viral infection causing very high fever spikes. I have gathered most of the remaining items from my ex’s place and done more unpacking and organizing. I’ve had a few dissociative episodes but am sleeping with more ease and fewer night terrors and flashbacks.

I spent the first week living here recovering from the move and allowed myself to feel almost nothing. I didn’t push anything down but neither did I actively seek out my emotional reactions to moving. Rather, I allowed myself to dwell in that in between space of cognitive and emotional rest. Today, as I care for my sick children, I’ve begun to feel.

I am treading lightly with what arises; honoring its presence, being gently curious and trying to hold myself just above the well of feelings so I don’t fall into a place that is difficult to come back from.

Holding space with love

Finally, my own place. I spent my first night here last night and now I’m watching an intense, glowing sunrise that reaches it’s dusty, pink fingers towards me. It wasn’t an easy night. At some point I woke in a flash back and sat rocking and pushing my nails into the palms of my hands. I expected to see nail marks in the skin when I woke this morning but it’s as if my nails were ghosts who could not pierce the flesh.

The flashback began with fear, wild and crushing, driving me to run, but my body was not yet my own again. I let myself feel the arising panic, tried to calm myself then felt the desperate sadness that always follows the fear. This morning I let the sadness be a balm of love and empathy and it washed through me, not asking the fear to leave, just holding space for it. I had that familiar feeling of being someone else in another life and in the darkness of night I was River Tam from the Firefly series. We were on a ship meant to look like a salvage ship but somehow we were identified for who we were and there was no escape as we watched out the window of the ship and saw the carnage of gunfire raining down on ours, and all the other ships around us. There was no escape, thus the fingernails digging into her flesh.

I let myself observe all of this and I came back to being me. I thought about what was happening and I had what could be described as an epiphany, though it was a dark and violent one. I knew (and when I say ‘knew’ I mean there was no doubt I was remembering) that all those years of sexual abuse my father was anally raping me. I didn’t feel fear or shame, or any of the other things you might expect, rather, I saw it all with the sadness I feel when my oldest child recalls a trauma that happened to them. Then, as if it was the next logical thing, I thought of my dad and the abuse he suffered at the hands of his male cousin. I could see his terror and shame and rage. I remembered his alcoholic rages, the countless times he shamed me, the rapes, all the things I found so confounding as a child and teen. It made sense, such sense as I’ve never known. And I felt for the boy he was all the sadness I’d felt for myself. I wondered if that was forgiveness and then realized that it doesn’t have to be anything other than what it is. I don’t need to name it. And I carry that knowledge that while I too was raped and made to feel shame and fear, I didn’t allow that trauma to become a legacy. A strange metaphor, but it’s what feels right: It’s like I swallowed the precious trauma in order to protect my own children and though it was still a part of me, it couldn’t poison them the way it had me and my sister.

The sunrise went a burnished gold as I wrote this. Before that, its brilliant pink and orange felt like they were being birthed just for me and my new life. Now the blue jays are fussing and the sky is a soft blue. First night in my new home and already I have moved so much through my body, mind and soul.

Liminal Space

This may be the only chance I have before moving to reflect and gently prod at the underbelly of my feelings. I literally sit between old and new as I rest against the cushions of the couch that has been my bed for a year, while soft light filtered through the graceful shade of my new lamp illuminates the area just beyond the boundaries of my body. A few more days will pass, perhaps a week, before I’ll sleep in my own bed in a room with a door inside a home that is my own.

I have pushed myself well past the limits I thought were my own and have entered territory within myself I didn’t even know existed. I am exhausted, flaring with pain and fog and using caffeine, kratom, CBD, a multitude of herbs and mushrooms, and even a little bit of alcohol here and there in order to coerce my body to do my bidding when it would much rather be insisting I stay put and rest during the day or stay up and worry at night. It feels less like desperation and more a Will that refuses to give up until I have a key to my new home in my hands and I’m surveying what will most assuredly be mountains of 8X8X8 free USPS boxes full of my personal belongings.

I am curious to know what I will feel in the moments after my friends have gone and I am alone for the first time in my home. Try as I might, I cannot begin to guess. I can imagine myself there and worn out after weeks of hoop jumping and packing. Sometimes I think I’ll wander about the house, still echoing with impatience to have new furniture and artwork to catch the vibrations of voice and footfalls. Maybe I’ll just sit on the couch and finally breathe. Or go out onto the patio and sit sprawled and thinking about where I’ll hang the bird feeder and wind chimes. What I can’t imagine is how I’ll feel. My gut says I will have ALL the feelings.