I was excited and a little scared on my way to see Carol, the Shaman who would do a soul retrieval with me. I was ready for it, I had a specific problem I wanted to work on and although I didn’t expect it to just vanish, I was hoping for it to get better. I was actually a bit desperate. Since Thanksgiving, I had been racked with guilt and angry voices arguing in my head about my decision to spend the holiday with friends instead of my birth family. I was also beginning to feel it in my body, achy and tired like the first stages of the Flu. No one in my family questioned my decision, or even talked to me about it. It was obviously my problem, not theirs. So I was eager to deal with it, to purge the voices and guilt for good if possible.
As I said, I was nervous and excited, I left our house early to make sure I’d get to Carol’s on time. I got there 10 minutes early, Carol and her two old dogs, welcomed me at the door and my first bit of nervousness dropped away. She offered me a cup of tea, in a mug or, as she called it, a hand warmer, (a cup designed to wrap your hands around.) Wanting the comfort, I took the hand warmer. I took off my shoes, (more comfort) and pulled my feet under me on her couch. She pulled up a chair, put her feet up on the couch and for over an hour we talked like old friends. Or she seemed like an old friend to me, there was that much comfort, understanding and trust.
We talked mostly about family (with a few tension breaking moments when her dogs and cat wanted to be let in or out) growing up and coping. She suggested that the imaginary worlds I created for myself as a child and lived in into adulthood were more than just daydreams or a means of escape. That I was already journeying, protecting myself and growing.
But it was when Carol told me that I deserved respect and lovingkindness, that I immediately felt it. And the more we talked about it, the more solid the feeling became. It started just below my sternum in the “v” of my ribs and traveled down to my bellybutton. It grew hard, like a rock or piece of steel and I knew it was true. I deserve respect and lovingkindness. And if a doubt started to protest, it came up against that feeling and dropped away. Please, I begged to myself, let me hold onto this feeling.
Going to my family’s dinners and holidays always left me feeling bad about myself with a deep sense of shame. I became irritable and tense. I would lose my confidence and have a hard time making decisions. These feeling would plague me for days before these family events and for days after. And although I started to stay away from them, I still felt as if I should be able to go to them. As if I was being a bad daughter, sister and aunt. I knew how they made me feel, but didn’t respect my own feeling, I was afraid of being seen as selfish, thinking about what was expected of me,instead of what I wanted and was best for me.
But Carol put the idea of me deserving respect and lovingkindness in my head and in my body and so far it has stuck. I kept coming back to the feeling of the words during the healing ceremony and I imagine that had something to do with them becoming a belief instead of it just being words. I don’t remember a specific moment when something happened to make this truth a part of me. It wasn’t like the alligator that I saw slide into my skin, or the words “That’s the part of me that dances” that involuntarily came out of my mouth. But something happened and now, over a week later, I more than just believe it, now I know it’s true. We all deserve respect and the gentle lovingkindness that opens our hearts and heals and connects us.
The voices in my head have stopped arguing and I’m not feeling any guilt about enjoying my Christmas with Jon on our new farm. I’m actually looking forward to the holidays, something I haven’t done in years.