Yesterday’s therapy appointment was illuminating. I nearly didn’t go because I have a shitty cold, one where I am prone to coughing fits and losing my voice. I generally get one like this once a year, and apparently now is the time. So anyway, I drug my carcass in and as usual, I’m glad I did.
The issue that emerged was shame. We ended up there because I confessed that I was living with a grinding sense of fear/shame around quitting my job. Every day I’m walking around with a low-grade anxiety attack on deck, waiting to erupt into a full-fledged freak-out. What am I doing? Have I lost my mind? Never quit a job without another one lined up! You don’t have what it takes to run a business! You’re going to let everyone down in your family, and EVERYone is going to see it! All the time, all the time, all the TIME these things are whispering in the back of my mind, a susurrus of impending doom, embarrassment and the worst thing of all – disappointing the people I love, or even worse still, confirming for the haters that I’m a screw-up, an impostor. And so, my therapist said we were going to work in the fine shamanic tradition of soul retrieval (except she didn’t quite call it that, but same same).
The first part of the mission involved inviting Bríd into the part of my body (I identified this as the area of my power chakra – my tummy) that housed this fear and shame. We did this while using EMDR techniques. When Bríd showed up, she responded like an Irish woman might, when presented with a mess, but gently. She told me we have work to do. Indeed.
Another part of the rescue mission involved putting together an inner super team of champions. I chose as follows:
Inner Teacher/Parent: Bríd
Inner Wise Person: My Grandpa Rider
Inner Defender: Duchess (my dog from K – 12)
Inner Fool/Humorist: Roseanne
Psychopomp: Manannán mac Lir
I chose Bríd largely because of all the work I’ve been doing with her lately. The reactivation of that engaged relationship has really made a difference, and I’ve begun to be able to discern Bríd’s voice when She speaks to me. I also chose her because this is absolutely her bailiwick, to be rescuing a family in distress (my family of origin). We focused on my family of origin, rather than just me, because I have a deep love for my parents and I know that their mistakes that they made were never intentional or vindictive – they were doing the best they could, given the choices they’d made. My therapist shared with me that some foster situations include the entire family, rather than just the kids. I love that idea. So we went with it.
When my therapist asked about Inner Wisdom, I responded with my Grandpa Rider without hesitation. I can’t think of anyone else who didn’t speak much, but when he did, everyone listened. He didn’t hold grudges, really, except those related to his generation’s participation in WW II. But despite his silence (or BECAUSE of it), he didn’t miss much. And even though I can probably count on the fingers of one hand the times he said he loved me, I knew it with every fiber of my being. The words truly were not necessary.
Anyone who knew Duchess should understand why she’s my protector. Even my dad, the Dog Whisperer, couldn’t charm her if she thought I was being threatened. Duchess looked like a mini-German Shepherd, and we never really knew her breed. Maybe some mix of Norwegian elkhound and keeshond, though she was not really houndlike. Duchess was my best friend and confidant when things were really scary growing up. She protected me from the Thing Under the Bed. So of course she’s my inner protector.
I chose Roseanne for my inner humorist because, well, I can’t think of anyone more like me in terms of type of humor. If I’m going to take a sense of humor champion along, I need to appreciate the humor. Roseanne’s humor is rooted in the hearth and in love, despite it’s occasional sharpness. That’s why I love it.
And we can’t do any soul journeying without a psychopomp, and of course it would have to be Manannán mac Lir, who I feel so deeply in this liminal place between the mighty Columbia and the Graveyard of the Pacific. Manannán is also a trickster, and I’m up for a trick or two. After all, my dad’s totem was Coyote, and I truly believe Coyote lived in him.
I’m spending some time at home this week building the groundwork for continued engagement with this concept. I have to work hard to get my brain the hell out of the way – it wants to cognate its way out of All The Things. That’s part of my problem, my constantly troubleshooting and calculating brain. But I digress.
So this week I’ll be spending part of my morning devotional time working with this. My therapist showed me how to do a mild form of EMDR while I’m meditating, so I’ll be doing that. I’m super tired physically from being sick and emotionally from, well, everything, so I’m keeping expectations really low. But expect that I’ll post here about it. This is deep, important work that I’m doing right now, even if it doesn’t look like it from the outside. We never can see inside the cocoon, can we? Not without killing the transformation inside.