Right around this time a year ago I got slammed by my first full on somatic trauma flashback. I actually pretty much brought it on myself. Firstly, I opened a portal to my wounds in ceremony. Shortly after that my parents came for a visit. I was on to the fact that I had some untended father wounds, but I couldn't describe the nature of them. I decided to experiment. Throughout my time with my dad that weekend I kept close in consciousness the fact that he fathered me. I'd just remind myself periodically, "I was fathered by this man."
For many people that move wouldn't be necessary at all, and in fact it runs quite counter to advice you'll read in books like Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents. I have a hunch that there are fundamentally two ways of responding to trauma: really identifying with the wound, or repressing it. Those who are more identified with the wound might find it nearly impossible to forget that their dad fathered them. In every interaction they are slapped in the face with it. For repressive types, like me, the actual wound is sooooo far away, tucked behind many layers of protection. I wanted to bring the wound out, expose it, so that my father could poke it.
Now, I really wouldn't recommend this to anyone. It was distinctly counter-therapeutic. At least in the short term. I don't regret it. I needed to feel what it was like to be little, to a be a child of his. The revelations of this and subsequent (though unplanned) somatic flashbacks were bone deep. When my nervous system gets totally swamped and some pattern seizes my being, the truth becomes suddenly unshakeable, and denial no longer has teeth. I've had many many nights of insomnia as these patterns worked through me. I'd set myself up with good routines, encourage myself I'd be okay no matter; did all the right things. If I was lucky, somewhere around 4am I'd break down and weep and finally submit to the horror of the truth that I had no power over my sleep. It was those moments when I had the clarity to honestly look at how I had to change my life to accommodate that reality.
I've strayed from what I intended to say, which is something like this: How we understand what is happening to us, the story we tell about it, the way we see it fitting into the larger arc of our lives, really matters.
Last year was undoubtedly the most grueling, humbling, and devastating time of my life. It was truly horrible. And it was exactly what I asked for, what I needed, and I cherish it deeply. I hold it close, wrapped in a blanket passed down from my ancestors that I kiss the fridges of, as if it dresses the Torah. There were periods when I doubted the larger story, when I forgot the significance of soul, when I distrusted the intelligence of the human psyche. Those were the hardest times by far. When I believed it was all a great metamorphic unfolding, soul alchemizing me, deepening me into my place in the web of life, it was actually ecstatic. I lived completely by God's grace.
I was about to write that I was lucky to hold such a belief, but the truth is it is cultivated. I remember my first program with Animas, back in 2017. I signed up because I found myself living and breathing a job that I realized was actually meaningless to me. I ached to discover why I was born. But I didn't actually believe I was born for a reason. I wanted to believe. I hoped so dearly that it was true, that we each arrive here in a particular shape, to pollinate a specific flower, that the great Mystery dreams us into being for a purpose. Maybe this is why my favorite moment at every Animas program is the wrap on the journey of soul initiation, because it would water that nascent trust. A circle of humans sharing a meaningful reality. These people traveled and paid lots of money to discover why they were born, so they must be sure of the supposition that they were born for a reason, that they were invited. The big question I carried on my quest was "Am I enough?". Put another way: Do I deserve to be alive? Do I belong here? I've participated in nearly 20 intensives with Animas at this point and I'm finally firmly a believer.
My steadfastness is because of what has happened in my life as a result of carrying that belief, not because I learned to better swallow some gospel. Believing that I belong here, deeply and specifically, has turned my life into a wild journey of transformation, coming home to and loving myself, and an ever-expanding devotion to this planet. It has oriented me when there was nothing else to hold onto. It caught me when any human might cross the threshold into psychosis. I am faithful to it.
I wonder what would happen if you experimented. Your life is here for a visit. Remind yourself that it is here for a reason. Say out loud, perhaps even in the mirror, "I was born for a particular purpose. Earth created me to fulfill that role. I am the only one who can be me. I was dreamed into being by a loving, intelligent cosmos."
Be warned -- the results could be counter-therapeutic. You might be overcome with the grief of not knowing your purpose, from being estranged from it your whole life. Like I did, you might find that the shape of your life doesn't match at all what you know to be of deepest meaning to your being, or that you are not, in fact, being you. Though painful, those would be very good signs, the poking of a wound that MUST be felt, and surrendered to.