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Symbols: the power of the psychophysical

Months after failing miserably to reclaim my projection in the Heart Warrior Council, I felt ready to try again. I needed to. I had to keep telling myself my intention: to own back whatever I was letting him carry -- confidence, assertiveness, intelligence, for starters. Without that reminder, I was sure to fall back into heartbreak and longing, back into the fantasy that it was about him, and not about me.

So I went out wandering in search of a place or a being who reminded me of him. I found a tree with really good hair, and explained myself. The tree seemed willing to stand in for him, so that I might go through the heart warrior encounter ceremony more cleanly.

I shared out loud some of what I'd been making him hold, "I project onto you an incredible creative capacity, a honed intelligence, an unabashed confidence to be in the world...." I scanned the length of the tree as I spoke, which curved as it emerged from the ground, remarkably phallic. "Right! I've given you my cock!," I realized. My virility, my directionality, my forcefulness, my courage to be blatant, my willingness to enter the world with my creative offerings. I need those qualities! "I'm taking my cock back!," I declared assertively.

I didn't successfully own back all my projections that day, but I did find a symbol that would support the process -- my own cock. A couple of weeks later, as a birthday present to myself, I bought a strap-on. I loved wearing it, and stroking it, which was deeply pleasureful. I played with it lots in my self-loving practice, and I brought it into other parts of my life as well. No one knew I had a massive erection beneath the desk as I lead a Zoom call. When I couldn't seem to put one word in front of the other, I'd put my cock on.

Dream maker loved this symbol I brought into my life and gifted me a whole series of dreams involving it, which complexified and deepened my process of claiming my inner masculine. Eventually I performed a self-marriage ceremony to commit to my inner beloved. Instead of slipping on a ring, I slipped on the strap-on. Don't worry, we consummated.

Symbolizing is incredibly powerful. Sure, I could have worked on all this inside my head, read a bunch of books, whatever. I mean I did that too. But to have something in my hand, outside of myself and physically in the world screamed to my psyche "this is real!" and gave me the opportunity to interact with it in a more relational way. We need some distance from what arises psychically to be able to work with it. Otherwise we are just swamped, hijacked, taken over. With some distance, a relationship can develop, a realization can blossom, a truth can settle.

I think this is the basis of all parts work. When I'm in IFS therapy and a part comes up with images or feelings or whatever, all of that is a representation of some dynamic in my psyche, a symbol. I'm able to meet that part as an Other. This is often super emotional because some deep underground inner experience is finally being seen and symbolized, brought out. It becomes more real and more relatable.

There is a deeply moving moment in a podcast I heard recently. A woman shares when she has to cross the aisle from the baby section to the kids section at Target. Crossing that threshold brought her to tears as she held grief over her child growing up, how short life is, how precious. That aisle was a powerful symbol for a transition underway in her life, a tangible, in-the-shared-physical-word representation of something huge for her psychologically. It is powerful to be able to hold in your hands a symbol of a deep inner truth. There it is, out there in the world. You can hold it close and weep over it, or put it to rest in the Earth, or strap it on. I imagine her heart dropping, as she looked up at the section sign, her feet suddenly leaden. The weight of this transition was probably building in her for quite some time, perhaps mostly unconsciously. The world gathered up all her grief and love and pressed it into the symbol of that aisle, so it could finally crash into her, so she could cross that threshold meaningfully.



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