If you’ve been here before, you’ll know I’ve been working with grief for a few months now. I’ve dived into deeply personal grief involving the loss of people I’ve loved, as well as less personal and more collective (although still extremely strong) grief about my country’s treatment of our indigenous people and asylum seekers. I’d already seen how grief was the central emotional theme of this lifetime and started to get a sense of how often shame lay beneath grief, hiding.
But in the past two weeks, I’ve been shown my signature move. It’s a bit like an emotional fingerprint – a series of lines and circles, unique to me, that doesn’t change – except this one persists when my body dies and I choose to enter a new physical form. I made my signature move in this life, for 20 years after my sister died, but now I can see that I’ve made it before – over and over and over again, across many lifetimes. And in the process, I’ve hurt many people who I’ve loved.
Because it’s not the grief that is the central theme, the most important thing to notice and come to terms with. It’s my response to the grief that’s really been important. First, I left… either literally left my body via suicide or left ‘in spirit’ by vacating my body, living in (or somewhere just above) my head, paying no attention to what was going on around me, numbed out to all strong emotions. And then when I realised I’d left, I felt ashamed that I’d abandoned the people I loved.
I needed to notice that along with the grief came anger and a sense of betrayal and abandonment – by life, God, the person who died, whatever – and then I projected that right back at the world by betraying and abandoning the ones I loved most, essentially leaving them to live life without me.
I’ve been living in a hall of mirrors – lifetimes of accumulated grief and betrayal and shame, reflecting back at me from every angle. A prison of my own making. No wonder I tried to escape the only way I could see how… up and out. Transcendence. Disassociation. First through alcohol and drugs and TV and work and shopping and sugar. Then through spiritual practices that bypassed Soul and binged on Spirit.
Well, no more. Because there was a final piece of the realisation that I needed to work through. It was to fully confront the reality that each time I’ve left, I’ve also abandoned my Soul. This past week, She showed me the most clear and gut-wrenching example I’ve seen yet of how this has played out.
It was old. The exact details of the story aren’t important yet. Her instructions were clear – I don’t need to fully understand the scene she showed me, including my exact role in it, right now. All I need to do right now is be willing to feel all of it… and acknowledge that I’ve been retracing the shadow of the decisions I made then for thousands of years. I spent a long time just feeling the depth and intensity of the shame and seeing the consequences of those decisions, made over and over and over again.
And when I’d finished crying about it, there She was. As always. Loving me anyway.
As much as the emotional dimension, there was a physical pattern I needed to recognise too. My body was going into a lockdown response to avoid feeling the shame, literally pushing the emotion away from my heart by clenching my gut, shutting down my breathing and armouring between the shoulder blades. But once I was able to really attune to the shame and stay there for a while, my body learned that it wouldn’t kill me to feel it and now I can sit with the waves of the energy that is shame, feeling them moving through without getting so stuck.
So now I can make a different decision: to stay here, in my body, whatever comes. Forming the intention to stay was fairly easy (it helps that I’ve been dancing around it for a few lifetimes). Actually sticking to it – actually living in my body in each moment – is way more difficult. Now that my body’s no longer going into a phobic reaction, it’s easier. But I’m realistic: staying in my body in every moment is probably not achievable any time soon, given how much I love to think and how good at it I’ve become. So for now, it’s enough just to download an app for my phone that reminds me at a few random times each day to check in with where I am and what I’m thinking and whether I can feel my body.
And every other day, She’s showing me a new layer of shame… a different instance of “I’m so sorry I left you” and a new thread of the “I don’t deserve your love” storyline. Now that I’m able to simply see and feel the shame and forgive myself for it, the process is far less dramatic. It’s also way shorter – for a start, I don’t need to spend hours beforehand running in circles of avoidance – which is freeing up a whole bunch of time for more productive and fun stuff. Most importantly, it’s finally becoming possible to let change be easy and trust that She’s got it handled. Because every time, as the shame moves through and I reach for the Kleenex, there She is. Holding me. Loving me. Telling me all is forgiven. Reminding me to play this song.
It feels like I have never known love like this. Of course, that’s only because I have a very short memory and that’s ok, because She remembers everything. As I’m ready, She reveals more and more of the mystery that is my dance with Her. What a wild party we’re having.