Hey ho everyone, I’m on retreat. Not to be confused with “in retreat”, which brings images of horses and cavalry and bugles and General Custer’s mustache, all images that frankly aren’t all that welcome in today’s climate that is finally beginning to remember and describe our collective genocide for what it was. But hey, I digress. I’m on retreat.
What I mean by “on retreat” is this: I am engaging with my inner world, my dark night of the soul, my years-long spiritual emergency. Plumbing my depths will take me into an alchemical crucible, a shamanic, magical world where what has long lain hidden shall be revealed.
I want two things from this. One, to uncover and learn to love the river of anger that runs through me deeply. I’ve pushed this river down, dammed it up, time and again throughout most of my life. It’s time to get to know it. Anger (in this case) = personal power. Social, cultural, and familial messages told me that anger was bad, that anger wasn’t safe, especially MY anger. We don’t honor the beauty of anger in our culture. I understand all this intellectually but my body still tells me that anger will lead me to banishment, which is encoded in our cells as death. Banishment = death. Anger = death. I’m tired of being afraid of my own anger.
Sure, you say, that’s easy. Just stop being angry! Anger is bad! It hurts people! That’s where I say no, you’re mistaken, you were (as I was) misled by all the cultural messages out there about anger. Anger in itself is not bad. It’s what we do with it that can lead to hurting others. Just so we understand one another here.
The other thing I want from my retreat is more ephemeral and amorphous. Maybe you’ll laugh, I don’t know. But I want to be ME. Freely, unreservedly. I’ve held myself back, held myself in, held myself close for so long now. I exist in this tiny inner world I made. It’s tiny from the outside but vast on the inside, which isn’t such a bad thing maybe but that outside world just keeps getting smaller, like the squishing garbage compactor thing that nearly killed Luke, Leia, and Han Solo in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. I’m getting squished in here.
So that’s what I’m doing. Plumbing depths. Looking at the hard stuff about myself that I would prefer not even be there. Learning maybe to love that hard stuff and honor it for its place in my life, the ways it helped protect me, the things it taught me. This won’t be easy, but I’m determined and it turns out I’m already good at things that aren’t easy, like taking 150+ pills a day for years or multiple brain surgeries or, hell, not dying all those times when they said I was weeks away from pushing up daisies.
Here. Ha. I’m already wrestling with having said publicly that I’m good at something. That brings up conflicting beliefs in me. I’m good at it but how can that possibly true when I also believe that I suck at most things? Plus I have a further belief that (I’m whispering now) we shouldn’t say we are good at things because then people won’t like us. And what I really mean by that is that people won’t like ME. Which brings me back to banishment and death.
It’s pretty much all about banishment and death for me.
(My caps lock conveniently engaged on its own just then, wanting to show me how important the words AND DEATH are. Thanks, caps lock!)
(Oh hey, that caps lock thing is yet another evidence of the kind of magic that occurs when in this shamanic, alchemical space. No surprise. Expect more.)
Here’s a piece of wisdom for you, and by you I mean me: EXPECT MAGIC.
Here I go. I’m going in! Retreat, ahoy!