I’ve been busy this summer. Two and a half years after my perioperative stroke, I had but one area of my life that needed putting back into place: My Spirituality.
Having nothing to do with religion, spirituality “is centered on the deepest values and meanings by which people live. It embraces the idea of an ultimate or an alleged immaterial reality. It envisions an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of his/her being.” – Wikipedia
For me, spirituality ties the other parts of me together into a whole. Spirituality might redefine how I live my life, what my purpose is, and it might take me to places I never dreamed. Not surprisingly, it’s done just that. Additionally, it’s put my past, with it’s pain and joys, my eclectic interests, and my innate gifts for certain healing modalities, into a perspective and clarity I’ve never known before.
I spent the summer beginning a study of earth-based spirituality systems. I learned how to meditate; discovered my chakras and personal energy flow; embarked on a study of energy medicine; started lucid dreaming; and learned to walk between worlds. I began a course of study in modern shamanism. I found myself. I couldn’t be happier.
“Shamanism is an ancient spiritual practice rooted in the ideas that all matter has consciousness and that accessing the spirit in all things is part of what keeps the world and people healthy, in balance, and in harmony.” – Evelyn Rysdyk, Spirit Walking
I’m currently studying multiple shamanic belief systems, through more than six texts. I’m enrolled in my first local course with a well-trained Shaman. If that goes well, I’m planning to enroll in the training program at the Foundation for Shamanic Studies – arguably the best (Western) training program in the country.
One of the things I noticed in my shamanism studies is regardless of age, origins or culture, there are many similarities across the core beliefs of these shamanic systems. An example of this is the belief that the Shaman must be healed before she/he can heal. So if a community member has emotional trauma that needs to be healed, the Shaman wouldn’t be an effective healer if her/his own emotional trauma wasn’t healed beforehand. This particular example makes logical sense: It’s common for Psychotherapists to be directed, during the course of their training, to get into therapy themselves.
I’ve been healing my own emotional trauma off-and-on since 1993. The real work didn’t start until 2011, when I began Trauma/PTSD Therapy. Over the past four years, I’ve used EMDR to address individual traumatic (read: abusive) events. That therapy has been incredibly effective. The only thing left (apparently), is to forgive those that hurt me. That’s something I haven’t done. I’ve found it difficult to forgive people who don’t recognize what they did wrong and how it hurt me. People who are not truly remorseful for their actions or words. Furthermore, because they haven’t done any work to change their behavioral patterns, it sends the message (to me) that they don’t value our relationship. They aren’t willing to do the work required to make our relationship work. And they are doomed to repeat their abusive/bad behavior. How many times am I expected to be someone’s verbal/emotional punching bag?
I last spoke to my Mother over seven years ago. During that conversation she proclaimed that she’d “never done anything, to anyone, ever, that she needed to apologize for”. For someone in her 70s, that’s quite a feat; she should be considered for Sainthood. That was a defining moment in our relationship – because I had already lived through 47 years of her emotional abuse and manipulation. That was the last time I spoke with her. I know that she cannot be cured. I know we will never have a relationship. Not one that I deserve. And I know we are better apart than together. I’m content to be motherless, even if her inability to miss me feels like rejection and is painful.
My sister and I last spoke on the day of my 50th birthday. I’d never had a birthday party and I was finally having one for this milestone day. Instead of happiness, my day was filled with tears and the following text messages:
“You don’t deserve a special day”
“I wish you were dead”
“Never contact me again”
There were many others, more devastating than these. My crime? I thought I deserved a special day for beating the medical odds and making it to my 50th.
Recently she reached out to me. She had an excuse for her actions and hurtful words during the entirety of our relationship. She even offered an apology. Yet she said nothing about the pinnacle event that caused us to part ways. She believes that blood trumps my experiences in our dysfunctional and abusive relationship, but it doesn’t.
I choose the people I have in my life.
I choose to share my life with a small circle of people who lift me up. If you tear me down, you’re out.
I choose to be responsible and accountable for my words/actions.
I choose to address my faults and weaknesses head-on by being open: to honest and frank discussion about my words/actions; to correction of those words/actions; to making changes in myself first; to seeking professional help in making those changes; and to having true empathy for people who experience my words/actions.
I choose to recognize that I may have a problem if I exhibit hurtful behavioral patterns repeatedly. I will always seek professional help in healing the hurts that lay at the root of those negative or hurtful behavioral patterns.
I choose to respect the rights of others when they choose to discontinue their relationship with me. I recognize that it isn’t about me. They know what’s best for them, and if my being absent is good for them, I support and respect that decision.
I choose to live by a moral code, built upon a foundation of Honesty, Integrity, and Personal Responsibility. My life is focused on the care of the Earth and all its creations, including Man.
I choose to share my life with those who have similar beliefs, lives, paths, and moral code. Being blood holds no weight with me if a person doesn’t behave like blood.
The Shamanic path requires me to forgive people who have made other choices.
And so I will. I will do it fully and completely. It doesn’t mean that what they did is ok, or that I’m wiping the slate clean. It doesn’t mean that I’m open to having a relationship with them – I’m not. What it means is that I am purging myself of their negative and destructive energies. And I will not allow them to return to me.
I choose happiness.
I choose to be my True Self.
I’ve been on a spiritual journey this summer.