Future Desires

Journal Date: Friday, December 11, 2020

I’m thinking about my desires for the next 1-2 years.

Every day I’m getting more clear about what I want to do and how I will use this time.

I’ve been trying to get rid of clutter and all the things I don’t need anymore, so I can focus on what I do want to grow.

And I can feel things shifting even more.

Every day, I feel just a little bit better.

I’m so happy and grateful to know that healing is happening.

It’s my mission to actively continue this healing process intensively for the next year and a half (or at least 16 months, which is what’s left of my graduate program).

It will also mark the end of a 2 year period of Uranus transits that have been quite revolutionary for me (Uranus opposite Pluto and Uranus conjunct Moon). 

It’ll also be when two other transits end (Saturn square Pluto and Saturn square Moon), which will be starting for me in 2-3 months.

And I also anticipate that it will be around then that this pandemic will finally reach its conclusion, and when I’ll be able to return to normal life.

I’m not going back to “normal,” though. 

I’ve changed so much already, even now, and I know that 16 months from now, the difference will be even more pronounced.

I also feel that at this point on my path, I have mostly found all of the resources (both internal and external) that I need to fully heal… I’m not rushing around anymore, reading a thousand different things that I haphazardly just stumbled upon. 

I’m not so confused now, and I know enough from the many years of reading and research to be able to evaluate what I need next.

Some of the most important keys I already have are: 

–continued therapy with Daren

–continued practice of Somatic Experiencing exercises

–the resources in Pete Walker’s CPTSD book

–meditation

–my spiritual practice

I’m going to devote myself to this full time for the next 16 months (along with school and my writing).

I’m confident that I’ll be where I want to be by the end of that time period.

I’m looking forward to what the future will hold.

A Stranger to Herself

Journal Date: Wednesday, December 9th, 2020

Today I’m moving on to reading about the first group of exercises in the Somatic Experiencing program.

“When you have been traumatized, you’re often unable to feel your own physical boundaries, because of disconnection from your body. This can have an impact in other areas of your life, such as setting boundaries in relationships, because it’s impossible to set limits if you have no sense of your own boundaries. 

Rebuilding connection is really the key to all of these exercises, because trauma is about a loss of connection, first to the body and self, and second to others and the environment.”

I’ve never heard trauma defined that way before, but I like this definition, and I agree.

There are many other trauma symptoms I’ve suffered from (not to mention all the diagnoses I’ve accumulated over the years), but I think that this disconnection is what is at the root of all of them.


There is nothing like being disconnected from your own self. 

It is the strangest pain; a blunt force that destroys without direction; a vast field of emptiness; an abyss where a soul should be.

To feel “lonely” or “alone” does not even begin to describe it.

Alone implies one— a unity which stands apart. 

I was less than one—a nothing, a void whose only meaning was in what was missing.

Sometimes, when I imagined my own death, I would picture my grave, and the epitaph which would read: 

Here lies
E.R.
—was never loved
and died
a stranger to herself.
1988 — 20xx

The Little Match Girl

A sad little girl with black hair holding matches out in the snow

Journal Date: November 28, 2020

This morning, I was trying to keep reading. I didn’t know what else to do.

So I picked up Women who Run with the Wolves again, and opened it where I’d left off at Chapter 10.

This turned out to be a chapter that had more than one story in it.

So I finished the first part, with the story of “La Llorona,” and kept reading into the next one.

This one was called “The Little Match Girl.”

It was not what I expected it would be.

I’d heard of it, and even read it once before (as part of an assignment Mama Gena had included as part of our homework in GPS).

But this time, it shocked me. Because I saw that this story was about me.

It told of a poor little girl who lived alone in a dark forest. She had no mother and no father. She had no money or possessions, either, except for a few matches that she bought for half a penny and sold for one.

Winter came, and the cold weather, and she tried to go sell the matches in the nearby town. 

“She wandered the streets and begged strangers, would they please buy matches from her? But no one stopped and paid her any attention.”

One night, suffering from the cold, she decided to light her matches to warm herself, though she had no wood and no kindling.

Every time she lit a match, she found herself immersed in some fantasy, only to awaken again colder than ever.

She struck the third and final match, and in her fantasy her grandmother appeared, “so warm and so kind, and the child felt so happy to see her…” But then the grandmother began to fade, as the little match girl felt herself rise up into heaven.

The story ends sadly, with the little match girl found cold and dead between the houses the next morning.


It wasn’t this telling of the story that resonated with me so much as the commentary that followed.

Here is the first paragraph of interpretation after the story:

“This chid lives in an environ where people do not care. If you are in one of these, get out.”

Hm. Well, that was pretty direct. 

She continues: “This child is in a milieu where what she has, little fires on sticks–the beginnings of all creative possibilities–are not valued. If you are in this predicament, turn your back and walk away.”

Estes seems to feel pretty strongly about this. She goes on to say, “This child is in a psychic situation in which there are few options. She has resigned herself to her ‘place’ in life. If this has happened to you, unresign yourself and come out kicking ass.”

I feel that this has been where I have been most of my life. I had resigned myself to place for so long. I had come to believe that there was no other way for me.

“She cannot awaken to a life with a future because her wretched life is like a hook upon which she hangs daily. In initiations, spending a significant amount of time under difficult conditions is part of a dismemberment that severs one from ease and complacency. As an initiatory passage, it will come to a conclusion, and the newly ‘sanded down’ woman will commence a refreshed and enwisened spiritual and creative life. 

However, women in the Match Girl condition could be said to be involved in an initiation that has gone awry. The hostile conditions do not serve to deepen, only to decimate. Another venue, another environ, with different supports and guides, must be chosen.”

I think this is why I have been so focused on wanting to move to Mexico City. I have intuited the fact that this is not an environment where I will ever be able to grow. I’m 32, and it still seems impossible. I don’t think the conditions around me will ever change. So I’ve decided I must go somewhere else.


“The Match Girl wanders the streets and she begs strangers to buy matches from her. This scene shows one of the most disconcerting things about injured instinct in women, the giving of light for little price… Bad lovers, rotten bosses, exploitative situations, wily complexes of all sorts tempt a woman to these choices.”

This has been true about me. It has been the saddest thing about me, about my life: my willingness to lower the price, to just give myself away to anyone, to beg them to accept me. 

But how was I supposed to know better? I was always taught (by words and by force) that this was the only way.

“The Match Girl lights more matches. Each fantasy burns out, and again the child is in the snow and freezing. When the psyche freezes, a woman is turned toward herself and no one else.”

And it was all for no use. Every shitty boss, emotionally abusive partner, it all ended the same. With me left even more out in the cold, again. Everything I did to hold on to the fantasy ensured my own future end.


“It is a psychic fact that when libido or energy wanes to the point where its breath no longer shows on the mirror, some representation of the Life/Death/Life nature shows up, here portrayed by the grandmother. It is her work to arrive at the death of something, to incubate the soul that has left its husk behind, and to care for the soul till it can be born anew.”

I’m at that point now. I’ve spent this past year in surrender, dying to everything I’ve ever known or believed to be true. 

I’m ready to move forward. I’m dying to be reborn.

A sad little girl with black hair out in the snow

“And that is the blessedness of everyone’s psyche. Even in the event of such a painful ending as the Match Girl’s, there is a ray of light. When enough time, discontent, and pressure have been brought to bear, the Wild Woman of the psyche will hurl new life into a woman’s mind, giving her opportunity to act in her own behalf once more. As we can see from the suffering involved, it is far better to heal one’s addiction to fantasy than wait around wishing and hoping to be raised from the dead.”

When We Dead Awaken: Part 3

If I’m ever going to create my future, I’m going to have to come to terms with my past.

I’ve been trying to avoid it, deny it, explain it away, make excuses for it, compensate for it, erase it, and so much more.

I’ve struggled to accept that this is the truth of my life. That this isn’t “just a phase.” It isn’t just going to disappear one day like it never happened.

I think I may have (unconsciously) thought that if I worked hard enough I would be “cured,” I’d become 100% “better”, and it would all be as if nothing had ever happened. That there would be some kind of “redemption” where I would be saved from my own damn self.

In practice what this meant was that I was working toward a model, a “goal” identity, that was completely inappropriate for me.

I wanted so badly to be normal. I would have done anything to not be so “complicated.”

The ideal future self I had in mind was so boring, so basic. So unthreatening. She was some happy, carefree, extraverted, easy going, and very chill girl (that’s why they said they wanted from me, right?).

I thought I could nip and tuck and edit away all of my humanity, become acceptable to the greater mass of society, and call it a success. 

I would know I had “made it” when I was deemed normal by everyone and no one ever said anything bad about me ever again.

That was my vision for health: to completely erase myself, and finally just be what everyone else wanted me to be. 


My vision now is this: I will not deny my past, I will not erase this self. I will not even try to compensate for the suffering I’ve had with some grandiose and misguided attempt to “make it all worth it.”

I will integrate my past. I will honor myself.

I will acknowledge all of the places and the people I have been, regardless of how strange or scary others find them to be.

I will speak to the truth of who I was, and how it was that I became who I am today.

When We Dead Awaken: Part 2

One of the biggest limiting beliefs that I’ve had is the idea that I should rely on the outer environment to define me.

The idea of defining myself, for myself, has seemed an impossibility for me. 

Maybe the logic was, “I can’t trust myself. My opinion is meaningless, especially when it comes to my own self.”

I felt I could only rely on other people, or on the outside world in general, as an accurate and meaningful measure of my worth.

So I spent my life running around trying to satisfy everybody else’s ideas of who I was supposed to be.

Which was an impossible task–everyone had a different plan for me, and satisfying one would inevitably upset another.

I came to understand that on some level, but I still felt compelled to keep going with it anyway (only now feeling trapped and full of despair).

Every comment, criticism or offhand remark was seized upon and picked apart for clues to my identity.

“Am I in here somewhere?” I wondered as I ruminated on every word.

“Am I okay yet?” was the even more desperate and tragic subtext below it all.

“Am I a worthwhile human being yet? Do I deserve to exist now? How about now? Now??”

It breaks my heart to look at this, and admit how I have been.

It truly is sad that I was living like this for so long.

It’s no wonder I was so miserable. Of course. Anyone would be.

I also have compassion for myself. I see exactly how I came to be this way, and I understand.

The abuse within my family was so relentless, severe and specifically targeted to keep me from having any sense of self. 

Especially when younger, it was safer to remain amorphous, to just not have a self, to be mutable enough to quickly contort myself into whatever anyone else demanded. 

The sooner I abandoned myself, the sooner the shame and humiliation would subside. Just give in, agree–it’s much easier that way.

I still remember the words. “Oh, well! Look at you!” and then as an aside to another family member, ”Who does she think she is??”

There were plenty of punishments for when I was bad, but the worst were the humiliations for being “too good.”

Like when my mom would hear all the good reports about me at parent-teacher conferences, she would attack, and accuse, and humiliate me.

She would say say the teacher must be stupid, because you’re fooling her… or, that it was just more evidence of my guilt; I’m lying to this poor woman, trying to fool her into believing I’m something I’m not. 

“If only she knew what you were really like at home–you’re like the devil!”

This created a horrifying double bind by which I had to live: I had to be good, I had to try to be perfect to be acceptable and redeem myself; but I could NOT be good, as it then became proof of my badness, showing how manipulative and deceptive I truly was.

Any action or inaction on my part became proof of my inherent unworthiness. It was all proof of how I was undeserving, bad, a lost cause, the devil. 

When We Dead Awaken: Part 1

Journal Date: November 28, 2020

I wanted to pick up where I left off before, writing in response to what I had learned from my B.O.T.A. lessons the night before.

There was one idea in particular that captured my attention, and I think it is worth repeating here:

“So long as we ascribe power, wisdom, supply or anything else of worth to external conditions, just so long we are dreaming. The sources of life and power are within us. Human personality is like a projection machine. Human environment is like a screen. Our mental imagery (inside us) makes the pictures, and the words of our mouths incite the reactions we experience. But the light which projects the pictures is an inner light… the light of the One Self.

When we awake we come to ourselves as did the Prodigal. We stop dreaming. We are freed from the nightmare terrors besetting those who dwell in dust. Then we find the Creative Word in our mouths and in our hearts. We learn that our “speech,” that is, our mental definitions of ourselves and our relations to our circumstances, never return to us void. If our definitions be wrong, because we are deluded by appearances, the appearances grow worse and worse. When we awake and come to ourselves, a new set of pictures is projected on the screen of our environment.”

–TF 36, “The Tower”

Before I get too far into the details, I wanted to mention this little synchronicity: I read a very similar concept earlier in the afternoon yesterday, only in my psychology textbook.

The chapter was about worry and anxiety, and how these mental and emotional conditions can lead directly to physical health problems.

It basically described the Law of Attraction, only in the book they called it “the Law of Expectation,” and they had a very different explanation for how it all worked than B.O.T.A. It was rooted in physical causation, in contrast to B.O.T.A.’s assertion of spiritual/energetic causes, but the process was essentially the same. 

They cautioned against worrying (as it “creates stress”, “rehearses failure”, releases harmful biochemicals, etc.), promoted the practice of visualization for success, and even suggested a focus on the sense of touch being included in visualization practices (just like B.O.T.A. did).

They described essentially the same tools, the same processes, the only difference being the causal mechanisms attributed to each.

I thought this was an interesting coincidence (or synchronicity). I was impressed to see the same content and concepts appearing in these two different areas of life at exactly the same time.

I feel that now I’m on the right track. Clearly, there’s something to all of this.

And this is just one of many little meaningful coincidences that have cropped up repeatedly over the past week or so… 

I like where I’m heading.

Encountering the Animus

Journal Date: November 25, 2020

I decided to do some reading for fun, for myself, so I picked up Women who Run with the Wolves again. 

I’m picking up where I left off, in the chapter on nurturing the creative life.

And once again, I’m finding that it’s exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it.

As I picked up where I’d left off, the theme of the chapter turned to the nature of the animus in a woman’s psyche.

This is something that has long interested me. I knew my inner masculine was far from healthy, but I was lost as to what to do about it. I think here, I have found a way to start.


“Animus can best be understood as a force that assists women in acting on their own behalf in the outer world. Animus helps a woman put forth specific and feminine inner thoughts and feelings in concrete ways.”

“He brings ideas from ‘out there’ back into her, and he carries ideas from her soul-self across the bridge to fruition and ‘to market’. Without the builder and maintainer of this land bridge, a woman’s inner life cannot be manifested with intent in the outer world.” 


Furthermore, Estes speaks of the distrust many women feel for the masculine, even within themselves.

“Generally, this wariness comes from barely beginning to be healed traumas from family and culture during times previous, times when women were treated as serfs, not as selfs.”

And it is not even “previous times” for all. Not for me. This treatment was for me, in my time.

I think that’s the core of the issue: I was denied the right to have a self. 

I was forbidden from myself.

I felt I existed only as a reflection, as a means to another’s end.

“It is still fresh in wild woman’s memory that there was a time when gifted women were tossed away as refuse, when a woman could not have an idea unless she secretly embedded and fertilized it in a man who then carried it out into the world under his own name.”

This has been the most painful part of it all: my alienation from self. My disconnection from my own body, mind, heart and soul. My self-betrayal and self-abandonment, based only on the assumption that I had less of a right (to think, to act, to be) than anyone else.


“The key aspect to a positive animus development is actual manifestation of cohesive inner thoughts, impulses and ideas.” 

The positive animus appears to be action oriented, concerned with bringing form to the ideal. It is practical, not simply theoretical.

“Archetypally, the King [representing the Animus] symbolizes a force that is meant to work in a woman’s behalf and for her well-being, governing what she and soul assign to him, ruling over what psychic forces are granted to him.”

Unfortunately, the masculine as I have come to know it is not this way.

I have experienced the masculine not as protector, but as perpetrator. As the source of violence and fear. As that which seeks to control, and to silence me. 

Even if only my own inner masculine, the animus which rules my terrorized interior world with an iron fist.


“But what if something takes over the creative flow, making it muddier and muddier? What if we become trapped by that, what if we somehow perversely begin to derive issue from it, to not only like it but rely on it, make a living by it, feel alive through it? What if we use it to get us out of bed in the morning, to take us somewhere, to make us a somebody in our own minds? Those are the traps that wait for all of us.” –Clarissa Pinkola Estes

It is definitely a trap that I have fallen into. 

And haven’t really gotten out of.

Honestly, I’m still here, wallowing in it as we speak.

I think it’s a great question to ask: What purpose is your illness/inferiority complex/lack of creativity serving for you?

Because it does serve some purpose at this point.

First, it’s a great excuse.

It gives me all the reasons I could ever need for why I can’t do x, y or z.

It allows me to tell myself, “Well, my unhappiness/lack of success/whatever is because I’m not really trying. If it weren’t for this, it would all be different…”

It allows me to avoid taking responsibility for my own life.

I can keep blaming it all on someone else, and keep away from the recognition of how I continually give away my power.

Because yes, I do have power. Even now.

I don’t have to wait until everything is “perfect,” until I’m “fully healed” or have gained approval or validation or whatever it is I’ve been waiting for.

I could start now if I wanted to. If I chose to. 

I’m starting to suspect that I’ve always had more power than I think I do.

I must stop assuming otherwise. 

It’s not just out of fear, but laziness, that I do this.

Because assuming I am powerless amounts to an act of surrender.

By refusing to look at all the options I have to create and influence change, it is as if I were just handing over my life and my self to whatever it is outside of me that would have me in subservience.

It’s time for me to remember: I don’t have to do that anymore.

Mars Retrograde 2020

Journal Date: November 14, 2020

Mars finally stationed direct yesterday, after spending over two months retrograde.

“Mars is abrasive, courageous, alarming, bold, inciting, aggravating, confident, heated, and action-oriented. When retrograde, Mars makes us review our leadership style, our relationship to our agency, and our ability to carve our way into the world.

The weeks of Mars retrograde offered us lessons on how to turn towards our anger. Fuel for our engines when worked with consciously, rage is a righteous reaction to injustice–it’s just not a place where we can build a home. Tempers teach us what upsets us and why, when our boundaries have been crossed and how, what to demand and when.” –Chani Nicholas

All of this is true. I feel like I have learned more about these various Mars-related themes in the past two months than maybe ever before in my life up until now.

I spent almost all of the Mars retrograde period FURIOUS (and I’m actually not mad about that).

It was time for me to feel it. I was late to the game here. I had a lifetime’s worth of rage I was suppressing, and it was destroying me.

There were a million things that I should have been mad about, but couldn’t even see. I couldn’t allow myself to do so. I wasn’t “allowed” to be mad, ever.

I’m still not “allowed,” but fuck it, I’m going to go ahead and be mad, anyway.

My anger was the missing key. My rightful rage granted me access to everything else. It opened the doors to clear knowing in a way that nothing ever has before.

It’s been uncomfortable as hell, but still, I am grateful for it. I have seen more and grown more in the past two months that I would have imagined was possible for me.

VITRIOL

I’ve been thinking often about the past.

That is nothing new. But what is new are the things that are coming up for me.

So many long-forgotten memories are coming to the surface.

So many feelings and events and versions of me that I have mostly been avoiding. The past is so painful, I’ve just wanted to bury the entire thing and forget about it all.

But I’ve been surprised by my self the past few days; not all of these memories are bad ones.

There are actually many, many things which have made me smile. And some which have even made me feel very proud of myself and the person I was.


Mostly, it has been bittersweet.

I’ve been able to look back and see that there were so many good things about me that I have chosen to not recognize.

And I have found that even in the most painful, tragic circumstances of my past, there is the recognition that I was truly doing the best I knew how to do.

Now that I’m further removed from it, I can see the impossibility of the situation for what it was. I can forgive myself now. What I did then didn’t mean what I thought it did at the time. Even in my greatest darkness, I find that there is some redemption.

Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidem

“Visit the innermost parts of the Earth; by setting things right, you will find the Hidden Stone.”

I came across this phrase as I was reading a book on alchemy last night.

I wrote it down immediately. I felt it was perfect for the process I am undergoing now.

I’m visiting the deepest parts of myself, places I didn’t even know existed still. I am going to the core of my being, and with new vision, I find that I am capable of setting things right.

I am finding that what I pushed down as unworthy, the things that weighed heavy on my heart like lead, often contained a secret shimmer of gold.

Albedo: The White Phase of Alchemy

If we have been able to surrender to the darkness of the nigredo, we may find that a shift begins to occur. 

The blackness that once seemed to only grow ever deeper begins to recede. The heaviness starts to lift as we relinquish our attachments to past beliefs, habits, ways of being, etc.

As with any death, the decomposition of these old forms releases a great amount of energy that is now free to be used in new and different ways.

It is not enough to meet our shadow in calcination or to grieve and release our past pain and sorrows through dissolution.

We must then proceed into the next stage of the work, the separation and the conjunction which comprise what is known as the albedo, or the white phase of alchemy.

In the process of separation, we are tasked with using our discernment to determine which parts of our shadow (our repressed and previously unacknowledged qualities and other psychic material) are worth saving.

Not everything that we meet in the darkness is to be feared. We may often be surprised to find there is much that is worthwhile and good there.

These positive traits are sometimes referred to as “the gold in the shadow,” which refers to the unrecognized parts of ourselves that have value and are truly authentic to us. These could be the parts of ourselves we learned to hide or diminish due to disapproval we may have encountered from parents, peers, or other parts of our society.

The second operation of the albedo is known as conjunction. It involves the reunion of the disparate elements which were separated in the previous phase. It also requires a rebalancing and harmonization of the masculine and feminine parts of ourselves. The result is the creation of “the lesser stone,” or what is sometimes called “the Philosopher’s child.” 

The conjunction requires that we become comfortable with the apparent duality of our being, and join the forces of our soul and spirit. The result is the development of what the Egyptians called “the Intelligence of the Heart,” a condition or state of being where logos and eros are united in the self to create something greater than the sum of their parts.