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.

Rubedo: the Red Phase of Alchemy

After the whitening of the albedo comes the last phase of the Great Work: the red phase, or reddening.

The white phase consisted of an intense process of purification, in which all the rotting decayed matter that had died during the nigredo was thoroughly cleansed of impurities. What was left was then considered clean but also very sterile, incapable of producing new life and lacking animation.

The purpose of the red phase was to make the matter come alive again. This process was initiated with the completion of the last phase of the albedo, conjunction, which was known to alchemists as “the marriage of the sun and moon.”

The rubedo continues this work of uniting opposite energies or elements until the Great Work has been completed.

The first process in the red phase of alchemy is known as fermentation, where the alchemist receives visions and other types of inspiration that will ultimately guide them to the end of the Great Work.

This is followed by a long process known as distillation, in which the alchemist is tasked with separating “the earth from the fire, the subtle from the gross.”

The final phase, coagulation, marks the completion of the Great Work and the creation of the Philosopher’s stone.

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.

Separation | The Third Operation of Alchemy

After calcination and dissolution, the third phase of alchemy is known as separation. In practical or laboratory alchemy, it is the process of extracting what is left over and still has value from calcined and dissolved remains. This is then carried forward into the next phase for further processing through heating, filtering, and sifting through the material. 

During the nigredo, the ego is broken down, burnt down by fire and then dissolved in the waters of our psyche. As this happens, the person undergoing this process starts to become more aware of the complex material within, and is often surprised to find that much of it is contradictory, at odds with other psychic elements and with the conscious personality. 

The third phase of the alchemical process involves the close examination of these psychic contents. Using the power of the logical mind, we engage in a reasonable examination of ourselves to determine what represents our true self, and what is merely an ego adaptation that has arisen as a reaction to challenging circumstances in the outer world. 

Like the others before it, this process can be painful, as it often means recognizing the ways in which we have become inauthentic, betrayed ourselves in order to fit in and please others, or have even hurt others in an attempt to protect our self-concept, our illusions around who we think we are (or should be). 

The final end towards which we work in this stage is the recovery of our higher selves. We seek nothing less than reconnection to what in some traditions has been known as our Holy Guardian Angel or True Will. This part of us is discussed by Carl Jung as the Self (with a capital S, in contrast to our smaller ego-based self). 

James Hillman has elaborated on this further in his book The Soul’s Code, where he refers to it as our personal daimon (as did Plato and Plotinus before him). This is the part of us that transcends our current circumstances, or even this physical incarnation. It comprises our immortal soul, the part of us that is eternal, and which carries the seeds of our destiny into this physical existence when we are born, and guides us through the twists and turns of our individual fate as time goes on. 

Ultimately, the process of separation we engage with here seeks to leave behind the parts of ourselves that are inauthentic. We detach ourselves from the ego structures we once built up to protect ourselves, in order to be reunited with the core of who we truly are. 

Releasing Projections, Reclaiming Possibilities

Journal Date: Monday, November 9th, 2020

I think I’m going to find that the more I distance myself from my family and all of the false projections they have made me carry, the more I will find that I can do whatever I set my mind to.

And this is probably one of the most difficult and disturbing things I have been coming to terms with: my vast (and totally wasted) potential.

In the process of looking back on my life, I can see how much potential I’ve had for success, and how that has not (yet) been realized because of my emotional problems and mental health struggles.

And by lack of support from my family. The emotional abuse and trauma that I was left with is obviously a big factor.

But it goes beyond that. 

Some of it is self-sabotage. Believing I don’t deserve to be successful.

I’ve carried around this (barely conscious) belief that I shouldn’t succeed. Not just that I may not have what it takes but that it would actually be bad for me to have success in my life (that it would make me a very “selfish” person).

I think the reasoning has been something along the lines of: “There are so many people suffering in the world. Who am I to sit here and be happy when others are experiencing so much injustice and pain? If I am happy, then I will have forsaken all of those who need help. If I am happy, I will be completely selfish and insensitive. Therefore, I can’t be successful or happy. I have to suffer in solidarity with everyone else. That is the only way I can create change in the world. I don’t want to be a BAD person, right?”

Hm. Yeah. I think there’s a lot that needs to be unpacked and understood about that. Because I don’t think it’s wise to just take it at face value. I think there’s a lot more going on there than I have really wanted to admit.


This is the major issue that came up for me when I had the short Akashic Records Reading with Leah Garza. 

She told me that I do want to help others and be in service to the collective, but I’m going about it the wrong way, with the wrong motivations.

She said that I’m holding on to this belief that “if I’m doing it just for me, it is self centered.” She also added that it’s not healthy if I’m approaching my work from a need to sacrifice to gain others approval.

I was surprised when I heard that. A little defensive for a second (because her words touched a nerve), but I quickly realized how true her words were.

That is what I’ve been trying to do here.

In some ways, my desire to devote myself to healing other people has been rooted in a need to continue avoiding my own life.

I don’t want to pay attention to my own happiness.

It’s actually kind of terrifying for me. 

For one, what if I try and I fail? What if I’m the problem, and I’m just fundamentally incapable of being happy?

What if I went through all of this, only to find out there’s nothing even there for me on the other side?

There’s also what I just mentioned about feeling selfish.         

And then there’s another thing that’s even more complicated: What if I do achieve success and happiness at some point, only to find out I suffer even more for it?

Leah said that I fear that if I break from the norm, I will draw attention to myself, which could ultimately lead to violence.

Yes. That’s exactly it, and I think a deeper-rooted, more primal and unconscious fear than the other two I have mentioned.

She said that I have such a strong fear around this, that I fear I will actually die if this happens.

It’s true. It’s really that bad.

It’s kind of hard to understand.

Something that helps me to gain a little more insight into why this might be has to do with some possible past life stuff…

I’ve been very skeptical about this kind of thing, and I’m still not 100% sure what to really do with it.

I don’t need to come to any final conclusion about it yet, though. I can just start by sharing what my experience around this has been.                                                                                          

Cibation

Yes, cry! Cry harder, baby!

Fundamentally, the stage of Dissolution involves a process of release. Here, we are to come to terms with and finally surrender to the rage and wrongs we came up against when as the fires of Calcination burned through our Egos. It is a time of grieving the harm done to us, by others as well as ourselves. It is a time for letting go of what once was, and what we wished for and never had.

With this in mind, we can turn to the process of Cibation as a tool for healing and working through our grief. In practical alchemy, Cibation is a technique in which water is added to the remaining ashes that have carried over from Calcination.

In psycho-spiritual alchemy, it involves a similar process, where we bring our most intense emotions (symbolized by water) to the areas which are still most blocked and resistant to change within us.

HOW TO PRACTICE

  1. Start by thinking of one of our most painful childhood memories, or any painful incident from our past that remains.
  2. CRY. Really. Get into it, feel the depths of your pain, and let it all out.
  3. Rinse.
  4. Repeat.

Your focus on this meditation should be on the pure emotional energy that comes up, rather than on the details of any particular incident. Keep in mind that, appearances to the contrary, it is often in your darkness where you are to find your greatest light. If you can fully move through your emotional pain and physically release your grief, you will free this energy up to be used in another place for better purposes.

Don’t be afraid to ugly-cry if necessary. It’s okay if your mascara runs all over your face—the more, the better. It is important that this not be only a mental exercise, or even just an emotional one, but a physical experience as well. According to the principles of somatic therapy, any trauma we experience is held as memory in our body, not just in our mind.

We can’t heal something until we feel our emotions physically in our body and complete the response which may have been inhibited in the original traumatic incident.

So go ahead. Cry harder, baby.