Let us replace the word “toxic” in our cultural lexicon in reference to the human condition; our collective struggle through layers of suffering. It’s pathologizing. It is psychologically othering in terms of projecting unwanted qualities and experiences outside of ourselves, onto others that we then need to then stay away from.
No one wants to identify with being a toxic person or feel like they have toxicity living inside of them. It’s a substance we want to rid ourselves of immediately in order to not suffer the consequences of being poisonous.
This kind of thinking and labeling is part of how we get addicted to “clearing” out negative energy or thinking anything “negative” or uncomfortable we feel is because of someone else. It is what makes us scared of ourselves, unable to be present or intimate with our own depths.
In your wholeness, you are everything.
You are light and love and darkness and hate. You are anger and rage and the utmost compassion and radiance imaginable.
We are also wounded humans living in a world that not only perpetuates wounding but profits off it. Our culture is not literate in the language of the soul or pain or grief.
So, we other it, project it out into others and make them “toxic” or people that do not serve our highest good. It perpetuates this idea that we are somehow untarnished and other people are the problem. Sometimes it is our very wounding that seeks out people who make us uncomfortable in order to try to get our attention for healing.
What if we replaced this word “toxic” with the word wounded?
Grief is far from one tone. It is as layered, nuanced and complex as our human experience.
We love deeply. Part of the loving is in the inevitable letting go of what we have loved. Letting the love morph, take a different shape that is sometime no shape at all. That’s the part that hurts. That’s the part that makes us afraid to love again.
Grief is love.
It is the power of life and love and spirit urging you to keep your heart open, to keep loving and expanding, including even the lost bits in your mourning. Because, in every mourning, many of the ungrieved pieces arrive to see if your heart will stay open as a way of staking it’s claim on your wholeness.
Grieve what and who and and how something has been lost. Know that some endings are traumatic; deepening the grief with questions the mind wants answered. Let your heart speak to your mind, to let the mind know that now the heart takes over.
Your heart is wise and strong and knows what to do. For its strength is in how deeply you love. This grief is a last act of loving what has been. This last act will change you. Do not let your mind interfere with figuring out facts and figures, next steps or moves to take.
Grieve your relationship to what’s been lost. Our life is a living breathing relationship. Inside and out. Our engagement with life creates these third parties...relationships; the containers in which we whisper and exchange, connect and disconnect, laugh and cry, find exiled parts or birth ourselves into new ways of being.
I've been noticing how much my body contracts whenever I hear anyone say that they are working on clearing their blocks around abundance or that they are “manifesting abundance”.
When did it become a bad thing to just say that you want to make more money? I like the sound of it, like I have a hand in making (creating) money in my life. It feels better.
I'd also really like my relationship with money to feel better.
In our modern culture, our primal survival instincts for having enough food is now tied in to having enough money. Yep. Our ancient programming for staying alive is now deeply, subconsciously connected to money since most of us live in places with an over abundance of what we could call “food.”
We can all have a million affirmations that our mind uses in an attempt to solve the problem of something far deeper. The root of our fear is related to primal survival in a culture set up through power, control and hierarchy where no one is really every safe.
This is patriarchy. It is the negative, old father energy married to the old mother energy conditioned to relate through power earned through an accumulation of resources. Those resrouces now become money and love and light and consciousness. Who has the most resources, shines the brightest light, takes up the most space, has the most energy is the one with the most power.
Dangerous subconscious programming has been happening in the self-help industry for a long time that is very much wrapped up in this exact hierarchal, cultural programming.
If you aren't manifesting money or love or whatever it is you want that it must be because of some "block" you have, which is truly a very subtle way of saying that there is something wrong with you. It also keeps you in an addictive cycle of perpetual self work.
If you were better, more aligned, vibrating at a better frequency, praying in the right way, speaking with the appropriate spiritually conscious language or evolved enough, then all the good things will come to you....as if the universe is a headmaster only rewarding those who get a gold star on their spelling test. It's dangerous and perpetuates a constant state of "not good enough," along with feeding a sense of powerlessness and attacking ourselves to "get it right."
The ego of our culture is co-opting spiritual teachings for it’s own agenda.
Fear based thoughts aren't really a thing. Thoughts aren't "real". But, the fear is. Energy is real. It lives in your body. Your mind responds to energy a particular quality of thoughts. This New Age patriarchal way of valuing rationality and "mind over matter" has us using our minds as weapons against ourselves, even training us to be afraid of our own fear which drives us further into never really understanding or connecting with our innate intelligence, which lives in the body. As long as we live afraid of ourselves, we are trapped in a game that ultimately we all want to be free of. Our culture counts on this being the case.
Our nervous systems are in a perpetual state of fight or flight or freeze. It is our nervous system that informs the quality of our thinking. This is the neural network that links our bodies up as tuning forks to the divine.
If we want to learn how to become free of fear, we need to discover how to live in harmony with our body, which is also living in harmony with nature, our own nature.
Your body, your nervous system, is what is here living, breathing and having this lived experience of life. Not your mind. Part of our recovery as humans is to bring the mind back on board with the body, to bring the masculine principles of energy back into harmony with those of the feminine, of the earth and the body. We have to heal the patriarchal way we relate to ourselves and our inner life.
Your body has stories to tell and energy to release. Anxiety, one expression of fear, is simply projecting all of the unresolved experiences into the future because there is nothing else the body knows. Shame is a complex collection of relational wounds that trigger fear in vulnerable relating that matches the nervous systems blueprints for relationship.
Part of the work I do is to help support clients in learning how to bring their energy back down into their bodies with gentleness and curiosity. Where is the energy getting blocked? What is the story there that wants to be shared? What wants to be felt expressed or known? We enter the sacred chambers of inner wisdom and healing, holding space for the beautiful alchemical process of creating safety for you to come home again. Your mind will automatically follow suit. Life, joy and "positive" thinking will be sustainable, because you will know the lived truth that there are no "low vibrational" emotions, just parts of you that haven't been heard or loved. You are beautiful.
Grief is the first emotion felt upon entering the world. It lives inside the baby’s wail upon separation from union with source; being held in the womb of creation, fed through the umbilical chord attached to the whole universe. Everything experienced in sensory waves, in the union everything is source washing over itself in different ways.
We spend most of our lives, consciously or unconsciously, trying to find our way back to union, to repair this wound of separation while delegating grief to the more obvious times of death, loss and transition.
Grief lives inside the very cells of our human ancestry.
It is the bridge to union within ourselves..union with our soul, union with nature and others, union with life. It is the way back home released layer upon layer when we learn that grief is the energy that breaks us open and releases the tensions held from wounds of the past, beneath fears projected onto the future that are merely unmetabolized pain bits from the past.
Your soul is your vital energy; it is life force expressing itself as you. It is your expression of creation. It is creation expressing itself as you. It is the essence of who you are.
The amount of goodness and beauty and love that you really are is indescribable by any words, in any language.
There is nothing that you cannot transform in your life. There is no reason that life cannot be a wonderful experience for you. There is no need to blame karma or fixed astrology as identity and excuses for suffering and pain or why things aren’t happening.
The Universe is flowing and expressing itself through you, there is nothing that you cannot transmute back into your own divinity. Even your feeling of separation is an embodied experience of this sacred life breathing you. Even shame.
Shame is a liberating pathway back to embodying your innate goodness.
Shame: a complicated experience wrapped up in painful thought cycles fed by deep, often unconscious, unmet needs for love.
It’s relational. In other words, it is something that is triggered in the context of relationships and belonging. It touches us right down to the core of who we are and often cuts us right there at that core. It is the soul wound.
It’s a complex belief system based on the experience that there is something fundamentally wrong with you. It’s the pain of original heartbreak.
It is fear. It is anger. It is all the feels. It is also the cultural air we breathe and water we swim in.
It’s the feeling of unworthiness, of not being enough, not being good enough.
It is misunderstanding the nature of pain, it is having no idea what to do with pain. Pain was there when the seeds of shame got planted. When we feel pain and no one sees it, our emotions are shut down. Caregivers are unhappy or we get in trouble for being in pain or having emotions, being told to stop expressing emotions. We feel the loss of love and attention, and feel hurt or abused or neglected.
It is so common, we just think it is normal. Normal does not mean it is healthy.
Grief is a process that is an inherent part of life. Everything changes and as humans who deeply love and care, it is natural that we grieve for all the different kinds of losses we experience daily and over the course of our lives.
There are three portals in the grieving process. The grief for what has been lost. The grief for the relationship. And, grief for ourselves; for the parts of ourselves we have lost that were attached, identified with, enlivened by, connected to or known through the relationship that was lost, or as a result of relationships that never were.
This last part of the journey is essential for our freedom from ancestral pain, individuating from our lineage, for self-love and to meet the depths of love in our soul.
This last portal of grief, grieving for oneself, is often overlooked, confused or feared. It's different than feeling sorry for ourselves. It is different than wallowing in pain. It is different than trying to fill an empty, existential hole inside of us with stuff or people or other things. In its unmetabolized form, it becomes shame as the mind attempts to work through what our heart needs to release.
It is an act of compassion and love to acknowledge and honor our own pain. The pain of never having what we needed. Never feeling the love we longed for. The loss of not having needs met. The pain of our hearts being neglected, of the disconnection and abandonment of our own inner wounds. Our own soul wounds.
Grief is love. You do not grieve what you do not care about. To grieve for yourself and to acknowledge with love and compassion all that you have survived, this is the third portal of grace and freedom offered by grief.
Mother's day is arriving this weekend, so this I am aware of feeling within myself and all who I am sharing time with in sessions. There is a lot of grief up right now, for the loss of mothers, the mothers we never had but wanted, the pictures of mother we are sold, lost opportunity to become a mother, whether to mother or not, and the mothers we carry inside of our own hearts. Why are we more fearful of approaching our internal pain and allowing ourselves to offer love at the altar of all we have endured and experienced and survived and transformed and lived through?
Part of rising out of the ashes is the letting go through this grief, it is in fact loving all the places that haven't been loved, that have been made long in their longing or wanting or needing. It is offering flowers at the altar of your own heart.
Pay no attention to all the messages about Mother's Day and the pictures media portrays. Take time to honor in the ways that feel right for you, and take time to honor your own heart. It's okay to grieve for yourself. You are here, which means you survived a lot.
Grief is far more central to the human experience than is acknowledged. There are cultures where space is made every single day for ritually expressing and moving the energy of grief. Space is made for feeling. The more stifled we are here in the West, the less space there is for grief and the natural state of feeling, the more we seem to suffer from emptiness, depression, anxiety and addiction.
Grief is a natural reaction to the constant state of change that is the nature of life. Flow. Grief and all feeling is a response to letting to, to surrendering to this flow of life outside of our control. In aligning with it. In the wakefulness of presence to what is and that gap between what is and how we want them to be.
How do we let go when we want things? How do we let go when the wanting becomes something filled with fear and struggle?
A client of mine asks me this as I traverse my own inner dark waters of clinging and grasping to things that I want, to the unraveling of letting go and the space of love that grief has been washing over me. Underneath, there is the peace with the wanting that is hard to explain, counter-intuitive, but just feels right. There is more letting go. There is always more letting go. But, as I sit with my client, in the face of something she really, really wants to have happen and is doing all the things, it's just simply not happening. What now?
I sit and watch her beat herself up. Go back in time, filled with regret. Searching in her psyche for what it is in her that is blocking this thing from happening. All this pain and shame. I stop her.
Sometimes we have to let go. Sometimes we have to accept things might not happen, accept what is and let go. Sometimes we have to just sit in the grief and not turn it in on ourselves. Sometimes all there is to do is let go. Sometimes things happen the way they happen and we don't get to know why. We don't get to know why things happen for some people and not others. Why we aren't truly all the same, with the same nervous systems or access to the same resources. We do what we can, we still want and move forward, but we also make space to let go and not grip so hard to all the wanting and feeling. Somewhere in there, that thing we want that we think will make us feel free when its letting go that makes us free.
We sit in the space and let the tears of grief open the doors of heart.
Grief is an initiation. Whether we have lost a parent, whether it is illness or disappointment or being alone or a break up or all the myriad of constant losses and disappointments we experience as humans on a daily basis.
We are human. It is healthy and natural to feel and grieve. It is actually the liberating force that has the power to restore our lives and reconnect us with the wild mother, the wild feminine, with the deepest resources of love.
We have to make space for grief. We must make space to learn how to metabolize our feeling, to restore access to the sacred capacity within ours hearts. We simply have to. Spending time in fear of ourselves, in anxiety or codependency or addiction or burnout or fear or shame or feeling alone or disconnected....we simply no longer have time to be dead while we are alive.
I have struggled with self-love on a daily basis for a lot of my life. I use the word struggle here specifically because it seems to be a word that is "bad," and associated with "blocks" and negative mindsets. Yet the inner conflict, the inner struggle, is quite real on an energetic, emotional level. For all of us.
I think we are allergic to talking about pain and inner struggle, relegating it somewhere behind closed doors, dirty little secrets or a thing we make bad or wrong. Like it is bad to be in pain; I am yet to meet a single person who is not in some kind of inner pain.
The only way out is to talk about it, metabolize it and work it through. With love.
We make pain wrong though. It's not wrong, we just don't like to be in pain. We fear if we go into it, we will drown in it forever,. But the ignoring of it actually keeps us oppressed by our own pain more than anyone or anything else.
Patriarchy doesn't like pain because healing pain awakens awareness, empathy, love and compassion which is the opposite of that gnawing emptiness inside that we search to fill with something while trying to paint perfect pictures of ourselves for each other.
We are taught that pain is a “selling point.” If we are in pain we will continue to need to buy stuff.
We long for connection. We long to be loved. We long to be free of pain.
When you gather yourself at the inner altar of your faults, lay flowers and offer incense.
Yes, I am talking about this place; this place that is barren and cold.
The space you go when you beat yourself up or try to "fix" yourself, blaming yourself for feeling broken inside, for things not working out or not "doing" life the "right" way.
This space, the place of fault and shame; a place human.
This is an invitation into the poetry of your heart.
A chance to try something new.
Every moment is a chance to start over again.
Persephone is breathing new breath into the frosty air.
Instead come here, to this place where you throw rocks and stones at yourself,
Bring flowers and candles and incense and offerings of sweet.
Rest your heart on the ground of silence.
Let the winds of mystery whisper to you.
May the sounds feel like the petals of flowers unfurling and revealing your hidden beauty.
Ask here instead to be shown where the love is. What the wisdom is.
Bow at this mystery, knowing we cannot know or understand everything.
Offer your tears but hold back the stones.
Pray instead that you may know love here, to know the gold flowing in through the cracks of your faults.
To know and embody this in-between, divinely human.