soul

Over-Identification = Longer Healing

YOUR DEGREE OF IDENTIFICATION WITH YOUR TRAUMA WILL DETERMINE YOUR DEGREE OF POTENTIAL HEALING

Trauma is real and it is in the body more than it is in the mind. Read that again. Your body remembers more of your trauma than your mind does, because the mind has mechanisms to protect you from the reality of your trauma as needed.

You can sense something in your body, or have a fear or strange aversion to something, and not know why. It could drive you crazy. You have choices.

Our culture stresses talk therapy because we live in a culture that suggests we mentally understand in order to conquer through understanding. This is not healing. You do not heal by understanding, you heal by shifting. You authentically heal with a combination of somatic, cellular, energetic, mental, biological processes.

But it doesn't need to be as intense as we make it. I know because I have made it intense, and I have experienced also how it does not have to be intense. I have identified with the trauma and I have made it worse, and I have blocked my own ability to heal, and the pace of my healing, in doing so. I watch people do this ALL THE TIME. You create your reality with your mind.

Over-identification = longer healing.

There will be a choice point, or thousands of choice points along the way, in how you handle your next trigger in relation to old trauma patterning. You are likely close to one in your life right now. And even though there is the history, the story behind you, you have a choice in this moment.

And that choice, which is how to align in the mind with which part of the story you choose to align with, will determine your path forward.

Think string theory. Think free will. Choice is everything.

Make it conscious. Every effect of the existing trauma may not be conscious, because it's in the body, it's in your cells, and you carried it in from your DNA, but your CHOICE can be conscious.

Even though there is trauma, even though you are not going to bypass it and you are going to do everything you can to heal it, the degree to which you IDENTIFY WITH your trauma will be exactly proportionate to the degree to which you heal.

Keep repeating the same stories = stay in the trauma.

I have unpacked trauma from my body. It still comes in waves sometimes. This past week, I received information that pretty much confirmed conscious hypothesis I had for the last 22 years about sexual trauma based at first on body aversions, small snippets of memory, and how the trauma played out in my body. For example, there were years when I could not be far from a bathroom for fear I would pee my pants for lack of safety. As an adult, in every day life. No one really knew this. I kept it quiet, but I identified with the active trauma response daily.

During that time, not knowing exactly why I felt that way (in the mind), I started to somatically, emotionally, mentally, energetically really heal that trauma and over the last 5-8 years especially, and so when I got this new information this week, I knew had a conscious choice.

And I watched myself make it (meta-cognition = when the thinker watches itself). I could choose to identify with the trauma and go down that road (one string) or I could acknowledge the story as the story and honor the path that my body/soul have already taken down the healing road (another string) and continue there. Continue as the woman I have become. One path would be back through hell and back, and another would be to honor my feminine soul and exactly where I am. The STORY and identification with it could literally determine the course I took, and honestly, the next few months or years of my life. If I were not being conscious here, the default would be identification with the story, the fear, and the trauma.

Do you see what I'm saying? I share my story as illustration.

YOU DECIDE.

Trauma can feel like being engulfed in an ocean. You have NO IDEA what is under the waves that you can't see.

But you can put your feet down in the ground and sand. You can get wise as to how that ocean moves. You can feel your body even though you're inside the water, and you can realize that you and the water are the same, and that you actually are the one that determines the height and impact of the waves.

You are powerful. You are the creator of your life. You are not what happened to you. You have started on this trauma-healing path and are realizing this now.

It served to identify with trauma for a time, and you learned how to be resilient. But you are moving beyond that. If you identify with resiliency, you still identify with trauma.

Be the creator.

I work with empowered women who have experienced trauma in their past affiliated with religion or men and are breaking the patterns of trauma and victimization now. These women are rising. They are taking back their bodies, their love for self, their power as the creator of their lives. They are making loving and active decisions during times of intense awakening about how to shift the social programming of patriarchy and separation within their own bodies, their own relationships, and their own families. We are accelerating the healing of the trauma that has been a result of these patterns, and she is no longer interested in identifying with the reasons why NOT anymore.

OWN YOUR TRUTH. OWN WHAT HAPPENS FOR YOU NEXT.

I have space for two such women in my practice now. If this is you, I would love to support you now. PM me to set up a call if you feel in your BODY that the time is right, and tell me what that body clue was that let you know.

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My exs are among my best friends, and here's how we do it.

My exs are among my best friends. Most of them. But those that are, we are the legitimate, “I’ve got your back, call when you can’t tell other people this shit, no judgement here, I love your next partner because you love them, you know you can be honest with your heart in this space, gives the best hugs ever” kind of love.



I am talking about my exs. My lovers, some of which at one point we thought we were going to spend our lives together (because aren’t we always trying to fit into that old trend!) and one of which I birthed his daughter. These are people that, when the relationship ended, it was sometimes messy, and it always took time to come around. And then there was eventual healing. Because love is love. Because when a soul mate is recognized, the value of that person doesn’t change because your relationship does. Because it takes way more effort and a whole heap of unhealthy to hold that person at arm’s length in disdain than it does to just open up your heart.



My son’s father and I were middle school lunch table buddies. We were in relationship for fourteen years, and divorce wasn’t easy. And we are currently co-parenting this boy with more intention than we ever have. Now when we’re on the phone, I’m surprised to hear him open up and tell me about his parents or his job, but I like that he now will. I don’t know that we’ll ever make it to best friend status again, but there is love. We are rebuilding trust.



I don’t want to harbor resentment, because I don’t want to be a woman with resentment of men. I’ve been that. I don’t want to name the ways I’ve been disappointed by men and retell those stories and wallow. I don’t want to see any man fail because I couldn’t get from that person what I thought at one time I had wanted to get.



Within the last few months, as I was in a rough spot, these exs were among the friends that had my back, the ones that I could tell the whole truth to, the ones who help me become a better woman as I learn and make mistakes and grow. They are the ones I check my judgements with and the ones I ask to hold me accountable.



Two of them have recently asked me to hold council for them and their current partners. I have held every one of them in their own struggles since our relationships ended as significant others. I had a hard time finding the last words of that last sentence: since our love relationship ended…. No…. we still have a love relationship. Since our intimate relationship ended…. No… because we still have an intimate friendship. This is not to mean that I have been intimate with them, that we have remained or become lovers again. It actually means the intimacy of the heart. The deepest intimacy of friends. I am not polyamorous, have no interest in that, and neither are these men. No lines are crossed. It’s boundaried and beautiful, because we are clear with our words and intentions.



I go to them for help, love, and friendship, and they come to me. That’s my point here. The trust is sometimes beyond that of other friendships, perhaps because we have this past and we decided to honor one another anyway. In that choice, we have gained some of the best friends of our lives.



I have two exs that left without saying a proper goodbye to me or to my son. And actually, these were the last two partners I had. These were deep loves, these were men who would never have wanted to behave in the way that they ended up behaving, and while I hurt like hell afterward, I am not angry.



My son has been having a difficult time, because the second time this happened was just five months ago. When I told him that this man was not coming back, he said, “Mom, I am seriously never trusting another man that comes into this house again.” I’m sorry, son. It reminded him of the last man he loved, and to attempt to simultaneously explain to a nine year old boy why men we both loved and honored would treat him or I this way, while he sorts out the confusion of what his mother also must of had to do with it, is nearly impossible. Because I can explain it, but it’s incomprehensible. It’s poor behavior. This week, as I was finishing a personal shamanic shadow-work practice of about 5 weeks, and my ex from a year ago showed up at my ex husband’s workplace. They had met only once.



He asked my ex husband if he wanted to be friends. He joked and said that that would really piss me off. He asked my ex husband to apologize on his behalf to our son for never seeing him again.



This man had long hair and a very warrior-eque persona. I realized just last week that my son has been growing his hair long ever since this man left our lives. It affected a place deep within him that I didn’t know had been affected. And I had recently begun to realize it as we worked with his therapists and as his father and I try to figure out his increased lying and sadness.



When I got this information about his visit to Rowan’s father’s workplace, I sent him a text. I had just finished a shadow work practice that left me feeling much more clear headed about what I will and will not continue to allow to fester in my life; in our lives. I said, “No one here will be apologizing on your behalf. You are responsible for your own actions. You did not say goodbye to this boy who loved you, and it hurt him.”



He was upset and uncomfortable. He was quick to remind me why he left, that I had become dangerous in his eyes, that my writings, my truth telling, “hurt people.” He told me I was a snake, like the tattoo on my left arm, and that I “suck as a human.”



When he calls me hurtful, he’s talking about my choice to tell the truth. He’s referring to choices just like this, where I write openly about my life, and where I choose with my words how to advocate that we all do better. That we be better. I use my story to illustrate my point, and believe me, I’ve protected the truths of a handful of men plenty of times and I have still been deeply, emotionally, and financially threatened by scared men as they didn’t want my words out in the world about them, because they themselves are uncomfortable with their own behavior.



If you have to silence a woman, it is your own shame that is behind that. I’ll make it personal, actually. If you have to threaten to silence me, it is your own shame that is behind that, because I am clear that my intentions are not to harm. I texted him to tell him that the reason I scared him is because I represented the parts of himself he’d rather not look at. This is the shadow that we either embrace or run from.



There are quotes out there that say, “If you don’t want anyone to know about it, then you should have behaved better.” I do not write in order to hurt people. I write to claim my story, to advocate, to uphold. If I am inherently a threat, it is because someone is unwilling to own their own behavior and they carry shame. And, honestly, I am also sensitive to that. I have not really written about this man until now. I have kept my mouth shut. I have protected men that have mistreated me. And I don’t care to take revenge, but I also don’t care to be threatened by a behind-the-scenes narrative that I am a snake, or that I should be sued to be silenced, as threatened by three men in the last two years, when the cause behind these threats and insults is their own shame.



I am a woman with a heart, with a body, with a home and a son, and if you want into this life, then by damn, I get to speak on it when it becomes my story.



I think, to the dear few that fear my words, that if you truly look at my work and comb it, asking yourself if I have actually chosen to demonize or threaten you, if I have actually told intimate and threatening truths, you will find that the answer is no. You will actually find, if you have the eyes to see, that I advocate for men, that I love men, that I want everyone, you included, to come forward in vulnerability of what you have done in your flawed humanity. I am not entirely innocent. Of course not.



But we must be willing to risk connection when connection seems impossible, to trust again when we want to flee, because there in that space is liberation. If you can hurt someone else and then that person forgive you - that’s liberation. If you can say you are sorry and press forehead to forehead and each say, “I forgive you,” that’s liberation.



The reason my relationships with all these other men and exs are the deepest friendships of my life is because we both took accountability, over time, for our flawed humanity. It is evidence that two people, with a lot of history and hurt and baggage, can do the work of navigating the spaces between, of healing, and of enjoying a life of love.



When I was talking to a male friend and colleague a few months ago, telling him about a recent journey I’d taken to stay on my daughter’s father’s land, to reacquaint in that space, and of the deeper healing that took place there, he said, “Wow, so you are really genuinely friends with your exs?” I said, “Absolutely, some of them!” He said, “You should put that on your website or your resume. That’s some of the hardest and most genuine healing we can do. That’s the real deal.”



Authentic. That’s the word. To acknowledge, to admit mistakes, to come back to the table and not run, to refrain from blame and slander, to say, “I’m sorry” - that’s authentic living. It’s vulnerable. It’s real. And it’s required.



….



I have lived my life in deep reflection and I make offerings of the heart through my practices in Embodied Breath. If you are a man who longs for deeper connection, to face your shame in love, to practice vulnerability and accountability in a safe space, and to practice self forgiveness and self love, I have a twelve week men’s online offering beginning June 12. You can see my website home page for more details.

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Masculinity & Soul

I had the pleasure of going to hear Michael Meade speak a few nights ago when he visited Asheville, NC. Mr. Meade speaks on the topic of the human soul like no other, in my opinion, and if you haven’t listened to it, his weekly podcast called Living Myth is exceptional.


While sitting in the audience, listening to him talk about the need for us to be willing to acknowledge our emotions in order to access our soul, my curiosities wandered to how this impacts men and masculinity in the current cultural context.  


The language of soul is not especially mainstream, though Meade and others - I’d count myself among them - do our best to bring this concept and language to the forefront in our work. Carl Jung was of course the pioneer of this inquiry of soul.


What the soul is is not easily defined. James Hillman said, “soul is a deliberately ambiguous concept.” It is a mysteries realm that, to me, involves the depth of a human, the psychological history and what is both conscious and unconscious. The soul is what makes us ourselves, what beckons us forward, what allows us to deeply feel and interact with life.


The intellect alone can’t touch the soul. Living solely in the body can’t touch the soul. The soul is accessed only through the conscious interaction of mind, body, emotions and spirit, as I see it. When we don’t integrate all of these aspects into our lives, as many people do not, there can be what is called “soul loss.”

The soul wants us to reach our potential - not the kind of potential we reach when we get an MBA, but the kind of potential to be who we really are as an integrated person. What do you care about? What wakes you up at night? What is the deeper calling that you’ve always had but didn’t follow? What kind of love do you really want to experience? These questions point to what the soul is really wanting from us. Too many people simply ignore that inner voice and persist forward in intellectual or career pursuits, hoping for fulfillment but likely not authentically finding it. Ignoring that voice can have significant effects.


Symptoms of soul loss include feeling lost, feeling disconnected, isolating yourself from others, feeling as though you don’t have a purpose on earth or wanting a purpose but unable to define it, you have difficulty identifying what is positive, you have low self esteem, you picked up defensive behaviors after a traumatic event, you check out with mind-numbing behaviors, you feel unworthy and unappreciated, and daily life is task-driven and mundane.


Is anyone else reading that list and also making the connection to common conditions in modern men? If you didn’t get that on the first take, go back and reread that last paragraph and ask yourself if these are also common difficulties of modern men. In no way am I making a case that this is a problem unique only to men, but I am saying that there are almost certainly correlations between soul loss and the pressures, problems, and stigmas associated with modern masculinity and men.


Perhaps it is a bold claim, but it’s one I’m willing to make. As a woman, I have been studying men through the soul lens for a long time. I am a deep soul searcher, and in my close relationships with men, both professional and personal, there inevitably comes a time when there is a question of soul. A deeper opportunity, if you will, to step into the more vulnerable sphere of the soul and to claim hidden aspects of self. And time and time again, I have witnessed men denying this invitation, even if they so desperately want what their soul is showing them. A man can want to be a more connected leader, for example, but when the opportunity is before him will require him to lead with greater vulnerability, does he take it?


When I see a man deny the invitation to go vulnerably in the direction of his own soul, I see it as having abandoned himself, and I feel absolutely heartbroken. Every man that I have ever seen falter, in my judgement, it was due to a denial of his own soul. And when this happens, we can not feel him - the authentic him. He goes on upholding his ideas of how he must behave in order to maintain his authority, for example, and personal connection is often lost.


On the other hand, when I see a man accept this invitation, that is where I actually have increased hope for humanity and masculinity. It is that important. This is the space in which we can connect, problem solve together, lead with compassion, and understand one another authentically.

To come to know the soul is a process that requires a continual acknowledgement of one’s own vulnerability, and of the shadow, or the unconscious. Men’s groups like The ManKind Project incorporate shadow work into their initiatory experiences for men which bring glimpses into the wide world of the unconscious, and this is so important in order that modern men have the opportunity to acknowledge the masks they’ve been wearing and that they engage in ongoing personal inquiry of this inner realm.


Accessing the soul requires an acknowledgement that imperfections exist, that all the bravado in the world will not, in the end, save you. The Hero’s Journey itself is an invitation into the soul, into the inner realm through facing challenge and overcoming obstacles. If the obstacles are always on the outside and a man learns to succeed and function in the world by conquering them externally, his Warrior essence is essentially false as he has not met the obstacles within. He will defeat under any challenge that tests his soul strength.


Meeting those obstacles internally is essential for our authentic existence - each of us individually but also collectively. I wholeheartedly believe this, and I would encourage all of us, regardless of gender, to get a little closer to the nudging, authentic voice of our soul today. When we do, we have access to our own inner truth, and we can lay down a lot of the facade that most people carry.


As a woman, I do not want a false bravado or mask presented to me when I talk with a man. I want to see his soul, and I want to know that he knows himself in that space. So many men are afraid of their own soul as they focus their attention outward to pleasing others. It is my goal to offer, both personally and professionally, opportunities for accessing the soul as a point of strength.


Michael Meade is a storyteller and collects ancient myths from around the world and then tells them while he also plays a drum. He told a story from China on the stage, and he asked us when he was finished, “What was the part that was the most significant to you?” He said that the part of the story that impacted us the most was the most important part to our own soul and how we live in the world.


The line that stood out to me, without question, was, “I will not let you abandon your own self.”


Dear men, that is how I feel about you. I will not let you, whenever possible, abandon your soul. The world needs you, and your soul-infused masculinity, now. I believe in you, but more importantly than what you can accomplish or prove, I believe in your soul.  

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Woman, it wasn't you.

We were networking and immediately dropping in like some women do, and she revealed she’d just lost love. “As soon as I signed up for my yoga teacher training, he was gone. I have no explanation.”


Her eyes searching. I recognize a woman having to pick herself back up.


Oh, my sister, it wasn’t you.

You did nothing wrong.

You are on your path and for a moment, he matched it. Your energy.

You called to him, he was enticed to think that he was the man for you.

He may have even convinced you he was.

He wanted to be.

He wanted to see himself this way, believe it could be him walking beside you.

He wanted to see himself as worthy of that.


And this could have been.

You both saw it.

But when he declined the invitation, sister, it was between him and his own soul.


Between him and his own soul, my love.


What he’s called to do and what he will do may not match.


We see his soul, we see his intent, we believe his Yes, and we never see it coming.


The declining of the invitation.

The declining of what you didn’t even see coming as the offered initiation.


And you, my queen, in your rising, you heat a fire.

One he desires and yet does not know how to stand in when it starts to ignite.

You just thought you wanted a yoga teacher training.

What you want, my love, is your whole life.


You did nothing wrong, you beauty, you kind-eyed mystic of a woman,

Here to claim yourself,

In this moment,

And in this therapy session

And in this training

And in this meditation

And in this relationship

And in this stand you take

And in every moment down the line.


Your responsibility is to shine.


Shine anyway.

Shine without him.

Shine your forgiveness that you will find, shine it forward and woman do not guard your heart.


This is the work.

To rise anyway, to shine, to forgive, to grieve, and to come out unguarded.


It is impossible work and you will do it.


He couldn’t do it. Ache, and then recognize, that this is all the more reason for you to no longer remain small.


You will grieve his choice for what it means for you but also for him, for love, for the world, for this lifetime, for sadness, for women, for men.


And then to love again.


Woman, I see you,

Recovering while rising

Healing your trauma after you were just reminded of it

Because you have to

Because you won’t not.

Choosing forgiveness again because you’ve learned that this is your freedom

Choosing to go ahead and shine not for him,

Not ever because of him (though it’s shitty he had to remind you this way)

But for you.

Because you know it’s your time.


Women are rising.

Women are telling me over and over again that the choice they feel is often grow and lose him, or stay and stay smaller than they want to be.

It does not have to be this way.

Men, if her growth is a threat to you, reach out and I will help you. You don’t want to deny this. She is rising. She is going to thrive. Don’t deny the opportunity to do this by her side.

I help couples survive the uplevel. You love one another. Your souls are in this Union in order to ignite the fires of initiation. The answer may not be to bail. If you are in this tension and want help and guidance, PM me.


In love and for conscious union,

Sarah