Trust is Possible: a Thanksgiving Blog

Over the last four and a half years, I’ve written here about the beauty of the broken heart, some painful, enraging truths about the patriarchy and its toxic effect on the 51%, lots of self-reflection, and different stages of my own journey through the tangled woods. Sometimes the tree branches seem to come alive and grab at me, darkly, as if I were none other than silly Snow White looking to be saved by tiny, ineffective fictional creatures. At other times sun dapples the forest floor and shows me the way through, so I can make my own story.

Looking back, most of what I remember about my life is having a hopeful, joyful heart. The bubbling gratitude that returns to me again and again. Not despite the bad stuff of life, but because of the deliciousness that fills in all the spaces around it.

But I still trip and stumble on my way. Identifying my own internal roadblocks remains part of why I’m here.

This year on the day of giving thanks, I am most profoundly grateful for a recent shift inside me.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, my daughter and I lit a small fire in a micro-pit (loaf pan) by lighting baking soda and rubbing alcohol. (Life hack if you need a ceremonial fire and don’t have a fireplace or outdoor firepit.) As the fire flickered on the coffee table, we quietly released into it things that we could identify that were clearly not serving us, and invited into our lives the opportunities, attitudes, beliefs, and people we wished to see manifest. Releasing fears, sorrow, limiting beliefs, and welcoming in joy, transformation, and most of all, love.

As we did this familiar ritual, in companionable silence, I had a serious epiphany. You know how epiphanies can be. A sudden “woke” moment when what you have “known” all along is suddenly clear. For me, it usually means that words appear, elucidating the truth so I can look straight at it. What was an unidentified feeling or belief becomes a statement. The words give the belief visibility and shape. If it does not serve me, the words cause it to lose some of its power so I can deal with whatever it is. If it is an epiphany of empowerment, I can own it and consciously, affirmatively accept it into myself.

On this particular day, these words formed in my mind: “Men always disappoint me.”

Harsh. I might have winced (literally) as the thought formed words and opened up inside me.

Though these words were never spoken by me or even in my head before that moment, I realized that my body lived them. The belief, like a miasma, filled the little innocent spaces in me so that as I opened myself to love, experience, and the men in my life, I was sabotaged by it.

“Limiting belief” is an understatement. This belief was a threat to my happiness and well-being.

Lucky for me, I have a toolbox I can whip out at a time like this to begin the uprooting process. But I knew instinctively that I might need to bring in the big guns this time. I called upon a fellow traveler and dear friend, shaman and healer, to guide me through the discovery, the releasing, and the healing.

Knowing where this belief originated was not technically necessary to expunge it, but I’m a curious sort. I like to know, and, for me, knowing with my head is usually (though not always) a key to a door that allows healing through to my heart and the rest of my being.

My experience, in any particular lifetime (choose one), of being silenced or abandoned or assaulted by a man or men in power, is hardly unique. It is the story of women. We all take these lessons into ourselves in our own ways. But they are just stories and can be rewritten.

The individual men that I love or have loved, from my father, to my son, to my brothers-in-law, cousins, friends, lovers, are inside me. Some have brought me nothing but warmth and love, others have done their worst. But what I realized is that society as a whole, going back to almost the beginning, is so infused with the unbridled, unbalanced energy of the yang, so dominated by the male of the species, that attempts to silence or squelch, deny, ignore, oppress, force, or disempower the yin are all around us. They are the overwhelming, overarching reality for all of us. In some countries and cultures, this energy is more intense and unavoidable than in others, but let’s be honest. It is unavoidable until things change for good.

Those sweet, gutsy, humble, strong men who see the forest for the trees, who understand the toll our world’s way of doing things takes on half the population, they are the ones we fall in love with, right? The ones we want to surround ourselves with. The ones we want to raise, marry, hire, elect, along with the women we also raise, marry, hire, and elect, obviously.

So what the hell does any of this have to do with Thanksgiving? Gratitude, of course.

This year I am grateful that I have transmuted my belief about men to an understanding of my own journey through the eons, and an understanding of something even deeper than that. That though it is difficult to trust, trust is possible. And it is still and always has been, for me, easy to love. Love can heal the harshest ache, and I am grateful for love.





The Flash

Flash of insight. Flashback. Hot flash.

I sometimes wake up in the wee hours – well, that specific wee hour when no matter how cool the room in which I sleep, my body becomes suffused with warmth. I can feel the heat flowing down my arms and legs the way honey flows down the spout of a honey jar. Slowly, deliberately, inevitably.

This is my own gentle version of the hot flash. I get, at most, one a day, in the dark hours between midnight and dawn. I don’t really mind them. I toss a leg out from under the covers, or throw back the sheets, let the cool air hit my skin and I drift back to sleep, only to waken some time later, shivering. Nine times out of ten, the flash of heat is accompanied by a flash of insight. Or at least a thought worth thinking.

Just as my body volunteers to turn pink and toasty, my mind volunteers little jewels for me to ponder in my attenuated state of alpha brain activity, as I rapidly slide back into sleep. If I don’t have the energy or wherewithal to jot down a clue to my morning self, I lose it for good.

Sometimes, that middle night waking brings another kind of flash. A flash from the past. An image, idea or whole memory blossoms in my occipital lobe, or cerebrum, and then exists there for me to examine, peacefully, as I doze off and on and finally succumb to sleepier brain waves, like theta, or delta. (Why do the stages of sleep sound like rushing a fraternity? But that’s not important right now.)

So I got to thinking about how we humans have attached the same word, flash, to these different phenomena. A flash is a burst. A burst of light, or a burst of “an emotional mood or intellectual activity” (Encarta via Word). It is, by definition, sudden and brief.

I guess a true genius has flashes of insight even when the mind is alert. Though I am willing to bet that, no matter how wide awake Mozart, Hildegard of Bingen, or Goethe were when their inspiration came, they were smart enough to write it down before they forgot.

Why, I wonder, does the mind work that way? In flashes? Hot flashes aside, it is the flashing mind that fascinates me. The brain, in all its wave formations, wakeful or sleepy, sober or intoxicated, has its moments when insight, memory, understanding, creation flash upon it. When everyone is a genius. When we access the widely-advertised unaccessed part of our brains.

Sometimes the flash cascades and we can keep the momentum going. (Or rather, the momentum keeps going and we have little to do with it except to ride the wave.) That happens when I write, sometimes (not today, though). I feel the sparkling, flashing brain thing happen and it continues, like a very long mental orgasm that goes and goes until something stops it. I get hungry or my leg falls asleep or the phone rings. Life.

When a mental flash occurs, for me at least, it is indeed as sudden and unexpected as my body’s epiphanies of warmth in the middle of the night. I don’t seem able to initiate, control or stop it. My mind reels at what my mind can do. I have concluded that I am my own best teacher. I just have to show up, do my homework, and pay attention when the flashes come.