Hard Time Womancraft

Hard Time Womancraft

If you’re going through a “shit hole of a time in your life” . . .

1) How can you, with lots of external support, be with the pain and stop reacting to it or running from it through old familiar behavior patterns? How can you sit with and explore the exact feeling or situation you’ve probably been desperately trying to avoid for years?

2) What does that pain connect to in your life, going back to childhood? Going back to your ancestors? How can you be with that part of you now and give that part your unconditional presence? How can you meet the needs of that part?

3) Write all of this down so you can understand it a bit better. Gain some perspective on it.

4) Now, looking at that narrative as a fable about a fabulous COURTESAN or Grande Dame, or historical personage, What would you LOVE to have happen in her story next? What is the juiciest juice you could possibly write into the movie script?

5) Live that.

❤️‍🔥 We are cyclical beings and we go through phases of being taken apart, and phases of renewal.

❤️‍🔥 When you are going through a phase of being taken apart, it can really feel like hell. Like a crucifixion. Like a “shithole of a time.”

❤️‍🔥 And it also really seems like whatever it is we were meant to do or become is being crafted in the background of these times of disintegration.

❤️‍🔥 It’s usually not what our ego was trying (sometimes really, really hard) to cook up. In fact, it’s that ego agenda (or the “small self”) that can really feel crucified at the darkest times of our lives (sometimes over and over again). And it really seems as though this happens so that that other part of us, our soul (or whatever you want to call it) can rise.

❤️‍🔥 Save or share if you or someone you know needs this message. 🙌 And reach out if this description of a “hard time” applies to you now and you need a little extra support to get through it.

The Sparkly Performance Self and the More Mysterious Self

Okay, so this is really another “Shit I’ve Said to Clients” post . . . Take 2!
What did I say exactly? “It seems like you have a sparkly performance self, and a more mysterious self who has her own needs only for her.”

I really did say this to someone several weeks ago, referring to a manager part we had identified and a deeper, more mysterious part (perhaps “soul,” or whatever word we want to use, but I always suggest this with “beginner’s mind,” as an invitation to wonder and explore, not as a definitive statement, since I feel I should always practice “beginner’s mind” when it comes to the exploration of another person’s deepest layers).

We all have manager parts and more performance-oriented parts as well as internal allies and protectors and exiles that develop along the way as we are socialized and experience life. And then there are deeper, more central heart and soul parts. Within the Richard Schwartz Internal Family Systems model, this might be referred to as Self (with a capital-S). You might also refer to it as “the still small voice.” Or you might even just call it Love if you believe, in any way, that something like Love (or any such mystery) might be your true essence. Often, therapy is about finding a way to put that part (Love, Self, the still small voice, heart and soul) in the driver’s seat. And this doesn’t mean the other parts are “bad” at all. They are all well-intentioned and they developed for very good reasons.

And when Love (or Self) is in the driver’s seat, an innate balance and harmony tends to ensue (between the other internal parts, which can frequently be polarized — a whole other fun topic! 🤩) Reach out if returning to Self is an ongoing practice you need support with, as I believe it is for 99.9999% of us, unless we are fully enlightened Buddhas (which maybe some of us are!) 🤣🙌🙏

What is preventing you from fully expressing the radiance of your heart?

This is a question I need to ask myself daily, hour by hour. This is my practice. I think it is, in essence, all of our practices. For a more masculine-identified person, the question might be something more like, “What is blocking or preventing me from offering the blissful stillness of my presence?”

Honestly, I don’t have a long, blog-like caption to accompany this. The question is enough. What does it evoke in you?

Or maybe I’ll get a little “weird” here and say that everyone seems to have a longing, in some form or other to be able to express their “true self” more, right? But if we peal back a layer, and another, and another … What is your “true self,” really? What are you in your essence, at your core, when all is said and done, from birth through death and all life phases? You are a beautiful and tender heart. You are love. Perhaps I’m “outting” myself a little as someone who thinks this way, and perhaps that’s for the best so you can make an informed decision for yourself about whether or not I’m the kind of therapist who might be right for you.

But it seems to me this is the core of the “true self,” and what we all so long to be able to express more — our hearts. The truths and strange teachings of our hearts. The wisdom, solace and radiance of our hearts. The poetic language of our hearts.

How can you do that more right where you are in your life now? You don’t need to change jobs or relationships (or maybe you do, but who am I to say) — How can you do it today? How can you view your current professional role (and any role in your life) as a vehicle for the transmission of your heart, even if it’s just through the quality of your presence? Book a free call if you’re interested in exploring how you might integrate this question into your own practices in an ongoing way.

Shit I’ve Said to Clients, Take 1

“It sounds like your friend is addicted to the male gaze. And when she’s not getting enough of it, she goes into this deep pain of unworthiness she’s been carrying in her heart and she’ll keep running from it (through the male gaze) until she eventually decides to go into it, sit with it, explore it and understand it, which suuuuuuuuucks, but that’s everyone’s journey 🙂 ” [cheesy smile required to soften the blow].

I did actually say this to a client a few weeks ago. And “addiction to the male gaze” is only one of an infinite variety of ways we all sedate, control or numb out from our emotional truth and/or from our deepest wounds (when those wounds are speaking, or are being invited forward by some aspect of our current life). We tend to have our “go-to” methods, and they work only temporarily before we are plunged back into harbingers of the same emotional challenge we desperately want to avoid, so then we have to re-up with our “go-to” method(s) until we are exhausted.

We are not taught in school to relate to our emotions as a guidance system, alerting us to the fact that we are either on track with all that promotes our wellness, love, truth, connectedness, joy and unique purpose, or off track. I don’t want to simplify emotions to that statement alone (because there are, of course, additional nuances) but this is a good starting template.

People tend to have patterns (in terms of the emotions and wounds they categorically want to avoid, and the ways in which they do that avoidance dance). Life tends to turn up the volume on the rejected emotion (which we could also think of as a complex or an exiled, vulnerable child part) to the point that our preferred avoidance method doesn’t work or fully mask it anymore and we are forced to sit with the abyss of loneliness we’ve been carrying in our heart since childhood, or the deep shame and inadequacy, or whatever it is.

This can truly be an underworld journey. And psychedelics tend to facilitate it quite naturally (this process of facing and integrating our actual emotional truth and rejected child parts). But it is absolutely worth it because it is as though the rejected emotions have become a frozen emotional energy in the body (literally sometimes locked into the “freeze” side of the sympathetic nervous system shut down state), and when that emotional energy thaws through the sunlight of our loving attention to it, we suddenly have more childlike spontaneity, creativity and joy, and more fuel for pursuing all that it is we feel we are really here to do in this life. Book a free call if you’re interested in exploring this process further.

A Brief Explication of the “Create or Die” Ethos

My friends have been by far the most potent magic of my lifetime. This shirt was designed by one of my oldest friends as merch for her husband and his band, The Obsessed @sharlee_patches

Create or die. See why we get along? 🤣🤣

There’s a beautiful series of lectures by the late Jungian analyst Marion Woodman called Sitting By the Well. Somewhere within them she boldly claims that, in each life, there comes a time of “do or die.” At some point, there is a deeper well from which we must drink .. as a matter of life or death.

This may sound dramatic. But I’m sure you’re familiar with the trope of the midlife crisis. At some point, often (though not necessarily) around midlife, and especially if we’ve carried any (normal) level of deep fragmentation and self-alienation within our psyche, we begin to feel like an empty fuel cell hungry for some nameless something we’ve never found anywhere and never even knew we needed. But whatever it is, it is irrevocably connected to life force—to life—itself.

Often that’s when people enter therapy. And I’m here for it. Reach out here for more information on how I can support you if you’ve been feeling this way in your own life.

Why Your 20s Are a Neurological Power Spot and How This Applies to the Gritty, Beautiful, Ongoing Truths of Human Life

Think of a plane taking off from LAX. The smallest tweak in trajectory immediately after takeoff can mean the difference between landing in Florida or landing in Maine. Your 20s are like that, and that is why they are such an incredibly powerful time in life. Your 20s are also a neurological power spot because your brain goes through its final big growth spurt in your early 20s and then industriously goes to work pruning away any of those fresh neurons that are not being used. So we literally wire and shape our brains to become really good, for life, at whatever we spend a lot of time doing in our 20s.

Sometimes in sessions I find myself explaining something like this to a client (why your 20s are such a powerful time in life, neurologically and in other ways, for example), and I realize that some of these bits of information I take for granted within my own brain are actually really useful and valuable information for others.

I am influenced by a book called The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter —And How to Make the Most of Them Now by psychologist Meg Jay. If I had not read that book in my twenties, I honestly do not know where I would be today.

By far the most useful idea within the book (as I remember it) was this idea that 99.9999% of us are not going to experience instant Taylor Swift success in our 20s, contrary to the glamorous way things might appear on social media. Most of us are going to spend our 20s at the bottom of some kind of unglamorous ladder. The thing is to choose your ladder, know roughly where you want it to take you by your 30s, and start climbing. If you love the idea of where the ladder is taking you, you can endure nearly anything.

And this particular idea (of ladder-choosing) doesn’t only apply in your 20s. While social media may make it seem like you can have a successful business and exhilarating, healthy relationship in a snap, it’s been my experience (in my life and in the lives of my clients) that most worthwhile endeavors require for us to humble ourselves again and again, to get some dirt under our fingernails, and to have our hearts beat up pretty good along the way.

But what a gorgeous vision of what it means to be human. We are all pulled forward, through all kinds of heartbreak, hardship and disappointment, by the exhilaration of desire and by the beauty of our most hopeful visions. Welcoming the broad range of what life brings with no illusions of entitlement to 100% ease seems to create a broader and more fertile garden where all the most important and worthwhile things can grow in their own time. Reach out here for more information on how I can support you if you are feeling less than 100% ease in the garden of your own life.

Addiction, Loneliness, Intimacy, and the Role of the Therapist/Artist

In a lecture the other day on the usefulness of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy for overcoming addiction, an elaboration on the definition of “addiction” was brought in. It was posited that the substance of choice can become a most intimate companion, more intimate even than any human relationship. And, if we assume the angle (which has gained popularity in recent years) that addiction is the opposite of connection, suddenly a poignant vision of loneliness and intimacy comes into focus.

Immediately I thought, “Oh! My journal! 🤣” Growing up as the only girl in a family of seven, I became a sojourner in the kind of intimate privacy that can be found in a room of one’s own, in books and in journals. I would not have survived the lonelier stretches of my life without my journal (or more accurately: my endless series of journals). So I am certainly an addict in this way.

A dear friend told me today that sharing publicly from a space of tender vulnerability is, in a way, what a therapist does, and is also what an artist does. (And it doesn’t have to be done in direct “I statement” self-disclosures. It can be told askew. It can be told through presence and resonation.) I love and adore that the line grows thinner with time . . . Or that the line has entered a kind of twilight space of no hard delineation. I want to live in that twilight space.

Because I feel an urgency to stand in the truth of what it really feels like to be human (and in my case, a human woman). Especially when social media distorts our understanding of ourselves and each other so drastically — when it reduces us to pale fractions of who we *maybe* were at some other time. What loneliness. I have always been driven (before I fully recognized it) by an innate faith that telling the truth publicly (which is what artists do) somehow helps to create a wiser and kinder world. Reach out here for more information on how we support your soul if it bends inexorably in the same truthward direction.

Writing Your Way Through the Underworld

In each life there is a need

at some time or other

to travel alone and by night.

It will be hard

but it’s when the stars burn

coldest and clearest.

The stars will come out for you.

Don’t be afraid.

I free write every single morning as a liberated creativity practice. It’s like producing a raw lump of clay. And then I decide what I want to do with it when I bring it into my creative “workshopping” practice afterwards.

That’s where the editor, the critic and the beautifier are allowed in to do their jobs. But the liberation space is only play, only freedom. No editor, no critic. It’s where you can’t be afraid to look like an ass. Somehow, in the liberated space, jewels your ego never could’ve constructed are found.

What I’ve shared above is a raw lump of clay. The first page of my notebook, one whole notebook ago. And I feel moved to share it. I want to share more from the center of my practices and my heart.

I want to share it because I have an intuitive sense that it connects to something true at the heart of being human. It’s like Mississippi John Hurt said, “You have to walk that [lonesome] valley for yourself.”

None of our lives go according to plan. Not really, anyway. That’s not to say it’s pointless to have goals and consciously move in certain creative directions. It’s to say that those goals, and that process of moving forward, is a constant negotiation with mystery— a constant conversation with the pure unknown. Which leaks into all of our lives in all sorts of ways. Almost like there is this mystery dimension to life that has other plans for us.

And in the process of surrendering to that “other” plan, we unfurl, and our lives unfold, in ways our regular old ego could’ve never dreamed. It’s not always easy. It can feel like a crucifixion and resurrection process. An underworld descent and re-emergence process. But you can trust it. Even when it feels like fucking hell. You can trust it. This is a fierce journey, and we’re all in it together. And sometimes we all need a little extra help, because this shit is hard. Reach out here for more information on how we can weave expressive writing therapy into our work together.

Wintertime

References to earthy themes as they relate to the interior life have almost become a cliche, it seems to me. But when something is oft repeated, there is a reason why.

I love the Jungian idea that when we dream, we don’t only dream for ourselves. We might also be dreaming for our family, for our community, for our country, or even for the land. There is a lunar place where the lines between things are no longer so distinct. I love the idea that my dreams might be rising up from the hills, swelling up from the ground under me, and passing through me at night.

I continue to become only more and more convinced across my lifespan that we are an intimate part of this earth. Our rhythms mirror her rhythms, and our needs her needs. (A part of me is balking at the second half of that statement, but a certain poetic instinct tells me it’s true, and must be said.)

I mean it in the sense that we naturally need moments of hybernation, rest and germination. We need to winter. We have moments of breaking through into the light with new ideas, projects, relationships (spring). We have moments of busy flourishing (summer). And we have moments of winding down the pushing, pruning back and enjoying the harvest (fall).

Sometimes, I swear it feels like our needs in this regard mirror the actual seasons. Or there may be a larger, longer winter or summer in our lives. There are layers of larger and smaller cycles layered upon each other.

It seems like sometimes people become even busier than usual in December and January, and even more resentful than usual of their continual busy-ness. I think it’s because there’s a natural impulse at this time of year to go into the quiet, to contemplate, to be with the body, to rest. How can you honor that, even in small ways? Reach out here for more information on ecopsychology and how we can weave it into our approach together.

The Secret Link Between Instinct and Codependency

 

“Codependency” has become something of a buzzword in the culture lately, right alongside other pop-psychological words, like “narcissist” and others. And it’s no wonder, when considering the way these two issues are attracted to, and can play off of each other. But that’s not the issue this post will endeavor to explore.

What I’m really interested in here is the secret link between codependent tendencies and difficulty hearing, feeling or sensing our own intuitive instinct. This is a topic I’ve rarely found any information on, and I’m starting to privately formulate my own theories about it as it’s appeared in my practice and also in my personal life.

Here is the lay definition of codependency in the dictionary: “excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically one who requires support on account of an illness or addiction.” Often the word is thrown around culturally when we’re referring to someone who appears overly reliant upon the emotional needs that are met in their primary partner relationship (whatever form that takes), often to the exclusion of other relationships, and to the point that living without that primary partner (or any form of “primary other”) might bring up unbearable pain or emotional desolation for the codependent, which they seek to avoid.

And this is not entirely wrong. This is, in a way, the gist. But there’s a lot going on underneath the surface that eludes easy explanation or definition. Often, when we have codependent traits or patterns, it’s because we were “groomed” by the relational dynamic in our family of origin to be constantly outwardly attuned to others and their needs, preferences, desires and boundaries. And often, we were (in one way or another) relationally trained to attune outwardly to the exclusion of our inherent awareness of our own needs, preferences, desires and boundaries (all those things that make up our sense of ourselves as a defined separate individual). In a healthy individual, our internal sense of our own needs, preferences, desires and boundaries is instinctive. In other words, we experience it as a present sense in the body which cannot be ignored.

But when we were brought up in any kind of codependent dynamic, our nervous system starts to equate ignoring our own preferences, needs, desires and boundaries with normalcy. In fact, it feels so familiar to do this that there is a kind of comfort about it. And when we start to notice that comfortable feeling in our nervous system in the presence of another, we might confuse it with this situation or person being a “good” or “right” one for us. Really, what we are feeling is a deep sense of familiarity.

And we may struggle for a long time to separate out what is actually our instinctive sense about a person or situation, especially when we have become invested with deep care about the person or situation. And yes, we may even come to deeply love said person. That’s when the fog that cuts us off from our instinct is at its very thickest.

If you’ve ever struggled for a long time to find what felt instinctively true for you, especially when it came to whether or not a particular relationship or interpersonal situation was the “right” one for you, vacillating back and forth and seeming to make no progress on strengthening your clarity, it’s possible you were caught in a codependent dynamic that your nervous system found very familiar as the result of relational dynamics in your early life.

As always, there’s so much more I could write on this topic and others. If you think this situation might describe you and you’re done struggling to find clarity, book a free 20-minute Intro call to see if therapy might help.