If I had categories for this blog, I would file this under, “I’m not really sure why I’m telling you this.”
I’ve been thinking often in the last few days of this one small incident that happened a few years ago. It was brief and marked me deeply.
It happened at the Intuitive Arts Festival. It was still in the Community Centre in James Bay then, and I was still doing my 15 minute sessions by donation so I was always busy: just finishing with one person in time to turn to the next one. I was making it easy for people to say yes to trying out a session with me, and it worked. It was also when I was still unsure how to speak about whatever it is that I do and so I had someone sitting at the table talking to people for me. Then I didn’t have to talk specifically about what I do. This doesn’t work for me now, but it did then.
When I work with person after person at events like this I quickly lose track of who I am seeing for. Because I always take the person’s right hand if I can, it starts to seem like I am moving slowly down a long hallway holding someone’s hand and seeing wave after wave of unworkable stuff that needs adjusting. Often there will be themes that run through the day: same kind of shifts happening in human after human.
But then, that day, there was this one woman who stood out. I don’t remember her name (and wouldn’t tell you even if I could). I’m not sure that I would remember her face if I saw her out in the world. But if some time she ended up on my table again, I would remember her in vivid detail.
Even before she lay down on my table I was aware of her eye area: perfectly made up, but somehow really tightly held. And that was where I was taken first. Her eye area was tight inside also, kind of like a mask that went down, down into her skin that she longed to take off but had no idea how.
I stumbled in my words, trying to tell her what I was seeing. I stumbled because I was feeling the edge of devastation and I was treading very carefully.
I was aware of a complete separation between her head and her body.
My heart broke in the next moment from the longing that I felt from her heart and her belly, aching so deeply for her own connection.
I stumblingly said something about that.
I remember asking her tentatively, “How is your relationship with your parents?” “Oh. Just fine,” was her answer, spoken in a tight voice with no opening in it for me.
“Hmm,” I said out loud, and “Oh dear,” inside my head.
I remember speaking something about grief and heartache, and doing what small things were available to me to ease her aching heart and try to make connections with her head. But 15 minutes is not long, and whatever was going on here was going to take a great deal of unraveling and was unlikely to be best done in a community centre gymnasium buzzing with people.
I remember giving up and telling her that was all I could do.
She sat up on the table and fixed her clothing. She said, “Well, that was very interesting,” paid me, and left.
I was reeling.
I had never been given permission to see for someone who was that locked down to their own insides. I’m guessing that usually people who are locked down like that don’t find their way to a seer. But this woman’s longing was driving her to something, anything.
I had no time that day to express or fully feel the devastation. I had to turn straightaway to the next person on my list. “Hi, come in. Is there anything you’d like to know about me before we start? Is there anything that you would like to tell me or shall we just have at it? Is it ok if I hold your hand on your body like this? Is it ok if I touch you lightly in some spots down the front of your body, like your belly and your heart?” All this while my heart was aching for the woman who had just left.
I didn’t know then that my job sometimes is to point from a great distance to something and inquire gently, “Do you know that this is here and that it is unworkable?”
I also didn’t know yet to back off completely and say, “There is a lot here that we could address, but this (waving around to the chaos that is the Intuitive Arts Festival) is not the place to do it. Perhaps you would like to come and see me one-on-one?”
I wish that I had known these things.
I had no hint of what the stuff holding her captive was. But I can tell you now, this few years later, that it doesn’t have to have looked like much. This degree of lock-down does not automatically indicate physical or sexual violence, though of course it can. It could be that her mother was depressed and her father was absent. It could be that her mother was sick and all the family emotional resources went to her. It could be anything, really, where this woman learned as a child that in order to be a part of her family she could not have any feelings. None. Not one. Ever.
It is amazing what we will give up to have access to love in our family, and to belong.
It is amazing how little it takes to deviate us from our true path of being fully embodied, feeling humans, and it is simultaneously mind-boggling how much, well, shit we can carry around and still look together by our questionable societal standards.
So I send this out into the world: Wherever you are, aching woman from the Intuitive Arts Festival, I've been thinking about you. I hope that you are finding your way to a life that you love.