The Skin I’m In

savasana
Sometimes I think I’m too thin-skinned for this world. 

That was the thought I had, as I washed the last of the dinner dishes. It wasn’t particularly tied into anything. No single incident or interaction had derailed my footing or rattled my resilience.

That’s just like me, to think something so dramatic. 

That was my next thought, after the first one, followed by the inevitable question of meaning, and then, after that, a response — we are now talking an official ping-pong match — dismissing meaning as overrated and nonexistent.

Seriously, people. It’s like that in there sometimes.

Lo and behold, I found myself — after quite the hiatus — on my old green yoga mat on the living room floor. And I don’t mean practicing yoga in any kind of asana sense. I mean child’s pose, the immediacy of breath that surrender invites, a few very gentle stretches (isn’t it silly that you’re doing this in jeans?), and something I can only call savasana-ish.

The latter lasted until Aviva called me into her room to help her pick out new bras, but amazingly, just that few minutes of of checking out — can you believe I called this checking out and not checking in? — and I felt restored enough to face life again.

Not that there was any reason per se, not to face it earlier. If I experienced anything today, it was this: Sun on face. Body on mat. My business, your business, God’s business. All of these simple but easy-to-forget things that bring me home.

Oh, and this. Yes, this brings me home. Sitting to write for a few minutes before bed.

“Create before you consume,” suggests Marie Forleo. Otherwise, as she points out, you will spend half the morning comparing yourself , the afternoon in meetings, and before you know it, a whole day will have gone by. Very true.

I think something similar is worth remembering before bed, not to create but to touch down with some kind of quiet. The fridge humming. A bowl of cereal to my left, with just enough milk in the bowl to slurp before rinsing it out, turning off the overhead light, brushing my teeth, and climbing into bed with my honey.

This afternoon, I asked Mani if I’d ever be clear of the internal sludge that life stirs up.

It feels like I’m removing it by the spoonful sometimes. I was whining.

It is possible, she responded.

It is possible, I repeated to myself, after we hung up.

And in the meantime, which is all I’ve got, I’m going to start coming home more often, to this place, this quiet night moment, and those creative morning ones, without the noise of anything but the volleys I can ignore rather than referee.

Then all that’s left is room to really feel and acknowledge whatever’s actually going on, space to listen for my own wisdom rather than flailing about as if I haven’t got any, and, if I’m lucky, a bounce in my step enough to propel me to whatever’s waiting in the wings.

It’s not about being too thin-skinned or needing to toughen up. It’s about not abandoning myself, and yes — loving the skin I’m already in.

Image ::  SAVASANA: The Art of Conscious Dying by Jeannie E. Javelosa

The Roar Sessions: Meg Casey

Meg3

Seedlings Emerging

Unburying My Roar
by Meg Casey 

Once upon a time I buried my roar.

I grew up in a fiery home—where we laughed and yelled in equal measure. We could fight with the best of them—loud and explosive with sharp edges.

That’s what I thought it meant to Roar and take your space.

As a young woman I began to question this way of relating. It left everyone a little raw and shaken. What’s more it didn’t work outside my family, I had one too many experiences of losing people I loved when my Roar expressed herself this way. I wanted to be loved. Better to be nice I thought. Do the laughter—not the yelling.

So when I went off on my own, I was determined to hide my Roar away, lest it would hurt others—lest it would hurt myself. I was convinced I could be light and joyful and kind and bury the Roar I thought was so ugly. The only exception I made was social justice work and I devoted myself passionately to The People, standing up for others as though that could equate to standing up for myself.

The thing about Roars—they are not easily quieted. No matter how much I tried to be nice or good or vent her steam at protests only, Roar made herself know. She showed up from time to time as whiny frustration, a tearful vent, leaking out around the edges of the container I in which I imprisoned her. Sometimes she showed up as explosive rage—blowing the lid right off, as I railed and screamed so disproportionately and unreasonably, a thousand stifled cries riding on this one forbidden expression. Whenever Roar showed up like that I would collapse in shame, for hours or days.

I mistakenly thought that enlightenment would come through suppression of this Roar and so I wielded meditation and breath, positive thinking and compassion as weapons, so determined I was to force the rising pulse back down, to stay sweet and kind and lovable.

This path cost me. It cost me dearly.

It takes a lot of energy to try to hold in a Roar. It’s exhausting and ultimately depleting. I got sick. I got tired. My body strained from the effort of holding it all in and I began to suffer from migraines and chronic fatigue.

And worse, without my Roar I was vulnerable.

What I didn’t realize was that my Roar was my protection. My Roar was what would allow me to stand on my own two feet and be safe in a world that is not only heartbreakingly beautiful but can be unfathomably cruel. When I stopped listening to my inner Roar, scolding myself and begging myself to be more compassionate and forgiving, I left myself wide open to injury.

For Roar is the fierce rising energy that shows up when things aren’t right, She says, “NO! ABSOLUTELY NOT! YOU MAY NOT CROSS HERE.” She says “BACK AWAY—THIS HURTS”. She says, “ THIS DOES NOT WORK. SOMETHING NEEDS TO CHANGE!“

What’s more, Roar is the energy that moves us when we feel stuck—that propels us out of whatever situation no longer feels right. It is the rising power of springtime, the little green sprout pushing up through frozen soil. Roar is an assertion, a vision, a new way of doing things. Roar is not just the NO—it is the power—the force needed to create the new possibility—the burst of strong wind that will transform it all in an instant.

I had cut myself off from all that power. When my Roar did try to show up, she was just an echo of herself. All the force of the rising depleted by my resistance. After a temper tantrum or a tearful vent there was nothing left – everything spent in the expression and I would just curl up into a ball soothing myself until I could convince myself it was all just fine and that I was just crazy.

After a series of brutal boundary crossings left me raw, shaken and emotionally bloodied, I thought I would never feel safe again. I felt broken open but not in the good way. Insubstantial and slipping away. Lying in that deep dark and hopeless place, the message came loud and clear: In order to save myself I had to unbury my Roar. I had to reconnect to that fierceness that I had long denied.

Yet oh how I resisted. Some ancient voice kept telling me if I that if I connected to My Roar, if I set boundaries, if I stepped up, I would face certain annihilation or abandonment. I was terrified that my Roar would not save me—it would undo me.

In the midst of my fear, I whispered to a friend, “I am so afraid I will get in big fucking trouble.” He looked at me, right into my broken wounded bleeding mess of a soul, held my hand and compassionately said, “Sister, you are already in big fucking trouble. Look at your heart. If you don’t stand for yourself – who will?”

And so began my journey to Reclaim my Roar. To invite her out to play, to give her space and to claim her as my own.

When I feel that rising energy I used to call anger, I don’t push it away. Instead I listen. Sometimes my Roar is faint, like a whisper straining to be heard. At other times it rushes up quickly like a volcano, scary and fierce. I don’t try and breathe it away. Instead I breathe so I can stay until I can hear my Roar clearly and know what needs to be done.

What must stop?
What change is needed?
What request needs to be made?
What is asking to be born?

Honestly, my Roar is not always fierce and wild. She is tentative, shy, a little bit stunted in her growth. When she comes out she can be a snippy, a tad bitey. That’s what happens when animals are caged. But I am coaxing her out bit by bit and slowly she is transforming. It’s a life long practice, this rehabilitating my Roar. And it takes a lot of patience and a lot of love.

And what’s happening is nothing short of miraculous—my body coming back to life, unwinding and resting at last after all those years of holding it in suddenly more powerful with energy to spare again. My headaches are nearly gone now and when they show up I know that maybe its time to get quiet and listen again for a Roar that may be buried. I’m connecting to my feet again, more substantive more whole.

I am learning that my Roar does not need to be loud, explosive or sharp. Her force can be quiet and gently strong. But she needs room and she needs space. She needs to speak her truth, even if it’s not nice. And what happens when she does is a kind of birth—carrying me, my life forward. Each time she arises something new is created, just like spring rising up bursting forth like the crocus pushing up through frozen soil announcing the beginning of my life.

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Meg1Meg Casey is a mother, a healer, an acupuncturist and an activist  She is passionate about connecting to the wisdom of nature and the cycle of the seasons, and helping everyone discover their own innate superpowers.  She writes to find her way home.

You can learn more about her healing work at Meg Casey Acupuncture and read more of her writing here.

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The Roar Sessions is a weekly series featuring original guest posts by women of diverse backgrounds and voices. Read them all