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Shadow Work Part 5 Holy shit…

I have returned, ready to share what I learned from a much-needed journey far to the north. Well, as far north as we could go during this pan-demic. I learned something that I am still working to process and unpack, but I want to share with you a lesson, a big lesson, I learned while I was there. But it starts with a story. This is all related, I promise. Just bare with me, because I hope by sharing this, you can learn through me and not the way I did.

Two years ago, on a similar trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, we hiked a trail alongside The Dead River just outside of Marquette. It was a wonderful and hard-earned hike that rewarded us with about six different falls along the river herself. I, however, did not fare too well during the hike back. After singing “Oh Death” to the river as an offering and a prayer, because for some reason I thought it was a good idea at the time, while standing alongside the banks of the water, my feet slipped out from beneath me and I ended up giving myself a mild-major concussion. We’re talking vision blacked out, disorientated to the point of not knowing where I was, world tilted, dizzy, sick to my stomach, and eventually one of the worst headaches I’ve ever had.

Of course, I never went to the hospital and am probably going to deal with the repercussions of that decision at some point in my life, but what do you do? My husband, having played football for most of his life, immediately recognized the symptoms and that night set an alarm for every 3 hours to make sure I would still wake up. Obviously, I did (Or maybe this is coming from the beyond and I’m now some famous ghost writer). The rest of that trip went well and we returned home with no further issues.

Fast forward to this year. We finally managed to land a place to stay for a week and the first place we decided to go was back to Dead River falls, per the request of my (step) son, who loved that trail above all others he had been on up till that point. I wanted to return as well, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why, seeing as how I was experiencing anxiety about returning.

The familiar trail was inviting and the river was calling us to her banks. Joyfully we trekked along the nature made stairs and observed 3 waterfalls before climbing to the top of one and sat down just to relax and take a moment. Our son found a way to cross the river to the other side, via two fallen logs that had been placed there by other hikers and was by no means an “official bridge”. He easily crossed and began his exploration, looking back to make sure he could keep going. I sat by those logs, awaiting his return when suddenly I found myself getting to my feet and approaching the edge of the river.

Fear reared its stupid head and I stumbled back a step, my rational thinking mind going What the hell are you doing? Can’t you see the rushing water there and the waterfall that’s less then ten feet from you?! If you go in, you’re going to rocket over the edge and die!! My whole body began to shake as I stood there, one foot on solid ground and one on the log that when pressed just right would tilt and move all on its own since it was not tied down. I stood up straight, put my hands on my hips and I told that thinking mind to fuck off, I’m going across.

Half way there, the log on the left bowed dangerously close to the waters surface and I froze, pitched forward and almost lost my balance. I was stuck in the middle with one foot planted and the other barely hanging on when a calming voice reached out and said “I’ve got you.” I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and took a step. Another deep breath, another step. With each breath and step, I straightened my body and suddenly I was across and on the other side. A whole new area opened their arms to me and cheered on my accomplishment. Even my son, who hadn’t watched me cross, yelled out his excitement at the fact that I was now on the same side as him. To be honest he was probably just happy to have been given the chance to explore further, but it’s the same if you ask me.

I veered off on my own for a few minutes to find a place to just sit, breathe, and contemplate what it was that I had just done. Holy shit. My mind was racing. I could have fallen in! I could have had my head bashed and thrashed against those rocks! I might not have stopped at the first fall either! There are three others after the first one I would have gone over! You’re insane! Do you know what could have happened?! Then, I responded. No. I don’t know what could have happened, because I didn’t fall in. I didn’t fall in because of me not you. You would have had me over the edge and panicking all the way back to the end of the river, whereas I trusted in my ability to cross, the ableness and strength of my body and I forgot about you, fear. You’re not useful anymore. Or something akin to that.

It was shortly after this moment of talking back to that other person in my brain that I realized where I was sitting. I had found the most beautiful and peaceful place on the planet. A small pool of calm water circled joyfully before me, churned on by an eight-foot waterfall framed on either side by an older growth forest dense with the deep green forests get after it rains. Dappled here and there were the warm reds and yellows of the approaching fall, and the smell of fresh water filtered through thousands of tree roots. This place was the physical representation of my Iron woods. The boys finally found me and after sitting and relaxing for a time, we continued our hike finding new ways to see the rest of the falls along with a beaver hollow getting ready for the oncoming winter cold.

I didn’t realize until we got back to where we had initially found this new trail that I would have to cross the makeshift bridge once more. I didn’t anticipate the fact that I would have to face down that fear again. I also didn’t anticipate being able to stop it as soon as it started.

Before the words were able to form, I had made up my mind that fear, at least that particular fear, would no longer have a baring in my world. For this is my world and I it’s architect. I would be lying if I said that that fear is totally gone and I no longer feel it. It’s there. I can feel it, bidding its sweet time, waiting for the moment where it can be valid again. But I have a secret. Want to know what it is? I get to choose when it gets to be valid again. Only on MY terms will it support me when needed. Until then, it has no place here.

That evening when we returned back to where we were staying, I could hear Lady Superior calling me from down the road. So, I alerted the boys of where I was headed, grabbed my Mesa, and headed down to commune with Her.

Her waters, normally so smooth and calm for us, were riddled with joyful waves that crashed into the shore accompanied by strong winds and an on coming storm. But I could tell that the storm was a way off, and that it was time to play and explore. I created a game all by myself of trying to scoop up rocks from knee deep water while avoiding getting hit in the side by a wave. It was so much fun, until she almost got me and I said “HA! Better luck next time!!” She took that as a challenge and decided to show me 10% of her force. Needless to say, I didn’t retrieve any rocks and I ended up soaked. Lady Superior 1, Storm breaker 0.

She asked me then to trust her. I grabbed my Mesa, quietly bundled on the shore, and backed gently into the water. And I mean, I walked backwards into the water up to my knees. Close your eyes and trust within yourself. I didn’t know immediately what she meant, but when that first wave that was larger than the rest crashed into me and almost made me face plant, I got Her message. Laughing, I squared my shoulders, strengthened my back, set my feet and became immovable. Wave after wave after wave crashed against me and I felt something within me break loose. Boundaries She whispered. My own boundaries I responded. The waves calmed and I was free to return to the shore.

What She was helping me break was my own internal boundaries I had made for myself against myself. With the biggest one being the fear of who I might become. Because I had lived for so long as someone else, or as someone else’s version of me, I was totally and completely cutoff from the who and what I truly am. Once that boundary washed away enough, I could see the world the way I wanted to see it. The way I wanted to explore it. The way I wanted to experience it. It was like taking a seat at my very own throne (this is a yoga thing btw).

Suddenly, the forests and trails opened up and shared their potential with me. Hiking trials transformed into more then just a path in thick forest to an adventure waiting to be had. Stories and imagination ran rampant through my mind that created epic battles and one rather nude wizard screaming alongside a waterfall. Joy unleashed itself within me in the most childlike manner and I had a blast. I ran around corners and off jumps designed for bikes and pushed myself forward before the others to experience what lay ahead first, because that’s what I wanted. I never second guessed what I wanted, I just acted and embraced the action.

There are a few things here, so let me help you break it down a bit. First, understanding your own fear will help you push forward. Understanding your fear through how your body and mind react to it is step one. Step two is taking the first physical step. Find the smallest step you can take, and take it. Step three is to keep stepping forward in spite of the fear. Realize that the biggest fear you will face down is the fear of the unknown. Who am I? Who am I meant to be? Without this trauma, without this safety net, what will I become and will I even like it? Honestly, these questions don’t need answers. Most of them already have answers, you just have to be willing to be a bit adventurous and genuinely curious in order to hear them.

Also, realizing that it is the FEAR OF THE THING ITSELF that is causing you to stop, pause, and turn back. Remember that story I just told you (really Storm? Yea, I do)? If I had allowed my fear to take a hold of me half way across that bridge I would have fallen in the river. My knees would have given out, my center of gravity would have been thrown off, and I would have started panicking and pitched myself right over the edge into those dark waters. It was the act of shutting that fear down and moving beyond the fear that saved me from falling in. I returned to focus on the inherent strength within my physical body and my mental resolve that made it to where I could regain my center, strengthen my back, engage my core and take a step forward. Having already beaten the fake bridge once, beating the fear back the second time was easier because I knew that I would succeed. I already had, remember?

What I’m trying to say in a very long round about way, is that once you defeat It (whatever It might be) each time after that it gets easier and easier to win. That initial battle is the hardest. But once you win that first fight, you gather resources, bolster your ranks, maybe increase your fire power and you fight again. And again. And again. Be proud and honor yourself enough to keep getting up. And when you can’t, ask for some help.

The most important part about this message is that no matter what, YOU will always hold your own best interests in hand. Trust yourself so thoroughly and without question so that you know with out a doubt you will always succeed in your own life. Because the brighter you shine the light for yourself, the better others can see.

Next week, we are going to talk a bit more about those internal boundaries and ways to deal with your mental monkeys that are hucking poo all over your mind palace. Till then, Love to you all. You got this.

Published by Lady Storm

I am a spiritual practitioner that has walked many different paths. Some could call me a jack of all trades when it comes to belief systems. While I don't hold all the answers, I hold many tools that will help unearth answers to questions anyone may have.

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