75. Beyond Fear

BLOG 75—(present reflections tied to August 2000 journal entries about my healing and novel writing journey)—I want to talk about fear. Yes, fear…the kind of fear that’s more than a feeling or moment. The kind that years ago, during my summer of healing in New England, gripped me, held my body like a fist I had to work so hard to open.

“I’m not feeling fear like a character in a story,” I wrote back in August of 2000 on the farm. “I am fear. It owns me and makes me dangerous to myself because I can’t separate my night dreams from my present reality.”

Prior to my New England summer of healing from physical pain, I would never have said that fear owned me. I was so busy running forward toward some promised land, some imagined future, that I had no idea of the fear and fright I carried in my body. It literally ran me, ran my life, and like so many of us, I hadn’t stopped long enough to truly listen to my body’s messages until that summer of 2000.

Then, during hours of healing work, dreams, and meditation, I discovered how paralyzed my soul, my essence, was by fear, by the simple act of being in this world. For some reason I was scared to feel, to embody my life, so I kept attempting to leave my body, running away from myself.

“I was an actor and observer in my dreams in the past,” I wrote back in 2000. “But now, in these situations (and dreams), I am awake and there is no beginning and end. There is just one long moment of life and death in my body, and I’m scared for my life.”

a4673f71c116515340caf78047a35d5dDuring that summer, I would wake up at night feeling unsafe in my own room. And the worst part of it was that the fright in my body was so strong I couldn’t tell the difference between dreams and reality. They were one of the same. And not knowing why I carried such fear made it even more difficult.

No matter how bad it got, though, I stayed with the nightmares, with my program of healing, discovering a world inside that had something dark and ominous to say. After all, I knew I had to experience the nightmares in order to move forward, to walk again, with grace, in this world.

So, bit by bit, I learned how to be here, on this earth, as I gardened, meditated, and discovered peace and quiet. I began healing so much that one night a crow came to visit me in my dreams. It rested, full-feathered and black, on a tree. In my dream, my housemate, Cassie, told me that “it (meaning the crow, which seemed to represent me) has finally recuperated from the torture and pain and now needs to be nurtured. Its wings are able to fly, but the crow needs to be watched, making sure it doesn’t hurt itself again.”

My dream was a clear sign that I was on the right path after almost four years of pain and little mobility since injuring myself in New Mexico. While I was relieved by the progress I had made, I soon had another challenge facing me. I was traveling away from my place of retreat in New England to see my family—my father, mother, sisters, aunts (who were visiting from Argentina), and my nephews—at a reunion in Upper New York State.

The last time I had been with everyone had been three years earlier. I had visited in crutches from my home in Oakland, C95d89adad1bcbd7204bce0f705806471alifornia, and when I went I felt very little support. This time, I was worried I would attacked again for being weak and vulnerable. So, before traveling, I prayed hard, asked spirit, God, to give me the resilience I needed to not only survive my family reunion, but remain true and rooted in myself.

Committed to being real, and honoring and nurturing myself, even in a situation I feared would be cold and difficult, shifted everything during that family reunion. Rather than experience what I had during my last visit with family, I felt strong, clear, and, in some ways, supported. It wasn’t perfect, as few family reunions ever are, but I discovered that I had become a stronger person. Even one of my sisters acknowledged that it was nice to have me back—that I really seemed present in ways I had not been before.

So when I think back to all the fear I carried then, and how I had moved through it to become more fully myself, embodied and alive, I truly understand what it takes to be here on this earth. I get that sometimes we, as humans, walk around as souls afraid to be in our bodies. We don’t always know why we are afraid, or that we even are, but we don’t feel at home. We feel lost, stuck, paralyzed by life.

There is a place beyond fear, though, and that place is inside of us. Deep within. We must be with ourselves, understanding our shadow, the dark places that want to speak to us, and not run anymore. There is no place to go, no promised land, because we are the promised land we’ve run from for too long. We carry our home inside, beyond fear.

My Novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is about moving beyond fear and coming home. It’s available on Amazon at Amazon Page  or at www.michelleadam.net. It can be ordered at a local bookstore as well. Also, watch a brief video on “duende”, “the spirit of the earth”: YouTube Video

 

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52. Answer to a Prayer before Saying Goodbye

BLOG 52:  June, 1999—Have you ever written a letter to your father, or someone, with no intention of sharing it? I did, many moons ago, on Father’s Day, as I lived in my parent’s house in New Jersey, healing from physical and emotional pain.  

“It’s strange celebrating Father’s Day with this silence between us,” I wrote. “Your silence, your temper, your not being there when you were really needed in these past few years has made me sad about this family and our relationship. All I’ve ever wanted is for us to learn how to show care and love to each other—to feel that we don’t have to compete against each other, but rather let family be a place where we all feel wanted … I know that you are scared to be vulnerable to show that you have needs and care, but I hope that, as we age, we can make less room for judgment, and more room for enjoying the time we have. I hope there can be years in which you and I, and all of us, can take a few chances and express ourselves as friends.”

This letter to my father never made it into his hands, but my wishes did come true before my father’s recent departure from this world. It was about five years ago that I had called him up, broken-hearted about the relationship I was in at the time, and how I had
learned to be in relationship. I asked him to help me break these old patterns of intimacy (or lack of intimacy) I had learned growing up. It was a bold move on my part, but I was so broken, unable to sleep, that I took a friend’s advice and reached out to my father, toward the origin of my pain.

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“Maybe you can help me,” I had said to him in tears. Without needing to explain too much, my father surprisingly told me he understood, and that the way he and I related had been passed down from his grandfather to his mother to him and then to me (and my siblings).  His next words were life-changing. My father said he regretted, to that day, not having had quality time with his mother before she died (later, I learned that they had had harsh words with each other during his last visit with her in Argentina). In his own subtle way, he let me know that he didn’t want this to happen with us.

The following spring, as my relationship with my then-boyfriend finally came to an end—and upon my request—my father and I shared a month together in his apartment in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he visited a lot since retiring from Corporate America. That was about three years ago, and it became the first time I had quality one-on-one time with my father. We slowly opened our hearts to each other to create a relationship we had never had. It wasn’t easy, but during that time, I discovered my father—big-hearted, alive, and celebrating life with dinners and gatherings with childhood friends and family who were tremendously dear to him.

As our time together came to an end, after two days of my father driving me through the streets of his favorite city in the world, sharing his love, we sat across from each other over a meal. In an unprecedented manner, he told me how special I was and how much his friends had loved me as he did.

IMG_1683The following year, my father insisted we return to Buenos Aires together. I shared songs and poems with him and friends, letting my father know how precious this time was. He reflected back to me how I had finally come into my own after years of searching. That summer was when he also told me he had chronic leukemia (in addition to his Parkinsons and crippling pain)—a disease that would require undergoing months of chemotherapy in the U.S., followed by more treatments and surgery for melanoma, which he later had. Our visit together was one of his last to Argentina before his death.

This past month, when my family and I gathered to be with my ailing father, caring for him for multiple weeks around his hospital bed in my parent’s living room in Virginia, it seemed my letter and his wishes had been answered. The father my sisters and I had known growing up had become less afraid to share his heart, to reach out and finally have a loving relationship with us. Because of his desire to have a fuller relationship with his children than he had experienced or expressed with his mother, he was able to leave this world knowing that he had done something beautiful. On February 23, at 2:03, as my cousin, Domenica, and I held his hands, he left knowing that we had given each other a gift that had become an answer to my letter and our mutual prayer.

*My novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is a story of coming healing and coming home. Check it out on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Child-Duende-Journey-Michelle-Adam/dp/099724710X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474233011&sr=8-1&keywords=child+of+duende  or at www.michelleadam.net

 

28. I Am Not Alone

WHEN YOU ARE ALONE, WHERE DO YOU GO?

Blog 28: Dec. 1997-April 1998—There are times when no amount of wanting, willing, or determination will bring us to that place we wish to go. The past lives in every cell of our body—whether from this lifetime or another—until we are able to hear, feel, be with what is trying to speak its voice through us so that we may, one day, be free.

This was my reality when I moved from my idyllic home in the Oakland Hills of California to a house with multiple unhappy people in the lowlands of Berkeley. I didn’t want to move, but my hips were in too much pain to function in the hills, and I needed a place without stairs that I could afford.

In this space of debilitation I wrote poems, one of which I share here:

I am no more than this, I say,

than the wind that crosses through my room,

 than the tenderness of strangers,

than your voice that at times whispers when it is afraid.

I have been there,

I have frozen my gut,

closed my wounds to the world,

too big, too outside myself.

I have wandered and prayed for love,

have forgotten so many times that I am not alone,

only to stand here,

and to feel this

this nakedness of possibility,

this breeze of flexibility,

this knowing that even in this great weakness,

I am not alone.   

WHEN YOU ARE ALONE, WHERE DO YOU GO?

(Check out my novel, Child of Duende, at NOVEL WEBSITE)