My 14yo was asking me about God the other day. I was born and raised as a Catholic as was her father, but neither of us practise. I lost faith in the religion, or rather, I never gained faith in it because the priests in Sunday school couldn’t answer my questions.
We had just been taught the part of Bible where they say, “We are all made in the graven image of God,” and my 6yo self at 6:00am on Sunday perked up and asked, “So then God must be a girl and a boy.” It made sense to me, half the people on Earth were females, the other half males (I was too young to know and had not been taught about transgender people as yet) so it made sense that God would be both. The priest however was appalled at my gall and yelled at me and made me leave the class and stand outside in the hallway. I’ve asked similar questions over the years and gotten in just as much trouble.
If God made the universe who made God?
If Jesus was a Jew, why are we Catholic?
If I’ve never even met Adam and Eve, why am I being blamed for their sins? I haven’t even done anything bad yet?
And so on and so on… And I was always sent outside the classroom.
My young mind reasoned, “My math teacher answers my math questions and they make sense, the God teacher is not making sense, I can’t trust him.” And so ended my brief interlude with Catholicism when I was 6 years old and hence began a life long quest for Divine Connection.
I studied religion in university. I found that at their core all religions wanted us to be our best. But the dogma and the ritual and the misinterpretation of the scriptures by man turned me away from all organized religion. The teachings are beautiful, the people who control how it’s interpreted are not always so. They use it to control and manipulte the masses And blame their respective Gods. And in the end it didn’t align with who I was. Every major religion on Earth had used it’s teachings as the justification for war, hate, subjugation of women, persecution and prejudice. I wanted no part of it.
God just couldn’t be like that. It didn’t feel right to me. None of it.
I spent a lot of time pondering my connecting to the Divine. I had one. It was tangible to me. I knew there was a higher power that I was connected to. But I couldn’t define it.
I have always been introspective. Meditation was something that gave me peace from a very young age. It wasn’t meditation in its traditional sense. That didn’t come till later. I find peace and pause in nature. I would sit by the water And just ponder life.
That’s when I gained clarity on what I can comfortably call God.
What if God was not this omnipotent patriarchal figure in the so called heavens judging over us all, waiting to strike us down for bad behaviour?
What if God was just energy that was aware of itself? And its purpose was to understand the extent of itself? And so it fractured into an infinite number of realities and we are just one of those realities? And because we are creative, and aware of ourselves, are we not then also Divine?
What if God was all of us? And our purpose was to recognize our true nature? Our authentic self? That soul that everyone talks about… What if that was God manifested? What if we are all God manifested, living this life to understand the extent of not only our human selves, but reconnect with our Divine selves in the process?
What is self care?
I ask my clients this and I get a range of responses.
I go to the spa. I got my nails done. I went to the gym. I meditate. I eat healthy.
Most of us have some idea of what we do for ourselves that would constitute self- care, but to truly understand it we have to know what the self is first.
I believe the self is multi-faceted and we have to look after all the layers of ourselves in order for us to be at peace.
The 5 layers as I know them:
The Energetic Self: that you that walks into the room before your physical body does. That part of you that picks up on the “tension” in the room or picks up on the “vibe” that someone is giving off.
The Physical Self: your entire physical being. The muscles, bones, plasma… Every cell that comes together to create you.
The Mental Self: the computer or the thought machine. The conscious, subconscious and unconscious mind. All of your thoughts positive and negative.
The Emotional Self: the executor of your emotional responses. Active, passive or shut down responses. The entire spectrum of emotional responses from love to fear.
The Spiritual self: the witness or the soul. The you that looks for connection to that higher power that we believe we come from. That you that questions your very existence.
Now that you know you have this multifaceted self… What are you doing to look after all the layers of you?
The void I embraced
I started spending more time in the void.
The more I wandered into it the more comfortable I got with it. The more confidence I gained. The braver I became. More resilient. I took my strengths in there with me and I found it easier to explore. I wasn’t the weakling my fear had let me believe I was.
The more I explored the more I uncovered. There was a whole world of information hidden in that darkness. Like buried treasure. More valuable and precious.
I discovered things about myself. About the world I lived in. About how and why I chose to show up and interact with the world the way I did. Little nuggets of wisdom and insight. Little self-truths that let me truly align with myself. And be more authentically me.
But I was also tired. All that exploration is tiring. Mentally, emotionally and physically exhausting. And the urge to give up my exploration was strong. The temptation to go back to avoiding it and running from it grew stronger the more tired I got. I could just go back to numbing the pain and changing the channel.
But I chose again to fight that urge to run. I had already gained so much. Why stop now?
So I embraced it. The fear. The tiredness. The emotional overwhelm. All those negative thoughts.
And I found my spiritual self. And connected with my energetic self. And that changed it all. I now had all the tools I needed to conquer that void. With my inner connection stronger than it had ever been, I realised I was more powerful than the void. And that it wasn’t scary anymore, just unknown. But I knew myself now, and that wisdom allowed me to face that unknown without fear. For I knew me.
I discovered my strengths in that embrace. And my weaknesses. I connected with all the many parts of myself who all seemed to have opposing views of me. The voices in my head that were mean and critical. They held beliefs about me. Things about myself that I had no conscious contact with. Beliefs about myself that seemed real, but not founded in reality. They were relentless and innumerable. They threw insults at me and showed me just how cruel I could be to myself. Which was surprising, for I was never that cruel to anyone else. Why was I so hard on myself? Why did I treat myself with such contempt?
I discovered in that embrace that I wasn’t good enough no matter how hard I tried.
I discovered I wanted unconditional love but I wasn’t lovable.
I discovered that I wasn’t worthy and no one cared enough to truly see me.
And then I discovered that was all a lie.
Parts of me believed those lies to be true. And interacted with the world as if they were true. So I settled for less. And was over responsible. And too nice. I sacrificed myself and my needs because parts of me felt like I didn’t deserve to have them met. And other parts felt no one cared enough to meet them.
And then I met the real me. That soul who descended to this earth all those years ago. That authentic me who knew she was love and light. Who lived in confidence and compassion. She knew the lies in my head were not true. She knew it unequivocally. She knew that she deserved the world because she was the world. A piece of the universe manifested. She knew love because she was love. Unconditional love.
I realized in that embrace the extent of my being. The depth of my existence. For so long I believed I was the thoughts in my head. For so long I stayed away from the void because it was scary and evil. But I was none of those things.
I was the witness to those things.
That embrace changed me.
It freed me.
It saved me.
I live more fully now. I connect with myself and the world more consciously since I have more awareness of my subconscious. I know the void and I no longer abhor it. I descend into it frequently… For life has a way of pushing you into the depths of yourself till you triumph over the darkness.
For how can light not triumph over darkness? I am light. Light illuminates the dark dispelling it. I just have to J remember that.
So I pledged to explore that void till it was completely illuminated. Till there was no darkness left. Because I’ve learned that you can’t run from yourself. And if you’re brave enough to face yourself you will be whole, and know love, and be free.
The void I explored
I got tired of avoiding my void at some point in my adolescence. Running away from myself proved to be fruitless and exhausting. I got tired of being scared and haunted by this unknown thing that lived within me. It was scary. It seemed ominous and evil. The pain it emanated was fierce. I was certain it would destroy me. A demon from the underworld sent to devour my innocent soul. And so I was convinced that I needed to protect myself from it at all costs.
But nothing I did worked. It was always there… Looming over me. Ignoring it didn’t work. Avoiding it didn’t work. Pretending it wasn’t there didn’t work. Denying it existed didn’t work. On the contrary it seemed to get bigger… scarier… louder… More maddening.
The exhaustion became unbearable. So I threw in the towel and decided to explore it.
I took a deep breath and I descended into the darkness certain at the time that it would destroy me. Certain that I would not make it out alive.
But I didn’t die.
Instead in the other side of that fear I found wisdom. I gained insight into my soul. I learned that the monsters were of my own creation. I had left them there in the dark at some point in the past when I didn’t know I was strong enough to fight them. I ran from them because they seemed larger than life… But they were in fact a figment of my imagination.
But it was just an illusion. My memory magnified them and made them scarier than they actually were. From that place overlooking the void I only saw my weakness. In my fear I had forgetten about my strengths… And all the ways that I was capable of overcoming those fears and facing those demons.
The more I wandered into my void the more I realised I didn’t have to be afraid of it. It was a painful and scary exploration, but one that resulted in freedom.
Freedom from fear and pain.
And I learned that I like living free of Fear.
The void I avoid
We all have a void on the inside. That dark corner in our psyche that we avoid. Some thing inexplicable and undefined that gnaws at us. That deafening silence. That maddening noise. It looms in the far recesses of our minds and it’s frightening. Not always do we know what it is, but even without naming it, the fear it elicits is real, it’s palpable, often crippling.
We will do anything to try and make it go away. It’s often the motivation behind isolation, addiction, rage or psychosis. The drive to fill the void is so intense we often act without thinking in our rush to satiate it. And as a result we try to fill it with the wrong things, relationships, sex, drugs, alcohol, books… Anything to try and quench that thirst. And the void welcomes it all and devours it. It’s insatiable. Seemingly endless. And it just gets bigger.
I used to isolate and drown myself in art and music, seemingly creative hobbies, except that they was compulsively driven. I was a diligent employee, hard working and over responsible. I was obsessively trying to ignore that void. An attempt to quiet that ominous noise within.
It was tiring, that act of avoidance. Some part of me knew I couldn’t keep it up indefinitely. I kept glancing at that void wondering what would happen if I stepped into it? What’s the worst that would happen?
But no matter how many times I contemplated it I couldn’t take that step. I wasn’t ready to face it. It was easier to avoid. And besides I was an artist. And I was rewarded for being a good employee. Why screw that up? So I was obsessively creative. And a workaholic for a while.
I gave into the fear. And I avoided that void at all costs. I kept changing the channel to something else. I kept trying to outrun the thing within me that was chasing me. Drown out the noise in my head.
But what if I could muster enough courage to brave it and explore it? What if I could face that fear and walk into the darkness? What would I find? Is it truly as horrific as I imagine it to be? Or is it conquerable?
The flash of red right before your fist goes flying. That blazing fire that burns down everything it touches, including you. Anger… That destructive force that we all experience but don’t really like or fully understand.
What is it?
Most of us experience anger as aggression. Yelling, arguing, fighting that ranges from verbal to physical. Anger leaves a sense of discomfort and disconnection when it’s experienced as such. And our relationship with it is based on our experience of it as children.
If anger was a violent force in our childhood, we might tend to shy away from it. It’s scary, which will threaten our sense of safety. Or it pushed us away from our loved ones ( if we were sent to our room or isolated in some other way) which threatens our sense of connection. Why would we want to engage in something that is scary and makes us feel alone? Or makes us feel like we’re being mean or not nice because that’s how we saw the person who was anger with us? So we shut down or repress our anger.
For some anger, that display of aggression, becomes a source of power. It helps protect us from fear and insecurities. If something makes us feel small, anger will show up to puff us up and we feel like we have recovered the power that fear takes from us. So then anger becomes your default, and you will use it to maintain that feeling of power to fight off any feelings of helplessness. But you have to then be aggressive as well.
So what then is the balance? What is the point of this emotion? And how do we avoid repressing it and imploding, or expressing it aggressively and exploding? Is there a balance?
Anger at its healthiest is assertion and it’s vitally important for our survival. Anger allows us to defend ourselves. It tells us that something is threatening us and we should take some action to keep ourselves safe. That action doesn’t have to be aggressive. We don’t have to attack the thing/person that is threatening us, but we do need to protect ourselves.
Anger is your friend and shows up when something is threatening you in some way, to help you stay safe. It is asking for you to set a healthy boundary and hold yourself and the other person accountable to that boundary. And if they don’t respect it, it asks you to establish a consequence that will keep you safe from future threats. Anger at its healthiest is asking for that healthy defense, that positive action.
Anger shows up to reach you about yourself. It is your friend if you befriend it. If you take the time to understand it rather than just react emotionally. It will show you your wounds and will allow you to heal them. If you are able to disengage from the energy of anger and drop into your inner self. We tend to step into the energy of anger and often get suck there, blaming or attacking the other person. That blinding force that wants you to destroy something. But instead can you look within and see your woundedness so that you can then protect yourself more effectively? Can you pull back from the emotional response that anger evokes and look at what it is defending? Can you discern what the inner wound is that anger is guarding?
Anger is two parts: the energy of anger and the need for defense. Can you discharge that destructive energy on your own without involving the other person,(go for a run, scream into a pillow, punch a punching bag etc.), then drop into yourself to see what the wound is, and then execute the defense with the other person, by setting that healthy boundary?
Anger doesn’t have to be destructive. And you don’t have to avoid it. It’s just a matter of learning to be assertive, setting boundaries and holding people accountable.
Can you make anger your friend?