(Note to readers: I am not revealing my personal fear specifically because I don’t want my fear to fog your take-away from the intent of this article. Fears are individual and what I may consider to be fearful someone else may not. I ask you that as you read this to keep that in mind.)
At Sierra’s level 2 Boot Camp for Goddesses she asked us, “What is your 'medicine'?” In other words, what is your truth, your purpose, or your calling? We are all born with our “medicine” and we are all healers to some degree. We can heal through touch, communication, and even with eye contact. But sometimes, women especially, forget their own “medicine” because we are boggled down with old stories, fears, and insecurities. Your medicine is powerful and accessed when one aligns their thoughts, words, and actions with their inner truth.
Truth and fear cannot co-exist. When fear, anxiety, or anger are present it is impossible to access your medicine and to truly live fully in your unique truth.
Truth is present when you can disempower your fears, transmute anger, release old stories, and trust yourself enough to lean into your medicine. When you live in fear you give your ego the power. When you live in your truth you give your inner divine feminine the power. You can access your medicine and share it with the world.
When I was at the Boot Camp for Goddesses I went on a Vision Quest. While sitting alone on the side of mountain in Montana I prayed and meditated on my “medicine”. I came to her retreat with doubt about my identity and purpose. I didn’t know what to do because I had fallen completely out of my alignment and felt like I was standing at a crossroads without any tools to navigate my way.
My spiritual connection was broken and my fears were steering the wheel. No matter how much sage I burnt or Goddess cards I pulled, I didn’t have a real connection to anything spiritual or greater than myself. It was like I was going through the motions hoping that these little acts would protect me from any pain or suffering.
While sitting on the mountain I realized how much power I had given fear. I was so preoccupied with the fear of losing my husband, my family, and not living my life truthfully that I failed to be present with myself and with others. I was afraid of failure and not being enough as a lover, mother, daughter and woman. These fears created anxiety and my anxiety in turn held me back from living freely, fully, and compassionately.
I just finished reading Brené Brown’s new book, Braving the Wilderness. I finished reading it in 2 days. Her words resonated with me deeply, especially when she talked about her youth and feeling like she had to be a chameleon to fit in. I totally did that.
I was known as a social butterfly in high school because I knew how to skillfully camouflage myself in different “groups” so that I could be friends with everyone and have no enemies. I even received the "Best All Around" superlative my senior year. I was so proud of that. My motivator was the fear of being disliked after being severely bullied in middle school because I NEVER wanted to feel that pain again. I became a pro at wearing different masks around different people to avoid confrontations or the chance of being made fun of for simply being me. It wasn’t because I was compassionate or kind. NO. I was scared. I was afraid to "brave the wilderness alone" as Brené would phrase it. I was too busy fitting in that I never felt at home, anywhere.
During my Vision Quest I gave myself permission to put away the masks and to step into a world of vulnerability. The more I created space to actually feel pain the more I felt gratitude, compassion, and trust fill my heart. As I opened my heart to receive these powerful emotions I could literally feel myself expand and I felt a weight lift off me. I felt like I could soar in the sky with the red tail hawks flying above me.
While on the mountain I released my fears to the wind with Mother Earth as my witness. I cried, I sang, I drummed on the rocks, I sat in silence. I came down feeling lighter but more grounded, fierce but full of love. I felt my medicine as a Peaceful Warrior. And even though I was alone, I didn't feel alone. I felt supported.
When I got home I was on cloud nine from the transformative experience in Montana. I continued to use the tools Sierra had given us and life was good. My husband and I felt lightness in our relationship and I bonded with my son without fear lingering over me. I laughed, I played, I wrote, I made love, I gardened, I moved, I loved. I loved myself fully and was so turned on by the Goddess reawakening within me.
I had 2 weeks of pure ecstasy until a dark cloud created turbulence in a time of blissful peace. I felt like someone took a 2x4 and smacked me in my face. I was alone when I was invaded by one of my darkest fears; and being ALONE, another fear of mine, only compounded the fear. I was angry because I thought I had just done all this work and that I deserved to feel at peace. I cried like I had never cried before. I howled like a wild wolf who had just lost her pup. My body quivered with adrenaline and disbelief. I was in pain, terrified, and alone. Jesus help me.
“Pain will subside only when we acknowledge it and care for it. Addressing it with love and compassion would take only a minuscule percentage of the energy it takes to fight it, but approaching pain head-on is terrifying.” – Brené Brown
This was the WORK.
This was Creator (God, Mother Earth, Great Spirit, whatever that means to you) giving me the opportunity to use my medicine and to grow.
This was my opportunity to either give into fear or to stand up to it and become stronger. I could lead with my fear or I could lead with my truth. I leaned into my pain and I felt it. I lived in it. I slept in it. And Brené is right, it’s fucking terrifying.
I knew that if I avoided pain and gave into fear I’d be repeating old habits and patterns which wouldn’t serve me or anyone else. Had I done the work? Have I grown? This was the time I'd find out.
I dug deep into my medicine using the tools I had access to through my newfound inner Peaceful Warrior - to help me in processing my emotions and staying open to new possibilities. I trusted her. I trusted that she loved me and that she would guide me to what I needed to do.
She is me and I am her.
I trusted myself to do what I needed to do. And because I trusted myself to follow my truth I could keep my heart open and make the best decision. I approached my fear and pain with compassion, love, and empathy. I transmuted my anger using my medicine and I felt purposeful, present, and whole through the healing process instead of angry, anxious, and fearful.
But I will not lie, its fucking brutal.
For the first time, I felt rooted in my ability to show up with strength, courage, and to brave the wilderness alone. And this was a HUGE fear to face but I knew that if I could stand up to this then I could finally throw away all my masks and trust myself enough to be the woman I was born to be.
I am grateful for my teachers and lessons. I am grateful for the guidance and love of Creator. If I didn’t have the tools to stand in my truth I believe that I would have ran and continued to live in a vicious cycle of fear, distrust in myself and others, and doubt.
My greatest encouragement I can give you, lovely Goddess, is to start the work now. Go deep and release what does not serve you so that you can stand in your unique power. Your medicine is a gift to the world and to yourself. It's also your duty. Use it mindfully. Lean into your pain, feel it, and trust. Your truth cannot shine if anger and hate are in the way. And life will challenge you. You will be faced with hurt, pain, and grief at some point in your life. Nobody is immune to pain no matter how much work you do. Its not about chasing perfectionism and avoiding conflict, its about embracing your truth and leaning into love and compassion when you are faced with pain, conflict, and fear.
Take off your mask and stand up to your weaknesses. Stand up to your fears. When you stand up to your own shit you grow. Stand in your truth; be grounded but remain open for new possibilities that will support your growth and fuel your medicine. Be courageous, be brave, and be fearless. You will be a powerful force of love, compassion, and truth.
This world needs you; it doesn’t need your masks; it doesn’t need you to be “nice” or angry; it needs you to be authentically you, whoever that person is.
One of the most powerful prayers I have ever used to help me live in my truth is my mentor Sierra Bender’s Truth Prayer:
May I know my truth
May I see my truth
May I speak my truth
May I feel my truth
Oh, Great Spirit (God, Creator, whatever that means to you) please give me the strength, courage, and perseverance to follow my truth and to follow you. May I keep my eyes, ears, and heart open to receive you. Please get this lesson with over as quickly as possible with compassion and mercy. Aho.
It's OK to feel pain and anger. I encourage you to fully feel these emotions when they show up and to metamorphose them into work and actions that reflect your truth.
As I was sitting in a local café writing this an older man walked up to me and said, "You my friend walk like a true dancer. If you aren't a dancer, you sure have the grace and presence like one." This comment made me feel happy. I did the work and now I am showing up stronger and more gracefully in life than I ever have before and others are seeing me; graceful, strong, fierce, feminine, grounded, and confident. Not my mask.