The other day I went to a wonderful local cinema; with armchair seats, tea and cake. You might be forgiven for thinking that would be an easy, pleasurable thing. In the end it was, but if you could only have listened to the dialogue in my head and the feelings in my body you would know differently. Terror has been stalking me for some time. I am someone who has always prided myself on being fearless. I wholeheartedly believed that it was my identity. I have travelled alone to the other side of the world, driven myself to France and back, skied extreme off-piste runs, been the first to volunteer to “go there” into my deepest darkest terrain at every spiritual retreat I have been on. Until recently where i have been learning about courage and how to love your inner fear
Something happened when I witnessed my husband step into his adult in couple’s therapy. A part of myself that has been in hiding all my life momentarily stepped forward to be seen. Blink and I would have missed it. But my true self, the part of me that observes had seen her and felt her energy. Pure terror, the kind that shakes my body in tremors of fear, that highjacks my ability to function, that has sobs coursing through my body in the middle of the night.
A journey through terror is….terrifying!
I have been in training for this moment for many years. Putting into practice the work I do in the world in my own life. I have witnessed, held, loved and transformed so many parts of me, from the controller to the people pleaser, my impatience, to my shame. Yet still this journey with terror has been the most difficult, and terrifying of my life.
Facing fear the feminine way
It is purely an inner journey. Nothing in my outer world necessitates this response – cognitively I know this –and yet still, she is there. She is re-defining me. Softening me. Allowing me to recognise that I do know fear and that I know her intimately. But I have been following a masculine approach – refusing the fear, pushing through it, putting a brave face on – without even knowing she was there.
Mothering the inner child
My deepest spiritual practice right now is to hold terror whenever she comes up and to invite her into my morning meditation every day. I am learning to be a parent to her. I am learning to be a Mother to this most challenging part of myself. This is profound, life-defining work. It is the most difficult and rewarding I have ever done. I am learning to hold her first, tune into terror and ask if it feels safe to do something before I do it. Then, I call on my adult self and on the Divine Mother to hold her with me. Sometimes she still says no. When she does I am learning to listen and to go more gently, more slowly, or even to stop all together. Often I am able to take her hand as I would a small child’s and promise her that I will keep her safe and that we can go home any time we need to. Then, we can enjoy life together – surfing, cinema trips, intimacy… When she is around and on edge my teeth chatter – I take this as a sign to breathe more deeply, to welcome her more fully, to love myself more deeply.
Is your inner child waiting to be saved?
How many of us still have a child inside who is waiting to be rescued and saved? Yet, the work is to learn that we are the ones who must save ourselves. My journey is to do this through love, to welcome all the parts of my shadow with open arms, alongside the terror that my abandoned child feels. At her core she doesn’t need to blame those who have abandoned me in the past – she needs to know that I won’t abandon myself now or ever again. She needs to know that I will speak my truth, meet my needs and hold my pain. It is the most beautiful gift we can give ourselves and I am so grateful to be able to hold this space for myself and for others to make this journey for themselves. Our inner terrain is rich with a thousand precious gifts, if only we are courageous enough to walk bravely into the labyrinth of our souls.
Back to the cinema
So, the cinema trip today took more courage than my glacier hike, than childbirth, than a thousand things that might appear courageous to the outer world. It took this courage because instead of hardening to her, I softened towards my terror. I invited her to be my companion. Circumstances meant I went alone and she was scared. Yet, together we laughed, cried, trembled and ate chocolate! I was truly alive. I am now as I write this. This is the invitation. To live fully, wide open.
With her at my side I am kinder, softer, more aware of the invisible traumas others might be wrestling with. She is teaching me to trust more deeply, to learn that I can be vulnerable and have those I love stay with me and be kind. I have always thrived on my ability to do this for others. Now I am also learning to do it for myself on a deeper, more intimate level than ever before.
When we share our stories we begin to heal them.
If this touches something in you too, then I would love to hear from you. When we share our stories we begin to heal them. It is one of life’s greatest gifts. If you would like to speak to me to discuss how I can support you in parenting yourself with courage and compassion then please do get in touch. I will be delighted to connect with you.