Descent- a Continuation of Day Two…
“I want to feel safe in the waiting,” I tell the door, as if an inanimate object could truly understand. It seems to be talking to me, so why not, right?
“This moment is full of many things. Is safe one of them?” the door replied.
I start to question everything. “Are we ever truly safe?”
A wild-eyed panic rises up like bile.
I start to shake.
“I don’t know how to feel safe on my own,” I plead.
I am still clamoring about in myself, trying to fix, to control, to manipulate my discomfort.
The door offered an energetic nod of acknowledgement. I didn’t know doors could do that kind of thing. I start to settle.
“Maybe it’s time to try that on your own. Nothing outside of you will secure you. You know that. Maybe it’s time you hold yourself.”
I close my eyes. Take in a breath, and descend into myself. Prepare for a tender embrace…
In this place of descent, I am drawn to reflect on a piece of writing that found me when I was nineteen, studying Gender Studies as a freshman in college, and claiming Undecided as my calling.
Borderlands: La Frontera, by the wonderous Gloria Anzaldua, introduced me to the figure Coatlicue (pg 69) at a time when I was hungry for understanding. I read about her, explored the shadowy depths of her nature as a state of embracing the darkness. It felt safe to explore this connection. Any fear associated with going within to retrieve oneself from the shadowlands was hushed into Knowing. It was the first time the Descent was presented from a frame that I resonated with- without stigma or being called depression.
I remember moving into my early twenties feeling a deep secretive need to obscure my connection to this particular piece. How dare I resonate with a Chicana poet? How dare I claim to understand? Especially at nineteen.
I felt I was trespassing, specifically due to the fact that every other article on my class syllabus spoke to the depths of appropriation, of the slaughter of people and cultures, of exposing every possible whitewashed corner of a homogenized and assimilated “reality”.
How could I even begin to look into this person’s words and find myself?
A divide split open within me at that point, and I never spoke of this quickening. My version of losing my voice in my own privileged circumstances of trauma could never be held up as a justifiable reason as to why I had permission to connect.
And yet, seeds were planted anyway- she showed me a way to a harmonious connection to the Descent.
Thus, began my journey of stepping out and into the world to understand why her words resonated so deeply within me. I am still on that journey, learning and unlearning a vast variety of why’s.
One of the many things that I have extracted from my experiences is that words can be a catalyst. They can catapult you far away from the here and now just as much as offer breadcrumbs back to yourself. They can even directly lend a rope for you to climb down into a place of retrieval.
I consider, in this moment, other tools that have helped me with my own retrieval over the years. Other stories. Other magic.
Women Who Run with the Wolves immediately comes to mind, so I find my worn paperback copy and open to the chapter Hunting: When the Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.
I spend the morning rereading Chapter Five, and take in the teaching of Skeleton Woman. There is mention of heart connections and the cyclical nature of love. The waning and waxing, wavering and strengthening of hearts as they move into understandings of vulnerable connection.
The words on the page take on a shadow, light, shadow dance within my thoughts. These things stand out: instinctual, trust, bonds, novas, startling, miraculous.
An alarm goes off. I am moved to purge my misunderstandings of connection in a moment’s notice in order to open to the unseen. What can this new place teach me?
Grief pulls heavy on my heart, for those words and ideals have yet to be fashioned in a true heartfelt connection. That awareness strikes me to the bone. I am shaken, yet silent in this awareness.
I am reminded of what I have offered with no return. I am reminded of the strings attached to my connections because of that recurring pattern. I am reminded that my needs deserve to be met, and the way in which I move to get them met have been dysfunctional in the past. I am reminded my past does not dictate my future. I am reminded that I am repatterning myself and am still in the remaking.
Reflecting on an element of my own internal workings, an aspect of myself I lovingly call the Great Forgetting which is an amnesia of sorts that I go through when my C-PTSD shows up, I think about how I’m influenced by brain chemicals to erase connections. The importance of them. The significance of the work that I have diligently put into them. In one fell swoop of fight or flight, I cut ties.
At least I used to.
I now sit tight a lot longer than before, but man that sitting tight takes everything within me to put down the fight.
I now hold on to the light within a connection instead of reducing it to its shadows. That old, ascribed way of relating often left me hungry when I took that position in love. It starved me any time I held fast to the “my way or the highway”.
That old way of relating often left me cold in my compromise- full of resentful list-making of all of the ways I deserved to be treated better. It often led me to a place of vengeful, self-righteous anger.
I also consider how, in those moments of compromise, I used to offer so many pieces of myself that only a swift circumstantial 4×4 could wake me up to what I’d lost within myself. What I’d truly given away. And that self-righteous anger made complete sense.
When compromise leaves you empty instead of full like that, you’re left with a head and heart full of doubt. When the idea of a vow lends energy to “all’s fair”, and when you’ve found yourself depleted by such a commitment, you have nothing left to do but offer it all up to the altar for prayer and healing.
And so I do.
And so it is…
I’m suddenly thrust into a state of resurfacing with a new sense of understanding, so it feels my descent was shorter-lived than expected.
I return to the page.
More words stand out: hunting, requirements, pursuit, Coatlique.
Again, with the shadow descent. The cycle begins anew.
I am filled with a powerful sense of Now and chills rush over me, from head to toe. I am swept away by this full circle and dance internally with the template of the cyclical nature of connections.
These two separate pieces of written work found their way to me, mere moments apart. The thread of the unseen led me here.
More chills rise as I open to this discovery.
I am reminded of the very thing that the title of this chapter links to- a hunger in a heart filled with deficit.
I’m currently in a place of new growth. Tiny shoots of green through the earth kind of new growth. Tender. Fragile. Determined for the sun.
I’m currently on a path of rebuilding and regrowing new sinew of Remembering and Reclaiming on the bones of what had been stripped away in 2020.
In a moment of reflection, I feel how my circumstances have been hungry, begging to be fed with what little had managed to return as newly formed flesh, as Spirit, as home.
I’ve been asked in this place of regrowth to slice away and feed others with the little I have and trust that in the giving there would be a receiving. I had many doubts. The math didn’t add up. I wanted to claim scarcity with my trembling hands.
But in a place of deficit, new connections were formed. New synapses reborn. New hands outreached. New surplus and plenty offered.
I have learned that for a supple return in life, there must be a fallow season- a bit of slash and burn in order to replenish the places and versions of ourselves we nurture the roots of. One must become the ash to rise up. One must be cleansed of everything to build a stronger structure of self. The Tower must fall, both inside and out, to take full advantage of gratitude, of each breath, of each moment.
And as anything else, when there is descent, there will always be another season of rising up again.
My eyes are finding a way back to being reanimated with a wide-angle lens- a lasting perspective and hope that things can improve. I can and will move from a place of deepest despair to replenishment.
This beautiful door’s invitation led me to a place where I was able to offer small pieces of my growing self to my growing self as well. I was able to graft a budding optimism with faith.
A way was born.
This door led me to consider how the union and connection with others creates magic and unimaginable endurance. How reaching out proves necessary and life-saving, for myself and others.
Decrease can and will be eclipsed with repair.
And “she who was beneath” can finally come back to the surface, phoenixing into new form. “She who was beneath” is not a prison of her circumstances, nor will she ever truly be defined by the transitory nature of them.
Become a PATREON PATRON and gain access to short stories, digital art downloads, and patron only snippets and updates for upcoming novels.