being human,  breath,  embodiment,  learning,  writing

Voicing the Struggle

I’ve been struggling the last few days. Part of the requirement of my spiritual direction certification is to meet in peer group a few times per month. The purpose of these small group calls is to present situations we are struggling with during our practicum period. The calls consist of five to seven people with one person presenting each month while the others provide noticings, questions, images and impressions. It’s a beautiful and meaningful process but I’m struggling with it. I’ve been struggling since the program started last November. And I’ve been open and honest about these struggles with my teachers.

Earlier this week it came to a peak. After getting off of the call on Monday, I was in distress — debilitating distress. It was affecting my energy and psyche to such a degree that I considered dropping out of the program. ‘Old Heather’ would have done just that. ‘Old Heather’ existed up to about a year ago, prior to my herbal anxiety-relieving journey. I would have just run. But I didn’t.

Instead I reached out to my teacher yesterday, describing these intense feelings while in group work, clarifying the movements within and requesting changes to help me get through. I believe I belong in this program. I enjoy the work. But I don’t process well in groups. I can be in groups and feel relatively okay, relaxed, but throw in the element of it being a small group with everyone expected to PARTICIPATE and I freeze. I can’t think, and then I spiral. I need lots of downtime and ample time to process to be at my best.

As I sit and think about it, it’s always been this way for me. When I worked in corporate America, I participated in work groups but always did my best work alone, in silence. Since leaving that job I have mostly worked for myself, alone, in silence, at home. I need spaciousness in my schedule to think. And when working with souls, it feels even more necessary.

As I write this, I’m waiting for an answer. My teachers are so gracious and loving. I’ve been supported and tenderly cared for during all of my angst and anxiety since the program started. It never occurred to me that it would be this hard, since embarking on my herbal journey. For some reason, I thought I was cured. I AM ‘CURED’ in many ways. But at the end of the day, I’m still me.

The hardest part for me has been the ask — for special exceptions to be made. It feels needy; I feel like I’m too much. But I also know that’s a story, not necessarily truth. I don’t want to do less work. In fact, I’m willing to do more. But that work, for me, needs to lend itself to deeper processing of the material and the way the material is working on me, not struggling — wounding my psyche even more, grinding out a process that is doing more harm than good. Would it feel good to conquer something that scares the crap out of me? Perhaps yes. But does it feel even better to voice my needs, expressing my gratitude to my teachers for being willing to honor them? Absolutely yes.

I feel tender and vulnerable. It’s hard to admit these things about myself. I’ve carried so much shame for my inability to do what others do so easily. And maybe that is what God is working out in me — helping me drop the shame and accept all parts of myself, exactly as I am — a bright shining spark of the Divine. I have different gifts. I am a quiet, introverted, empathic, highly sensitive soul … and it’s a gift, not a curse (which I have often felt — as the outlier — in our out there, in-your-face, fast moving, extraverted world).

And so I wait and contemplate and rest and let nature (inside and out) guide me. I stay true. Thanks for reading. It feels raw to write of this but I also believe that documenting my journey can be healing for myself and others. Writing, like nature, is my medicine. We are connected.

(Photo by Ani Kolleshi on Unsplash)