As I often do, I allowed myself to sleep in this morning (and so did my cats!) before getting up, making coffee, feeding the animals, and taking my dog outside to do her business. Then I climbed back in bed with my coffee, my dog, and my book (while the cats galloped through the house happily). On mornings like this I usually read one of the many books that I feel require my fully awake brain, so non-fiction, often history or “self-help” books. You know, the kind of books that require you to think, make notes, consult other books? Some people go to church, I read and think…and today I also felt compelled to draw a bit.
I have developed the philosophy/belief that our purpose in each incarnation is to learn as much as possible and to become better humans because of it. I also believe that all of the puzzle pieces are here, we just have to find them and put them together to see the big picture. As a result, I tend to dislike words like “supernatural” which suggest that some of the experiences and/or tools that we have here are somehow outside of Nature; some things that exist somehow don’t belong and/or should be rejected or avoided or destroyed. How can that be? These things are clearly perfectly natural – they occur, they exist, the are experienced – but perhaps they are misunderstood or feared by the majority of humans. Well, you know what? So are spiders, snakes, earthquakes, asteroids – but they are real. We can all agree on that, right? Maybe you live in Iowa and you’ve never experienced an earthquake. Earthquakes can only be seen in the damage that they cause or the needle moving on the page at Cal Tech. But I grew up in So Cal, and I can tell you about many earthquake experiences that I have had. You wouldn’t label me delusional if I told you that, right? But if I said I was psychic or a medium or I could see auras or I spoke to angels? Some people would say I was “crazy” because they hadn’t had the same experience and there was no evidence. We call these experiences and/or heightened perceptive abilities “supernatural,” but they are perfectly natural – they occur in the “natural course of events” every day all over the world. They are natural.
Where am I going with this rant, you ask? Is she off her meds? Does she need more meds? No, I’m fine, really – I have a point.
The point is that our emotions are like all of the other unseen forces out there – misunderstood, misinterpreted often,but perfectly natural. If we take the time to learn from them, pay attention to them, become more sensitive to them in ourselves, they can help us understand others better. To that end, a friend (a very wise friend!) suggested I read Karla McLaren’s book, The Language of Emotions. I’m so glad I listened!
Karla is an empath (as we all are, she’s just more sensitive and knowledgeable than most) and the central thesis of both The Language of Emotions and the more recent The Art of Empathy: A Complete Guide to Life’s Most Essential Skill (the book I’ve been reading this morning) is that there are no negative emotions. Emotions are natural and they all have a place and a purpose. Sure, they can and do get out of balance, but they are all very natural and necessary in what Karla calls their “free flowing state.” Do you see how neatly this ties into my world view? ALL of this – everything we see, feel, experience in our lives – is a potential learning experience and all of it is perfectly NATURAL.
For me, this takes away some of the fear-based response to things and gives me a sense of power. It’s all natural, which means it’s all NORMAL and I can learn about and from it. This includes EVERYTHING – depression, panic attacks, other people, the weather, my intuition – it’s like there’s an enormous library with a million billion trillion books out there, and I have this life to read as much as possible. So I start with the ones that are closest to me and move out from there – my parents and siblings, my first cat, my friend who lives next door, my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, my friends at school, the people I don’t like, the people who don’t like me, new words that I hear, etc., etc., etc. – hopefully until this life is over, certainly until my brain stops functioning properly/effectively. Now, as I see it, one human lifetime can’t possibly be long enough to learn it all. And, even if it were, then you would only learn things from a human perspective, you would only have human experiences, so you’d still be missing out on a LOT. That’s why reincarnation makes so much sense to me. Our souls are part of Nature, as I see it, and they are the part of us that goes on. They must be the part that keeps learning until they’ve learned it all. That’s what I believe, anyway.
So I’m trying to learn from my depression, I’m trying to get unstuck, and I’m trying to grow spiritually. I have determined through reading Karla’s books, examining myself, and talking with some very wise and loving people whom I trust, that I certainly have boundary issues. My boundaries become permeable very easily if I’m not paying attention. This, according to Karla, is an anger issue, and I see it in my life very clearly when I read the following (p. 167, The Language of Emotions):
“SIGNS OF OBSTRUCTION: Repressive: Enmeshment, self-abandonment, apathy, depression, boundary loss”
If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll see it too. Depression, obviously, but the repression of anger in my childhood and the damage to my boundaries that that surely caused as well. “Enmeshment” – well, I have experienced that several times as well in an unhealthy extreme. You know, you and your best friend become one entity to those around you. It’s unusual to see one without the other, they make plans and decisions together – like a marriage without sex, and a marriage in which the individual identity of each party becomes lost. They need marriage counseling, they need to be seen as individuals. Yeah, I so have boundary issues!
So I try to listen to the extremely knowledgeable and wise Karla McLaren so I can learn to be more balanced and aware of my emotions and what they are saying. For me, I deal with a lot of fear and repressed anger. I use the grounding technique in The Language of Emotions when I become aware of the fear rising inappropriately (and at many other times!). It makes me feel in control, safe, grounded. Then I use the boundary exercise in the same book. Basically you take any excess emotional energy and project it out into your boundary. It sounds so simple, but it’s a really profound feeling for me. It makes me feel safe because, as Karla explains, anger in it’s free flowing state is the “Honorable Sentry” patrolling and protecting our boundaries. I definitely visualize it that way: I have a little soldier out there patrolling and protecting me! All of my emotions are tools or weapons, depending on the situation, in my tool kit. They are part of me, part of my body and mind and consciousness, but because I’m in this human body they usually get filtered through my brain/my conscious mind. That’s where things get screwy…but I have the opportunity to learn no matter what!
So this morning as I drank my coffee, read and cuddled with my dog, ALL of this was going on in my brain…and it really needs to get out into the world now in case someone else needs it. (Also because I have lots of other things to do today out in the world, not inside my head!) I decided to draw (it felt right). So here’s my little drawing. I hope you get it.