Shadow and Superpower: Practicing Self-Care Slowly in the Wake of the Election

I have a tendency to whitewash horrible events and look a little too quickly for the good in things. It is there, of course, but I think right now there is still vital energy to be discovered in these shadows. 

Shock is an interesting thing. At first we are stunned, powerless. Reality has been blown apart and what we thought was foundational is no longer there.

Then, if we pay attention, the jolt awakens us to a deeper reality. This has the added side effect of tossing us headlong into the shadows we did not want to see. I do not only mean the ugly sides of the outer world, but the scarier parts that are our very own, too. When you find yourself here, stay. Don't run.

I awoke the morning after the election not yet having seen who won. My body somehow knew. I was in physical shock. 

The night before I turned off all electronics halfway through the returns. I lit a candle, pleaded to the moon and God, and sat alone in the darkness until my boyfriend arrived, covered head to toe in cement dust from working all evening. We sat together in stunned silence, grieving for our nation and the world we thought we knew.

As dawn arrived, my iPhone lay across the room, charging. The thought of what The New York Times banner would say when I unlocked the home screen sent unwanted adrenaline coursing through my body. For an hour I just lay watching raindrops pelt window panes and slide down the glass. I was frozen.

Coming face to face with both my powerlessness and the depth of misogyny, racism, xenophobia, bigotry, and other forms of hate in America that morning was beyond heartbreaking. It was soul-shattering.

"But we've been here before," I whispered to my frozen body as the clock ticked solemn seconds. This heartbreak also came the time my love and I broke up abruptly. This heartbreak also came the time my life savings disappeared suddenly. This feeling of my heart being pierced by an arrow of betrayal is not new; it happens whenever the version of reality I have come to believe is foundational proves to be completely and utterly uncertain.

A profound opportunity to evolve

Shock hurts, and perhaps this is why it is also a profound opportunity to evolve. We really feel it, it puts us on the spot.

Laying beneath my gray flannel bedsheets I did experience a flash of what I can only call knowing. It felt deep, clear, and so connected that my heart fluttered and skipped with infinite light and dark at once. It is impossible to put a moment like that into words, but the message felt clear: Our world desperately needs more heart, more than I even imagined. My work has only just begun.

After the flash, exhaustion flooded my being. My mind wailed with tired cries, "But I have already done so much, my friends and our parents and grandparents have done so much. How can there still be this much more work to do? How can there still be this much hatred in the world? It isn't fair."

Shock prevailed for 24 hours and fury arrived the following day.

Fury is a powerful energy that can be both liberating and creative. It is destructive, as I learned when I momentarily unleashed mine on a Trump-voting family member later that day. Fury is also revelatory.

Today, I am trying my best to sit with it, paying attention to where it resides in my body and what it brings up for me. Deep sadness and wounds are there, both my own and those of others. I can even access tenderness for the fear that I now see lives deep in the body and psyche of my Trump-voting family member.

Here in the shadows I am adjusting my eyes and asking, what exactly are my gifts? Where am I truly needed? What is my most potent offering? What is my purpose now? What else am I being called to create, write, listen to, consider, heal, help, stand for? How am I personally being asked to evolve?

Take your time

I have a tendency to whitewash horrible events and look a little too quickly for the good in things. It is there, of course, but I think right now there is still vital energy to be discovered in these shadows. 

I walked in nature on Sunday and watched a convocation of bald eagles cry and circle above my head. I thought about how some of us are warriors (Hillary Clinton, for example) and silently offered them my gratitude. I thought about how we all have different superpowers. Some of us are artists, some are healers, some helpers, some mothers, some sages, some scribes, and so many more. Most of us have more than one superpower. Not all of us are warriors of the same kind. Do not feel guilty if you are not on a battlefield flinging a sword of justice right now.

Whoever you are, remember it is okay to take your time here in the shadows. Do not force the light on too soon. Pause and breathe in the dark until your eyes have an opportunity to adjust and you can begin to make out the roots of the situation you suddenly find yourself in. Feel for your superpowers and ask the darkness where their illumination is needed most. You will know.

Exhausted warriors, rest and lick your wounds. We need you to be healthy. Furious artists, create and inspire. Heartbroken healers, soothe and bring love. Hesitant scribes, write forth from your heart.  

We strong women and men have so much good work to do.

I'm with you. We are in this together.

xo

laura

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