Shaped by Water
Exploration of the Mother Wound
~Shameless self promotion before we begin the story. A beautiful, thorough and intimate three month journey into healing of the intuitive feminine body with plants and prayers.
I was down at Mazunte beach for my daily swim. On my way out of the water I was stopped by the play between a mother and her 3 year old daughter. She was tossing the little girl about five feet from her, plunging her into wet, blue arms- a common way of water play between parent and child. As the little girl flew through the air and then submerged, I watched wondering what her reaction would be. She popped up, brave bright smile on her face- swam towards her mama “do it again.”
My whole body, every cell was transfigured in the nostalgia of the moment by the feeling in that child. I accessed an old sensory memory of how to trust and let go into the arms of something I have known, but often forget, all of my life. In that moment of being submerged in water it was between her and God, Earth, Mother Ocean- between her and Life. A trillion intricate things came into play that whispered into her heart- “hold your breath, let go, I have you, you will pop back up, I am here, you know how to do this.” She, in that moment, built cellular integrity with the memory of what holds her unconditionally, because the arms of the woman who birthed her will eventually pull away, must pull away, and she will know whose child she really is, has always been.
I cried. I could feel that deep contract between that little girl and Life spark my own alive again. I was born to relax and surrender, be guided, held- forever. But not by another human and not by what society has shoved in my face as a false promise of security only to freeze fear into my body rather than establishing the gift of love’s watery flow- easy, sometimes fast, sometimes wild and raging to carve new paths and smooth a rough edge along the way.
Last year I was swimming alone at Playa Cometa, a sacred spot on Oaxaca’s south coast- yes, there are still empty beaches in Mexico. I had watched and learned the Ocean’s current here (like that is possible) and plunged into the buoyant waves. In a matter of seconds, She changed her mind on a dime (as the feminine will do) and the current shifted fast. I was being pulled out, and as I turned to read the sets rolling in, what looked like the largest wave I have ever seen was towering over me. My only thought- “well I did write that one poem about when I die I wish to become a wave”- be careful what you pray for. Something in me, that I have only read about happening in animals, in nature, came alive. I was calm, a sacred biology preparing me. I was in acceptance, I was not running or fighting, there was nothing to do but let the wave take me. Under water a brilliant string of events happened. I could see with my eyes closed, I heard a voice that said “surrender”. I did, half expecting to be bashed against the rock and coral. Instead my body became water, shaped by water, flowing around and with everything under water, like a bubble of water, like an SOS in a bottle destined for love. My message still seeking, needing, to be delivered, and so I was.
I popped up, and then the adrenaline kicked in when it needed to as I grabbed at the waves pulling me back, breathing hard, heading for shore, praying my lungs out- I crawled up onto the beach and shook, bowed to the Ocean, cried. But I will never forget that moment under water where I was so held, guided to keep going, to survive- not by fighting, but by letting go and letting Life shape me into something soft and buoyant- safe.
There is something devastatingly lost to us, to the children. There are very few spaces left where they can experience the resilience and truth of their soul, face to face with the wild nature of Life.
As a child I had the great fortune of growing up in the foothills of the Cascade mountains in Washington state. I lived outside. Everyday I played outside regardless of the weather, sometimes alone, sometimes with my little friends. Our parents just let us out into the wild and would not see us all day unless we became hungry or thirsty. Out there in the arms of nature we experienced things we never ever told our parents about or it might be taken away because of a worry that does nothing but shut down life. So many near death experiences, like falling so deep into mud while catching frogs that we were 6 inches from suffocating in lake bog, or falling from trees and hiding our gashes and scratches, wandering further past the woods and up into the mountain where we were told not to go, or the twist of an ankle while crawling over clear cut for the perfect blackberry.
No matter what we did, nature stayed steady in her constancy of amazement and adventure and lessons and love and imagination and shapeshifting from sun to snow to mud for bogs for frogs, rinse and repeat. An unspoken initiation. I learned something vital about boundaries, about death and life cycles- sometimes by own my hands when we would salt slugs or kill bugs or accidentally squash Trillium, and then there would be a sadness. I learned how to walk the land, about a path of trust in something to hold me endlessly when nothing else could. Like the vine maple…
There was a vine maple tree in the woods next door to our house, which was a giant undeveloped lot where we built forts, played hide and seek and where I met Trillium and baby Robin who fell from his tree, so pink and tender, and Nurse Log nursing Lichen and Moss and the mycelium that feeds everything.
I lost my mother when I was young for so many reasons that I need a different day to say, that’s not today, she is still alive. And so the arms of Vine Maple became my safe space. This Vine Maple was at the edge of the lot and hung over a high bank. I could crawl out and suspend myself in her branches and watch the very few people that walked down our street, make up stories about where they were going, no one ever found me tucked away discreetly in that tree. I would pick and weave together the leaves with little sticks to make a placemat for the kitchen in my fort where I cooked “chicken”, which were just hunks of bright orange stump. Imagination.
I wonder what happens to the children who live in the city made of concrete and groomed parks and lawns with little life of their own? When their mother’s arms can’t hold them and toss them into depths of nature to learn to swim through life by letting go so that they can know that something is always there to catch them, teach them, feed them and bring them to a vital understanding and cellular memory that can never leave them?
And with no arms to hold them, where do they turn when they feel abandoned by the mother that birthed them because she was also abandoned by a mother who forgot, by a lineage of mothers who were forced to forget? I think we know.
Because without these natural spaces holding me and daring me to ledges of life to know myself and where I stand in a greater order of things, I don’t know if I would have made it through the circumstances that my life walked me into in the way I have- held and blessed. Something must have been there or I don’t know if I would be here.
The story of my own mother has ripped me in half with grief for most of my life. The devastation, or perception of devastation, of our family life, of her life, the pain, the abuse, the beauty oppressed so severely it expresses in illness just to be seen. All of this confusion in my body entangling my true identity with savior, daughter, mother, healer, lover, woman, child. There are so many layers to peel away in my heart so that I can remember her, and love her, as she is and has always been- perfectly placed in my life.
I have taken this deep ache into every ceremony, initiation and healing session, trying to make sense of the abandonment wound in me, this deep severance from belonging, always feeling displaced and forsaken regardless of the Cedar tree singing my story as I walk by with tobacco to pray every morning. I kept telling a story that I had lost something that she was supposed to provide to me, the wisdom, the guidance, the safety. So much pressure on our mothers, just human, just girls themselves stuck in the same tangle, but now with children that they feel have been taken from them by their own doing. The shame, the self hate, the deep ache, the blame. When it was their arms that were never made to hold us forever and through everything.
~This ache is a fractal
An Infinitesimal fleck
of Her first shattered cry for help
and the moment when
your tongue and your face
were designed to unfurl
from your heart as you grew
Not to express frames of pain
but Her song
~How can we all hurt one another so much?
We hurt ourselves
Everything starts at home
where misplaced desires
burn the tender gift
~From ash comes resurrection
It only takes one speck
of wreckage refracting
sunlight into a rainbow bridge
towards a place to begin again
~I have been burdened by the distortions
of a poorly tempered lens
bending my vision towards grey skies
I understand you were given the same at birth
~My desires shatter under the weight
of this longing for truth within me
Something inviolable breaks free and I see
how the firmament mapped the night sky long ago
when She first broke her own heart
for the children to know
how to dream themselves home.
It was four years ago, here in Mazunte, after 10 days of silence that I walked down to the beach with prayers for my mother sitting heavy on my heart. I felt a wind wrap around me, then the air stood still as if suspending me in a Universal cradle. I was rocked to an ease, my third eye opened and was given the gift of seeing the contract between my mother and me. A love so great filled my body I can barely write about it through the tears, I can’t see the screen.
I watched these codes, contracts, stories and songs pour into her womb when I was gestating. That alongside the story of our human, of my human life, there was another story, as if she knew, and Mother always knows, what my journey ahead would bring. I felt this other story of profound wisdom, love, resilience and that she, no matter what, implanted a faith in me to rise up and look up and keep going towards love when she couldn’t be because she was finding that for herself in her own soul’s contract with Life.
Throughout my life I have been in some very dark spaces, with drugs and men where I was one decision, one impulse, away from a gutter with meth running through my veins. But no matter what I did, or where I went, there was always this thing that pulled me up and moved me along that would not let the hooks of danger and drug addiction gouge too deeply into my skin unlike those around me. I mean an eating disorder was enough. Grace.
In that moment, I was shown that this force that pulled me out and through was my mother, was Mother, mystery force of life- maybe some would say a guardian Angel or God-dess. Regardless it came through her. She has always been with me, tucked into a mysterious Universal biology in my blood, to guide me home one step at a time back to the arms that can nourish me and heal anything that comes my way- Mother Nature- Life’s majestical (have you seen the Hunt for the Wilderpeople btw?!) womb of unconditional love where nothing, no part of me is ever wrong or abandoned.
That is where I lay my faith now, in Her arms, because it is Mother in her many mysterious expressions that has saved me, moved through my own mother to guide me, nourish me and heal me. Life’s natural order is where I place my prayers and the altar of my life.
I find her and this force most in Nature because Nature is an unobstructed channel to that which I sense we all mistakingly believe we are separate from. And that it was never really about our parents at the core, as humans can really only catalyze such deep states of longing, no human has that much power really and truly because there is something within us all that is stronger or we would not be here. We could say we are seeking mother or father through Nature, but what is it really?
This knowing in me now, as it always has, guides me to keep moving towards and follow Love because, regardless of what I sense this source to be, only Love can forever hold me. Love is forever.
As I felt this flow through me I fell to my knees and wept with gratitude and love. My life story taking a dramatic turn towards a compassion that I know can heal every Mother wound in every child who is turning towards bleek corners seeking arms that they think dropped them. I will say again, if you were ever dropped, you would not be here.
Mom, if you are reading this, I love you for tossing me into the wild so young to know the beauty I am, the beauty you wanted to show me and couldn’t fully in the way you dreamed. But we dreamed this way for a larger reason, for the deeper waters of life and the mysteries they keep to speak through us -maybe? To be a walking memory of how to let go and let life in to tell a story of love and death of a story that rebirths a forgotten melody for the children to remember what they are made of- like me.
Go to the water, put your head under, hold your breath and listen. What do you remember? That you know how to surrender to Life’s loving flow to guide you out through and home, pour you a cup of tea and tend the fire of your soul? It’s in your soul to know how to tell your story through the lens of beauty, regardless of circumstances of which you are not a victim- but the medicine. Amen.
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