By Jelelle Awen
Beginnings and endings. Death and rebirth. Life cycles this way and especially here and now at the ranch, during the season of Dark Mother and spring. A beautiful duck died this week, adrift on the pond, while the only three ducklings to survive the spring are growing larger every day, becoming independent, paddling around without mom. The ground is bone dry, thirsty, in drought conditions as the end of the dry season comes and rainy season sets to begin. For every dried out bean plant that I pull, I plant a brand new seed to replace it. As I become more in touch, in union, living daily with nature, I feel the textures of the beginnings and the endings much more. A harvest one day, pulling a dead plant out of the ground the next day. All of life is arising in aliveness even as it courts eventual deadness. Life moves to death, and death moves to life.
Rather than this awareness adding a morbid feeling to life, it enlivens me with an appreciation for every changing thing around me. I feel my senses amplified here, all of my sensitivity given free reign to let it all in without industrial noise, electric and internet grids, crowds of people, shopping malls…without all manner of numbing agents to dull my experience of experience. I have become much more acutely aware of my surroundings, now that my head isn’t buried in a computer screen, plugged into a virtual reality that disconnects me from my body and physical surroundings. This makes contrasting sensations more acute and enjoyable or not enjoyable: sweet and hot touches from Wayne, irritating itchy bites from mosquitos, cooling effects of a dip in the river or a cold shower, the pressing sweatiness caused by the heat.
With this acute sensitivity also comes more overall detachment to things and people that aren’t right in front of me. Email can bring virtual intimacy, substituting real time conversation for a shuffle back and forth that can span weeks. How was this enough for me? When I read emails now, I copy them at the internet place and bring them home to savor here at the ranch. I take days to feel my reactions and my responses. Very few emails bring real time responses now. So, I’m just not as interested in exchanging this way. I would rather have someone join me in one my gardens, pull weeds with me, water plants, plant seeds and we’ll talk and connect and feel each other. Let me pause, look you in the eye and hear the tone of your voice. Let us get our hands dirty together and see what needs to be expressed in exchange. Email doesn’t allow for any of this. Only a response into the void with no sense of how it really landed. When did this become our main form of communication with each other?
This is why I’ve felt both sensitive and detached in response to a fairly major change that arose this week over an email related to something big from my past. I was involved in an emotional and spiritual healing group for almost five years. EBE was an intense, elite group led by a charismatic, gifted, and often emotionally abusive leader. There was beauty and there was pain, both, and I was left forever changed by it, including meeting my husband Wayne in this group. I was ‘kicked out’ of the group after receiving an ultimatum from the leader, Daniel, about my relationship with Wayne being grossly codependent and that I needed to choose between the group, agreeing to stay away from Wayne for a year, or leave. And, all of this was offered over email, no face-to-face digestion and no one (including my facilitator) having actually seen and felt Wayne and I together as a couple. Our relationship was all of three weeks old at the time…..but I received strong guidance to leave the group and choose the relationship and, ultimately, myself. My book shares a six year span of time of journals and blog entries written while I was in the group and after I was out. The recovery period after leaving the group, with none of my friends in the group talking to me any longer, was excruciating and painful, only bearable because I had Wayne’s support and because I had a deepening connection with the Divine that saw me through the worst of it.
It’s been almost seven years now and my thoughts and feelings on a daily basis rarely go to the group or anyone in it. However, I found out over the last few weeks that the group has dissolved with the people in it realizing and finally owning the harm that Daniel has done to them. A couple of days ago, we received a forwarded copy of an email Daniel sent out, an apology addressed ‘to the good people whom I have harmed.’ I had different reactions to all of this, ranging from not much care about it to relief to some feelings of renewed outrage and hurt. I didn’t expect to ever receive an apology from Daniel, so it really is surprising to feel him own the harm he has done to others. He said that he didn’t realize what he had done until recently, which doesn’t feel genuine to me. Part of him had to have known exactly what it was doing; its own evil cruelty, and without any feeling for others. Until he truly differentiates from this part and admits that it is there, I can’t totally buy the apology. Even with this, I can feel compassion for the pain and suffering he must be going through as the world he built up falls apart. I know how this feels.
But, also, in all of this, something good completed finally for me and for Wayne. Something that had been hovering over our relationship from the beginning, a pronouncement by Daniel and also my friend at the time, that we were ‘off’ and codependent. Contrary to this proclamation, we continued to deepen with each other, experiencing degrees of intimacy and healing together that have been nourishing in a way neither of us thought were possible. We ‘proved them wrong’, yet, at the same time, it feels freeing to no longer be pushing up against anything at all now. As my former group goes up in flames, I feel compassion for those who spent seven years more than I walking through the fire. I know from experience how grueling and wrenching their recovery process is going to be. Well, I somewhat know, because love called me sooner to claim it and to end the cycle of cruel male authority figures in my life.
So, as something ends, so something new begins as we get ready to host our first volunteer here at the ranch in a couple of weeks. Maybe this is the beginning of the community that we dream of eventually, one joined in the desire for healing, authenticity, and sustainability.
Jelelle Awen is co-creator and facilitator of the SoulFullHeart Way Of Life. Go here to connect with Jelelle on facebook. Visit the SoulFullHeart website for more information about virtual sessions with her.