by Christopher Tydeman (now Sequoia Heartman)
Since I can remember, a part of me has generally been a loner. Not in the lonely sense of the word but in the “I enjoy my me time” sense. When I wasn’t playing with friends (yes, I did have them), I was in my room playing with my Star Wars action figures, building with my Legos, or outside climbing trees and acting out loud some dramatic scene of me saving the world. Though I had a few close friends in my life, ones that I spent a lot of time with, I still found myself enjoying my “me” time.
In regards to my family, I can remember liking my space from the volatility of my birth parents. The stresses of everyday life found there way energetically into the house and my room was a respite from that. I remember having close family friends that I spent weekends and summers with. That was my first taste community outside the family unit. As kids, we fought, argued, did the silent treatment, forgot what we were mad about, and then continued on. All within a span of 30 minutes most times. Having fun was way more important. But when I got into my room, I felt like I was home. I could rest and be me.
When I became a teenager, this need for personal space amplified, as it does for most. I had a core group of friends that I partied and hung out with quite often, but, again, I found solace in my room. This time it was with music, television, and art. Staying up until the wee hours drawing album covers for my favorite heavy metal bands. I felt a “me” in my room that no one could touch. When I was “out there”, it was about fitting in, staying away from the assholes, and following the rules. Community was a much bigger and scarier place.
As I entered college, and moved into dormitory life, community felt a bit safer and more real. So many different people coming together with so many different ways of seeing and feeling the world. It was exciting and engaging. I was not feeling the need as much to have my own space, plus it was impossible anyway. During that time, I felt another “me” that I hadn’t experienced before. One that saw life through a bigger lens. My “room” got a whole lot larger. Then, I began to wonder who the hell I really was.
During my time in the dorms, I met my former wife, Jillian, and we became a community of two. We had friends, but it was our relationship that felt more like the room of my youth. Together we explored who we were in the great dance of Life itself. Not long afterward, our daughter made her way to us and community changed once again.
Suddenly, my “me” became a father. I had to became a provider. I stopped exploring and started working. The part of me that felt unsure about being a father, held on tightly to being responsible in the Western-style ethos. I was too tired from work and child raising to feel me anymore. I continued on the path of being a good provider that led me to a “solid” job an elementary school teacher.
As a teacher, you, by default, become a member of “the community”. The neighborhood, the families, the teachers, and students. You are trained to leave your Self at the door. It’s not about you, it’s about them. So for someone who had been not feeling himself for sometime, teaching young children was not going to get me there anytime soon. A good teacher is dedicated to their students. That is the mantra of the Good Teacher Brigade. You also go to concerts, sporting events, meetings, conferences, social events, recess duty, bus duty, field trips, and on and on. Who am I again?
During this time, I was no longer married and was living on my own with my daughter half the time. After a few years of teaching 24/7, I realized that I had ignored that part of me that I used to hang out with in the room of my youth. The care free, happy, creative part of me. I began to be with myself more and do things that I enjoyed like exercise, hiking, and playing guitar. And through that, I began to feel the depth of my unhappiness. I missed Me. The Me that could create a world from scratch. The Me that could stay up all night with a piece of paper and a pencil. The Me that saw beauty, love, and magic in all things. The Me that felt the Great Spirit and wondered about the Great Mystery. Where had I gone?
Enter SoulFullHeart. Jillian, my former wife, had been on a healing path for many years. She offered to help me with this question. It started as an exploration and has evolved into intimate community. Through my process I have been healing my way back to Me. There are a lot of layers, more than I ever imagined. To feel those, there has to be vulnerability or else they can’t move. And that is hard for someone so inclined to be alone. In essence, to be hidden. For a while, it is necessary. I wrote about it in a blog I wrote a couple of years ago. But then there is a graduation to another level of intimacy.
Beginning in March of this year I, along with Kathleen, moved to an RV campground with Jillian and Wayne. This was a new level of community, in that we began to share meals, exercise together, and generally spend more time together and in closer proximity. After coming to the decision to exodus to Mexico, I sold my RV and began to live with them in their camp site. My personal space had gone from a one-bedroom apartment, to an RV, to a tent in 4 months. For a part of me, that tent was my room from years gone by. He felt safe and comfortable just as he had when he was a child.
It is important for me to feel the needs of this part of me. Without doing so, he gets depressed and tense. The feeling is similar to having a hard time breathing. This certainly goes back to more than just this life. I haven’t gotten there yet but there is something soul-based about it. It is more important for me to feel it, than to figure it out right now. Especially, now.
Since we left Canada for Mexico, I have not had much of my own space. This is the most intimate I have been my whole life. We are currently living in a studio-type dwelling, which is more reminiscent of youth hostel than an apartment. We eat, sleep, change, read, write, cook, talk, process all within 750 square feet. We are waiting to get to our sanctuary on the ranch while the home we are staying in is completed, the roads get grated and the river water recedes. Though this is temporary, it is the perfect trigger to highlight my relationship to community and my Self. How do I feel the Me in the We?
I have to feel the needs of my parts alongside the needs of the group. There are times when I have to advocate for my space even if it means not being a part of something that I may be needed or desired to be a part of. That is hard to do when another part of me is a people pleaser. An internal conflict arises. But the more I advocate for that, the less I actually “need” it. There are also times when a part of me will need to be negotiated with because my community, my family, needs me. It won’t always be on its schedule, but I will always find the time. That is what it means to hold a part of you.
This experience has highlighted something that I have forgotten. While my community needs me, my parts need me as well. And sometimes my parts don’t want to be in community, and that’s okay. It actually get me back to Me. Remember? The one in the beginning of this blog. It gets me back to my roots. The reason I am here in the first place.
I am an artist. I want to create art. Art for me, art for others, art for the Divine, art for the earth. I am a healer. I want to heal myself and the earth, and I want to help others heal themselves. I want to use art to do that through sessions. That is the Me in the We. That is my heartsong in the choice. That is what I will continue to wake up for and be a part of in the way of life called SoulFullHeart.
Sequoia Heartman (previously Christopher Tydeman) is an apprentice facilitator of the SoulFullHeart Way Of Life. Visit soulfullheartwayoflife.com for more information.