From the Fallen Ashes, Phoenix Will Rise – Part 3

“By observing objects with my eyes and trying to comprehend them with each of my other senses I might blind my soul altogether… like when people watch and study an eclipse of the sun; they really do sometimes injure their eyes, unless they study its reflection in water or some other medium.” – Socrates

“I want to help you but I don’t know how. I keep pondering on what can I do to help you with the tools that I have but I can’t come up with an answer. So I did something without asking you and I hope that you can forgive me. I reached out to my spiritual teacher and asked him for advice. He has a message for you if you’re open.”, one of the therapists had told me this after working with me for a few weeks but not seeing much progress.

“What did he say?”, I had asked.

“Your soul has craved light since you were a kid. Your soul knows there is something that it’s seeking to find. When we have that trauma stored in our bodies, we try to escape. In your case, your soul wanted you to find the light. This was always your path. However, the trauma stored in your body ends up showing you versions that do not serve you well.

He explained it this way – if you did not have that trauma stored in your body, all you would see is light. But you keep going into darkness unintentionally because of those energies stuck in your body. When we meditate, everything is experienced based on our brain’s frequencies. When we love, we see love. When we are calm, we experience calmness. In your case, even when you’re calm, that energetic blockage sometimes re-routes you in a direction that scares you. Does that make sense to you?”, she asked.

“Yes, it does.”, I said

“He asked for you to work with your body to release that trauma. Ask your awakening to be physical and work with it through your body. It won’t be easy but it would be more manageable than a mental awakening. He also mentioned that you can ask for it to stop if it gets overwhelming. It will slow down. He asked me to share this with you – he went through the same experience. He did not know what was happening to him either. But limiting it to his body helped him carry on with life and made it less extreme.”, she then proceeded to share the examples of her teacher’s experiences.

“I asked for it to stop multiple times. But it didn’t. How do I make it physical?”, I asked.

“There are ways. Start by asking. When you get overwhelmed by the energy that’s not yours, ask for the energy to go back to the source, and say that you can’t help whoever’s energy they are. There is also a type of alternative therapy – it’s called Somatic Experiencing Therapy. Find a therapist who practices it. If you don’t want to tell them what you’re seeking help for, don’t tell them. That they don’t need to know. But that type of therapy will work the best for you. If I knew it, I would have done that with you.”, she responded.

“Thank you for sharing all of that with me. Don’t worry about asking your teacher for help. If anything, that shows me how much you care. I don’t think anyone would care enough to do that.”, I replied.

“Thank you for understanding. I know it’s been a tough journey for you. I couldn’t see you going through all of this without support. I hope this helps you with the next steps. I haven’t been sleeping properly because I keep wondering why you were sent to me. You’ve done CBT therapy before and it’s not helping you anymore. So I ultimately asked him for advice.

He asked me to remind you of something and I believe it without a doubt so I have to say it and I want you to remember this every time things get overwhelming – Always remember that going towards the light is what you were meant to do. You were seeking to see the reality, the Gods, and the connections. You always wanted that for yourself. Your soul always knew it. Some experiences might have brought more pain and fear but they are not the destination. Your soul knows the destination. There is something in you that’s extremely powerful and keeps you going. Trust that part.”, she explained.

“That’s why I’ve had these experiences since I was a kid. It was always meant to happen.”, I realized.

“Yes, the other experiences have just turned it into an emergency. I know it’s not easy but you can do it.

What do you want to do now? We can continue working and see with the tools I have or you can try something different. It’s up to you. I’ll be here no matter what.”, she asked while reassuring me of her support.

“The moment you asked me to work with my body, it resonated with me. That is the next step. I know what I need to do. Thank you again.”, I replied.

After that call, I researched a few therapists and booked an appointment with one who seemed to resonate with me. Meanwhile, I asked for the awakening to be physical. The dreams gradually reduced. Before I got to the appointment, I had a fracture.

It took me another three months to find another somatic experiencing therapist and another week to find my IFS therapist. The dreams continued but the intensity, as well as frequency, continued to reduce. Physically, I have gotten more in touch with my body and continue to allow it to guide me. I am still new to this but I am trying the best I can.

An incident that stuck out was when I had a bad headache one Saturday morning. I had plans to meet a friend that afternoon but couldn’t bring myself to leave my apartment. Even taking medicine didn’t help. I ended up calling him and canceling the plan. Within minutes after canceling the plan, the headache went away. The next day, my friend called me to let me know that he had tested positive for Covid.

I try not to ignore the signals of my body anymore or my dreams. For a few weeks, I kept having a dream about a potential shift in my working conditions. In all my dreams, I would be taken by surprise but will stay unnaturally calm. While the details of the dream differed every time, there was always a consistent theme – A change is requested, a leader I respect and value will fight for us and we will be safe. A couple weeks later, my manager pulled me into a meeting to inform me – A change was requested but our leader fought for her team and managed to keep us safe. We were not impacted. I got goosebumps.

One day while in a session with my IFS therapist, I mentioned to her, “How can it be that so many people go through this experience but hardly anyone talks about it? I have met individuals who do but the majority don’t believe it. Just because we can’t understand it does not mean it’s unreal. If that was the case, then, why do people even believe the spiritual leaders or even Buddha?”

“I know what you mean. It reminds me of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. Have you heard about it?”, she asked.

“No, what is that?”, I asked

“He imagined a group of people chained together inside an underground cave as prisoners. Behind the prisoners, there is a fire, and between the prisoners and the fire are moving puppets and real objects on a raised walkway with a low wall. However, the prisoners are unable to see anything behind them, as they have been chained and stuck looking in one direction—at the cave wall—their whole lives and don’t see the real objects casting those shadows.

He, then, imagined some scenarios. He imagined a person who managed to escape, turned around, and saw the fire. Since this person had never seen a fire, he felt blinded by all the light. It scared him. He immediately came back and promised to never turn again. He went back to the shadows. Now, he won’t turn again until he works on his fears.

Next, he imagined another person who is forcibly pulled away from the cave. This person was forced to see the real objects and the fire. It took this person a long time to get accustomed to this side of reality because it was new, scary, and overwhelming. However, unlike the first person, he could not return to the cave. He was forced to sit there and experience it all. Over time, he got used to it and the new sight did not scare him anymore.

I wonder if most people fall under the category of people who never manage to escape from the chains. A few turn their heads but get scared and turn back. Even fewer are dragged outside of the cave and forced to see it all.

I think this analogy fits your experiences quite well. If you had to guess, which of the three categories would you fit in?”, she asked.

“Third. The one who was dragged.”, I responded.

“I thought so too. Some of us experience it too but get too scared to continue down the path or choose to ignore it when it happens.

He continues to say that the third person should not remain outside of the cave after seeing the reality. This person should come back to the cave and help others see the fire. Otherwise, they will always keep facing the wall.

However, he also says that it won’t be easy because those people will not believe him and might even hate him. They will think that he has lost his mind and does not belong with them.

You’ve managed to come back. What do you choose to do now?”, she asked with a smile on her face.

“I came back to this reality while I am aware of what’s out there. I can work with myself to release the trauma and bring myself to a point where my experiences and insights help someone else.

Wow! Are you aware of something called Karma Yogi?”, I asked.

“No, what’s that?”

“One of my friends, Libra, had introduced me to that concept when the experiences had started. She had a similar analogy. She had asked me to imagine a wall dividing two pieces of land. People on one side of the wall were living in pain and in constant conflict. They were so blinded by their pain that they never paid attention to that wall. However, some people choose to see that wall. Few climb it. And very few come back to show the path to others. They are called Karma Yogi. She said that’s who I am.”, I explained.

“Interesting. That sounds very similar to what Plato said. Do you feel what your friend said was true?”, she asked.

“I know that I’ve somehow managed to come back (more or less). There are things that I still have to work through. I believe where I go from here will depend on my efforts to heal myself.

I had a dream a while back. It was one of those esoteric dreams. In the dream, I was with a friend and ran into my ex. I asked her if she knew why I feel more than others. She told me it’s because I am seeing what others can’t normally see. I asked her what that meant and she asked me to look outside the window. There were dark clouds collecting outside the window followed by lightning. The clouds kept increasing. She asked me what I saw. I told her I could see the clouds and the lightning. She asked me to keep looking. The clouds turned into something that looked a little scary and my friend who was still standing next to me asked me to leave. She started chanting a mantra. Before leaving the dream, I asked my ex again what she wanted me to see. She told me that she could only see the lightning and clouds but not what caused it. My friend couldn’t see that either, only I could. Then I woke up.

Interestingly, the chant my friend was chanting is aimed to bring our mind, body, and spirit into alignment. I only got to know about it after I researched the chant online the next day. Another interesting takeaway from that dream for me was that even if I can see that cause, it can’t harm me. I can trust my inner guidance to always keep me safe. Just like that chant. It knows what will help.”, I told my therapist.

“I am astonished by how metaphorical your dreams are. There is so much wisdom there. Do you know how it relates to your daily life?”, she asked.

“The “cause” of that lightning and clouds depicted an energy that aims to flush out or destroy what doesn’t serve us anymore. I saw it as Goddess Kali. It’s not bad but that’s what that Goddess does as per Hindu mythology. She destroys. When the triggers happen, we as humans only see the reaction to that energy and it’s up to us how we respond to it – with fear and resistance or see that as an opportunity to heal ourselves and let go of what doesn’t serve us anymore. Think of it as it’s time to heal the wounded parts. This is the first time that I saw her. She can be a little scary.

If I relate it to my psyche and use the IFS framework, my parts don’t know what triggers them. Only I can see the reason behind the triggers. My parts just respond to the triggers. Since I (the observer) am the only one who can determine what’s causing those triggers, I am the only one who can work on it.

When it comes to the world around me, I’ve observed one change in me – I see the conflict around me all across the world. There are wars, human rights being taken away, and gaslighting. But, I have started to feel like we’re in conflict because we’re acting out of the pain stored in our bodies. I’ve started to wonder if that’s all there is. We’re all just fighting that pain. When we feel we’re not heard or seen, we end up hurting others. We project our pain and insecurities onto others around us. The cycle continues until someone chooses to heal and stops reacting to those triggers.

We are all connected in more ways than one. If you feel pain, I feel pain, whether or not I am aware. I just hurt myself every time I hurt others. We can choose to blame others for our suffering but if we don’t heal from those triggers, then, we inadvertently will keep hurting others.

I feel that pain from others more easily now. I thought it only happened with her. But, that changed over time. Sometimes if I have a friend over and they are going through something, I would feel those feelings within me. When I don’t realize whose energies they are, I feel anxiety. I once woke up crying but couldn’t understand why. Later my friend who was staying with me told me that she was crying at the time because of something that she was going through in her personal life.

Just yesterday, I was talking to a colleague over a video call. Before the video call, he asked me if I had some time to speak with him. Without knowing the context, I agreed but I felt this resistance in my body. I realized that I wanted to keep that call short. I wasn’t fully aware of why. But that’s what I did. When we got into the call, I could feel his energy. He was anxious because of something that was happening around him. Instead of focusing on his anxiety, I asked him to find the positives in the situations. I talked to his rational mind to see the whole picture and see how he could use that situation to his advantage while not ignoring what he was feeling. He was afraid of the change so I reminded him that he is not alone and that he has done this before successfully. Toward the end of that 9-minute call, I didn’t feel that anxiety anymore.”, I recalled my experience.

“You’re starting to manage this gift already. You listened to your body, channeled your wisdom, and provided him the guidance that he needed without overwhelming yourself. I can’t wait to see how your future unfolds.”, she responded with a smile.

“I think I need to be patient with myself and continue to build upon my self-confidence. I feel exhausted easily if someone else is down. It’s like when they’re in pain, I feel drained. So I end up avoiding a lot of those conversations even though I don’t want to. I wouldn’t have done that in the past. It makes me feel a little selfish.”, I told her.

“You’re creating boundaries for yourself because you’ve finally started to see your limitations. The part of you that feels selfish, can you ask it why it feels that way?”, she asked.

“If I am not there for them when they need me, then, what’s the difference between me and others who left when I needed them?

There is another part that wants to answer that question.”, I said.

“What does this part want to tell you?”, she asked

“It says that it depends on intention. If we can help and we don’t, then, that might be considered selfish. If we can help but already feel drained or overwhelmed, then, that’s self-love. We can only give if we are full. We can’t drain from an empty vase.”, I replied, realizing something that I had heard multiple times in my life but didn’t fully grasp the meaning of.

“How does that land with the part of you who was feeling selfish?”, she asked.

“It’s a scared part of me who felt like I always had to do something for others to feel loved. Unless others saw my value, they won’t love me. It’s the part of me which had felt lonely since I was a kid.

When I realized that I was different, I thought people won’t love me for who I am. So I had to prove my worth.

When I had my first crush on a girl, I didn’t know that’s what it was. But, I was smitten by her. All my friends knew this. They slowly started to drift away because they thought I was not normal. To be fair to them, I was completely enamored by her. To date, I don’t think I’ve felt as smitten by anyone. Probably because it was the first? I think that impacted my other relationships. I focused on my connection with her more than on my connection with others. There was a year when people hardly spoke to me. I was outcasted. I had a big friend group and after that incident, it felt like I had no one. My grades had started to get impacted. When I asked them what had changed, they said they found me weird.

So, I did a couple of things. I topped my class to show everyone how smart I was. That brought a couple of people back and increased my “value”. And, then, I helped others and found them all coming back one by one. I even wrote my first story and directed a play. A friend I had known for years whose attitude towards me had impacted me the most, apologized later. But by that time, I felt empty and was disappointed by how I didn’t matter enough but what I could do mattered more. I realized that I didn’t want them in my life anymore. Every day I prayed to leave that city. After another year, my dad got transferred to a new place and I left without saying goodbye.

Do you know what the sad part was? I also stopped speaking to that girl. She and I were good friends. When she left the city, I went into my cave and didn’t reach out to her for years. We had this practice of communicating our “inner thoughts” over emails. When we spoke in person, we never discussed those emails. It was just our way of communicating some vulnerable thoughts to each other. After she left, I didn’t check my inbox for months. When I did, I found several emails from her. There was an email that she had sent me a few days before she left where she thanked me for not outing her in front of our teacher when had made a mistake. I refused to say her name which made my teacher quite angry. But I never responded to any of those emails. We spoke again after a couple of years. She was excited. She wanted to talk and meet. But, I ran away again. I was convinced that I was not good enough for her and wanted her to feel like I didn’t care about her anymore. In fact, I told myself that it was her who ran away and not me. That wasn’t true. I was the one who ran away and I cared a lot about her.”, I realized.

“Do you know why you did that?”, my therapist asked.

“I was unsure of how to act and was feeling extremely vulnerable. I knew I had feelings for her but I wasn’t sure what that meant. And what I could understand it meant seemed wrong. I wanted to prove to myself that I didn’t care about her or had any feelings for her. It used to feel scary to have those feelings for a girl and what that would mean. So I was in a constant conflict where I knew that I had feelings for her but I showed everyone around me, including her, that I didn’t care. With all that was happening with other friends, I told myself that it was better to stay away from her if I wanted to keep them in my life. That was the only way they would accept me. At one point, I also said some mean things about her to those friends to make them believe that I had no feelings for her. I don’t know if I was trying to convince them or myself.

It was a constant dance of having all those feelings but also being in denial and trying to morph the truth into a version that I could live with. I was scared to admit that I could have those feelings for a girl. Later, I felt ashamed of saying all that about her behind her back. It was not anything insulting but it was still me entertaining conversations that disrespected her, taking active participation, and making public some of our conversations. I think when we spoke again I also felt guilty about doing that and told myself that I wasn’t a good friend. Probably why I kept a distance from her after that – guilt and denial.

I went to extremes to prove to myself and others that I was straight. But, my denial didn’t help me. I couldn’t get her out of my mind no matter how much I tried. I think for me, that connection showed me what love could feel like. Like it was possible for me to feel all those feelings for someone and that it was possible to have that kind of connection with someone, even if it wasn’t “right” per society. We’re still connected on social media so I was always up to speed about her life events. Sometimes I went out of my way to check if she was doing fine. I kept hoping to meet her again someday but never put in the effort to do it. It was a secret that I kept to myself and kept convincing myself that my checking on her, didn’t mean anything more than me just missing her. But, yes, I was in love for the first time and it scared me to know what it meant.”, I shared as I remembered my journey with my childhood crush/love/friend.

“Coming to terms with our sexualities is not an easy journey. Specifically when it doesn’t feel safe. All of us who came to terms with it has one of those stories. We keep denying it until we meet someone we can’t deny it for anymore. Our freedom to love feels more important than living a lie. I am glad you can see that for yourself now.”, my therapist shared her coming out experience.

“Yes. I also felt like I didn’t know that there was an option to like both men and women? I’ve told you before that I could develop feelings for both men and women and whenever it was a man, I told myself that I was normal. I could live with that and I would curse myself every time it was a woman. For me, liking a girl meant that I was gay, and liking a man meant I was straight. I didn’t know there were people who liked both. It was years later that I became familiar with the term bisexual and I knew that’s who I was. If our society was a little more aware, I wouldn’t have struggled during my teenage years.”, I responded.

“Tell me, what happened with the other friends?”, she asked

“I wondered if it was wrong to leave them without a goodbye. Now, I can see that’s what I needed to do to protect myself. They didn’t know any better and I didn’t belong there anymore. I spent 7 years in that school and loved it and my life there. After that experience, it started to feel like I didn’t know that place. I started to feel like a stranger. I didn’t realize that I was carrying that pain for so long.”, I realized.

“Did you speak with that friend again whose attitude had changed towards you?”, she asked.

“Yes. She called after she realized that I had left without a goodbye. We talked. She apologized again for her behavior. But she didn’t understand why I was smitten by that girl. I could not tell her either because I had internalized that homophobia by then. I never told her about my sexuality. I think that’s when I learned to not trust my friends with that part of me. But we continued to stay in touch over the years. Other friends reached out too. I’ve been in contact with a lot of them over the years. Some people from my school who I didn’t even consider as close also called. I met them a couple of months after leaving but I had gone into my shell by then and it felt like I couldn’t recognize any of them.

Wow, I was 13 or 14 when that happened. And I still get scared whenever I tell a friend about my sexuality. However, I am not comfortable hiding it anymore. If I feel an iota of homophobia from someone, I either confront them or remove myself from that situation. I recently told one of my oldest friends. He was the only one left from my close circle who didn’t know. It felt good to be able to talk to him about it. I hadn’t realized how I had pushed him away because of everything else that I was experiencing. He told me how angry he had been with me for the past years for not putting in an effort. I didn’t tell him everything that happened but I told him parts that I could. At one point, he almost cried. And I again realized that I have been blessed with some beautiful connections. I felt like I got my friend back.”, I explained.

“That’s wonderful. It sounds like your friend really loves you. How much do you think your denial has played a role in your struggles?”, she asked.

“A lot. A lot more than I realized. I can’t believe how much of a role it has played in my struggles, mental health, relationships, connections, anxiety, etc. I genuinely kept denying that part of me for the longest time. Even though I knew I tried to convince myself otherwise. Not accepting myself resulted in me not enjoying life. I lost my happiness the day I decide to hide it from the world.”, I realized.

“What does this part need from you now?”, she asked.

“A hug and validation. She needs to know that she’s loved for who she is. She wants me to continue to accept myself.”, I said with a smile.

“Can you give her that and ask her to let go of some of the burdens that she’s carrying?”, she asked.

“Yes. Thank you! I thought today’s session will be geared toward esoteric experiences. I couldn’t have imagined that it would end up healing a part of myself.”

“You are leading your healing. Thank you for not giving up on yourself!”

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