“It did not, at that moment, occur to her even to doubt that if such things existed
they would be totally and unchangeably adverse to her.”
~~C.S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength
Those of us who grew up with judgment know the drill: don’t put yourself forward. Don’t presume or claim worth you don’t have. Duck and cover, stay small, don’t attract attention. If you have great ideas, give them away. Buffer yourself, be invisible.
Even when our external judges – parents? Relatives? Bullies? – are long gone, their internalized voices linger. If we were young enough that such judgment came during our preverbal days, it may linger at subconscious levels, influencing us through physical reactions but not consciously accessible.
I’ve been dealing with such an internalized voice for a lifetime…for the past year or so, bringing it into conscious awareness. And as I do, I am realizing that somehow the voice of my father had gotten mixed up with the voice of a much bigger, cosmic Judge…that even despite all my mother’s assurances of a loving God, despite childhood visionary experiences and decades upon decades of spiritual seeking, I believed at a subconscious, preverbal, bone level that God (never Goddess) was “totally and unchangeably adverse” to me.
The memories of my father rolling his eyes contemptuously at my environmental projects (first in Girl Scouts, and through decades in my professional work)…his demanding “Now are you sure you don’t want to be a nun?” as he picked me up from a vocational retreat (how could I ever think I’d be worthy of being a nun, when I dared to question Paterfamilias? when I got angry? when I got a B on my report card?)…on and on. The harder I tried to be “good,” the deeper the scorn in his response…and the less worthy I felt to pursue my drive to right livelihood.
Thanks be for my mother’s love and everyday activism, writing letters, chairing organizations, volunteering for causes. They were nearly all conservative, but she taught and demonstrated to me that life is about making a difference, no matter how, no matter what. Thanks to her I followed my heart, pushing back against Dad in my choices of a career and husband…though I kept my activism online, under the radar, where he couldn’t see and judge it.
But the inner judgment continued. I could go so far, and no farther. Never really take my work seriously, never see myself as fully credible, never, ever, really take the risk of going all-out. Because, well, I was a pretender, not good enough. God couldn’t possibly want ME to succeed! And if I did – what a hypocrite I would be!
Nevertheless, the nudgings of Grace continued: pursue a Master’s in Applied Healing Arts. Study Creation Spirituality and permaculture. Travel to Labrador, Ecuador, Findhorn, Standing Rock. Pursue a Master’s attunement in Reiki. Start a private Reiki practice. Start Survivors’ Haven. Reiki particularly was a source of Grace: I could allow it to pass through me and gain astonishing results for my clients, while I firmly told them it’s nothing to do with me, this is Reiki energy, not my energy. I just deliver it. Yes, I was an unworthy delivery agent, but amazingly, that did not affect the energy.
And the self-sabotage continued, suffocating the glow of completing the M.A. as I immersed in Dad’s projections during his decline and through five years of dealing with the family papers. Even after finding Mom’s tiny notebook documenting Dad’s actions – the memories I’d buried – I’ve remained mired in that psychic tar pit.
And lately, that’s been shifting. As I regain connection with the lost childhood memories, reclaim and reassure and comfort the lost little girl/I, connect with my mother and her sister in spirit as I read their letters, experience the signs of their ongoing love for me….even experiencing signs of my father’s postmortem spiritual awakening, remorse, support, and love…I am also coming to glimpse a brighter, more loving, more Grace-filled cosmos than I had dared to imagine.
At the deepest level, it wasn’t about Dad – it was about the angry imagined Father God in my mind.
All the theological and spiritual and inspirational reading in the world is wonderful, but does no good until experience makes that head-heart-soul connection.
What if the flow of Reiki through a flawed, conflicted, self-doubting practitioner (and her traumatized child-self) is a symbol of how Grace works? What if it truly wasn’t about her perfection, or imperfection, but about her intent and surrender to channelling Divine Love? What if Divine Love could make use of even the most flawed channels?
(Yes, Inner Critic, it’s important to strive to be as good a channel as possible, but the ego’s efforts and pride or shame in their outcome aren’t the point. Focusing on that only serves the ego in its spin, and in the end serves no one.)
In the end, it’s not about us. It’s about the greater Love we’re all a part of.