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February 25, 2005

Nets and layers


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Oh god, here we go again. More Self stuff. Just look at the picture, if you can't stand this anymore.

Why, some might ask, (if anyone read this material, that is), do I dwell on all this neurotic fol de rol here at Dakota? The purpose of so dwelling is to document the process of embodying the higher self, leaving a trail just in case anyone else might be interested in following it, like Karl Rove, for example.

Richard Schwartz, developer of the theraputic model known as Internal Family Systems , likes to think of the self as a head of garlic , with lots of parts; a compendium of cloves, each clove whole unto itself. The more cloves in the head, the fuller and more succulent the self (I don't think he means to include the olfactory in his metaphor, but you get the idea)

In order to embody the higher self, one must chase around dissociated parts of self (cloves, to continue the analogy) that have popped off here and there in most unpleasant ways, shepherd them in and reattach them to the conscious self. This usually involves chatting them up, empathizing with them , hearing their story, experiencing their feelings and then inviting them to join the whole rather than moping around on the outside, spoiling experience. Easier said than done, since most of these parts are hidden and hurting , and closely guarded by a cadre of other ferocious split off parts generated to protect their vulnerablitiy. The protective parts carrying large signs saying STAY AWAY, and tote viscious weapons of mass destruction just in case the signs don't work.

Aside: when people who have not embodied their higher selves come into power and allow their dissociated, unconscious, childlike vulnerabilities to run the show, much damage can be done. You know who you are - or maybe you don't.

Yesterday, after a bit of a shamanic shove , I went to my Internal Family Systems supervision group. We discussed the way shameful experiences are stored in dissociated parts of ourselves, and remain buried, only to influence life from under the table.

Synchronicity was operating, since the shamanic shove involved the confrontation of my resistance to feeling feelings that I never, ever want to feel again, under any circumstances, ever, throughout time and space, even in the interest of healing. One of these would definitely be shame.

Shame, according to my shaman, is stuck in my solar plexus, and has been a regular cause of heartburn over the past week, as it bubbled up to semiconsciousness . That's the trouble with somatizing feelings, they hurt.

Handily, I actually experienced a little shame in the IFS meeting last night, since I could not remember alot of the protocol for doing this work, and had fallen asleep two nights in a row watching the brush-up video, which I had been so kindly loaned by our supervisor.

The group, all of whom are taking a year long training, except me, talked about how shame usually is held in different ways by different parts of ourselves. For example, in this instance, there is the part of me that feels ashamed of postponing watching the video for two months, doing it at the last minute, and then falling asleep without assimilating the material. There is another part of me that takes it upon itself to shame such cavalier and irresponsible behavior. And still another, the fraud, who really doesn't want anyone to know that I forgot so much, who covers up and comports herself as if she actually knows something. And yet another part that makes sure that she doesn't ask any questions, or even think of any questions, so that she will not publically humiliate herself.

Quite an impressive number of parts revealed by experiencing minor shame in a trustworthy group of dear friends. I think it's safe to conclude that some of these parts were already there, generated by shaming in childhood, and now operate in my life unconsciously. I am completely avoidant of any experience that may cause me to feel shame. A sniff of shame in the present triggers old feelings that I automatically avoid. Most restricting , but I delude myself into thinking it really doesn't matter. I hardly allow it into awareness.

My shaman recommended imploring the universe to assist me in opening to the feelings of past shame, so that I can feel them fully (YUCK) and heal from them. I am ashamed to say that I forgot to set that conscious intention until this very moment. I'll give it a more sincere shot off keyboard, and begin to prepare myself for the dreaded emotional tsumami.

Photo note: Squashed together soccer nets on a bleak day at Tufts, awaiting their spring unfurling. Me too.

Posted by Dakota at February 25, 2005 05:59 AM