Relationships are said to be a mirror, in which we can see ourselves more clearly. No surprise, we don’t always like what we see. All the scars and wounds from the past—the ones we thought were so well masked—flare out onto the surface like a bad rash. When the pain of abandonment, rejection, of not being understood or heard rears its ugly head, it doesn’t feel very good. We want the turbulence to just go away and calmer waters to prevail. We seldom get our wish, though that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Deep insight into self is the true gift of any relationship. Whether it is a relationship with a child, a friend, a sibling or partner, our emotional experiences with others hold a treasure trove of wisdom, should we be willing to go digging for it.
The problem is, we don’t always know how to mine the gold, to alchemize the painful experience we are caught in, because we don’t generally think to look beyond the present crisis, argument, disappointment, or betrayal. Rest assured though, the pain that has been triggered by our relationship with another is not the real or underlying cause of our distress and heartache.
Several years ago, I was taught a very powerful system of emotional release and alchemy by one of my spirit guides. It is grounded in the Celtic Medicine Wheel, and is a kind of inward spiral process that visits each point along the wheel in order to address another layer of the turmoil at hand, winding back into the past. The journey around the wheel is a quest to regain our sovereignty (the sacred center) over an experience that has thrown us for a loop.
I find it miraculous that our souls know just how to attract the precise trigger situation that will return us to a place that demands rebalancing and investigation, if we are to continue our journey through life unencumbered. In this process, we begin first by listing and naming all of emotions that are coming up, eg., loneliness, rejection, sadness, etc. This part of the process demands that we stay with and separate out each strand of emotion in the moment, though our usual impulse is to shrink away from such disturbing feelings.
The second step, which takes us a little deeper into the psyche (and into the past), is to list all of the thoughtforms, fears and beliefs we hold about the present triggering event, eg., I must not be lovable, my feelings don’t matter, I am a failure, etc. It is at this point we tend to lose a little of the focus on the current situation and through free association and allowing whatever comes to mind to be spoken, begin to explore the territory underlying the turmoil—what we imagine will happen to us now.
It is sitting deep in these fears that we begin to feel the oldness of our current experience. We begin to uncover the knowing that we have been here before. At this point I will often journey to my guides and ask the question: when have I felt this way before? I will feel pulled to or see flashes of a prior event or situation in my life—oftentimes, but not always, in childhood.
Once I have recalled the prior event and noted how closely aligned it is in emotional complexity to the current situation, I will ask, what is the truth? What did I not know at the time that will help me to interpret this experience (and therefore, the current turmoil as well) in a different way? To see the 360-degree view rather than the egocentric and limited perspective of a child.
Your guides may reveal that your parents viewed you in an entirely different way than you imagined, that there were extenuating circumstances—not you or your behavior—that were the cause of their struggles, or that the love you feared was lost has never really diminished.
There is an common expression: the truth will set you free. This process has proven that to me again and again, as it has miraculously restored to me my sovereignty and released me from old fears that were bred from childhood illusion.
The work is deep, but quite fruitful. Once the old experience has been healed and understood, it will not be triggered again. Childhood is a traumatic and confusing time for each of us, whether it is a particularly happy or difficult one. We are completely dependent upon others to care for us. We are learning to grapple with our place on the Earth, who we are, how others respond to us, what we are entitled to, and what the “rules” are. It is altogether overwhelming, and perfectly understandable why we get a few things “wrong”.
Childhood is a veritable gold mine if you’re up to the task of digging, and this process of alchemy is a good tool. I have done a lot of this work on myself, and it has also worked well with clients. Try the method for yourself, and if you need some help navigating the waters, please be aware that I have started offering shamanic coaching sessions through my practice in order to share this powerful work.