August 13, 2022
Falling Into The Fire
It all actually started for me when I fell into the fire on Summer Solstice of 2019. It’s been a long 3 years. I don’t know about you but I was taken down to zero. I fought it. I was not going to go down. I’m tenacious, I’m stubborn. But over and over again I got the message to let go. To die the shamn's death. And finally I did. I’m sure this happened to many of you over the COVID time-out.
I literally fell into a ceremonial fire, landed with my left hand on a log of burning embers and was apparently engulfed in flames, briefly. I heard this voice say "This is an intitation." Then came the unraveling. And the reformatting. And the alchemy. You see, at the core of this was the call for me to heal from a lifetime of what I call freeze. It’s one of the three states we can go into when events are too big to face. We run. We fight. Or we freeze. My go-to was to freeze.
When you freeze your nervous system shuts down much like an opossum playing dead. I am not sure if opossums do this consciously but the freeze response in humans is unconsciously elicited; it feels like a form of paralysis. It is not something you can control. You can’t just pick yourself up and move on. It’s like you are sitting in a tiny car in the middle of an intersection… with a semi truck headed straight for you… But your car has stalled, it will not restart… and you cannot put it in gear… or even push it out of the way. So all you can do is open up the car door and run. Run! Disassociate. Leave. Your. Body. Watch your beautiful little vehicle twist into a tangled wreckage, crushed, as you stand by helplessly on the roadside.
When this happens more than once, when you have a few big traumas in a row that you cannot navigate, freeze starts to become your default mode for stress. You rewire for eject. And this starts cycles of shame and self loathing because you cannot champion yourself. You cannot say "No." You lose self respect and self esteem. Depression and anxiety set in, completely absorbing you into helplessness. You feel you cannot escape these feelings of heaviness. You want to be saved. You want to kill yourself. You want the freeze to release its hold on you but you are completely frozen into this lattice, this matrix of misery.
By the time I had fallen into the fire I had really worked my stuff, for decades, but my nervous system wasn’t going to give it up. This was its last hold and apparently the only way I knew how to stay safe. Freeze. It was frustrating to have the bottom drop out when you most needed to be strong. The trauma of falling into the fire itself triggered a long history of these freezes. Ironically it took falling into the fire to start the thawing process...
To heal this last leg of the journey I died the shaman's death. It was an intitation. My bones were scattered on the cave floor. I had to pick them up one by one and weave the flesh back onto them. I rewired my nervous system. I tell you all of this because it’s been a journey. I’ve come out the other side with more wisdom, compassion, reset tactics, and with a much bigger space to hold for trauma victims. My work going forward is with all this in mind.
This post marks the shift into the next expression of me personally, and by extension, ASC. This is the theme of my work here. Thawing the Freeze. This is the Center of the fire.