Become the Heroine/Hero of your life's story.
Being a Counselor and meeting with many people, I became aware of the reluctance of people to share how their sexual lives were going. Many times our sexual lives are following the same patterns that we are dealing with on a day to day basis in other areas of our life. The problem is that many people carry shame and guilt about their behaviors and feel they must hold onto the secrets or the shame will feel overwhelming and they couldn’t possible handle it. I have seen people weekly for a year building trust, before they feel comfortable enough to open up about sexual compulsions. Others are in so much emotional pain, their story spills out into the room. Many times I am the first one to have ever heard that they had been sexually or physically abused as a child. Their story is sacred and I honor them with my presence and listening. It is a courageous act to face shame, it is a Hero’s Journey.
Shame is a very uncomfortable feeling; actually it’s well beyond uncomfortable. Shame makes you want to crawl out of your skin and be someone else or worse yet die to escape the feeling. The truth is that shame cannot kill you. Yes, it is uncomfortable. Many people try to escape shame by moving to another city, only to find it followed you there too. If you are able to muster some courage and face it head on and work with it, it can be transformed into something manageable, even beautiful. You must invest in yourself and tell your story to someone safe so the shame will cease to haunt you.
The process of facing your shame is akin to the Hero’s Journey penned by Joseph Campbell. The Star Wars Saga is a great example of a Hero's Journey.
1. Innocence is the stage where you really don’t know much about yourself or anyone else for that matter. This stage is personified by Luke at home with his Aunt and Uncle living with out purpose. You have feelings, but are not aware of them. You live on autopilot and are pushed around by the storms of life. For example; your boyfriend may call you a derogatory name and ask you to get him the remote for the TV and you do it without thinking. Or, you don’t remember the route you took when drove to work this morning.
2. The Hero’s Journey begins with a Call to move towards a quest. This happens for Luke when he meets Obi-One and learns that he could become a Jedi Knight. The quest is having a life that is full, abundant and authentically you. (This might mean at first, you want to stop the emotional pain). At this stage you are contemplating whether or not you want to accept the call. Can I hang onto what I know, even though it causes me pain? Or do I need to let go of what I know and take a baby step towards something better. It is a vital question each and every person has to answer for themselves. Do you want something better for your life? Do you want a satisfying authentic life? Then take a small step and find out about how you can jump onto the adventure of a lifetime. Keep reading.
3. The Initiation begins once you have accepted your quest, you will learn things about yourself along the way. Luke begins to experience the discomfort of his quest to be a Jedi, his family is killed, people are trying to kill him as well. He begins to appreciate what is being demanded from him to attain his goal. In this stage you discover that there is no turning back. You can’t go back to the time before the quest. You know too much, you are awakening to who you are. During this part of the journey you build courage and resilience by facing difficulties. You will begin to sense who you really are, not who you were told to be.
4 .The Ordeal stage is difficult to navigate by yourself. This is where the quest gets scary and you feel alone in the darkness. Emotional pain from hurts long ago surface and you grieve, and grieve. This is the part where you hear the words, “It gets worse before it gets better”. You will receive guides, gifts, and tools along the way from those who care about you. Luke was wisely counseled by Yoda, "there is no try, there is do or don't do." It is a struggle between light and darkness. Luke is compelled to face his fears and push through them. Essential tasks are completed during this time, and a deep resolve builds with in you. You gather up the gems from this part of the journey and bring them out into the light of the next stage.
5. Transformation happens in this stage. Luke accepts his responsibility as a Jedi by allowing the force to work through him. He is no longer pushed around by others. The innocent caterpillar you once were is no longer, you are now breaking out your beautiful butterfly wings. You are taking all the lessons learned in the hero’s journey and have been transformed into a new creation. You no longer feel the same as you once did. The shame has been transformed into courage, compassion, and resilience. You will no longer be tormented by the grievances of the past.
The Hero’s Journey is a quest for anyone, The Dark Knight Rising is another example of a Hero's Journey. What would it be like for you to go through this process and be the Hero/Heroine of your own story. You can go through all these stages within an hour for small things. Or it can take years of questing to heal all the shame from years gone past. Each of us is Beautiful, Creative, and Powerful beyond our comprehension. Seek the Authenticity that is you, Journey to Abundant life.
Teresa Maples MS is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Washington State. Connect with me for more information about healing from those things that get in the way of living life to its fullest.