Category Archives: Jan’s Blog

Welcome!

Currently, I put most of my energy into the weekly channeled messages, the daily Soulbytes, and the completion of The Recapitulation Diaries. An occasional blog does still get written when the creative urge strikes. Archived here are the blogs I wrote for many years about inner life and outer life, inner nature and outer nature. Perhaps my writings on life, as I see it and experience it, may offer you some small insight or different perspective as you take your own journey.

With gratitude for all that life teaches me, I share my experiences.

Jan Ketchel

Cracking the Mirror of Self-Reflection

Virginia in 1935 at 16, her graduation photo from Julia Richman High School, Manhattan…

My Aunt Virginia, who died in 2012, left me her important papers, a partially written memoir, letters, jottings, and diary entries, which she had severely edited by slicing them out of her journals with a sharp knife, leaving behind only what she wanted posterity to see.

During our recent move to Virginia I came across the box where I had stored her stuff since her death and decided it was time to sort through it. What I found has been a treasure trove of family history, as well as an introduction to a complicated, fiercely intelligent, strikingly independent and delightful young woman.

I knew Virginia intimately my whole life as my aunt, my Godmother, and my spiritual mother, but as I poured over what she chose to leave behind I learned what she had never shared; her deepest struggles to figure out life, to live and love to the fullest, to use and be respected for her intellect. She was determined to not just do what was expected, to marry the first appropriate guy that came along with a decent job. She wanted true love, a soulmate, and she stuck to her guns about it, taking a unique stance for a young woman growing up in the 1920s and 30s, delaying marriage until it was right, in spite of the many attempts to marry her off.

She did meet her true soulmate when she was 30, a vibrant, brilliant young graphic designer who was making a name for himself in the New York graphic design world of 1950. It was a love affair that swept them both off their feet and into a whirlwind of intense love, emotion, and deep spiritual connection. He proposed to her on the first night they met and she accepted, though she was inclined to take things a bit slower than he. It turned out he was right to want to speed things up because it all ended tragically when he died suddenly and unexpectedly two months after they met, on the operating table during an emergency appendectomy of an allergic reaction to an anesthetic.

His death left her desolate, but it didn’t stop her; she sought to recapture that love and intense connection in another, and another. She gained insight and wisdom the hard way, by living and learning, by looking deep into her yearning heart and by using her keen mind. She once said, “It seems that you just keep on and that’s not even so bad, so long as you keep struggling!” The “struggle” she refers to is the soul’s yearning for something that only the heart will recognize when it finally comes around.

Virginia was born in 1919 and lived through the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, and World War II. She lived most of her life in New York City, though she loved the countryside. When she was growing up the family always had a house elsewhere to venture to on weekends and during the summer months, a shack on the beach at Rocky Point, a farmhouse in Orange county, and later a permanent home in Dutchess County.

She held various positions in publishing, having worked at Harper’s Magazine, McGraw-Hill and the World Press Review. She was active in international relations during World War II, working at the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies (CDAAA), The United Nations Association, and for Professor and Legal Scholar Clyde Eagleton at NYU’s Graduate School of International Affairs during the founding of the United Nations.

Virginia was an insatiable reader, her library was vast and all-encompassing. She found something of interest in every book she ever read and every person she ever met. A prolific letter writer, she maintained lifelong friendships with several international pen pals, from her teen years until her death, or theirs, many of whom she never met in person. And, always, she aspired to being a “real” writer, like many of the great writers she met during her years in publishing.

Recently, Chuck wrote a blog that included insight into one of our most intriguing human psychological traits, one that we all innately possess, that of projection, and the power we have within us to use the mirror of self-reflection to achieve a higher state of self-realization, especially by confronting our feelings of self-importance.

He wrote: We begin by assuming responsibility for the fact that we, as individuals, reflect the reality we see without. Although it may be difficult to face this shadow truth, it is also quite empowering. You can read the whole blog here.

Among my aunt’s papers I found more than a few pieces that directly confronted her own struggles with this most common trait, the power of projection in the search for a soulmate. As Chuck wrote in Soulmate 101: At the psychological, or spiritual dimension, the soul mediates our spirit’s longing for itself in matter. The root of desire is this attractive force of spirit seeking appropriate matter to realize itself, or to manifest as a physical reality. To accomplish this, soul uses the psychological mechanism of projection.

Virginia was a jazz aficionado. As she wrote when she went to her first jazz concert at Town Hall in 1942: “I was struck dumb. I felt exactly as though I had been slugged with a baseball bat… I had come home. This was the music I had longed for, without knowing it. I knew it at once, though.” After that she could not get enough of jazz. She went to as many concerts as she could, read as many books on the subject as she could find, scoured the record stores for albums, learning as much as she could about this new music that was, as she wrote, “something to believe in.”

The following example of soulmate projection and reconciliation was written when Virginia was 38. She was facing the end of one soulmate projection and was soon to meet another soulmate, her husband-to-be, Max Kaminsky. Max was a well known jazz trumpeter and cornetist and she had been one of his biggest fans, meeting him shortly after that first concert she went to in 1942. They lost contact for many years then met again when she was 39 and he was 50. Eventually, they married and wrote My Life in Jazz together, a memoir of his long career as a jazz musician. Their marriage was intense and loving, and it lasted until Max’s death in 1994, the day before his 86th birthday. Here is Virginia’s reflection:

August 9, 1957

“Dad was talking tonight about how much the old-time performers gave of themselves—and it suddenly struck me—more forcibly than ever before in my life—how little I give of myself.

This is one of my worst blocks—I noticed it in myself in the car tonight with the two women [whom she frequently rode from the city with on weekends to visit the family farm in Dutchess County]—all they really want is pleasantness. I used to be so touchy, thinking that if I gave of myself they would have a power over me—is that it— or was it that I expected so much of them that when they misunderstood I became hurt, disappointed and offended.

But it’s a prison—one I’ve made all by myself. I’m a secretary because I act like one—goddammit—a stuffed shirt. What I have to get thru my thick head is that I am free-free-free, just as free as I choose to be and that it’s not those “other” people who are holding me back—it’s me.

I don’t have to believe in the role Jacques [the man she was in love with at the time] has assigned to me. I am perfectly free to love him if I choose—and in that way it’s none of his business—as long as I don’t, overtly or insidiously, ask for his love in return. That’s the counter, [the] balance—you are free just so long and in proportion to how little you try to exact from others.”

In this piece, my aunt reflects beautifully on herself, coming to a deeper realization that she is responsible for how she feels and views the world. In her analysis, she fully owns her own part in the unfolding of her life, deciding that she can choose as she pleases, as long as she doesn’t take what is not freely given, even energetically.

Here she breaks the mirror of her own self-reflection, withdrawing her projection and owning her own inner soulmate, preparing to live it in her physical life. In fact, it was a pivotal moment; without her even knowing it, she was preparing to enter a new reality, opening the way for further true self-realization. And as we know, she did meet her true soulmate, Max, shortly after this, perhaps because she was finally ready.

At the time, she held a limiting belief about herself, that she was only a secretary. Shortly after this, her papers reveal, she decided to give more of herself and volunteered to read to the blind. She ended up as a volunteer reader for many years, reading to law students, to college and high school students, when called upon. But the actual truth is that she grew far beyond the secretary self that she so bemoaned, eventually becoming the senior editor at Harper’s Magazine. I used to see her name on the masthead, third one down from the top, after the editor-in-chief and the managing editor. And she did become the writer she had always yearned to be.

Having opened the box containing my aunt’s things and discovering what she valued and chose to pass on, I too ask myself, do I give enough? Do I do enough? Am I kind enough?

Do any of us give enough? Are any of us kind enough? How much do we hold ourselves back because of our limiting beliefs, because of our entrenched defenses, our sense of entitlement, our regrets or resentments? Why are we so offended all the time?

I thank my aunt for the little bits she left behind, modest and humble in their number yet full of profound insight into a woman’s struggle to find her place in the world, and to matter.

In remembrance of a wise woman,

Jan

No Worries!

Who put that cloud there?
– Art by Jan Ketchel © 2018

My father was a chronic worrier. He worried about everything! It drove me and my siblings crazy! He could not let anything go. He’d nag and natter about a thing he’d decided to worry about, usually something minor that he just could not let go of, until he’d spun it into a massive worry storm, leaving us all exasperated and exhausted.

Once, when I was in college, he called me at 3 in the morning, waking me and my roommates from a sound sleep to ask me if I had eaten. I had made an off-the-cuff remark about not having any food in the house as I headed home after a holiday visit, saying that I would have to shop once back in the city. He only heard the part about having no food in the house and his worrisome mind spun that tiny remark into a whole devastating story. By the time 3 AM came around he had decided that I was starving to death!

I was so angry at him that I didn’t speak to him for weeks, but during those weeks I could feel his worry hanging over me like a dark cloud, dragging me down. When I finally spoke to him about it we joked, but I talked honestly about how frustrated and drained I was by his constant attention on me. I told him to lighten up, that I could take care of myself, that I wanted to live my own life and to please leave me alone. His worry energy actually dampened my spirit and added a burden I didn’t need when I had so much else going on in my life.

I now understand this dynamic between parent and child as the archetypes of the parent/child relationship, the structures and dynamics that every parent and child must contend with as they go through life, as the child seeks to individuate and become independent, and as the parent seeks to let them go.

As a parent myself I have had to learn the lessons I tried to teach my father so many years ago. My own experiences with him have helped me to back off and let life take my children onward without me, but sometimes it can be very hard. When we see our children struggling our first reaction is to jump in and help, but that may not be the best course of action to take. The same can be said for any relationship.

To underscore the dilemma, I had a dream the other night. I was carrying large chunks of construction debris, huge lumps of concrete. I stood on the edge of a vast landfill, looking down into a vast pit filled with similar debris. A man stood on the opposite side of the landfill, a foreman. He yelled at me to throw the debris into the pit. I worried that it was wrong, that it would hurt the earth.

“Nah,” he said, “it’s how it’s done. Just throw it away!”

And then I wondered just what the heck I was doing. The concrete was clearly useless and clearly burdensome. It wasn’t toxic material either, it was just heavy, cumbersome old building material.

“Let it go!” I yelled, and then I threw it into the pit and walked away unburdened, lighter and freer than ever.

“What am I carrying around inside me?” I wondered when I woke up. “What concrete thing, idea, or issue am I attached to?

As the day went on the dream stayed with me. I thought about it, seeking to analyze its message and purpose. I determined it was not about memories. Those have all been recapitulated, so it was not anything from my past. I finally realized it was worry, the worries of everyday life, the worries about others, the kind of stuff that keeps you awake at night but is just empty chatter in your head, stuff you can’t do anything about and if you tried you’d have no luck at all.

As I thought about it I discovered that those worries had no real meaning or necessity in my life. They were not building blocks to something new but old construction materials that were no longer useful. I was right to chuck them into the landfill where they would soon be covered over, bulldozed into the earth to disintegrate and become part of the landscape.

Just as I had asked my father to let go of the burdensome archetypes of parent and child, so too did I have to let go of such archetypes within myself, along with the concrete ideas that I have to do and be the end-all for someone else. In letting go of the archetypes we are allowed to each grow and mature in our own ways, taking responsibility for ourselves and the decisions we make, for our present and future issues, and for our own joys and freedoms in life too.

Just because I might want to give advice, I realized, it isn’t always helpful or wanted. I have to take my own advice that I gave my father so many years ago and step back and let life resolve life. In the end, we have to let things go so things can proceed as they will and as they must.

I learned from my father that if you put your attention on another person they will sense you in some way, and you may actually be harming them, even if you think your worry is justified and you only want the best for them. The best for them is to send them positive, self-motivating, and loving energy that sends them off on their own journey through life under their own steam, rather than burdening them with your guilt, worry, regret, resentment, or good intentions. As I learned from my father, it’s just not fun having those kinds of energies hanging over you, having to bear another person’s unresolved issues while you are trying to figure out your own life on your own terms.

My father never did fully remove his worry energy from me. It followed me right into adulthood and he remained a solid worrier right up to the end of his life. But he taught me how not to do what he did, and as my dream points out it’s a lesson that never grows old.

I have had to remind myself to remove my worries about my own kids’ lives countless times, so as not to burden them with a cloud of my worries hanging over their heads! After being the lifelong subject of someone else’s worries, whether justified or not, I know that it’s just not a nice thing to do to someone! Even if I may want to give valuable but unasked for advice, I also know that the best advice I can give myself is to remember my young adult self telling my father to just step back and let me live my own life.

Life itself is the best guide. We all have to go out into the world and learn how it really works. It’s how we learn and how we grow. The happiest people in the world seem to be those who have had to work hard for what they have, and there is no greater satisfaction than having done it on their own. And no worries either!


A blog by J. E. Ketchel, Author of The Recapitulation Diaries

Love Is All We Need

May love be the only thing that comes between us…
– Artwork by Jan Ketchel © 2017

The feminine is rising. At this moment in human history we find ourselves in a singularly unique position. The rising of the feminine offers an opportunity for the world to head in a new direction, to take us out of an old world order and place us squarely and securely in a new world where the man/woman inequality, now so prevalent, finally gives way to a new social order.

This new order could steer us away from the battle of the sexes and in the mutual direction of an acceptance of each individual person as unique and valuable, each one of us as an equally valued member of society, as important in the grand scheme of things as every other individual. We are all unique beings who just want to be accepted for who we are, our true selves. Some things would have to change for such wide-sweeping acceptance. We are already encountering the difficulties of true acceptance of our uniquenesses in the quandary over gender issues currently raging as strongly as the #MeToo movement.

The feminine principle in nature during the daytime is the earth itself; Mother Nature, Mother Earth, Gaia, Pachamama, the natural one upon whom all of our lives depend. The masculine principle during the daytime is the sun, the powerful penetrating light from above that exposes and reveals, that shines upon us all and from which there is no recourse except to go inside, away from the penetrating glare and heat of this penetrating eye.

The feminine principle of nature at nighttime is the moon, a softly penetrating glow of pearly maternal light that guides us through our dreams and our encounters with other worlds while we sleep and while we make our way in the darkness. The masculine principle at night is the darkness itself, the concealer of everything that the sun had lit and revealed. The masculine principle at night masks it all, asking us to forget it even exists.

In psychological terms the masculine principle in woman is called the animus, a term coined by C. G. Jung. He called the feminine principle in man the anima. These two parts, the animus and the anima, play important roles in every human life, in our interactions with others and within ourselves.

The animus is responsible for stirring woman from her naturally comfortable state as earth mother and moon goddess and giving her grounding in the world. The animus is responsible for ego-building and strengthening, establishing rationality, providing guidance and stamina to face what life presents at every turn. When the animus dominates, woman is taken too far from her true nature. Becoming masculine dominated, she is far removed from her true feminine powers and her true feminine self.

The anima in men presents with a similar dilemma. It’s important for men to be feeling and emotional, sensitive and not totally dominated by the sun god and the darkness, but to bring into everyday encounters and actions the feeling side of their feminine nature. Otherwise men are alienated from their own true feelings, haphazardly and unconsciously thrusting themselves into the world with little regard for how they affect others. Should the anima dominate men they become moody and demanding, wanting and taking, seeking to please themselves, often in self-soothing disregard for others.

With the advent of the empowering #MeToo movement women have emerged from the masculine dominated darkness of secrecy and hiding with an important message for everyone. Women are shining the glowing light of the full moon upon the truth of a male dominated society that has brutally and selfishly taken, controlled, and repressed.

The glare of this bright light upon the truths that especially women have had to bear for centuries is crucial, especially now as we live in a country that is dominated by the golden sun god himself and all his cronies who rape and pillage not only women and the earth but every decent and loving aspect of the feminine that has painstakingly been implanted through a long process of working toward mutual caring, equality, and balance in our world. In exposing sexual abuses women are showing that they are not afraid, that they will not be quiet any longer.

Women are strong. There is no doubt about that. But women must not become so dominated by the animus that they become like those men who abuse their power. It’s not about one sex dominating the other anymore; it’s about balance between the two, within and without. Women are in a position of power right now. The key is to not dominate but to take things to a new level, bringing the sexes together in a totally new way, making it clear that one cannot dominate the other if there is to be peace and equality in the world, and if there is to be acceptance of and respect for the unique individuals that we all are.

In the Soulbytes and other messages that I have channeled over the past few weeks what has been coming through has been the importance and the uniqueness of love—love as a unifying energy to be used for good, for advancement of the human species, for taking things to a new level, for establishing a new social order. It’s the antidote to hate, to anger, to divisiveness, to blame and shame. It’s what powers the feminine and is the power of the feminine too. It’s also the magic we all so badly need right now.

Let’s not forget that love is the answer. Let’s spread that message, men and women alike. It’s time for the feminine principle of love to dominate within us all. And it won’t hurt anyone.

Love is all we need.


A blog by J. E. Ketchel, Author of The Recapitulation Diaries

Mortification

Mortified no more!

I had been given my first skis for Christmas when I was five. It was a big surprise and I remember being very excited about learning to ski. I imagined gliding effortlessly over the snow. They were wide wooden skis, painted blue, that I strapped onto my snow boots. My boots slipped out of them all the time and I found them heavy and cumbersome. At five I was not a good skier. I would take the skis out every winter for a few years after that and try them out, but I never got the hang of it and was always disappointed in how difficult it was. I preferred sledding or ice skating.

At 12, I got another pair of skis for Christmas. This time it was not a surprise. One evening my father took me and my two brothers, one a year older and one a year younger than me, to get fitted for skis. This time they were real downhill skis. We got outfitted with boots, poles, and even snazzy ski pants with heel straps so they didn’t ride up out of the boots. This time I was not so very enthusiastic. I kept asking my father why I was getting skis, I didn’t want skis. He insisted. I got the skis. My brothers really wanted their skis and they both became good skiers, in fact my younger brother became an excellent skier and even went to Europe one year and skied in the Alps with a friend of his whose family was living there for a year. I remember one of his skis broke on the return trip, in the cargo hold of the plane.

I tried skiing in those new skis, mostly around the neighborhood with friends, on hills in my backyard or other people’s backyards. I’d occasionally go to a nearby ski area with friends, a little mountain where there was a small beginner’s slope and a much larger expert slope. I spent my time on the beginner’s slope. I was the person going down the hill screaming, arms flapping and poles akimbo, crashing into the flimsy fence at the bottom of the hill in order to stop. I did take a few lessons and learned the “snowplow” to stop so I didn’t have to crash land. But I was still pretty bad, had little control, and often rode down the hill sitting on the back of my skis. I’d end my ski adventures bruised, with bumps on the back of my head, snow down my neck, and my ankles aching where the boots dug into them. I was just not a good skier.

When I was 14 I got convinced by a friend to go down the big hill at the ski area. My first challenge was getting up to the top of the hill. As soon as I grabbed onto the rope tow lift I found that the rope just slid through my hands. My mittens were fake red fur on the tops with palms made of a heavy plastic material that the frozen rope just slipped right over. I grabbed as hard as I could, but no luck. I was asked to get off the rope pull as I was causing a back up, people piling up behind me, yelling, “Go, go, go!” My friend and I moved over to the T-bar lift. I had never used a T-bar before.

“Just stand in the tracks, and grab onto the T-bar as it comes up behind and let it basically drag you up the hill,” said my friend, a much better skier, as we prepared to ride up the hill together, one on either side of the upside down T. Sounds easy, right? Well it wasn’t. For some reason I kept falling down every time the T contraption came at us. Finally after many attempts, the lift guard yelling at me to give up, I managed to somehow grab ahold of the dang thing and stay on my feet and up we went. Next problem, how to get off! My friend and I discussed this on the way up.

“Just ski away from the lift as we get to the top of the hill,” my friend said.

“Okay, right,” I said.

Luckily I always had a good sense of humor and could laugh at myself, so there was a lot of laughter as we went through the process of getting to the top of the mountain. Taking a big breath, I was able to “just ski away” from the lift, but even so there were other people coming up fast behind me yelling, “Move! Move!”

At the top of the hill I looked down and said, “No way! I am not going down that hill,” a frightening sheer drop. “It’s not as bad as it looks,” my friend said, and she explained how to go down by slalom skiing back and forth at the steepest part and then skiing straight down where it evens out. Sure. And then she took off, leaving me to fend for myself. Shit! I guess she thought I was just going to follow right after her!

I hemmed and hawed for a long time, getting up my courage, and then I went for it. It did not go well. I started out okay, basically skiing across to a spot on the other side, trying not to get in the way of other expert skiers who were shushing past me at incredible speeds. I went back to the other side, down a little further, and that went okay too. But then I fell and I kept falling. I could not stop.

Like a turtle on its back I went spinning down the hill, my slick ski jacket skittering over the icy surface of the mountain, my skis and poles flailing in the air as I passed everybody, going at such speed that I could not tell what was up or what was down. I barreled along like a bowling ball knocking down pins as all the people at the bottom of the hill, waiting on line to take the lift up to the top, scattered as I sailed past them and crashed into the fence beyond. It was mortifying. A woman asked me if I was okay. I said I was, as I pried snow out of my neck, from inside my jacket, and from down my pants.

My friend was nowhere in sight. I finally found her and said I’d wait for her in the lodge. When I asked her, she said she hadn’t seen me go down. Luckily! That was one humiliation I would not have to live down!

A few days later I was on the school bus. Two girls were sitting in the seat behind me. Cheerleaders. They were talking, giggling. I didn’t really tune into what they were saying until I realized that one girl was telling the other about going skiing over the weekend.

“She went down the whole slope ON HER BACK!” I heard her say.

It suddenly dawned on me that they were talking about me. Oh no! Mortification! Someone I knew had seen me! Did they not know I was sitting right in front of them? Of course they did! More mortification! How will I ever live this down? I slunk down in my seat and finally accepted that I was a bad skier. The humiliation was just not worth it. I don’t think I ever skied again after that.

We take on “badness” and it manifests somewhere in us, psychologically, physically, emotionally, even spiritually. Not only did I take on being a bad skier, but I took on the humiliation and mortification that came with being a bad skier. It inhibited me from trying other sports, as I was sure I would be bad at them too. I stuck to what I knew I could do. I limited myself.

Years later, I was in my twenties and had moved to Sweden to live with my boyfriend, a very nice young Swedish man. One day he announced that we were going skiing. I explained that I did not ski. That I was a really bad skier. He explained that it was not downhill skiing, and everyone in the country basically did it and I was going to do it too. No backing out. The whole family was going, meaning his parents and sister, aunt and uncle and numerous cousins, most of whom I’d yet to meet. Oh boy, here comes the humiliation and the mortification!

I was nervous all week leading up to the winter break when traditionally all families got together for winter sports, the most popular being our equivalent of cross-country skiing. When I lived in Sweden during the 1970s, literally everyone skied.

By the time the day came I was ready, outfitted with a set of boots, skis, and poles and ready to go. I decided to just relax and enjoy, pretend I’d never been on skis before in my life, and just have fun. Like it or not, it was time to get beyond my ingrained idea that I was a bad skier. We set out into the wilderness, newly fallen snow on the ground, backpacks filled with thermoses and food, skis strapped to our feet. I got a quick lesson and then off we went. There was no time for hesitation. There was no time for limiting beliefs. I just began to ski because I had to; it was time to go and I had to keep up with everyone. But from the moment I started I loved it!

There I was gliding along, just as I had imagined doing when I was five and got my first set of skis. It was magical. I watched carefully how everyone else skied and started to add little techniques to my own process as we went along. There were no judgments, only kind encouragements, everyone just out to have a glorious day of fun in the snow. Over hill and dale, through woods we went. It was magical, and by the time we stopped for lunch on the edge of a forest, sheltered by large boulders, I was hooked. When asked if I was enjoying the skiing I declared that I loved it and everyone agreed that it was a marvelous sport.

A fire was built, hot dogs were pulled out and stuck on sticks, hot milky sweet tea was poured, and we all sat down in the snow and had a marvelous, delicious picnic. It was just the first of many such skiing trips I was to enjoy with those lovely Swedes, all of whom congratulated me on skiing so well for someone who had never done it before. I did tell them that I had done downhill skiing before, but nothing like that.

I learned something about myself that day, how an idea can be so limiting, how we plant ideas about ourselves in our minds and live them out, to our disadvantage. I really was mortified that day on the slope when I fell onto my back and the day I heard those girls talking about me only increased my mortification. But I learned that in order to get beyond our limiting beliefs we have to dare ourselves to override them, to live them down by facing them and daring to live beyond them. Limiting beliefs keep us away from having experiences that are life enhancing, that help us grow and change. That day in Sweden I discovered that I was no longer a bad skier, but a competent one, and have enjoyed many skiing adventures since.

We never really know who we are until we push ourselves beyond our perceived limits, beyond what we believe about ourselves. In the process of challenging those beliefs we not only discover more of our potential but we allow unforeseen joy to enter into our lives.

P. S.: There are plenty of hilarious Youtube videos of people trying to ride T-bar lifts. I was just like everyone of them that first and only time I ever rode such a lift.


A blog by J. E. Ketchel, Author of The Recapitulation Diaries

 

Taking The Dream Back

Time to get rid of those old crutches?
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Our woundings define us, control us, give us structure and purpose. They offer crutches so we can limp along through life making the best of it. What would happen if we threw away those crutches, if we decided to let go of everything we think we need and instead go in search of our dreams? If we lose touch with our dreams we lose touch with our spirit. The only way of getting back to our spirit is to get back to not only dreaming our dreams but actualizing them, and to do that we must get rid of our crutches.

Crutches can be everything from ideas, such as that we are not worthy of success, or a mate, or wealth or health, that we must bear the life we have, continually punishing ourselves because of some idea that that’s just the way life is, or because we repeatedly blame someone else for hurting us, for leaving us, for abusing us. Well, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Crutches are also our comforts, and that’s where it gets tricky when we try to let them go. Part of us wants to just throw them away, but if we do will our back and legs be strong enough to carry us forward? Will our feet know where to take us? Do we have what it takes to go it alone without our crutches? Whatever our crutches may be they will try to convince us that we need them, that we can’t live without them, that we owe them for how they have helped us survive. How can you leave something, or someone, that has been so important to you? How can you just walk away?

When the time comes to change, to move on, to throw away the crutches, we have to dare ourselves to stand on our own two feet. It can feel as if we are throwing ourselves into the great unknown, which we are. As if we are jumping off a cliff, which we are. As if we are taking a great leap of faith, which we are. The first thing we will encounter as we take that leap is fear.

As we untether ourselves from what has kept us safe and secure for so long we go reeling into the great nothingness of free fall. We don’t know where we are, who we are, or how to navigate without our crutches. We don’t know what to do, so we grasp for our crutches again. “Just stay with me a little bit longer,” we say. “I know you and I trust you. Even though you are bad for me, you keep me safe and grounded.”

During my recapitulation such times of free fall indicated that I was actually making strides. I was being challenged to embrace life, to get out of my safety zone and confront reality. Perhaps letting go of a crutch meant challenging myself to go beyond my depression, such as: “I won’t stay in bed all day today. Today I will go to the grocery store, or make a phone call, or take a walk.” Such simple things, you might say, but to a traumatized person these present major feats. Sometimes every day could be like that.

Perhaps a moment of free fall was instigated by an outside influence, such as someone requesting something of me, someone else needing me, or a job that needed to be done. To go outside our comfort zone when we have been badly wounded takes courage, fortitude, and strength, such ordinary characteristics of being human that for someone suffering from PTSD present mountains to cross, rivers to ford, the great unknown to encounter, and all without our usual crutches!

If we are to heal we have to change, and if we are to change we have to leave our crutches behind. The things that now keep us safe also keep us isolated, lonely, stuck in reliving our woundings and our ideas of ourselves as wounded, over and over again.

“I am wounded, poor me! I will never have a good life because someone did something bad to me! I have trauma in my background so I have permission to be sad and lonely. It’s my lot in life.” These are some of the things we tell ourselves to keep us aligned with our woundings, and each time we speak them our crutches are right there for us to grab onto, saying, “Yes, you need me. I told you that you would always need me. You don’t need anything else. I am here for you.” Are we really going to settle for that?

We are easily convinced by our crutches because the truth is that yes, they have been our salvation, they have stood by us through it all, and they have worked for us, to a certain extent. But they have also kept us stuck in our nightmares, and the truth is we would be better off without them. We’d be healthier without them.

I used to run every day. It was one of my crutches. I thought I needed running to survive. I have not run in 12 years now. I just stopped one day. At first I felt bad about not running, thinking I’d get out of shape, physically and mentally, and for a long time I’d whine, “Oh, I should be running.” But I never did again and once I really let go of it, in my mind too, I was just fine. I am physically and mentally healthier than ever. I don’t need to rely on running anymore. I have myself to rely on.

When it’s time to finally let go of the crutches, the crutches will try to stay attached. We suffer with them and we suffer without them. But if we can look at them closely, examine them, ask why we think we need them, we are well on our way to getting rid of them forever. We have to ask: “Are they part of some idea, some ideal that I latched onto a long time ago at a time when I needed something to support me? Do I really need that kind of support now?”

Times change. We change. As we choose to heal from our traumas, our dreams come back to haunt us, reminding us of what we have left behind that might really matter to us. In the long run, it’s our dreams that we should go running to. Is it time to throw away the crutches and go running toward your dreams?

In this time of #METOO, it is so important that we point fingers, that we expose the hypocrites, that we gather together, united against what has been going on in the shadows, but at the same time we can’t just stop there. It does no one any good if all we do is point fingers. If we are to heal our wounds we have to be willing to do the healing work, and that is an individual task. No one else can heal our wounds for us, for only we know what they truly are. Only we know what they have done to us and how we have survived with them and in spite of them. And only we know what all of our crutches are, many of which we have kept in the shadows of our own psyches.

Healing can only happen if we are each ready to take the personal journey within. If we are to heal we must put down our crutches, one at a time, and head off into free fall. In the end, I can attest, that we will land on our feet, and that our own two feet are indeed strong enough to bear the tension of taking back our health and our energy, as well as take us where we will go next. Time to take the dream back.


A blog by J. E. Ketchel, Author of The Recapitulation Diaries