Walt Whitman famously said, "I am vast. I contain multitudes." And so do you. To practice hearing and seeing your multiplicity, to get a richer, fuller glimpse of who you are, try splitting yourself into two (or three) characters -- two voices/people/forces -- two equal yet opposing sides of you. Describe each of them. . . Try not to polarize them. . . .
As has often been the case with these exercises, I did not want to start. It seemed like it would be both too easy and too painful. But that wasn't the case at all. Three "selves" rose immediately to be recognized.
"A" is My Father's Daughter. This is not just my public personna, this is the part of me focused on being responsible, striving for financial security, fitting in in corporate settings to enable financial security, and etc. When I stopped to think about 'her' as a distinct part of me, she felt like a robe wrapped around me. I've often resented her, believing that she has stood between me and the pursuit of my dreams, but I've been coming to recognize that she is a Guardian. She is very much a result of my father's influence, but that influence has allowed me to support myself and my daughter over the years, and that's important -- and worthy.
"B" is the part of me which embodies my spiritual vocation, the part of me that wants to develop my spirituality not only for myself but in order to serve and to engage in public. This is the priestess, the spiritual director, the blogger. She gets frustrated by the amount of time and energy "A" demands, but also is intimidated because she (STILL) has a hard time feeling worthy of stepping forward in the public sphere.
"C" is the deepest, most passionate, most creative part of myself. "B" has her roots here, but she's still a personna crafted for public engagement. C is the Journeyer. C is the lover, the hierodule, the writer of my best and richest stories and essays, the panther.
And when I tried to imagine her, I saw a thin, wasted form wrapped in something like a shroud, sitting huddled on a chair. She's been starving for years. I've mostly healed from Lohain's death, but the creativity which had its roots in my engagement with daimonic energy has remained crippled. I've had a couple of erotic relationships in the past several years, but more recently my sexuality has been in hibernation. I haven't written anything truly creative in years.
But somehow seeing this part of myself in the way that I did made me feel hopeful. "She" was tangible in a way she hadn't been before. I could work on healing this personification of my core. So I started praying to Freya for help. And I opened some very old story files, files which hadn't been updated since the early 2000's, and started reading my old work. And I queued up some music playlists which went with those stories.
I couldn't go back to who I was when I wrote those stories even if I wanted to. They are the product of adolescent dreams and yearnings. . . but I'm finding that they are capable of setting up a resonance in my core. I'm reminding myself of who I have been, of what has deeply moved me. I can't go back and re-write those stories, but reading them is nurturing me in a way I did not expect.
Ten years will change a person. Ten years of grief-based depression also change you. I am not the same person I was, but I'm still exploring who and what I want to be now. "A" and "B" are important, and I embrace them. . . but I miss "C." I miss living from my core, in touch with my passion and creativity. But almost nothing stirs that fire.
I'm gently blowing on the ashes now, in the hope that I can kindle some new sparks.