My Spirit Animal: the Porcupine
by Kathleen Seeley
My Spirit Animal is a Porcupine… What’s Yours?
I belong to a really cool group of people. This is a group of rock stars (literally), game changers and pioneers in the world of transformation and consciousness. I am part of this group… how I got there? Who cares… I’m there, it’s fun!
We meet twice a year and we get these stellar guest speakers or one of the members will share their work. There is always a component of fun, not just ‘oh that was funny haha kind of fun…serious active fun. Playful, get over yourself, kind of fun. I did not know how much I was missing this in my life until I became part of this group two years ago #grateful!
Please appreciate the #, I still don’t know what the hell happens with a # but I put them in my posts because it seems to be the thing to do.
This past October; I participated in an exercise facilitated by two members, invited us to be ‘Love Gangsters’.
They had us all stand-up and divided the room in half… these are the times I am challenged with allowing, and I want to skip to the last chapter of the book; just so I know what is going to happen.
I can’t remember exactly how they framed the exercise but essentially half of the room would stand with their eyes closed, they would play this lovely music and the other half of the room would be Love Gangsters and lay a big loving hug from someone who’s eyes were closed. Seems simple enough…right?
My internal dialogue… ‘Oh how lovely I get to stand here with my eyes closed and allow some stranger to hug me…what about this is lovely? This feels frightening, I gotta somehow escape!’ Nothing about that sounded good to me; everyone else seemed to be thrilled to participate in such an insane act … ON PURPOSE! I mean who does that?
I froze I felt sick in my stomach and I told my dear friend Barnet that I was going to the bathroom. Anything that involved closing my eyes and not knowing who was gonna hug me, I would have no part of! I also knew, no-one would notice I had escaped; no-one except me…shit!
So planned and executed my escape! I went to the bathroom. It was in that moment I began to notice what was happening inside of me; I was frightened. Something deep stirring in me that I could not quite put my finger on but it was definitely fear…yet irrational…what was I afraid of? I am in a group of amazing people, who only want to spread love in the world and there I was running away.
I confirmed again, beyond any intellectual knowing, the power of our past and how it can have the silent grip on us and hinder our growth. When we are triggered we are faced with a choice. We can become curious or we can split off. We can grow or we can ‘leave the scene of the accident’.
If we are able to notice something is ‘off’, that madness has taken over… we can actually step on the balcony and see ourselves in our own experience; while we are ‘in’ the experience. This ability to observe allows us to see that parts of ourselves we have not yet occupied… we can then choose to move through it or split off.
In that moment, in the bathroom, I looked in the mirror and I told myself to get my silly, irrational ass back in that room and play along!
I also knew the rest of the group would not know I had left the room, so I could just stay where I was; it could be my little secret BUT I know for sure, you can’t fix a secret… running doesn’t cut it with me anymore. I am at a place in my life where, I think I am kind of over myself, putting on masks to please others, and what I think of myself matters much more than what anyone else thinks and I would know I checked out.
At that moment I made a conscious decision to visit my jiggly bits and see what is true and what is holding me back… so I hauled my ass back into that room… just in time for the activity to begin!
I played… and I played full out… kind of. I took baby steps …I was not willing to be the first to close my eyes so I chose to be a hugger. I went to someone who seemed safe and lovely and laid a big hug on her… and I meant it. I really gave myself to the moment…it felt good… progress!
Then it was time to switch…I had to close my eyes and let someone come to me. This was, for me, a moment of truth. I could cheat and peek through the slits of my eyes to see who was hugging me, that would certainly ease the intense emotion growing in my body, or I could just see what might happen.
At a young age I was molested, and then at 13 I was sexually assaulted by an older man who was drunk. It took me a long time to realize these events actually took place because I cleverly disguised them; stuffed them down and developed a very hard armor around my heart…. I spent years ‘giving myself away’ in relationships, in work and so one… you know the deal…I am not alone here! This all began to change after I went to a 10-day, Silent Vipassana Meditation Retreat (which was sheer torture, btw), was I able to allows these events back into my conscious awareness.
I am not completely sure why I was able to bring these to my awareness through that experience, but the explanation I have given myself is this: I have nurtured the soil of my subconscious for many years, allowing myself to know myself more deeply with each experience I actually ALLOW myself to experience. I hope that makes sense… I have participated in many things, sometimes full out and other times I have kept a safe emotional distance… best I can do to explain it.
This past has made me who I am today, honestly, I would not change any of it… which is good because I can’t; I can’t tell you the relief I felt when I decided to accept my past as real… it allowed for such an awaking and continuous awakening me to who I am and my own possibility.
I may as well love it, all the past that I remember and all that I don’t. I have made a list of how this has served me and another list of how I have allowed this to hold me back. The list of how it has served me is much longer… so from a rational logical place… I can only love it, it has led me to this work I do and I love. I decided it’s not fair to hate or hide the very thing that made me my best self…
This awareness has allowed me to see how opening up to my own experience has served me AND how my suit of armor has also protected me when I have actually found myself in unsafe places… so I learn from this no ‘one’ is one thing and nothing is either good or bad… it just ‘is’ and it’s up to me to decide how to translate the parts of me into my best me.
I made a choice to love this part of me because; has taught me acceptance, compassion and to trust my gut. I have been able to capitalize on my intuition, as a tool for sensing what others may be experiencing. This combined with my willingness to be vulnerable, open and transparent… creates safe places for others to explore their stories, and examine their beliefs and ask themselves this very brave question: “Is this story true …and how does this interpretation help/hinder my own evolution?”
It is allowing me to own my very experience, that has given me this ability… so wishing it was not part of my life story would deny me of my greatest gift to those I work with…so if I would not change it, then I better love it and find a way to make sense of it… and I have… as @BruceCryer says “love is never wasted.”
BACK TO THE HUG…
So there I am standing in the middle of a room of transformational speaker, trainer, coaches and game changers… a safe place right? My whole body was on red alert, my throat felt blocked and … well, I can’t explain it… Someone started hugging me, I had no idea who it was, but I was triggered. It was at this moment, I again had another round of straight talk, I had to tell myself that ‘I am not 8, I am not 13, I am 52 years old in Lake Arrowhead with amazing people’ and to just allow for the experience to go through me and heal the part of myself that still believes this is risky… my little girl.
It took me, what felt like hours, to finally allow myself to just experience the hug. I stuck to the rules I did not peek and had no idea who was hugging me. And for a very short moment, I felt that lovely, generous hug.
I share this story because it was upon reflection on this 5-minute activity that I was able to hold myself in a moment and ask myself if what I was believing was true for me anymore… and that caused me to look at other stories I hold so true as interpretations or justifications of the way I do my life.
Whoa… that’s a killer …and it is liberating. This was a Massively Human™ moment for me… the vulnerability is tough. However; when I was receptive to the transformation, I became self-compassionate and oddly enough I felt strong!
This willingness to examine my dark places…allows me to feel real, true compassion for others. I was able to move through the story, on the spot, in that moment, and experience real, true loving connection.
So… the Porcupine… It came to me, at beautiful lake Arrowhead, that my spirit animal is, in fact, a Porcupine. Why? Well, imagine a family of porcupines, on a cold winter night. Staying close enough to keep warm, but not too close to get poked. That’s me! And underneath is this soft vulnerable belly part, and that is me too.
Give us a share 🙂
About the author
My name is Kathleen Seeley and for the past 25 years, I have used my curiosity to create safe spaces for individuals to examine their thinking, to face their disturbances, to question their stories and through their own awareness breakthrough limiting patterns and beliefs to unlock their potential. To be Massively Human in their life and their work.