Bearing the Work
Exhausted after our first foray into #shamanism, mom and I take the long drive back to her house in stunned silence. Mostly.
‘I was so afraid he’d tell me my spirit animal is a chicken.” She laughs at her self-deprecation, because that’s how mom deals with all stress. “What a relief.”
Her soul piece is a two year old whose tyrannical father returns from World War II. He breaks her spirit with physical, emotional, and verbal abuse. But my soul piece is far harder to understand. Mentor found me in a cave, around five years old, a large mama grizzly bear tending to my needs. She tucked me in, fed me warm soup, kept a warm fire so I wouldn’t catch a chill. She told me I could stay as long as I needed.
Bear people are nurturers. Strong of heart and body. Huggers and hibernators. Connection and affection from mom is key to our survival. We focus on one thing at a time, multi-tasking is a bitch, and any perceived threat to our children triggers rage. And our rage is terrifying. Which is why we work so hard to control our anger.
Also, don’t mess with my food.
The spirit animal makes sense for me. But Mom isn’t sure what caused the break. My mind races. A repressed memory, maybe?
No. Not a repressed memory—a horrifying one.
Three weeks later, I’m in the hospital for day surgery. Because I opted for an epidural, I’m well medicated to keep me relaxed. That means I don’t feel any embarrassment for how much I talk, and the procedure goes well despite my excited and loud lecture on the history of anaesthesia. A warm and smiling man wheels me to the recovery room.
The memory slams in from all sides. I’m six years old, and a dentist pulls out my adult tooth. Without anaesthetics.
I scream. The pain is unbearable. His assistant holds me down as he wrenches at my jaw. They both tell me to stop overreacting. Terrible crunching noises. The taste of blood. I feel like I’m drowning.
My adult self panics. I thrash on the bed.
‘He’s taking my tooth!’
A flurry of activity. Voices trying to reach me through the trauma. I’m straddling memory and reality, screaming for help.
My eyes open. A grizzly bear stands at the foot of my recovery bed.
‘Well done,’ she says.
But it only exists between dreaming and waking. A nurse comes over and lets me know I needed sedation, but I’ll be ready to go home soon.
Re-integration is not meant to be easy; it’s meant to be #healing. I used to remember the dentist trauma from a distance, watching it happen without emotion. But I re-felt the terror and heartbreak. Everything that strong, brave little girl survived. Mom remembers the day I came home, holding my little tooth, still crying and in horrible pain. A different dentist than usual. Father stayed in the waiting room at his request.
The memory resonates for months. I hold the little girl, who screamed in the chair and escaped to her grizzly mama, in my heart. She’s home. The first of many pieces to return. My first step toward wholeness. One correct turn in navigating the labyrinth of #narcissisticchildhoodabuse and #generationaltrauma.