Hero: one on a journey who, through great feats of courage, overcomes seemingly impossible challenges in order to reach his or her destination
I know, that word journey has become as ubiquitous as trauma in discussions orbiting the holy grail of heart centered, present moment living. I promise you, as a trauma survivor on a healing journey I will use lots of words more platitudinous than those, but I also promise to challenge, comfort and entertain you with stories and morals from my implausibly inspiring story. Why, you ask? Well, for one, a quarter million people have already heard and seen someone else’s grim fairy tale version, and fair is fair. For another, I’ve recited pieces of the plot to a multifarious audience over the past four years and am repeatedly exhorted to tell the rest. Finally, WTF else am I gonna do as a fifty year old former homeschool mom? Just because I have an Opera BA doesn’t mean The Met is hiring Sopranos. And CoVid has made things a little slow in the restaurant industry so even with Wolfgang Puck on my resume, my chef’s degree won’t emancipate me.
True, I did find the money my ex husband (DH 🍆💀) was “parking” in hidden accounts so yeah, I’ve got a roof over my head, but a girl’s gotta have a gig, ya know?
No lie, that I survived qualifies as a miracle in and of itself. That I didn’t get mutilated, addicted or put in jail for more than a few hours makes me a Champion of the Olympic Divorce Games. People want to know my secrets, and since reading and writing are my therapy and connection is my crack, launching a blog designed to inspire and connect with trauma survivors on their healing journey feels like the inevitable fulfillment of destiny.
I’ll be sharing my own epic story and the lessons I’ve learned on my journey, the gurus, authors, podcasters and artists who sustain me, and a toolbox crammed full of coping mechanisms, healing modalities, and life hacks gleaned from fifty years of personal experience with trauma and Complex PTSD (CPTSD). Your participation is eagerly anticipated, both in the comments section following each post and in the forum, where you can create or join an existing forum to connect with other Super Heroes on the mend.
Alright, enough with the introductions. Let’s get to it.
I want to begin with a discussion of Present Moment Living, because this shit will save your life. When the gods and heroes of your past have obliterated your future, it becomes undeniable that neither past nor future ever existed outside of your imagination, which leaves you with nothing but a whole lot of cognitive dissonance and… the Present Moment. As you gaze about yourself at a present you could never have conceived, you finally understand that if nothing you believed then was real, then nothing you believe NOW is real, which means the whole thing truly is a projection and you might as well learn to operate the camera and make the movie you want to star in. So I did.
Present Moment Living is a life approach I developed to facilitate my post-divorce survival. It is based on my own experiences with the principles set forth by A Course in Miracles, Eckhart Tolle, Sadhguru, and Joseph Campbell, and treats as a given that time and form are illusions, only the present exists, and our purpose on this planet is to become conscious of and attuned to our higher selves while trapped in the form of a body within the construct of time. Present Moment Living frees us from both the painful burdens of a “remembered” past and the fearful anxieties of an imagined future, arming us with the courage to live in the Now, where we hold the power to manifest our Hero’s Destiny.
Since Joseph Campbell published The Hero with a Thousand Faces in 1949 there has been a burgeoning awareness of the unifying power of myth, in particular the myth of The Hero’s Journey prevalent in virtually every culture throughout history. The mythical theme of The Hero’s Journey, as detailed by Campbell, is universally present in the stories humans share because it presents us with a model for how to live, how to rise to the challenges inherent in the human experience, how to embrace the cyclical interconnectedness and universality of life itself and to use this knowledge to our advantage.
From The Wizard of Oz to The Lion King, Star Wars, Little Miss Sunshine and the Marvel Universe, Hollywood repeatedly uses the archetypal hero’s journey to form an emotional connection with its audience. In spite of (or because of) the fact that we are unconsciously awash in endless depictions of the Hero’s Journey, we live in a society deeply lacking in embodied cultural myth, and many would argue that in this scientific age, cultural myth is irrelevant. Mr Campbell strongly disagrees, as does world religion expert (and former nun) Karen Armstrong who in her book, A Short History of Myth, says:
“Mythology is not about opting out of this world, but about enabling us to live more intensely within it. It is an art form that points beyond history to what is timeless in human existence, helping us to get beyond the chaotic flux of random events, and glimpse the core of reality. Human beings fall easily into despair, and from the very beginning we invented stories that enabled us to place our lives in a larger setting that revealed an underlying pattern, and gave us a sense that, against all the depressing and chaotic evidence to the contrary, life had meaning and value.”
Okay, so maybe we do need myth — but what exactly defines a myth?
A myth is the story of a person or group of people who undertake a journey so profoundly transformative that the story takes on a life of its own, growing and changing with the telling, until it becomes an integral part of the culture. Not only the words but the story itself are transformed into a common language which penetrates the cultural subconscious. Myth telling is an inherited, folkloric art form that serves as a guide, marking the path to our best lives.
Trauma researcher Brené Brown tells us that humans are hardwired to learn from story, and for thousands of years we have. Homosapiens have a long tradition of bonding and communicating through the ritual of embodied myth, from costumed shamans reenacting tribal legends around a fire, to parents reading aloud to their children at bedtime. Nowadays there are no such shamans, and there’s not a lot of reading happening either. In our world of endless distractions and entertainment, story, myth and child rearing are largely outsourced to Hollywood, and mass entertainment has all but replaced the time families once spent together sharing, practicing, and embodying the ancestral myths that hold the secrets to a life well lived. We have unwittingly ceded authorship of our collective narrative.
Why does this matter? Because we are human, and in the absence of constructive myths to subtly guide our subconscious, the mind in search of patterns and predictability will invent and respond to its own.
Here’s a warning: not all myths are beneficial. The Scarcity Myth, which Global activist Lynn Twist calls “the great lie,” is a child of the Ego (as defined by Eckhart Tolle) and the driving force behind our current capitalist economy. The Scarcity Myth tells us there is not enough of anything to go around; not enough time, not enough money, not enough food, not enough love, not enough Oxygen, not enough kindness, not enough beauty. Perceived scarcity is the myth at the subconscious root of modern society, and there is mounting evidence that it is the most destructive of all modern day myths.
Brené Brown tells us the Scarcity Myth “thrives in a culture where everyone is hyper aware of lack. Everything from safety to love to money to resources feels restricted or lacking. We spend inordinate amounts of time calculating how much we have, want, and don’t have, and how much everyone else has, needs, and wants.” The Scarcity Myth feeds on cultures of shame, comparison, and disengagement. It makes us believe the only way out is to fight like hell before someone else gets what little there is to be had and we’re left with nothing. And worst of all, the Scarcity Myth teaches us that vulnerability is weakness.
Dr. Brown defines vulnerability as the embodiment of uncertainty, risk, and exposure. According to her copious research, not only is vulnerability not weakness,
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability and authenticity” which cannot be embraced if Shame, the evil child of the Scarcity Myth, is suffocating our sense of worthiness and connection.
Brené contends that “if we’re going to find our way out of shame and back to each other, vulnerability is the path, and courage is the light.” Which means we’re gonna need fresh batteries for our flashlights before we set out on this frightening path. “We have to own and engage with our vulnerability and feel the emotions that come with it.” Which sounds scary as hell, especially if you’ve been stuffing those emotions in a box your whole life.
Fear is the traumatized inner child reliving the nightmares of our “remembered” past: the painful blows of giants, the searing breath of dragons, the shame of censure, the terror of betrayal. It is this traumatized child who hesitates, ducks beneath the bedclothes and begs to refuse the call of self discovery. But this child exists only in a “remembered” past which is totally without power, being no more real than your imagined future. The Heroes Journey reminds us that the gift of fear is the Courage we find at our inner most core when nothing else is left. The courage to face that child, the courage to hold that child, the courage to heal that child, and finally the courage to release that child and live wholly in the Present.
Maya Angelou calls courage “the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you cannot practice any other virtue consistently.” I would counter that courage is the most important of all virtues because with courage you CAN practice every virtue consistently, including the virtues of self accountability, self love, self acceptance, self healing, and self actualization. Whether you know it or not, you do have the courage to heal, and I’m here to help you find it.