“The way of love is not a subtle argument,
the door there is devastation.
Birds make great sky circles of their freedom,
how do they do it?
they are given wings.”
This is a piece I wrote a year ago, and I feel it is important to share it now. I wrote it for you and for me. I genuinely hope that brings you some inspiration, beauty and love.
Please take some time, if you wish, to relax, drink some tea or put some music on while you read.
I finally landed in Peru after five years.
I live in a little family hotel that will be my home in the following weeks. I can’t express my gratitude for the Andes’ magnificence, power, beauty and magic. I came here to do a pivotal piece of inner and spiritual work related to my mother’s death and alchemise the wound of abandonment and the orphan archetype.
I discovered recently that the WHO defines as orphans people who lost their mother during childhood.
Funnily enough, as a lovely family runs the hotel where I am staying, I feel protected and safe, and I got a homey feeling. And they are taking such good care of me and feeding me nourishing food that I also feel as if they adopted me!
I am reading a book about daughters without mothers. It says that some alchemists would describe an orphan stone as a philosopher’s stone.
It is always possible to transform grief, anger and pain into something else.
We can create something beautiful from a terrible loss. And we can raise from our ashes like a phoenix.
Life grows from compost.
Lotus flowers bloom in the mud.
I always remember experiencing a deep sense of excruciating loneliness that I could not explain. It was like a hole in my chest, and nothing could fill it. Sometimes, I sensed this void as a desolate and barren landscape inside me, and nothing could comfort me or hold me. There was no life or hope there.
At times, I felt as if I was free-falling, and there was nothing under me to catch me. I often had the experience of floating in a gigantic cosmo with no roots or direction.
I was starved for love and acceptance, and I often accepted crumbs, like a hungry animal, from people who could not love me.
I looked for my mother everywhere: in the eyes of addicts and thieves whom I wanted to save, in the raging hands of lovers who hit me, in ecstatic experiences with drugs. I searched for my mother’s love in the sweetness of giant cakes that I ingurgitated, at the bottom of whiskey bottles, in teachers whom I put on a pedestal, in the kind words of a stranger.
I have been a victim, a rescuer and a persecutor.
Today, I am grateful for the images that came through my body. It was often very uncomfortable to be present with these feelings and be them on purpose, allowing the fire of initiation to cook me. These pictures and qualities helped me to know myself better and the places where I got stuck, unloving or lost. They enhanced my imagination so that I could create new metaphors while playing with my physical sensations and visceral feelings.
We can water the desert with our tears.
Falling can become flying.
We can plant flowers and tend gently to their roots.
We can be the guardians of our imagination and our sacred inner garden.
We can light a candle in the dark.
There is always a story to tell.
When somebody loses a mother (or a parent and/or a sibling) during early childhood, they have a true hero’s and heroine’s journey ahead. It may take a long time to bring balm to deep wounds. This can also happen when a parent is emotionally absent, depressed or an addict. When a parent dies or gives up living fully, children may follow those footprints and feel as if they are not entirely here, or they may sense a part of them that wants to die or cannot fit into this world. They can also become sick at the same age as their parent died. That happened to me; I had cancer at the same age when my mother died.
These dramatic circumstances in people’s lives can often become the root of various types of addiction.
Furthermore, as humans severed the organic connection with the natural world, the conditions and patterns above may also be known to people with a more harmonious upbringing.
We all need to re-create and honour our relationship with our Cosmic Mother.
In industrialised countries’ individualist and narcissistic views, we think that everything revolves around personal feelings and experiences. We forget that we are embedded in the broader Web of Life upon which our existence depends.
I love the concept of Ainy in the Andes: it refers to reciprocity and mutuality. Everything is connected; we cannot take more than we give.
The Andes are where I can feel in my body, bones and cells that the Earth is my mother and I belong to the Web of Life. I always felt so loved and welcomed here. I remember walking here many years ago and imagining that I was a toddler learning to walk. Here, I also learned to fly, feel lighter and trust benevolent forces around me.
I am genuinely grateful for all the somatic, nervous system repair, martial arts and trauma-informed work I have done in the last months and years. It gave me a deep foundation to be present powerfully with what is happening in my system and be in a relationship with grief and other challenging emotions. I can relate to parts of me that I neglected, banned, censored, rejected, hated, shamed, numbed and shut down. More life, blood flow, and expansion are available in my tissues thanks to this work.
Thanks to the Andean cosmology and the local uninterrupted ancestral wisdom, I hope to further strengthen my work and land more deeply in my medicine.
And, I must say, in the Andes, I feel that I am on a great adventure. My inner six-year-old totally loves this feeling of discovery and being in awe in front of the magnificence of these mountains, the mysterious sacred temples, the crystal clear waters, and the eagles’ flight and their wings of light.
I sit here in reverence for Life, and I bow to the miracle of being alive in a human body.
The other day I went to visit a lagoon above 4250 mt altitudes. I suddenly felt the presence of death and, once again, the terror of my dad dying. I read in the book about motherless daughters that women in adult life, especially if they are only children, can become quite obsessed with the loss of the other parent.
While walking, I sensed an urge to talk to the land. I spoke to Mother Earth about my fears, and I felt held in her loving embrace. I was not alone. I was with crystal clear waters, ancient rocks shaped like pumas or giant turtles, soft mossy ground, peaceful cows, small bright flowers drinking sunlight, eagles roaming free and some walking companions. At one point, I asked one of them to hold my hand. He did it with pleasure, and his warmth reached my heart and soothed my nervous system. I sensed the softening in my chest, my shoulder blades opening up, and more space around my lungs. I felt that these powerful experiences helped me loosen up the grip of the story ‘I am alone’ or ‘there is no support for me’.
There was also a younger woman on this walk whom I misjudged recently. It has been potent to apologise to her, also on behalf of the women of my generation. It became an opportunity for healing the wounded feminine. Sometimes as midlife women, we can become irritated, judgmental, condescending, or jealous of the younger ones. As she was struggling at one point, she gave me permission to support her as an older sister. I finally felt so comfortable in my 45 years old body and was able to help her. I would not trade that back for more youth!
I felt that I love who I am becoming.
I felt proud that I did not become bitter despite all the struggles.
I felt my wisdom rooted and grounded. I felt my power.
I felt how depression and the last difficult five years became medicine.
Because of all of that suffering, I learned to be an edge-walker, dance with polarities, and explore darkness and light.
This walk in the High Andes has been a pilgrimage, prayer and offering to Mother Earth and all my relations. We were close to a lake at one point, and I felt struck by grief. I experienced the connection between the waters in my womb (and my emotions) and how we pollute our planet’s waters. I felt the loss of bio-diversity, animals’ life and how we, as humans, can be terribly aggressive against Mother Earth. We need to take care of our waters, within and without.
The water always moves. When I sensed that I was getting stuck, I moved my hips gently. And I said to myself that I did not need to carry all the weight and suffering of the world. As my friend said, water also teaches us to travel light. There is no need to overwhelm our nervous system. I remembered the power of choice and the concept we use in somatics called titration: we can slow down, put the foot on the brake and take smaller doses. I can see that it took me my entire life to learn and practice this.
As an Italian traditionally used to drama, I was often swamped by big emotions and sometimes expressed them melodramatically!
I came to Peru to complete the mourning process for my mother’s death. This is not linear.
In the past, I released her, sang for her, made a funeral, loved her eternal presence in my heart, wrote poems and re-parented my inner child.
Now I embrace a deeper layer of grief and loss while also landing fully into my body. And I give thanks that healing (as in becoming whole), luckily at my age, does not need to be dramatic, heavily cathartic or a struggle. There are more subtleties, and I welcome gentleness, humour, pleasure and ease in the transformative process.
Moreover, there is something precious in intentionally allowing suppressed grief and anger to the surface. It is a portal into feeling more alive, establishing more intimacy with oneself and all creation and welcoming more joy.
I had to be away from the Andes for five years to feel in these mountains that it is as if I had never left. I thank the tough last five years and recognise that they became necessary experiences in my path and part of my wisdom. The struggles became strengths.
In the last few weeks, I spoke to many courageous women navigating the challenges of midlife. Some are caring for an ageing parent or their children.
Some are struggling with a chronic illness. Others are coming to terms that they will not become mothers in this lifetime. Many put on hold their dreams for too long. They want to come of out the shadow and shine their light.
Most of them need to slow down, stop the addiction of being busy and face unresolved core issues. They need to spend time with themselves and listen carefully to their soul whispering.
These women know that there is a lot at stake if they don’t do it and don’t get out of the way of their own transformative process. Some told me explicitly that it is a matter of life and death. They must take care of themselves.
They all told me they want to be seen, validated, supported, and break free from old patterns! Not only that. They also said they wanted to feel a sense of togetherness and share their experience with midlife.
Most importantly, they told me that they know a lot of tricks to distract themselves:
– take care of their partner
– be busy with another course
– numb uncomfortable feelings with food, tobacco, alcohol and a good dose of Netflix
– be kind to anyone, pets included, but not to themselves!
We all know this game, right? Long term, it can become significantly detrimental to our health. Therefore, all this needs to stop!
Obviously, all the above survival strategies came to Life in the first place in our Life for an excellent reason. These patterns that dissociated us from our bodies and deeper feelings protected us, especially when we were children.
It is time to give ourselves that best juicy slice of the pie with no regret, guilt or shame!
I imagine that you may resonate with many things you read here today 🙂
To conclude this blog post, I would like to propose a little practice.
I invite you to go somewhere you love and revere as sacred, close to a river, the sea, a forest, a mountain or a meadow.
Ask for permission to enter the space.
Take some time to pause and listen.
Make sure that you can be undisturbed and you feel safe.
Allow your senses to open and up and expand.
Once you feel ready, open up your heart to this landscape.
Talk to the land.
Feel the support underneath you.
Connect to Mother Earth.
Unleash your imagination with no censorship.
Share your anguish, worries, losses, despair, and fears with Her.
Tell Her about your dreams, hopes, joy, visions, prayers and passions.
Do not rush this process. If the mind gets loud, take a big breath, give thanks and refocus gently on your conversation with the Web of Life. There is no right, no wrong here.
Give yourself permission to receive answers, insights, and images.
How can you relate to the life forms around you?
What is the land mirroring back to you?
How can you breathe in some comfort and delight?
What can you offer as a sign of gratitude?
Which story do you want to tell?
Thank you for taking the time to read this long piece.
Feel free to let me know how it lands.
I wish you all a good day.
May you follow your heart and dreams and spread your wings while rooted.