We were never meant to do any of this alone. Not our joy, our grief, our rage, our deepest expression of love. We weren’t meant to try and process our personal and collective pain and trauma on our own. We are not supposed to live without touch, without gazing into each other’s eyes, without the warmth of each other’s presence, without long conversations that end in an embrace. We cannot remember who we are if our bare feet don’t touch the earth, if we are not in relationship with the land.
In some ways, we are more connected than ever, with the world quite literally at our fingertips through the touch of a screen. At the same time, we have never been so separate and lonely. As someone who has always walked the line between being introverted and isolated, my increasingly virtual world has been both a saving grace and a sneaky enabler. I can feel a form of connection, interaction, and a sense of feeling witnessed in my expression, and I can learn, through a narrow lens, about what is going on in the world… but it is all from a very safe distance. Words and photos are carefully curated, and lack the depth that occurs when two bodies are in each other’s field, feeling into each other. Feedback is not immediate – I can’t feel the pain, joy, confusion or arousal that I invoke in someone’s body, and they cannot feel mine if I am afraid to express it. I am left feeling simultaneously full and completely empty.
The narrative that tells us that self-love and self-care are all we need to be healed and whole is doing a great disservice to humanity at large, because is only a partial truth. To be sure, these two practices are essential and build important foundations for our wellbeing – it is important to know how to be alone, to love yourself fiercely, to lay down boundaries that create the kind of safety that allows you to connect and love freely. But these are only strands of a much wider web. I have struggled my way through some really heavy shit, all alone, and likely dragged everyone around me through my muck in the process. We need self-care, yes, but we also need community care.
Healing happens in relationship. The relationship could be with our own body, with lovers, with a river, with friends and family, with an illness, with plant medicine, with literally every person we encounter. Relationships challenge us in ways that all the meditation and flower baths and cancelled plans could ever do. They hold up a mirror to show us what we cannot see on our own – what needs tending, what wounds are still oozing in un-metabolized pain. They can hold us with grace and love while we fall apart, and provide safe space to mend.
I have felt the medicinal balm of sitting with a tree, a dear friend, in sacred circle, and dancing wildly amidst sweaty bodies. I learned volumes about myself from lovers who have held me with tender reverence, and ones who did not. I hear the whispers of my ancestors, the spirits of the land, the messengers in the dreamtime who all help light my path. Illness has taught me to rest when I need to. Being witnessed in my sadness, anger, confusion, pleasure, tears, in my wild beautiful and messy expression, is a baptism. I am feeling the way that letting my walls down is allowing in exquisite connection. I still, in part, hold the belief that letting all of me be fully seen will result in total rejection. I’ve been testing these waters lately, opening, expanding, pulling back the curtain… and being lovingly accepted by some truly beautiful humans. Even still, I keep thinking that it won’t last, maybe they are just being polite, maybe when I go a layer deeper they will finally leave… but there is always someone ready to show up, hold space, support, and reflect.
Let’s help each other through this wild ride of life. Can we witness and hold space for others in their fully embodied expression of raw emotions, and expand our capacity to touch our own deepest grief and love? Can we say how we feel, now? Don’t put off saying I love you, I need support, I appreciate you, I’m angry, I’m lonely, I need to talk. Let us open the pathways inside of us to let our fullest expression move through our bodies, and hold each other in these tender places.