I didn't have a picture of a deer so here's a selfie with my dog - the deer chaser! "Both the light and the dark may be loved to create gentleness. . . .Gentleness has the power to touch the hearts of wounded beings." (Medicine Cards, p53)
Deer medicine is centered on being gentle. The power of this medicine can melt away fear, anger, and indifference. "Persistent love and gentleness [can] cause the meltdown of demon[s]." (Medicine Cards, p53)
And I'm not talking about demons flying around out there somewhere, I'm talking about the ones I've brought along inside my soul, the ones that tie me to fate due to circumstance and the ones that will remain for as long as I choose ignorance.
What are your demons? Do they control your life or are you in the driver seat?
As a young child, I learned to get by, to make due and to shut out as much disappointment as possible. I honed my ability to alienate myself from disappointment and maintained a stubborn insistence on being strong and independent. This alienation caused me to go for months, maybe years without realizing that my heart was breaking at the end of my marraige.
It is hard to be gentle with yourself when you are so disconnected from your own heart that you are not even aware that it is breaking. It is hard to have a healthy relationship when you don't even know how to take care of your own heart.
Many times when I ask all the cells of my body to be present, a wave of emotions arise and tears begin to flow. If I am in a safe place - home, a yoga class, a therapy session - I can let myself process and cry. On some days the waves come at not so great times, I find myself teary-eyed in front of my laptop at work hoping no one stops by to talk to me until I have an opportunity to get myself together. Sometimes I go to the bathroom to gather myself. When I'm having a really bad day I might not make it to work at all or I may leave earlier than I had planned because my emotions keep spiraling out of control and I'm exhausted by trying to hold them back.
This doesn't make sense to me. I don't understand and it makes it even harder to be gentle with myself. There's that voice in my head that still taunts me. "What is your problem? You are such a freaking baby. There is absolutely no reason you should be upset or feel alone at this point in your life. You are so pathetic." This is a pretty moderate tirade, there are times I say things to myself that I would never say to another person.
The medicine of deer is helping me remember that a persistent gentleness of spirit can sooth the soul and help heal my heart. I'm trying to be gentle with myself even when my feelings don't make sense. It is difficult to accept that losing my father has affected me so deeply. I told myself for most of my life that it was 'No big deal' that dad left for work one day and when he came home months later he was in a wheel chair, couldn't talk, couldn't write, and was paralyzed on his right side. It had to be no big deal at the time, denial was the only way that small child survived. But if it was really 'No big deal,' it doesn't make sense that I'm crying right now just thinking about losing my dad, just starting to process and accept that I lost my dad on that fateful day in April 1976.
It will be alright. I'm working on having the persistent faith and love that deer has - the kind of love that can melt away fear. When my emotions escalate, when those old feelings of loss and abandonment are triggered, my head pounds and my arms ache. I feel nauseated and begin to edge toward having an anxiety attack. I feel the helplessness of my dear child that was left alone not because she didn't deserve love, not because she was worthless, but because the whole family was overwhelmed and there was no one to help her grieve and accept the loss of her father so her body shut the pain away for 30 years.
The sorrow and pain are no longer shut away. I don't understand but I can't deny what I feel and the only explanation that seems plausible, that makes sense, is that these are old feelings, powerful feelings of a small child. The intensity of my emotions often does not match the present situation. It is so frustrating and exhausting. I thought I would be able to process them and 'go back' to being that carefree girl I was during school and in my 20s and the first part of my 30s.
Not so much. That carefree, fun-loving girl is still with me but I'm realizing that the young child who lost her father at 4 1/2 years old is still with me too and the wall that protected that child from the pain that was so great that it made her long for death is pretty thin these days and I'm discovering I have a lot of work to do to get to a place where I can better manage and process those intense feelings.
Please let there be an end to the suffering, to the fear, to the intense emotions. I'm not running from or avoiding my negative feelings anymore. As I've mentioned in previous posts, I'm learning to sit with the pain. In week 7 of our year long journey, deer medicine reminds us to be gentle with ourselves and others and encourages us "to find the gentleness of spirit that heals all wounds." (Medicine Cards, p54)
We are all doing the best we can. May the kindness and gentleness of deer be with you every step of your journey, guiding you to the life of your dreams and helping you love your personal demons until they melt away. Stop judging yourself and others. Focus on acting from love despite the fear and anger.