The ally we have in Turtle medicine is as powerful and bountiful as the earth — “It does not matter what situation you have created: ask for assistance, and abundance will follow.” (Medicine Cards, p78)
Above: I stumbled upon the turtle in the top picture on November 2, 2009 while traveling in Greece and it was on December 5, 2009 that I was compelled to stop to take the picture of the orange trees that lined the road on the Peloponnese peninsula in Greece. I was completely amazed by the bounty of the earth - a whole valley of orange trees bending to the earth, weighted down by hundreds or thousands of oranges in December!
WTF. When things fall, something like that anyway. 2017 was my WTF/WTFA year (What the F*$^ / When Things Fall Apart). I came to a place where I was unsure of who I was and had no idea of how to move forward, what to do next. All because of a boy. He appeared to be a man — a tall, dark, handsome man with big hands and a lovely smile that could melt my heart. I appeared to be a woman — an adventurous, smart, fun-loving, strong woman who could take care of herself.
There was something about him that touched my soul. He reminded me of the father I had lost so many years ago and that little girl inside of me felt the same. She is so trusting and so loving and wants so much. Dammit. It still makes me cry, that little girl still misses and wants her dad. She still feels abandoned anytime a relationship with a man comes to an end and it was not her choice. Especially when there is silence, especially when the other person ‘disappears’ because it is too similar to the silence and confusion that were a constant in my dear child’s life after dad left for work one day and never came home.
I’m still trying to explain to her that he is gone. The father she knew has been gone for many, many years — over 44 to be exact. The disabled man who became my father during my teenage and young adult years to the present, has only been gone for 3 months (David Thomas Smith — April 3, 1943-March 1, 2020). It’s not as confusing to me at this point but I still am not sure how to explain this grief that I have been carrying around in my body for the past 30-40 years and the affects it has on me to this day.
I have been aware of this stored grief for roughly 15 years now and at times I grow weary of all the tears and all the years and all the men that have let me be — for better or for worse. They are content to stay even when I go.
When my marriage fell apart and these feelings were triggered, I could at least come up with logical reasons for why I was so upset, why I wanted to die. I had been with my husband for almost 15 years and we had been married for nearly 10. I depended on him almost exclusively and I trusted him completely. It seemed ‘reasonable’ that losing my best friend, lover and the person that I had been building a life with for over a decade would be extremely painful and would require ‘rebuilding’ my foundation. It made ‘sense,’ I could find a storyline that helped me understand my intense emotions and it provided solid ground even if that ‘solid ground’ caused a painful face plant, at least there was an explanation.
When I fell apart in March 2017, it made no sense. I had gone from a fully functioning, successful, somewhat content, single woman to feeling like a helpless, unloveable, abandoned child all because this new relationship that had very little grounding in my day to day life was collapsing. It made no sense and instead of a painful face plant, I was free falling. Even when I knew these feelings came from that little girl inside of me and even though I knew they were lying to me at a certain level, they were bewildering and overwhelming.
I had written a frickin’ book to process this crap and ‘figure it out’. A cathartic mass of 140,000 words and I had convinced myself that I was so much wiser, had more self awareness and was in a place where I could make ‘healthy’ decisions when it came to relationships. Maybe it was hubris, more likely it was simply naivete, still so unfamiliar with how to manage my inner and outer worlds and still unaware of how powerful the emotions of that devastated little girl were/are. I had promised myself, promised my heart that I was never going to allow myself to get to that place of emotional desperation again, I was never going to allow the end of a relationship with a man cause me to long for death.
I found out that my reason, my awareness and my intellect were no match for the primal pull and the desperate hope of an abandoned child. I found myself right back where I had been during the dark emotional times of my marriage crumbling away — the intense, painful emotions of that scared, lonely little girl were back.
It is so easy
To want and wish
And want and want and want some more
I am heartbroken
How can I be so
how I feel
and so unsure
Free falling for months
No longer comforted
by the pain
of being me
Still scared of being
So little faith
and yet foolish
enough to give
all of me
to the wolf
with the red roses
I did not ask
for his throat
for his eyes
for his teeth
I asked to be saturated
I asked not to be
He gave me the first
half of my wish
and I am not alone
haunts my soul,
challenging the knowledge
of my bones.
I know what I feel
I know what it could mean
I gave you all of me
with no hesitation
I walked off the ledge
of all I knew
simply for a taste of you
A morsel of eternity
from a mere mortal
trying to escape the pain
he did not choose
If it was only one night
was perfectly fine with you
- C. Joyce, May 30, 2017
As I learn to sit with my feelings, Mother Earth has been my main support. Nature has always been my temple, the place I feel the most awe and the most connection. When I reached a point when I could no longer ‘hold it together’ and I simply let myself fall apart, Mother Earth supported me. I had grown too tired, too weary, to uphold the pretense that I knew what to do, I wasn't even sure who I was — I didn’t recognize myself.
It is the support of Turtle medicine that carried me through, held my being in a warm embrace as the person I knew fell apart. When I could no longer fight off the desire to die, I collapsed to the floor and sobbed.
Something inside of me
I gave into the fear and pain
I laid on the floor
in the fetal position
I admitted defeat
I am powerless
I cannot move you
I have been
in this place
I will be ok
- C. Joyce, April 25, 2017
I was so lost and confused and heartbroken. I was so mad and frustrated and bewildered. How could I have fallen so hard, so quickly? How could I be so foolish? How could I be so naive, so careless with my heart? How did I let myself trust someone that I had only met a few weeks prior? Why did I even think there was a chance for a long-term relationship when this guy’s life was a hot mess — plenty of red flags that I pretty much ignored because it was such a lovely idea and his presence made that little girl inside of me so happy, so giddy. She foolishly believed that she had found a replacement for her father and I went right along with the script by foolishly entertaining and falling in love with the idea that maybe he was my ‘true’ prince charming even though I had ‘given up’ on such silly, fantastical ideas and even though I did not know this guy well enough to have any idea if he had what it takes to build the life of his dreams and engage in a relationship.
It probably doesn’t help that I had no idea how to keep my center, maintain my ground when I began to engage in that relationship. And it definitely does not help that I tend to be attracted to guys that aren’t very emotionally expressive since this is my ‘comfort’ zone. Having grown up in an emotional vacuum to a large extent, I often feel comfortable ‘instantly’ with others that are not very connected to/with their emotions. I use to think this was a good sign. “It is so easy to be around him, it feels so familiar,” I would think to myself and feel encouraged. Now I’m realizing that ‘comfortable’ is not necessarily a good thing when you’ve grown up in an environment that was not supportive or even aware of emotional needs.
I’ve learned that just because I am more in touch with my emotions and I am willing to share as openly and honestly as possible in a relationship, it does not mean that the other will share openly and honestly. In fact, my emotions, my vulnerability can be a threat to those that are closed down to their emotions.
“It is hard for the unemotional, rational type[s] to be around someone who is emotional because it awakens [their] rejected emotions. Since this aspect of [their] personality is not allowed expression, the stimulus must be removed at all costs. If it’s not removed, [their] rejected self will awaken to the point where [they] can no longer keep it in check — a point that seems dangerous to the ego’s concept of self.”
(Eastern Body, Western Mind: Psychology and the Chakra System as a Path to the Self, p117)
Maybe that is why 2 of the last 3 guys I’ve dated pretty much have no interest in talking to me or being my friend at this point. Maybe they don’t feel it’s worth the effort or they don’t understand why I would ever bother or desire to be in their lives so they just shut down, stop engaging in my life with no explanation. I can come up with theories and all kinds of reasons. I have no idea if they are accurate but I figure if they don’t want to share and communicate with me then I can go with whatever storyline I prefer.
It is so hard for that little girl inside me to understand. She is not familiar with the ways of the world, she thinks it is because she is unworthy of love. It is her fault. She is fated to be alone and in pain. This is when I tell her how beautiful and amazing she is. How she allows me to love easily and deeply, I just need to learn how to stay grounded even when I’m falling in love or falling out of love or free falling.
When things fall apart we can call upon Turtle medicine and Mother Earth to calm and sooth us as well as teach us how to protect ourselves. “Like Turtle, you also have shields that protect you from hurt, envy, jealousy, and the unconsciousness of others. Turtle teaches you, through its habit patterns, how to use protection. If you are bothered by the actions or words of others, it is time to go inside yourself and honor your feelings. If you are attacked, it is time to give a warning snap.” (MC, p77)
It is hard to explain the comfort I feel when I allow Mother Earth to embrace me, when I allow all my cares and worries to fall away. When I stop trying to ‘figure things out’, Turtle medicine is near. There’s a comforting certainty in the earth, water and salt of the sea that forms the essence of Turtle medicine and fills it with love and connection. No truth is more poignant, no love more nurturing. I’m drawn to those with Turtle medicine, I feel safe by their side. I know they will always want the best for me. My first fiddle teacher carries this rare medicine. He will always hold a special place in my heart.
My mom holds this medicine as well, for others at least. She’s unwavering in her love and acceptance for her children and in the care she is willing to shower on her grandchildren and great grandchildren. She has done the best she can and she has done more for me than I could every repay. She gave me roots of unconditional love and set me free to fly.
I’ve stumbled and leaped and crawled and scrambled, still unsure of how to ‘take flight’. I’ve made it so far and stood still at the same time. Chairos engulfing chronos, feelings buried alive never die. There was no face plant, no concrete to catch me after my heart break in March 2017. It was the power of Mother Earth that offered a warm embrace. It’s hard to imagine a warm embrace when you are free falling. It is hard to learn to fly when you don't have wings but with Mother Earth, there is abundance if we learn to open up to her bounty.
When we begin to let go of what we think we are, how we think life should be and trust that the earth will support us and meet our needs, we tap into Turtle medicine and discover,
“You are not a victim, and you are not helpless, no matter how much it may seem like this is the case in your present situation. To right the ill-dignified Turtle, you need only list the things you are grateful for, and from that grateful place in your heart, look for the abundance of alternatives that Mother Earth gives.”
(Medicine Cards, p78)
It is Turtle medicine that has brought me safe this far and the connection I am developing with my heart will lead me on. For this I am abundantly grateful.
May 27, 2020
"The earth supports me and meet my needs."
"I am immersed in abundance."
(first chakra affirmations from Eastern Body, Western Mind: Psychology and the Chakra System as a Path to the Self)