Threshold Times

 Posted by on August 3, 2012
Aug 032012

To begin, let’s take a moment to connect to ourselves
By taking a gentle, full breath
And as you exhale, let your focus turn inward
You might want to close your eyes
And notice whatever you are experiencing right now
Not needing to change it
What is your energy like?
How are you feeling emotionally?
Allow whatever is there to be there
Leave space to listen
In a deeper, more receptive way

There are certain moments in our lives, which feel especially significant
If you stop and pay attention you can become aware
Of how that significant moment threads back in time to its beginning
Today is a significant moment because it threads back in time to when
Deborah and I met 11 years ago

I had just turned 61
Deborah was 47
She launched our relationship with what was for me, a mind bending question
She asked what it was like for me to be a woman growing older in this culture?

It wasn’t a question I had ever thought about
It wasn’t a question I wanted to think about

She told me that in the year 2008, women between the ages of 50 and 65
Would be the largest demographic group in our country

Lots of women
Liberated women
Educated women
Growing older
And not wanting to think about growing older

Our conversation began
For many years we met every Friday, allowing one question to lead us to the next
We studied
We read
We talked
We listened
To each other
And to the many women we worked with in our private practices

Through our inquiry we learned many things
We learned that there is a wounding around the feminine
Which we have all lived with, generation after generation for millennia
This wounding has been lived with
But not been grieved
And not been healed
Yet we are still faced with growing old

We discovered that until the feminine wounding was healed, our aging would happen in a distorted way.

Our conversation and our discoveries led us to begin to write
Using a fairy tale about a missing Queen as a metaphor

The tale begins with a kingdom in chaos
All kinds of problems were happening
The collective nervous system was out of whack
Natural and economic disasters were taking place
Everyone was scrambling to figure it out

In the fairy tale kingdom no one was noticing
That the Queen, a symbol of mature femininity, was missing

Maria Von Franz, a Jungian analyst and scholar, begins her book
The Feminine in Fairy Tales
Stating that in a patriarchal culture
The image of the genuine feminine is not represented
The result of this situation is that a woman is uncertain as to her own essence
Her own being
Of what she is
Or could be

She knows herself, her femininity
Only through the eyes of the masculine
And, as the story goes, when a woman ages
She is no longer valued
No long seen

In the fairy tale, when her first wrinkle appears
The Queen finds herself under a spell
The spell of the Ugly Mask
Like Dante, she awakes in the middle of the road of her life
Alone and afraid
Feeling like the true way is wholly lost

The Queen disappears into the forest
By herself
She has fallen out of belonging

In the solitude of the forest,
She is held by the deeper truths of the natural world
Inside the comfort of this holding
She mourns the loss of her youth
Her unfulfilled dreams
The mistakes she made along the way
She reviews her life, longing to understand what had happened
Where things had gone wrong

The Queen’s retreat from the kingdom
Allows her to slow down and get in touch with
Parts of herself that have been lost or forgotten
She begins to see herself as she really is
Something new is born in the dark, fertile ground of her inner life

Of course Deborah and I were the Queen,
Both of us deep in the forest on our own personal quest
Each of us bringing very different life stories
To the work we were doing together

I grew up before the term women’s liberation had been invented.
Deborah grew up in the feminist fervor of the 60’s and 70’s.
I was raised in Dallas Texas, inside a very southern reality
With Scarlet O’Hara as a role model
Deborah came of age in San Francisco during a period of tumultuous change
With images like Cher as a feminine archetype

We met each week
We talked and wrote and talked some more
We explored the past, present and future of the feminine journey
We hung out, for many long days and nights, with the hard questions

Together we went places
That neither of us would have been
Willing to go alone
Our relationship gave us the courage to turn toward
What was painful or hard
In the culture and in ourselves

And we did it over cup of tea

It is this process of entering the solitude of the forest
That we have invited other women into in our classes
We all need a holding place if we are to step outside this culture we live in
A culture that demands life at double-time
A culture that has little understanding that as we travel through life we are Continually moving from one life stage to another

As we cross each threshold the person we have been has to die
And be replaced by another with a renewed vision

Threshold times are extremely significant
They cannot be crossed without the heart being passionately engaged
At such crossings
A great complexity of emotion comes alive
We can feel confusion, fear, excitement, sadness, hope
All at once

In this time of personal and cultural change, we need to slow down
And give the magnitude of what’s happening, its due

The spirit of a time is an incredibly subtle, yet hugely powerful force
We are all impacted by that force

I don’t know a single person today who is not dealing with
Whatever it is in their lives that they have not integrated
Whatever has been split off
Not looked at
Whatever is in the shadow seems to be arising and asking for attention.

What if you were to turn toward that place in yourself
Some place in you that has not been integrated
Something that is longing for attention
Perhaps something that has been simmering just below the surface
For a long time
Something you might have worked with in therapy or in your writing
But is now impacting your life in a way you can’t ignore

My suggestion is that you take a few minutes and see what arises for you as you begin to contemplate this question

Audio Post


AnnAnn Nix holds a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology and is a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist and Group Facilitator in Sonoma, California.

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