by Jess Haugen, healing 1 student
Six years ago, Grant Mills knocked, and I opened our front door. He was there to do some tile work, as my husband and I were finishing up some nesting projects with the birth of our first child. I didn’t know him well, but there was something in him that I recognized in myself. I watched his eyes dash in and out of my gaze. We fumbled our way through our discomfort with some verbal exchanges that distracted us both. What happens in that blink of an eye when standing face-to-face with someone? What messages am I getting from you? What are we communicating with words, and what are we broadcasting? What do I feel? Excitement. Fear. Discomfort. Worry. Judgment. What will he think of me? Who shall I pretend to be so that this encounter goes smoothly--so that he will like me? Is my house in order? A story I used to believe was that I need to have it together, to be happy, with no needs, to be loved. Was he going to buy it? No. He could tell. What I was saying and what I was feeling were not lining up, and he didn’t trust me.
I watched him work, while playing with my baby on the floor. I was so curious about Grant, but I didn’t want to make him more uncomfortable. Headphones covered his ears. Discomfort. Mine-yours-ours? It was ours, and I had felt this before with Grant. We were both hiding, afraid to be vulnerable yet wishing there was a way to see each other. I wondered what he was listening to. I wondered if I should take a risk. I had some soup. Maybe he was hungry. But I wasn’t asking for what I needed. What I wanted was contact. How do you ask for contact? “Would you sit by me and tell me how you’re feeling while we eat some soup together?” I didn’t have the courage. It felt too risky. One missed opportunity.
I hadn’t even unpacked all this until very recently. Since that day six years ago, I have watched my friends Sarah and Chris deepen their awareness of self and quite dramatically shift perspectives and relationships through their participation in wildernessFusion. I wanted some of that! And I wanted to be a better parent and partner. I wanted to live courageously and fully experience and enjoy my life. I wanted to be comfortable in my own skin. And I wanted to be big--to live to my full potential of what this life has to offer.
Grant signed up as well, as I discovered when I saw his name on an e-mail list. As with the other folks from this little town of Sequim who signed up for h1, I was glad to have the opportunity to get to know each other better, nervous about how vulnerable we may be getting, and so curious about how our relationships may shift.
During the third weekend of h1, I had the opportunity to make a big shift in the way that I navigate my external landscape and make choices. I started asking for what I needed. I was doing a bunch of grief work over the weekend and spoke with our teacher, Corinne, about how I had taken a big step into discomfort and needed some support. I needed to be held. Grant popped into both of our minds. Why, I am not sure. Corinne says to trust the mystery. I had both a feeling of reluctance and a knowing that this was something I needed to do. Something about asking Grant seemed challenging, and yet I knew it was an opportunity to shift an old story. As I hesitated on the edge of exploring this new territory, Corinne asked, “What if by bringing your whole self to the table, making contact, and asking for what you need is actually a gift for him?”
I needed to practice on someone else first though, to give me confidence. So, I chose another gal in our class. She let me hold her when she was vulnerable, so I knew I would be safe there. Her embrace felt amazing, truly like I could just surrender and honor myself and let her love me.
Then I walked up to Grant. I asked him the same question, “Will you hold me?” For real—I asked that. Who asks that? I felt like my six-year-old. Ah--I have judgements around being vulnerable and asking for what I need.
But you know what? He did.
What if it is that simple? Making contact and taking a step. I was in need of a safe container, to know that I could go to the depths of the dark waters and would still be safe and held and loved and not judged. I let him be with me, all of me. I don’t want to hide anymore, behind the walls and doors that I put up to protect myself. Those life rafts served me in the past, but I don’t need them right now. I surrender towards my desire to love and to be loved. And it’s going to hurt, and it will be vulnerable and messy and take courage and forgiveness. I’m going to get lost and make mistakes and need to be held, and I will laugh and play and radiate and be big. Super big, as my kids say. Within this wildernessFusion container, I can hold those contradictions. We move from contradiction. And there, is a doorway in.
Thank you, Sarah and Chris, my teachers, my triad and h1 classmates, for holding and pushing and pulling on me. Thank you to my husband Curt, for supporting me on this journey. I love you.
Do you want to start your own healing 1 journey? Our next open class begins January 20-22, 2018 in Asheville, NC.