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For much of my life, fall has been a rough season. Fall has brought the death of loved ones, abrupt endings of cherished romantic relationships, and darkening days that herald the approaching cold. Even as a January baby, I’ve never taken to the dark and the cold. This aversion endures despite my deep appreciation for the shadow side of life, and the importance of periodically plunging our hands into the dank, rotting soil of our lives and rooting around for lessons and signs of new life.

Last fall, I attended a “death café” for folks seeking loving responses to societal collapse. It started out as a warm bath of compassion, communion, and insight. But towards the end, someone asserted that “to accept reality doesn’t mean to accept defeat.” She went on to say, “surrender is not defeat, it’s accepting our limitations.”

The warm bath suddenly turned into a cold plunge as those words pulled me down. I left the event with unvoiced questions: How is surrender not defeat? Why is defeat presented as something “bad”, to avoid? And how is it that people comfortable with the idea of civilization collapse are uncomfortable with the idea of defeat?

A month later, I found myself in a stranger’s bedroom in the wee hours of a Sunday morning, losing my mind. I was several hours into a psychedelic journey, and the medicine had only just kicked in. Two other people were on the bed with me attempting to provide guardrails as I veered wildly towards the abyss sobbing, vomiting, growling, contorting my face like a woman possessed, and screaming “I DON’T KNOW WHAT SHE WANTS FROM ME!” Reality had completely melted. I was sinking down a fantastical tunnel near a massive Tree of Life covered with Biblical snakes. I thought I was probably going to die.

I didn’t die — at least not physically — but that “bad trip” (facilitated by practitioners who lacked the skills necessary to work with trauma survivors like me) was the capstone experience of the worst year of my life. In concentrated form, it savagely exposed what 2022 had been (equally savagely) exposing for 11 months: utter defeat.

“I have a new appreciation for those who don’t want to go there,” I said to a friend two weeks later. Trained in the same somatic modality as me, they’re also steeped in healing work and offered safe haven to talk about my experience. “I used to look down on people who just want to watch Hallmark movies and not ever do their personal work,” I continued. “It’s fucking daunting to really face the truth. Fuck. Ing. Daun. Ting. Because once you do, everything unravels. Everything. Bliss and ignorance might be underrated. I’m now questioning — is this dogged commitment to healing worth it?”

Fucking Daunting. I felt that was one of the most appropriate uses of the f-bomb ever. My colleague agreed.  Read the rest on Medium!

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