A teenage Icelandic woman is raped by her Australian boyfriend after she’s had too much to drink. In his own immature, conditioned teenage mind, he doesn’t call it rape. Because the media and pornography and the way fathers raise sons and bro’s egg on bro’s, he convinces himself that he was justified in taking what was rightfully his—her body, her vulnerability, her sexuality, maybe even her physical and mental health. She is traumatized by the experience, and in his own way, he is too. Her life unravels, and so does his.
Right now, I am at Esalen, in recovery in the wake of the death of my mother. Although grief can be consuming and the deathbed vigil with my mother was intense, I couldn’t ignore the #MeToo stories that were erupting in the news during this journey with my mother. So let me take a moment to add my two cents to the swell of outcries rising from women who are finding their voice. I know my mother would be proud of me for saying, “#MeToo.”
In Part One of this series, we talked about the Narcissus/Echo myth and how to identify whether you or someone you’re in relationship with behaves with a lot of traits characteristic of the narcissist. Today, we’ll focus on how to identify whether you have a tendency to fall into the empath/Echo/codependence pattern, which hooks into the narcissist pattern like lock and key. If you feel confused because you identify with both the narcissist and the empath, join the club! Most people who fit one of these patterns fit both. In some relationships, you may play the narcissist, while in others, you play the codependent. Most people have a preference for one pattern over the other, but some flip-flop between them equally. Really, they are two sides of the same painful coin. But don’t despair! This is a curable pattern, and there’s so much love, joy, intimacy, and freedom on the other side of this pattern interrupt.
Before January 2014, I had never heard of the term “kundalini” other than vague references to kundalini yoga, which I associated with people wearing white turbans and breathing hard. But on my daughter’s 8th birthday, I experienced something that my medical knowledge never prepared me to understand. I was with my new friend Dennis, an agnostic scientist who was drawn to me after we met at a holiday party at the Institute of Noetic Sciences because of our shared curiosity in energy healing. We weren’t doing anything particularly interesting at the time. We weren’t meditating or doing yoga or having sex or doing breathwork or using any mind-altering substances or otherwise seeking out any sort of mystical experience. We were just sitting upstairs on the floor of my bedroom with my roommate April, when something very curious happened.
Many of us are well versed in tolerating pain. Especially in spiritual circles, we may even gravitate toward painful, uncomfortable situations, milking them for all the soul growth we can tolerate and being grateful for the discomfort. But we can get out of balance this way. We can even venture into full on masochism if we’re not careful! What if the real challenge is being equally fluid and open to both pleasure and pain? What if we’re not grasping at pleasure or resisting pain, but we’re also not grasping at pain and resisting pleasure? Might it be possible to just roll with what life throws our way, relishing in the pleasurable experiences when they arrive and composting all the painful experiences as soul growth?