speculative fish-ctions (Dr. Zoe Todd)

I dreamt of my grandma the other night. We were in a cafeteria and she bought me pasta: meatballs, rigatoni, and cheese. She bought herself a similar dish. She insisted on paying for it: $8.00. I have been thinking about my relatives a lot lately, in the aftermath of recovering from COVID. They say the veil between worlds is thin during Samhain. And I think the same is true for illnesses. On so many nights through the long months of my illness I had trouble discerning between this world and other ones. Time, space, light were bending in ways that defied western logics.

Often, when white people wax on about Indigenous dreams, they evoke tropes of the magical ‘noble savage’. Maybe some folks do dream in wolf calls and hawk cries, and that’s ok. But for me, my dreams about relatives have almost always been rooted in practical environments…

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Kristy’s Story

Kristy Maute

For five years, I’ve shared my story in this space but I always avoided it. I danced around it. I alluded to it. But I never acknowledged it. I never said the words Iwas raped on paper until yesterday.It’s never been a secret. It’s something I share in conversation with friends. It’s something I’ve never hid from, but why was I hiding here. Why did I consciously choose to not share?

The answer is simple. Fear. I was afraid. I was afraid of people believing me. I was afraid people from my past would verbally attack me again. I was afraid I would be called a liar. I didn’t want to relive the trauma – not of the rape but of not being believed.

Recent news has brought attention to the rape culture in our society. Today in 2016 a dad of a rapist believes that six months in jail…

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Spiral of Dark and Light

There is a prejudice of exposing dark feelings and thoughts. We must transform them into something useful, powerful, active, enlightening – light. If you are diving into darkness just to dive into darkness, what's the point? Doesn't there need to be something useful come of this immersion? There is great wisdom in darkness. This, is where the unexposed becomes exposed. This, is where light naturally comes forth without effort or searching. There is no need to transform dark into light. Darkness, when fully felt, moves into light. This is not a transformation – this is the movement of nature. This is a subtle difference.
Transformation implies something unwanted is being changed into something wanted. . .

WE are not searching for the light. We are searching out the dark. Why do we do this? Because we have spent so long being afraid of the dark. Avoiding it. Punishing it. Denying it. Making it wrong. Burying it. Then, uncontainable, it lashes out . . . or in. Does darkness not have its natural place in the world? No one tells the night not to come. It does. We welcome the morning sun and a new day and the coming night all the same. Night is dreamtime. SO is our inner darkness. It is the place of great insight. It is where we are most awake. So why try to bring it to light? I do not want to convince you of what is right. I am simply observing what is already happening. Dark is as natural as light. You cannot stop one and expect the other to flow. In this way, when we shut out the light or the dark, neither flows freely in us. There is a buried cycle that yearns to move completely.

It works coming around from light to dark as well remember. Once light feelings and thoughts have been realized, they flow naturally into dark feelings and thoughts. Do not judge either one! Breathing in is as important as breathing out. We do not judge one or the other as wrong or needing to be diminished. If we did, we would not be alive! So too it goes with emotion and thought. These are a part of us too. We think. We feel. Think it all. Feel it all. Thus we embrace the whole world. What keeps us moving in this cycle? What is the oil that keeps it running smoothly. . . acceptance. It infuses our feelings and thoughts. It gets in the spaces between and prevents light and dark thoughts and emotions from becoming stuck. It is unidentifiable as it swirls in the background, but we know it when we feel it. This warmth and softness; this prickling nudge; this brewing eruption – only defined by the unlocking effect that we feel from its purpose. And where does this acceptance come from? This great mystery. . . unfolded in our hands. . . as we touch one another. We honestly connect to one another. Accepting where we are at. Without acceptance, connection does not exist. With no connection, neither the dark nor the light can be known. You see, we need it all – dark, light, acceptance, connection. There is a natural cycle that yearns to be heard. Light and dark is not a dichotomy. It is a spiral. Like the earth moving through space. Can you feel it? Remove all judgement . . . and you will.

When I was in the thick of healing from suicidal thoughts, this knowing is what healed me. During an MFR treatment with my friend and mentor Dave Frederick, I unlocked a stuck vision of darkness that had been embedded deeply in the consciousness of my fascial web. In a space where I felt safe enough, I allowed Dave to gently coax it to the surface . The next morning a rush of suicidal feelings surfaced. I emailed Dave and he immediately reached out by phone. His acceptance of where I was prompted me to feel what was under my shamed version of darkness. I had never imagined anything beyond it. It was all so futile. Gradually, with patience, I found the courage to reach further than I ever had. There was indeed something under the dark. In fact, it was this answer hanging on the edge between waking and sleep. I did not know what it was at the time, but I felt tremendous relief that the darkness was not a death end. There was more beyond that I could feel while alive and breathing. A truth about darkness began to emerge. The shamed version disappeared and with it the urge to kill myself. Since that morning, I have not felt the need to die to find the answer to life's toughest questions. Do I continue to dance with death and dark thoughts and emotions? Absolutely. This dance feels very alive. Flowing without resistance or shame through the dark thoughts and feelings paradoxically sets me free in life. It's where I feel the light.

When someone commits suicide – I care deeply. These are the most beautiful and honest people I have ever read about or known. Perhaps they did not have someone who could do what Dave did for me. Perhaps they had no one who would accept their dark thoughts and emotions; or understood and spoke honestly with them when they most needed someone to understand them. Perhaps they were the leaders of truth-filled, vulnerable conversation and were breaking new ground, but not fast enough for the pain that was chasing them. . . I do not know another's point of no return. I do know that if they could have seen another way out of their pain – they would have taken it. No one can, long-term, bear the pain of endless darkness that is denied, shamed or otherwise not understood and accepted. I wish they had known a John Barnes trained therapist like I did.

Dedicated in memory of Chester Charles Bennington

Coming Back to Reality

Today as I quieted myself and sat still, I looked around the room and felt myself in present time. I realized that right now nothing bad is happening and that what I've been doing as I fall into daydreaming of the past, is scaring myself. When I wake up into the present, I discover that no one is causing fear in me right at this moment, except me.

I then said to myself the words that have been said to me many times … "it's over" … I felt the completeness of that statement and a longer time/space between present reality and past events. I felt more physical space around me; room to maneuver in present time; breath came easier. 

I think we all need to be reminded, often, that we are in charge of our lives and bodies…on a deeper level than anyone other than us can be. Yet that only happens in the present moment . . . not in the past being brought to mind … not in an imagined future. That's a sleep state…a daydream. It's not true in the present. When we pause and look around us in reality right now, 99% of the time, nothing is going wrong; we're not actually afraid of what is going on around ourselves right now. From here we can make really good decisions for ourselves and act in ways that serve us. 

I am realizing that scaring myself with what could happen is not helpful, and being awake and present right now feels much more authentic, strong and helpful. 

We may feel the residual of the past in us, but we bring ourselves into our present reality and act from there. We must have ourselves firmly in the present in order for our actions to be empowered. Acting from the past has no leverage in the present. 

So when you find yourself in the past, or future, scaring the heck out of yourself, remember that's the dream state and it's not real. Look around your immediate vicinity and bring yourself back to present reality. Step into the next moment of your day from here.