Women know double-binds well. These are the conflicting ideologies that keep us stagnated in a loop so tightly closed that we feel like our life is not our own.
Throughout my life, I have found myself an incredible amount of dichotomies, or double-binds, because I focused my attention on either/or situations or outcomes. I have always felt the pull to pick A single Truth, thereby continuously polarizing myself. Recently, however, I have expanded my frame of mind to the point where two seemingly contradictory realities co-exist without one being more or less true than the other. I am dropping the exclusive “or” from my vocabulary. Today I am both willing and able to hold on to two seemingly opposing viewpoints as equally valid truths… talk about a heck of an expansive mindset!
And still, no matter how deeply I introspect, no matter how many layers I release of my own conditioning, I often find myself in positions where the double-binds present themselves and hold me (temporarily) hostage.
At least now I know to notice, take a moment with myself in Quantum TLC™, take ownership of the situation I created, and choose differently. Now I know the power to transform my own life does not come from the specific choice that I make (that’s a strategy level down kind of thinking), but instead comes from knowing I have a choice. In that one breath, I get to choose the trajectory of my life, in this unfolding moment. The butterfly flaps its wings and instantaneously picks a direction to fly in.
One foot on the gas pedal, the other on the brake.
I know the energetic frameworks of “rage” well. It is the emotion that fueled my body for decades. It was the propeller of my courageousness, my driver to fight for what’s right. And fight, I did. I fought any perceived injustices to a serious detriment to myself. I have spent most of my life enraged about the globalized neo-liberal capitalist world we are sustaining; and more recently, with the habituated responses to Covid-19. Throughout it all, I notice the appalling contradictions, the covert (and overt!) patterns of coercion and of disrespect to Life. I notice the rise of fascist ideologies and policies; and the unquestioning acceptance of the status quo narratives. I notice neighbors turning on another out of mass fear. I know, I sense, there is something much larger at play here than what the status-quo is presenting as “The Truth”. I know it, because I have lived it (communist Albania, survivor, anyone?). I notice, time and again, the polarization created by the toxic patriarchal mindset. And so, I find myself enraged.
Rage is not feeling that has particularly positive connotations for a “good girl”. So, part of me has always wanted to shut that feeling down. Yet, the truth of my experience was that I felt enraged. And, I also felt powerless. See the double-bind? I created rage within my body to fuel my capacity to feel a perceived sense power over unsafe external situations. Despite my best efforts at masking rage, I’ve realized this is a fear-based response (whoa, who said that?!) to a vulnerability, exposed. In an email response exploring rage Louise LeBrun wrote to me:
“Do not allow yourself to be mesmerized by the show and seduced into the power of your own outrage. There are times when our own outrage is a distraction from that which authentically requires and demands our ability to hold matter to form, in a way that enriches our lives.” Exactly.
More recently I have found myself in the nasty double-binds of the energetic frameworks associated with “passive-aggressive”. Because I don’t explode like I used to anymore, I have found myself making passive-aggressive remarks (almost always to my poor parents) in an effort to not be openly aggressive. Behaving in this way became a subtler form of the expression of rage because at least I didn’t blow up. Not much of an internal improvement though, is it?! This one foot on the break and one of the gas pedal does not serve my personal evolution, and instead gives me the false sense of having “tamed” the fiery parts of me I have always deemed dangerous.
And an even more subtle form of self-betrayal than that, but in line with the energy of one foot on the break pedal and the other on the gas, became obvious to me a few days ago. In a few short weeks, I am hosting a conversation with women to explore what it takes to live as matriarchal consciousness, awakened, embodied, expressed. In writing my invitation to this upcoming conversation, I found myself polarized– one moment I was writing from that place of inner Truth within me that seeks to express itself unapologetically, and the next, from the deep conditioning that nudges me to “be nice” and try not offend anyone with my ferocity. HA! The deeply habituated trance of our conditioning often drives the bus, when we’re not noticing.
For me, this is simply not an expansive place to live from… one foot on the brake pedal, the other on the gas is the best way to build resentment and feel hard-done by, victimized by the circumstances in our life. What we’re not realizing, however, is that we have created that very state of being by not staying true to our evolving Self (Soul, Spirit, Essence, Consciousness). In knowing we have choice, we have power.
The Transformational Power of Fire
When I deemed fire as dangerous, I tried desperately to control it, to tame it by holding back the amount of air I allowed myself to inhale. I tried to control the fire (rather than stabilize it) by using air (breath) to suppress it. I tried to fight fire with fire (aka smoking), but that only led to more suspension of my breath. That means, stagnation. I could not escape the double bind: fire is the source of personal transformation AND well, it has the potential to seriously burn. No amount of therapy, anger management, yoga, self-help books, inventory has ever “tamed” my fire.
That’s because my fire is there for a reason. It is the source of fuel for my ability to act on my own behalf. It is the source of fuel for personal transformation.
When fire is integrated, when it is digested and metabolized in the body, there is nothing dangerous about it. The perceived dangers have come from labels such as “rage” and “passive-aggressive”, which carry good/bad/right/wrong associations with them. So, I am choosing to change the way I use language to describe what’s moving through me from feeling-based to energy-based…”I am on fire about X”. When I conceptualize whatever is moving through me as an element rather than a feeling, I become liberated within myself. I realize, fire, directed by the flow of my breath (air), has the capacity to transform my life. Fire, in flow, is a Force to be reckoned with!
And fire, in flow, is who I know myself to BE.