I grew up in the middle class suburbs of Los Angeles raised half Roman Catholic and half Jewish. My family would go to church most Sunday's and the major holidays. I celebrated Shabbat and separated milk from meat when visiting my New York grandmother in Florida. I learned to play dreidel in preschool and went to Catechism each week in elementary school. As a preteen I decided it would be wrong to get Confirmed. I didn't believe there is this one and only God, I thought. So if I get confirmed then it would actually be a lie and if there is a God that would be wrong. I began rejecting the Judeo-Christian God I was taught. That God and those experiences only left me feeling hollow, confused, and like I could never be good enough. I remember fearfully reciting a prayer at night before bed..."Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the lord my soul to keep. And if I die before I wake, I pray the lord my soul to take," hoping that the words themselves would not create the impending death and thievery of my soul that this hard-to-please and fickle God could snatch on a whim. Then during the day I'd go to school and eat KRAFT mac and cheese for dinner, watch sitcoms in the evening and get clothes from Kmart on the weekend. I felt alone and bored and empty. Even amidst a full family and doing well in school. Disconnection was setting in.....
As a teen I turned to psychedelics to find the meaning that was missing in my life. Magic mushrooms was my first experience of the connection I could have to myself, the world, and others without having to rely on words. I could feel there was something bigger and more profound; something invisible hiding just behind the trees. I didn't know what it was or how to find a community or practices that would feed me consistently but I'd had a glimpse. Anxiety and depression began to slowly seep in. The glimpse of more was there and yet the feeling of isolation continued.
In college the only thing that saved me from debilitating panic attacks was therapy and mindfulness meditation. I could not believe that no one had told me before that my thoughts are not me and that I have a choice whether or not to believe them. A small space of witnessing consciousness was born through the simple practice breathing while looking at a blade of grass. I dove into the book "Conversations with God" even though that word "God" still conjured up feelings of doubt, hesitation, and resistance. I think I longed to feel connected to something deep inside me. The closeness of the breath in mindfulness and the way Neil Donald Walsh dialogued with the voices in his head that he called God spoke to me.
But I still felt this deep sense of disconnection. A hollowness in my chest and wordlessness on my lips, helpless to feel reached by the ones I most deeply longed to see the real me: family, friends, partner.
So I moved to San Francisco and entered a spiritually-based therapy Master's program. I dove into self-excavation, yoga, meditation. For nearly a decade I engaged myself deeply in the process of transformation using these modes. I gained an enormous amount of self understanding, communication skills, and self-care practices. And yet I still felt a sense of disconnection, a deep loneliness that I could barely touch let alone release. To acknowledge that I felt lonely in the middle of this amazing vibrant city after all the work I had done would be defeat. Additionally, I didn't want to be talked out of my loneliness. It wasn't something that I wanted someone to save me from although the desire to be saved was certainly there as well. Somewhere inside I knew that this was a different kind of loneliness: loneliness that was between me and God. A loneliness where I couldn't be with myself close enough to actually connect with other people.
And as often happens in life it was a crisis in a relationship that took me to the next step. After ending a 4 1/2-year deeply loving and deeply challenging relationship that involved healing much codependency and addiction, anger, and feelings of not being desired I jumped into learning the practices of sexual awakening and orgasmic meditation. I wanted to re-claim my body, my sex, my vitality, my confidence.
For the first time I felt that any and all of my erratic, messy, tearful, and nonsensical desires could be held by a community and the practices in it. Through all the work I had finally found some small sense of belonging.
And yet there was still something missing. I would get lost in other people. My need for their validation and acceptance so strong that I could fall back into feeling isolated or unworthy quickly. My sadness and longing for a life partner and family still driving so much of my connections that they would be corrupted the moment I felt any sense of being left.
The moments in my life where I have felt the most joy and the most peace have been when I was in nature. Sitting under a canopy of redwoods in the Presidio, climbing the rolling golden hills of Mount Tamalpais, standing in the Yuba river as the water laps my body and the mountains surround me. These moments have always left me with the sense that I'm not alone and everything is right with the world. Traveling to Peru and sitting with master plant medicines anchored further into my being the connectedness that we all deeply have to our primary mother: Mother Earth. Indigenous cultures like Peru, Native American, and even Hinduism see the earth as a living breathing being. Connecting to this deeply has left me with that sense of interconnectedness, support, and love that I have been seeking. To be able to feel that the Earth loves me deeply brings prayers rolling out of my lips, and a deep thankfulness for God. I never thought that prayer or the word "God" would be back in my life and now the nourishment I receive from it is deeper than anything I could have asked for. It's something that I think our world desperately needs at this time of desk jobs and car commutes and bottled water. It can be so hard to remember that we live on a living, breathing planet that has supported every step of our evolution and continues to do so. That we are held in divine hands however you may see them or feel them. A re-connection to spirit deep inside.
And so here I am now, with practices that help me release, community that helps me connect, and a re-membering of who I really am, a child of Source and the fruiting of the Earth. Thank you for stepping along with me in this journey and for sharing yours with me. It is my honor to walk beside you as we discover your path, winding and dark and filled with the most electric magic. It is truly my pleasure to be with you here.
Warmest regards and deepest blessings,
Karen Wolfe, MFT offers depth therapy with practices to deepen your connection to your Self and to others for individuals and couples in the Bay Area and via video conference across California