There’s this thing that happens to me every time I’m the center of attention, especially if being the center of attention includes more than one other person.
I might be facilitating an online workshop or an in-person event, or just be the next person in line to share at something I’m attending.
This thing happens even when I’m in a gathering of close friends and, all of a sudden, all attention is turned towards me and what I’m saying.
I break out into hives. This redness begins creeping from my chest up my neck. It’s not a uniform red (that would be a little easier to hide). No, it’s this blotchy white and red that is impossible to mistake or to miss.
The first time I became aware of it was during a basketball homecoming ceremony in high school where I was a candidate. Later, looking at photos, I noticed this white/red patchiness filling my chest and neck. I found it ugly and odd but didn’t think much of it.
Years later, I began to teach on zoom and, there it was again! This slow patchwork of color appearing on my chest and neck. Did it happen in the years in between? I’m sure it did – I just couldn’t see it.
Watching it happen, generally towards the beginning of whatever workshop I was leading, I would become flooded with humiliation and shame.
What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I handle people looking at me?
Why did my body HAVE to expose my insecurity and nervousness in this way?
What would it take for me to heal enough to feel at ease being seen? Being visible?
When I’d talk about this problem with others, they would tell me it wasn’t a big deal. That, or they’d tell me it was ‘endearing.’ Neither were helpful.
For me, it was a big deal and it most definitely was NOT endearing.
So, I sought healing.
Clearly there was some wound around being seen that must be addressed.
Clearly, if I could just learn to relax and to settle my nervous system and to heal/transform all of the underlying fear, this awfulness would stop and I wouldn’t continually be exposed as the fraud that I must certainly be (if I wasn’t healed enough to stand before others without my body freaking out).
And, there is likely some truth here.
Breaking out into hives does point to a level of nervous system activation that is a bit beyond what my body can tolerate.
Recently, however, I’ve come to a very different understanding, another possible ‘truth’…
…one that isn’t necessarily based in trauma, or a wound that needs to be healed, or that stems from an underlying belief that there is something ‘wrong’ with me that needs to be fixed.
What if breaking out into hives is my body’s very reasonable response to being in a situation that evokes higher than usual levels of sensation within me?
And, what if that is absolutely ok?
What if, instead of seeking to heal whatever lies beneath this pattern, I can simply practice leaning into the high sensations of the moment?
This perspective might seem controversial and/or like I am discounting the actual experience of trauma and the profound impact that can have on one’s body and life.
And yet, it’s not that I don’t understand the impacts of trauma. Working to resolve trauma has been the primary focus of my work (for myself and with others) for the past two decades.
What I’m coming to realize is that at some point in the healing journey, there needs to be a shift from ‘trauma’ (which can place one in a perpetual victim loop if we’re not mindful) and into some version of ‘hey, I’m here living in a 3-D world that is full of sensation and I’m here for it all!’
It seems that one of the underlying, unstated goal of most healing modalities is to get us to a place where our nervous systems aren’t constantly activated and we can respond to the world around us with equanimity and grace. And, if we can’t do that, we aren’t healed.
I’ve completely bought into this myth.
I’ve completely believed that I wasn’t healed (or ok) until I was no longer so easily activated into a state of high sensation.
Now, I’m questioning all of that.
And, I’m finding myself more and more willing to be here for all of it – to entertain the possibility that this may even be ‘why’ I am here – to experience the full range that is possible to experience through being human.
All the emotions… all the feelings… all the sensations…
Which brings me to you, and to something I wish I’d been told when I first started my witchy healing business (or, at any point of that journey, for that matter).
Allowing yourself to be seen (to be visible) as a witchy healer is an incredibly high sensation activity.
And, it is absolutely normal to resist or fear this intensity… or to feel paralyzed, overwhelmed, and like you want to hide under a rock… and/or to wonder if there is something wrong with you that needs to be fixed or healed…
…especially if you’ve also bought into the belief that if you just do enough of your own healing, there will come a time when being visible as a witchy healer (marketing, selling, sharing about your work) can happen from a place of inner peace.
But, what if you never heal to the point where we feel calm and centered? Even more, what if ‘healing’ isn’t even the point? What if the point is to jump in and lean into the high sensation of it all?
What if the high sensation of these moments of greater exposure is a gift? The gift of an even more highly charged current of life running through you, enlivening you, expressing through you?
How might how you think about yourself change if you shifted out of ‘I need more healing’ and into ‘Damn, this is intense and oh boy, I’m here for it!’
Shifting from ‘trauma that must be healed’ and into appreciating the high levels of sensation that are simply part of being visible as a witchy healer is a crucial pivot that I guide my clients into making (in right timing, of course).
From this new vantage point, it is astounding just what becomes possible!