HOLY F*CK: HOLDING SPACE FOR MY SHADOW SELF

“Just like our sexual self don’t have much space to roam in this world, neither does our shadow self…” says Alexandra Roxo.

Which is a mask, which is a shadow, and which is my truth?

Last week in my Holy F*ck salon I felt a heaviness as we gathered on the call, and so I asked: “How many of us are in pain today?” To which everyone replied: “Me.” Some quietly, some more boldly. We were about to do a round of storytelling around transcendental orgasms, but instead I decided: “Fuck talking orgasms today. Let’s talk shame. Sorrow. Rage.’”

I myself was in the deep throes of having let my shadow out to speak her voice at Burning Man, having been silenced for months. I’d literally called on my WHOLE healing team to help me process the experience. Coach Perri Gorman. Intuitive wizard Luke Simon. Michael Ventura, who’s been working with me on this for three years! And a psychologist I met at Burning Man, Justin Hartery.  Plus all my besties. LIKE WHOA IT TAKES A VILLAGE, and I’m so grateful I have help when I need it.

Somewhere during Eclipse season, at the Temple on the “playa”, some old wounds had gotten a fresh surface scrape. As a result I was oozing blood onto everything in my life. And as my wounds and the wounds of all the ladies of the salon were given a voice on that call, I realized—just like our sexual selves don’t have much space to roam in this world, neither do our shadow selves. But when they come knocking we have to answer.

We put on happy faces left and right and keep our shadow tucked away. We don’t want to “be a downer” at a party. So we tuck those feelings away. They get judged, while the “positive” feelings get center stage. Sometimes these are the shadow itself behind a clever mask, and sometimes the positive feeling is holding its hand over the “negative” one, creating a carefully curated dialogue.

“Who, me? No! I’m not insanely horny today! I’m great! Been meditating and doing Bikram!”  Or….”I’m fine! I’m not grieving the fact my dad forgot my birthday for the 18th year in a row. I’m a grown up. I should be over it by now, right?”

We walk around as if “doing okay” and “keeping it together” are badges that will earn us Love and Life Merits. We live by “shoulds.” I “should” be grateful. I ‘should” be strong (p.s. I have eliminated SHOULD from my vocab and I challenge you to do the same).

One shadow that surfaced in the salon was the overwhelming shame of being single. Of showing up to weddings and dinner parties alone. Of having people ask you, “Are you seeing anyone?” before asking about your work, your passions, your friends.

Another that floated into our call was about being in your 30’s and having your parents still supporting you. Many women I love deeply are supported by their families as adults, and since society says this is wrong, it creates yet more shame. When in truth their tribe is caring for them.

On the flip-side, another of my own shadows has been wearing the “Independent Woman” costume (ahem armor) that serves me so well at times, but had become hard to pull off, creating a tough barrier to deeper connections and vulnerability’—until it got ripped off at Burning Man that is.

As we gave these feelings a voice, they were like orphaned children being held tightly for the first time in a long time. How beautiful it was to each other say: “I pretend it’s okay. But I’m in pain.” As we each cried, the rest of us just listened. And I got to thinking…

What if we did this at dinner parties? What if we could eschew some of the socialization that keeps us separate and lonely by keeping these feelings—our truths—hidden away? And what if when I said: “I just feel ugly today”—instead of you replying, “Girl, you’re beautiful!” you just honored my feeling?

What if we just held space for that feeling like two wild witches on a Full Moon in the woods, and watched her fly around the room until she disappeared out the window and into the stars to be at home with all the other parts of our souls? And then we ate spaghetti with marinara sauce until it made our lips red, and talked about where we want to travel before we die and danced to Bowie.

Dancing with my shadows at Burning Man

How about we reclaim old rituals for honoring the shadows together, and make some new ones of our own? How about I just listen as you speak every fear to me…and I don’t try to fix them. I don’t offer you a solution. I don’t tell you “Everything is going to be okay.” I just hear you and see you and witness you and hold you.

After all, we came here to be wild. We came to make “mistakes.” We came to try things and fail. We came to let our hearts be smashed to bits and to carefully sew them back together. We came for glory. And we came for failure.

They tell us to keep it neat and pretty. To “be the light.” But your shadow is your asset. When you hide her away you teeter along as a half version of yourself, dragging a corpse of old, half-acknowledged feelings around. And so next time shame or grief comes calling, answer her. Make her a temple. Throw her a party. Give her center stage for once.

Will the shadow start running the ship? Most likely not. But if this fear exists, then create a container for these feelings. If you know rage could cause chaos, then take her moshing at a concert. Or give her a punching bag at a boxing gym.

In my Holy F*ck salon that day, I made a pledge to my group and we made a pledge to ourselves:

“When you cry I promise not to comfort you. I promise not to usher away your feelings with my ideas of what’s “right” and “wrong.” When you scream, I promise not to shush you and tell you it’s going to be okay. I’ll admit I don’t know if it will be, but I’ll listen and stand tall with you, and be by your side.”

I pledge this to you now and welcome you to share this with the people you call tribe.

This column is dedicated to those Wild Women and Men who are willing to go there with me and grieve and mourn and rage and laugh and cry and dream with me. Who don’t shut me out when things get ugly, and who aren’t afraid to get down and dirty in the name of growth and change. You know who you are.

Alexandra Roxo is a Spiritual + Creative Mentor, Writer, and Filmmaker living in LA.  Find out more on alexandraroxo.com and instagram.com/alexandraroxo/

HOLY F*CK: RELATIONSHIPS AS A PATH TO ENLIGHTENMENT

In her latest Holy F*ck column, Alexandra Roxo finds herself on the path to enlightenment with relationships coach Perri Gorman

Lettin’ my hair go full Leo in the Croatian sun…

I met Perri Gorman when someone who I had met once messaged me on Facebook and was like: “I think you would like this teacher.” Perri was leading something called a “Relationship Detox,” and it DID seem appropriate, since I had decided to take a six month break from sex, dating, alcohol and drugs to focus on my healing. But then again, randoms send me FB messages all the time so I couldn’t be sure.

When I got Perri on the phone she was INTENSE. I’m an intense woman too, so when I come head to head with another of my kind I can adopt a “been there done that” attitude. Like, “Oh yeah, I’m not afraid to look at my shadows. I do it all the time.” And “Um duh. I’ve done the work.” But somehow she convinced me to sign up for her class. And it was the best gift ever. She called me out on places I had been hiding from my truth and still living from deep rooted childhood fears. (Ugh when does it end????!) At the end of the class I felt palpable changes. Like major shifts. Like, I had looked at all of my uglies in the face and hugged them and given them space to, well…turn into butterflies. Cheesy, yes, but true!

I sat down with Perri to try and understand this alchemical process a little deeper.

Alexandra Roxo: Your website says “TRANSFORMATION IS NOT OPTIONAL” in huge letters which kinda freaks me out but in a good way. Why did you choose that?
Perri Gorman: It’s a bit of a story. When I was living in Hong Kong back in 2007 my life felt like Ground Hog’s day. I had actually hit a certain level of success, but I was like “Is this IT? Like, Is THIS my life?” I had a magnet on my refrigerator that was my savior, which said: “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.” Oh, I must be in a cocoon I used to think. This part sucks. But just hang in there! After my life began to transform (longer story), my online moniker became and still is Bethebutterfly, and the butterfly is my inspirational creature.

Later, I went to a lecture by someone who was also fascinated by the life of the butterfly. She told a story of going to a butterfly farm and asking the keeper; “Does the caterpillar have a choice?” The answer was no. They either transform or they die. It’s not optional. And in this life, I think it is similar for us. Sounds grim but the stakes are really that high.

AR: I agree, and I also feel like the world needs transformation more than ever. Which is what I experienced on your relationship detox course. It’s hard for me to describe how you work though. It’s alchemy! Can you explain?
PG: Well, I am a guide and I create experiences. I walk people down a path that I have been down to and experienced transformation myself. If I haven’t been able to personally alchemize it (whatever “it” might be) I don’t create the experience. Rather than teaching, I help my students facilitate this in themselves. This part is really important. Often if you just “tell” people something, then either the Ego rejects it and can’t hear it—or the Ego hears it, rejects it and turns on you in the process! So in order to stun the ego, you have to guide the spirit and let the “aha” moments come naturally.

Each person has a different speed at which they transform, too. Mine was REALLY slow—partly because I had so much pain inside, it wasn’t safe for it to come out all at once. It was a process. Think of it like detoxing from chemicals. Since your body stores toxins in your fat cells, it won’t actually LET you lose weight too fast if you are toxic because it would poison the body. Awakening is similar. There is a massive pain body that you need to work through in order to open fully.

With the Relationship Detox specifically, it is designed to reframe your entire experience with relationships and have you see the divine messages that meant for you in each experience. By going through the process you are able to let go of behavior that is no longer serving you and choose something new.

Perri Gorman: relationships guru

AR: In the moments you’re coaching me I always start “strong” and then you get in there and crack me open. How do you always manage to do that?!
PG: I think a big part of my work is feeling “you” underneath the “strong,” which is usually a defense mechanism. It’s there to say “yeah I’m cool, nothing to see here, keep moving!” But if you listen closely there is another voice in there saying, “Hey! Don’t listen to her! I’m in here!”

My work is not for the faint of heart as you know, and I think it’s unique because I live it deeply myself. I am not perfect or enlightened but I have a deep deep practice of looking at my own stuff in every situation. I have unwound some really complex and tricky (and not so attractive) patterns in myself, so I can see the patterns more easily than others in many cases. So if you are like me and you have patterns that fog or trick other people, you come to me and I slice the head off that puppy and you feel so much better!

AR: So how is a relationship a crucible? That sounds scary as hell.
PG: Relationship as a crucible means that you don’t do this fairy tale thing of “acquiring” a relationship and then passing out back to sleep. It means staying conscious within the relationship, and being willing for it to “burn” the patterns in you that no longer serve you. It means looking deeply at the other person as a mirror and using that mirror to look at where you can be a better version of yourself.

AR: Yes! I find the deepest work I do is often in partnership. It’s like boot camp. No hiding! Wanna give us an example of what this can look like?
PG: Sure. Right now in my own relationship (I am getting married in October) I am working on a pattern where I try to fix him when he is down because his pain makes me really uncomfortable. So instead of letting him have his experience, I do things that would make him feel better. That sounds like the “nice” thing to do but it is not the “kind” thing to do. The thing to do is focus on myself, support him how he wants to be supported and not need him to be any way other than how he is.

As I started to look more deeply at it, I was like “Why do I do that? Where does that pattern originate?” It comes from childhood and being afraid that things going wrong were my fault and not wanting to get in trouble. But if I fixed it then that meant I did something good! It’s a rescuer pattern where I get personal validation that I am a good person by making him feel better.

But if we are practicing being conscious, then I have robbed him of his down which it is NECESSARY for him to get through himself to get to the freedom on the other side. By trying to help him feel better, (i.e. distract him from his feelings or helping him cover them with yummy things like a chocolate milkshake) I have helped him numb out and I have kept him from feeling what he needs to feel. So I notice it and then I actively practice doing something different so I can shift that piece of myself internally. It’s a practice.

AR: I love this, and I’ve been on both sides of this same coin. Allowing the uncomfortable is tough. People are always looking to “be ok.” But I wonder if some of us are avoiding the shadow. The truth. The messy side. Hiding under a mask of “zen.”
PG: We all have masks and patterns, which is why relationships as reflection from others is so important. I surround myself with people who can penetrate my defenses so the truth can get through. Of course we avoid it. I don’t think that I ever said “Oh hey, I want to be awake and spiritual.” I was a fucking walking ball of chaos and destruction, and I had no choice. It was transform or die. I had to learn how to use all the energy. For others, they feel dead inside or their relationships don’t work or they are bored. In this sense, it’s like we all have different locks that require a different key.

***

So there you have it. Perri always pisses me off with our work, but then she breaks me down and then I cry and feel so happy and see the light!  It’s an amazing process if you surrender to it.

And next up from Perri: self-love. Something I think gets misunderstood A LOT. Self-love doesn’t just mean treating yourself to a mani pedi. It means cutting off toxic relationships. Releasing self-judgment. Body shame. Sexual shame. Owning your voice. Standing up for your needs. Creating healthy boundaries. Self-love is deep. I’m still learning it more and more everyday.

Perri’s new experience, PRESENCE, is all about coming home to yourself through the path authentic self-love. Not in the “everything needs to be good and nice” kind of way, more like “I will sit here with you through it all—good or bad”—something she admits has been one of the most challenging practices for her, and so a major focus of her own healing journey.

Registration for PRESENCE opens August 1 for a limited time. To sign-up, and to learn more about Perri Gorman and her work visit: Theschoolofalchemy.com

HOLY F*CK: HOW TO FIND YOUR EDGE

Only in the places of discomfort can we experience true healing, says Alexandra Roxo. PLUS 5 ways to find your edge…

Goddess power earrings by Marcia Vidal. Non toxic lipstick by Ilia Beauty.

“There must be something deeply disturbed about a person who wants to be flogged or spit on.” As my friend said this I nearly spit out my kombucha. It was a sunny day and we were sitting on a blanket in the Bay area, having some girl talk, munching on goji berries, having just completed two nights of plant medicine ceremony together.

I started to feel sweaty and hot which means my deep soul was having a freakout. I put my cup down, took a deep breath summoning massive courage and said: “I disagree. It can also be about a person wanting to push their edges. It can be a game, power play, fun, and a vehicle for catharsis. Something beyond the human polarities of ‘right’ and ‘wrong.’ Just as enlightening as any other medicine that pushes you to your edge and into a place of expansion.”

Let’s be real, in a lot of spiritual circles we tend towards the light and white, the higher chakras, high vibes…And well, usually as far away as possible from the dark, scary underbelly of things. Be it talking about BDSM or deep wounds, many of us shy away. After all, IG posts that are dark/revealing and heavy, usually get a lot less likes than the ones that are bright and all “I’m floating up here with my Spirit team!”

Well I say…Fuck. That. In the past few years I’ve found the scary bits—the “nevers,” the edges, the parts that make my heart beat fast—to be possibly my biggest teachers. Lately I’ve been wanting to talk about them more and more among circles of women whose faces might go white as an angel’s wing if I said something about squirting being transcendental. But ladies, the time has come! (And yes squirting, and even fisting, can be transcendental. But more on that another time. Or just DM me, lol.)

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You know those friends who push you to your edge? Usher you out of your cozy wozy comfort zone full of sheepskin rugs and Palo Santo, into a scary dark place you cannot control and force you to pull down your “Everything’s okay!” mask? I LOVE those friends. In the moment, I hate them for “making” me hitchhike with a creepy Mexican man on a beach in Oaxaca into the jungle.

Or for saying: “I saved you a spot on the three-day plant medicine retreat where we’ll be fasting and sleeping under the stars. Bring a poop bucket!” Or for calling me out on my shit. HATE THAT. But I really LOVE it. Thank Goddess for the friends that help you to your edge.

I recently signed up for an online course called a “Relationship Detox” with Perri Gorman. On Perri’s intake form you get to say to what level you want to be pushed. I checked off “HOT ORANGE” or something. Basically as hot as possible. (#overachiever!) So in class the other day, when I had to say what conclusions I had come to after making a relationship chronology, and I started rambling, “Well, we were dating and he said some really mean things but you see I’ve been meditating and doing a lot of WORK on this for months. Many healers. I really feel great about it now!” She stopped me mid-sentence.

“No you don’t. Pull off your mask, get in your pussy and tell me the story again!” I was taken aback but I knew immediately what she meant. I breathed through my mask, told the story again, deeply rooted into my truth, shared all the embarrassing parts, tears running down my cheeks, feeling such a huge catharsis: the feeling of being grounded deeply into my body. And then Perri told me: “Ultimate kindness is to risk saying something the ego may detest but that the soul is craving.” Which a wonderful teacher like that can make happen.

So forget smiling pleasantly with a namaste! Let’s get messy together. Hold space for each other to WAIL. Ask real questions to women who have birthed many babies. Talk about fucking. Sob until snot is running into our mouths. Have multiple orgasms that make us scream uncontrollably and then weep in a puddle of our own fluid. Not be afraid to pull down our masks.

“Thank Goddess for friends who call you out on your shit!”

Be it a paddling to the ass, or a projectile purge into a bucket in a room full of people or simply allowing yourself to feel anger, it’s only at the edge that we’ll find the collective catharsis we are looking for—a massive reconnection into the present of our bodies. And especially into our pussies. Into the force which creates life. Pushing us past our edges into a new land, the land of growth.

I try to push an edge every day. Last week I drove for an hour while still on mushrooms. A few days ago I admitted to a room full of people choking through sobs my deepest darkest shadows in love and relationships. I kissed a snake on the lips a few weeks ago. Just finished 40 days of chanting to Kali. Who knows what tomorrow will bring!

:: 5 WAYS TO FIND YOUR EDGE ::

1. Make a list of all the things that make you uncomfortable, or that you said you would never do or say or be or admit. This could be getting naked in front of someone. Crying in front of someone. Admitting to yourself your heart is closed off and you need help. Going on a vision quest. Camping alone. Now get to know that list. Put it on your altar. Start to allow it into your consciousness.

2. Break it into steps. Maybe it’s opening a Tinder account and asking someone out. Or spending time alone. Maybe it’s working out in a sports bra instead of a t-shirt. Signing up for a primal screaming course. A tantric sexual healer. Not exercising for a few days. Everyone’s edge is different! Start small and BREATHE through it. If it’s not making your heart beat fast, then it’s not an edge.

3. Ask for help. I could not have done this alone. Find a friend who helps you find your edge. Or a coach. A teacher. A witness. Someone to keep you accountable and help you and hold you when you cry.

4. When it starts getting tough do not abandon ship! There is a point in the work where we wanna say “Okay cool! I think I’ve got this and I’m gonna take a break.” Don’t do it! Push yourself just a little more. When you make it over that hump it is going to be glorious I tell you!!!

5. When in doubt go back to your pussy and breathe into your roots. Dance alone naked. Shake it off. Keep going. Cry through it. Do not give up. Umm, yeah, Earth hasn’t given up on us though we’ve pillaged her. Our bodies keep going after disease and childbirth and self-hatred and eating disorders. We owe it to ourselves and to the grandma’s that came before us to not give up and get too comfortable.

And P.S. Remember your edge is your own. Do not compare to the friend who did ayahuasca 366 times in Peru. Do not worry about your friend who saw Jesus when she was cumming. Your journey is about YOU. And in your dark personal corners, you could find something so magnificent…you really have NO idea!

If you wanna go deep and investigate your patterns with love, sex and relationships, join us for The Numinous: Re-write your Love Story Retreat July 15-17th in upstate New York! We’re offering an early bird special while Venus is in Gemini of $50 off EACH if you bring a friend (#healinghangdate time!)