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/

AN HONEST RELATIONSHIP: HOW TO LOVE AND BE LOVED

Step fully into your light for an honest relationship that shows you how to love and be loved, says Hannah BierArtwork: “Lovers” by Marina Gonzalez via Behance.net

They told me that true love was sweet and sticky. They told me that if I manage to stay obedient and pure, a Prince will come and save me. He will wear tight-ass leggings and put me in a castle, where we will have mediocre sex until the end of time.

Well, my dating life used to be land mine after land mine and I know all too well about the brain fuck of modern societies’ views on romantic love. And it’s time to stop shitting ourselves and get real about what truly enlightening love looks like.

Here’s what you need to know if you want a mindful relationship where you’re free to love fiercely and be loved rapturously:

1. LOVE THEM SO MUCH THAT YOU PISS THEM OFF
Relationships that are either dysfunctional or incredibly boring share one common trait: the lovers dance around one another trying not to piss each other off. The truth is, the best thing you can do is to be your wildest, most obnoxious self, especially around the people you want to keep in your life.

We’ve been through tremendous amounts of family programming, plus the societal conditioning that piles a ton of limiting beliefs on top of the unhealed trauma we’ve amassed over the years. As a result of our lived experiences, we develop vices and behavioral patterns for dancing around our true fears and desires. It becomes easier to surround ourselves with people who join in this dance with us, and to never even try to get off auto-pilot.

Being your awakened and audaciously high-maintenance self means dancing in the way of your lover, and interrupting their pattern. It means being the one who loves them enough to not enable them to keep re-living their past. So do not restrict your own beautiful range of expression to accommodate their sleep-walking.

Just being you, you are going to piss people off who’d rather not wake up—especially those closest to you. But it is an act of fierce love to make them deal with their shit instead of trying to make it easy for them.

It is your business to love, not to look the other way. But too often this is misunderstood, and people make it their business to keep the people they love comfortably numb. If you want to support the spiritual evolution of a person you’ve come to care deeply for, let yourself be difficult and speak your truth.

2. TELL THE TRUTH
The #1 reason relationships end is because the lovers prioritize their own sense of comfort over the relationship. The glue for any mindful relationship is emotional intimacy, for no intimacy means no connection, and therefore no point to the partnership.

In order to keep the juices flowing, you need to continuously gather the courage to say the things you almost daren’t. You have to have the courage to be vulnerable and to make yourself look like an idiot. You have to value the relationship more than the desires of your own ego.

You can either be comfortable or be loved. Because if you don’t step up and show yourself in all your messy glory, it is simply hard to love you. We need to see you, to be able to love you. Don’t blame your shallow conflicts about who bought the wrong toilet paper for the deterioration of your relationship.

Every conflict is an opportunity to stand up and tell the real truth. To throw your lover on the bed and to show them how deeply you want to be with them. Fuck them until they know how much you love them. Or to keep screaming and making up stories, so that you can stay comfortable and lonely. It is completely up to you to show up and give it your all.

3. HOLD THEM THE WAY YOU WANT THEM TO HOLD YOU
It is your job to see people for who they truly are. We all have a tendency to downplay our brilliance, to dim our lights, so that we can keep living within what feel like safe boundaries of being. If we never reveal our true nature, we will never make ourselves vulnerable, and we won’t be subject to any criticism.

But you know this won’t work.

By covering up what we really want and settling for something less, we are directing our creative force against ourselves. Playing small is lethal, because every heartfelt dream contains the energy to make it happen. If we pull back instead of going full blast, the energy intended to help you take massive action ends up being trapped in your body where it will slowly kill you.

Don’t let the people you love hurt themselves like that. See them for the genius they truly are. Remind them of how you see them and make a vow to only speak to their higher selves.

How do you want the people you love to show up for life? Don’t you want them to be empowered as creators, infinitely brilliant artists, and deeply loving souls? Hold them the way you want them to show up. Humans are forgetful, make it a habit to remind people of what they really need to understand about themselves.

This, is fierce love.