The Soft Underbelly | Meghan Gilroy

Images are healing balms to me.

I’ll notice how I’m feeling… and if I sit with the feeling, an image will emerge – one that allows me to articulate exactly what I’m experiencing. The relief of being able to feel, see, and put words to my inner world is immense.

I especially delight in pulling an image into clarity that contrasts an outdated, inaccurate one that I’m growing out of or is based on how I think I “should” be. What a deep, sustaining gulp of fresh air to shed an old skin.

And there’s been lots of shedding going on these days, wouldn’t you agree?

Lately I’ve been feeling anxious, frustrated, unsure of my purpose, agitated, scattered, and full of self-doubt. I haven’t been liking myself much. I don’t recognize who I am. There’s a strong sense of “you are here, but you should be there!” Why aren’t you there? What’s your problem?!?

Ouch. This is not kind. Or loving.

Where’s “there”?

“There” is powerful, purposeful, financially abundant, together. Strong, brave.

An images forms.

Native woman, riding horseback across an open plain. Her black eyes glint in the sun and can bore a hole into you. She is adorned in feathers and paint, the finest leather.  She is an all-powerful shaman warrior woman.

Her stature and composure are formidable.

And yet she doesn’t make me feel safe. She’s up on a pedestal, on this stallion. Her feet don’t touch the ground.

And she is so exposed. Out there in the sun.

Whoosh. An arrow cuts through the air and takes her out.

I draw in again. Sit. Wait. Back to what I’m feeling inside. There is a clawing sensation, a cracking. Something new wants to emerge, come out. I feel uncomfortable in my own skin. Like the pre-schoolers at Shaman Boy’s Holiday Concert that couldn’t stand still and didn’t know what to do with their hands.

Another image emerges.

I catch glimpses of a creature who’s hiding in the shadows. This creature is mysterious, intriguing. “Who are you?,” I call out. She’s peeking out from behind a tree, long hair flowing, partially covering her face. A woodland nymph?

Twigs and moss are tangled in her hair. Her dress is gauzy. She easily fades into the brush. She’s born of the earth and is quite comfortable in her element, yet a little unsure about exposing herself. She is a beauty, with a shy vulnerability. Yet underneath her evasiveness is a strength.

We stare at each other for long minutes, unblinking.

She turns slightly and I see she has a quiver of arrows on her back. When needed, she’s not afraid to take a direct shot at the heart.

I want to reach out for her, to pull her out of the shadows so I can see her better. But when I reach out for her hand, she snarls at me. She’s a little distrustful of the sunlight.

So I get still again and connect with her eyes. She’s completely present and willing to reveal herself to me in this softer, quieter way.

Then I see. I see that I am her.

Oh, my sweet tender love. You are not how I envisioned. I thought I’d go out into the world as the all-powerful shaman warrior woman – big and having it all together and strong. But no, this is not me.

You, my woodland nymph, are asking me to show my soft-underbelly. To let my strength rest in my open, vulnerable heart. To let go of who I think I should be and what I think I should look like and just be me. Sweet, vulnerable, messy-strong me.

Quick as a flash, she steps from the shadows, takes aim with her bow and launches her arrow straight at my heart. Zing! It lands on target.

Totally confident. Complete purpose and peace. Then back to blending in.

This I can do. To have the forest at my back, to live in my own private inner world. Then step out when called, when certain. Until then, one with everything, waiting, observing, biding my time.

Perhaps one day I will ride fully in the sun, on horseback, exposed, for all to see.

Until then, you’ll find me near the forest edge.

And you?

What are you feeling?

What are you seeing?

What words and images are healing, soothing to you, today?

Come out and play, as you are. Now. Here. All of you is welcome.


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