I was out for dinner with friends this week and the subject of my Quest came up. My girlfriend said the reason she’s too afraid to come is because of bears.
She said she’s talked to several others who’ve said the same.
I have some thoughts.
Thoughts involving bears, fear, love and healing attachment wounds.
Bears vs. Twisted Ankles
First, let’s just be clear about our facts:
- Our Quest site is not in grizzly country.
- As of this writing, in the past 12 months there have been over 1600 Search And Rescue calls in BC, 3 of which involved bears.None of which involved injury due to bear attack.
(As opposed to 39 calls involving dementia/Alzheimer’s and 33 involving twisted ankles.)
But let’s be honest, you’re not really afraid of the bears.
Yes, I believe that you feel scared, but not really of bears.
Our Attachment Injuries Show Up In Our Spiritual Life
If you’re a person who tends to feel anxiously insecure in relationships with people, often that will emerge in your relationship More-Than-Human Beings (including Nature and Spirit).
The “signal cry” is the alert that our needs aren’t being met and we fear they never will be; or they might be, but inadequately.
For infants, the signal cry is literally crying. For adults the signal cry can be expressed as complaining, “come here, go away” behaviours, or excessive verbalization. (Talk, talk, talk things over at length, in detail, in attempt to be heard in the right way).
The signal cry can can also be expressed as asking a ton of questions.
What if…? But what if…? What do I do if…? But what about…?
Constant mental looping and verbalization keeps the signal cry on, because we’re afraid if the signal goes off, we’ll die.
We develop a strong internal, Yes, but…
The problem is, some of the time we actually are receiving what we’re asking for, but receiving has triggered our chronic expectation of disappointment.
(“Yes, you’re attending to my needs now, but soon you’ll stop and I’ll be on my own again.”)
Yes-But behaviour is a form of self-regulation, but in the wrong direction because it leads to even more feelings of isolation. You don’t learn how to let the good stuff sink in and stay.
These folks sometimes need help recognizing how often they negate love and they may need practice learning to trust it. The consistency of the earth is often good medicine for this purpose.
If you’re a person who tends to be avoidant in relationships with people, it might take some effort to allow yourself to be cracked open by the care offered to you by More-Than-Human Beings.
Folks with an Avoidant Attachment adaptation can be overly fortified by their competence. They’ve “figured out” how to keep themselves at a safe distance from others…which of course means they never get to feel held. Cared for. Supported. Nurtured.
Which is incredibly isolating.
They don’t know how to rest in the care of other beings.
Often, they can easily be in the company of Nature and More-Than-Human beings, but allowing themselves to feel deeply loved, nurtured and supported is a different story.
They might cognitively understand they need rest, but they don’t know how to do it.
Furthermore, they may not yet be entirely convinced of their right to exist in the world, never mind to have needs.
So when faced with a loving, adoring More-Than-Human being (like a mountain or tree or feeling of ancestral presence), they can stiffen up and contract. They can feel a bit flooded or unsettled. Or shift too quickly into action mode. (“How can I serve? What would you have me do? Teach me. Just show me what you want.“)
These folks sometimes need help learning to develop an intentional practice of approach, and develop an intentional practice of asking to be met and matched. They must learn to tolerate being nurtured and cared for and supported.
You’re not really afraid of bears.
I’ve never seen someone go on Quest and spend the time plagued by fear.
More often than not, I’ve seen people dissolve into puddles as their inner walls collapse along with their anxiety.
Their fear melts away as they feel themselves beloved by the earth, and the stars and the moon.
I’ve seen their deeper truth reveal itself as a fear they will be left hanging, that nothing will show up for them in the liminal spaces. That the magic won’t happen for them.
Instead what occurs in an overwhelming awareness of being loved and blessed and taken into the heart of the earth, sheltered by the plants and fungi and trees, and aided by the animals, spiritual guides and elements.
…And sometimes they even feel a tad ashamed that they ever doubted and resisted such love.
You belong in the world.
You are alive and welcome and wanted here.
The mountain and its residents, the inhabitants of the unseen realms, your ancestors and guides: all of them want you to feel seen, safe, secure, and soothed by their loving presence in your life.
They want to bless you.
You just have to show up.