Boundaries have been on my heart a lot the past year. Many times, shrugging them off, I say I will get back to this shadow work another time. So it came as no surprise that the Divine decided to painfully remind me of boundaries during my time in the desert lands off of Route 66. What better time to do shadow work when you're in the middle of nowhere with little cellphone service...?
My first encounter with boundary work on good old route 66 came barreling in when we nearly slammed into a burro with our Jeep. This little guy was just hanging out in the middle of the road with his ears perked and ready for connection. When we stopped in the road, holding up "traffic" (desert traffic is like one other car), the burro decided to greet us. He swooped over to my side of the car, poking his ears in through my window, taking up my personal space with very little discernment and showing me lots of love.
This cutie could have been run over by us, fed something poison, nudged away causing wounds. None of this of course happened in our presence, but what if? The burro creates these relationships without first truly examining if there is danger. Why? To get his needs met. Just like many of us do.
Some in the therapy world call this "fawning" which is a trauma response using exaggerated flattery or affection to get a need met. Our emotions lead us into relationships and environments that cause us harm because we snap into survival mode, ignoring our intuition and our boundaries. It had me thinking, when in my life have I been the burro, led by my desires without balancing discernment? My answer: a TON of times. And the repercussions were NOT worth the "reward." All of this thought work was happening in my psyche but very quickly was demonstrated to me in physical form..
Fast forward less than 24 hours later and I'm making my first Tik Tok video because I finally came to the conclusion that it's not just for people 15 years younger than me and I need to let my unhealed ego parts be set aside and just try it out. And I did-and it's fun:) But anyway, I'm heading into the trailer from making my video and I felt a sharp pain at my ankle. I look down and a massive cactus ball is lodged into my skin. (cactus ball is a word I think) But it is deep in there and I try grabbing it to pull it out which stings even more. Eric ended up gently pulling it out one spike at a time.
"What the heck" I thought. I didn't even try to step on this thing and it literally jumped out, causing itself pain just to attack me. When have I been like the cactus? Hurting others before they can hurt me? Always keeping them at a distance as to not get hurt? Again, my answer is "A LOT." This can be a trauma response, just like "fawning" is in the burro's case. I began to wonder how I could find balance on the "burro to cactus" scale. How can I use discernment while being open to healthy relationships?
I decided I was tired of thinking about all this and would "deal with it later." Not even two hours later, I was shown how deceptive a mentor I had in my life, was. Without getting into those details, this mentor was manipulative in a way I had not been expecting, but felt coming. My intuition was warning me of this experience that would happen from the moment I stepped into the relationship. I kept having stomachaches when jumping onto zoom calls with her. I kept pulling the "protection" card and saw exampled after example of lack of integrity. I continued to share with her even when I felt a deep NO in my belly. Yet I ignored it because I had a need and this person appeared to be helpful and a guide. I ignored those gut feelings, pushed them aside and was met with a major lesson in boundaries, sharing and protection.
I was so angry and hurt by this that I stormed outside and screamed into a beautiful sunset. I took some deep breaths after a few dozen cuss words and realized this was my lesson in boundaries. I am here to face it. It is here, not to push me into being a cactus, shut out from the world, but to trust myself, even deeper. I spoke into this Arizona sunset that from here on out, I will listen to my body, I will trust my intuition and adjust my boundaries accordingly. It isn't wrong to be open and share. It isn't wrong to protect ourselves in the face of danger. There will always be a spectrum, and that is why we have been given these beautiful Spirits within a body, to be our compass.
How does your intuition speak to you in these circumstances? Mine is in my stomach. I can instantly feel how my body wants me to respond to a new relationship. I will take a hand to my belly and allow it to speak to me when asking where I'm meant to be with this new job, relationship, etc from a scale of burro to cactus. I invite you to do a similar practice, placing a palm on the area that most speaks to you intuitively and feel, listen, know.
May we continue to trust this compass as it leads us into a life of balanced boundaries.
If you're seeking community + accountability with topics like this, join me over at our online community Ceremony Space.
With love + discernment,
April in the desert