I returned almost a month ago from Spain, from a book tour with my novel in Spanish, Niña Duende: Un Viaje del Espíritu, presented in four cities (Madrid, Murcia, Málaga, and Granada) and six venues. My journey to Spain was a homecoming, a return to the land that had shown me my soul. And this time I came with my novel, written while in the U.S., a kind of exile from that home.
My soul is tender now, not just because my gift as a writer and healer and as the person I am were beautifully received, but because, upon returning home to New Mexico, I now feel a truth I wrestled with almost 20 years ago, when healing from hip pain in New England.
Back then, while in pain and learning to listen to my soul’s voice, I wrote about feeling angry at being asked to “unmask” myself. I had worked with shamans from Ecuador, translating for them in events, and one had told me, ever so subtly, that maybe my whole journey of healing was about becoming soft again, about softening, which for me was a kind of “unmasking”.
Twenty years ago, that meant becoming that little, vulnerable girl I had once been. “How dare you ask me to soften when I’ve worked so hard to gain the power, strength, and courage I have had to survive,” I wrote in my journal in 2001. “I feel the younger person I was didn’t have any power or value, and that all the power and value I had, I had to build from the ashes of my father’s blaze.”
It’s especially interesting reading those words of long ago, when today, a month since returning from Spain, I awoke from a dream that resonated with what I had written. I dreamed I was in high school again, and I had just come from Spain to the U.S. and felt extremely alone inside those school walls. In my dream, I felt what it had been like back then, entering into an environment that had been so harsh and foreign to me. And I woke up feeling the angst and trauma of it all, while also getting how I had coped back then by shutting down, becoming depressed, numb, and disconnected because it wasn’t safe to feel the pain of being a stranger among all these students I was meant to connect with, yet couldn’t. I got how a part of me had, as they say in the shamanic world, lost a part of my soul when I came to the U.S. and needed to survive.
As I lay in bed this morning, feeling all of this, I got so clearly that this is so much what happens to all of us. Every one of us experiences different traumas that we need to survive, and in order to do so, a part of us leaves, shuts down, disappears. We keep on going, appear normal to the outside world, but later, somewhere down the road, we pay the price, because a part of us is locked down, gone, and without this part, we are not whole. And then we hit some big wall in life—as I did with my injury and not being able to walk—and then the journey backwards, toward those moments in which we shut off and dissociate, begins. Because we must go back and retrieve those parts of us that we left somewhere else while we were busy surviving.
This morning, after my dream, I meditated, and I felt my soul’s tenderness. I really felt it. Because I got so clearly that all the places in our lives where we stop feeling, where we have to override our soul’s tenderness, our soul’s beautiful soft body that is as light and agile as the wind or a feather, need to be felt. We need to feel these moments where we weren’t really present, where we checked out, and we need to check back in, with immense compassion for our soul’s beauty and tenderness. We need to feel, and feel, and feel again, and less the fright we felt, and more that soft, vulnerable part of us that we shut down yet wants to be seen…that truly human, big-hearted part of us that we need with us so we can be our full soul-selves in our bodies. Then, and only then, can we experience true joy for living.
Ironically, when I came back from Spain this time, I met up with a woman who had been in my high school class in New Jersey, yet was now living in New Mexico. And what I discovered is that we had a lot in common and were very much on a similar spiritual path. Yet this time, unlike so many other times I had returned to the U.S. from Spain, I was able to feel that child I once had been who had gotten lost in the U.S. I returned to New Mexico to make peace with that trauma I had experienced as a child when I had originally come to the U.S. from Spain. And now, that tenderness of my soul, that soft body, can more fully come home inside me.
I see now, that when I, or any of us, feel that sense of agitation, that disconnect in our lives, that it’s really a call to feel that tenderness that is our essence, and inside that space, to feel those parts of ourselves that were left behind and that long to return, to be seen, to be felt, to be whole within us again.
My Novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is a story of returning home to the earth inside and all around us. It’s now available in Spanish as Niña Duende: Un Viaje del Espiritu, that’s available on Amazon at Amazon Page or at www.michelleadam.net. It can be ordered at a local bookstore or directly from me (for those outside of the U.S.) as well. Also, watch a brief video on “duende”, “the spirit of the earth” in Spanish: https://youtu.be/FaRK7wOHcJU, and in English: YouTube Video
Michelle Adam is an experienced writer, teacher, and healer. She recently published her novel, Child of Duende, after twenty-plus years as a magazine and newspaper writer. Her articles have appeared in The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education Magazine; Hibernia Magazine, an Irish magazine; Vista Magazine, a Hispanic insert of major national newspapers; and multiple other publications.
Michelle has also been a photographer and artist; has taught middle school students Spanish for the past dozen years; and has worked as a healer and shaman. Michelle has created healing and teaching circles of song and sound, assisting others in awakening the spirit of the earth, “duende,” within them, and creating a space for the celebration of life.