“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek”

-Joseph Campbell

I hid away in my head for so long, my body became a foreign land to me. A scarred and brutal landscape where demons roamed free. A place of nightmares. I lived in the past and the future, always afraid of presence. Afraid to cross that border, lest those demons tore me apart.

My body never belonged to me. I felt no right to lay claim to it. It just hung from me, like a broken doll, long forgotten by the child I was. Left out in the rain.

I hid away in the corners of my mind, tried to banish the worst memories across the border where I hoped they’d decay. I hid in books, tried to lose myself forever in their worlds but every time I turned the last page I was returned to myself with a sickening jolt. I hid in dreams of a life in which I was pure, in which my body was not the enemy but a lover, a sanctuary; a lush wilderness. Soft grass underfoot, a gentle breeze playing with my hair. An ancient forest filled with the songs of trees. A still lake to drown the secrets I whispered to the moon.

I ran far, as far as I could from the centre of myself. Far from the shame and the guilt of Being. I hid from myself on planets so far from home they are yet unnamed. Sometimes, I thought I’d succeeded. I could become invisible to myself for a time, but I’d always wake up on Earth, carrying this wretched body, filled with memories and demons I could not bear to face. I cursed my body. I felt I was a curse.

I ran from love, because I felt unworthy of such beauty. I held my breath because my breath took me into my body: that land of misery, of suffering and eternal darkness. The knots in my muscles were vast grey cities, unspeakable monsters lay in wait around every corner. There I felt trapped, hunted amongst endless concrete towers under a sunless sky. No light could find me here, no warmth. There was only the sickly, dull-red glow of shame.

And so I ran, until I could run no more. Again and again I tried to crawl out of my skin, leave this body behind but my breath kept calling me. Finally, I lost the will to struggle. I collapsed into myself, surrendered to my breath. I crossed the border, started making my way toward the centre. In the emptiness between those cities, I planted seeds beneath cloudy, shame-red skies. My tears were the rain that caused them to sprout- tiny fragile shoots of green that reached for the light of a long-forgotten sun. That sun was my anger, my worth, and I had banished it- perhaps even in another life, so long ago I could barely remember its magnificence, but those tiny green shoots sang a song I did remember, and I continued my journey to the centre.

I explored slowly, deliberately, even as my mind pleaded me to return, to run away with it. The pain was almost unbearable at first- still, I breathed. Deeper and deeper I travelled. I came upon an ocean of grief, and though I feared I might drown, I knew I must dive in. My grief taught me to swim. Its depths strengthened me, and in my strength I turned to face my first demon. I found him somewhere in my shoulder, a terrible prince. He held out his hand to me with a wicked smile, and with all my courage, I took it. He led me to a great banquet hall and to my surprise, I was not on the menu. We broke bread. I listened to his stories, each more horrific than the last. He grew ever more beautiful with each one, and I lighter. He showed me where I had hidden my anger. My worth.

As the dawn broke over the city for the first time, we parted ways with an embrace.

Now I was the hunter. I found more demons in my shoulders, in my neck, in my hips and chest and legs. I listened to their stories, watched them transcend as they bathed in the light of my awareness. I brought them gifts; the fruits and songs of the trees I had planted in the wilderness. We danced, we laughed. The dawn broke, and broke, and broke as I travelled closer to the centre of myself, and I realised my worth, and I knew I was unafraid.

Now, I inhabit my body. I rule over these lands as a rightful Queen, from my throne at the centre, in my knowing. My tears, the rain. My anger, the sun. Now, my body is my own territory, and with great fortitude I will defend it always. I no longer hide from love for I know as a Queen, love is my birthright, and is not something outside of myself. Love is simply what I am. What I always was.

Now, I am present. I am both blessed, and a blessing.

Now, I remember.

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