A little poison seed.
I keep it curled up in my innermost cells.
It was formed at the same time that I was –
As sperm met egg and they merged into one potential
One little zygote, lodged firmly against the womb wall of my Mother.
In that beginning the seed was planted
A poisonous seed of threat, of un-safety, of need.
It was watered by the stress chemicals in my Mother’s neurochemistry
So even as I grew around it, as I unfolded out from myself in all directions
Developing lungs, liver, heart and spleen, gallbladder, intestines
And all the other wondrous webs of interconnection
That toxic uncertainty, that feeling of cellular doubt remained.
Holographic, permeating my developing being with it’s message that all is not well.
It remained, this little poison seed
And it grew into a little poison tree
A nameless matrix of constriction and anxiety
That grew dark and uncertain in the forest of my body
A threat that I could not find for it was part of my very cells
And yet it’s message was clear…escape.
So… escape then, flee!
Six weeks early out of the womb and into an incubator
There, separated from consistent and sure attachment
The little poison tree grew stronger.
“See?”, it said, “even here, away from that poisoned well, you are still unsafe”.
Then from the incubator into the furnace
of silent, suburban misery where all looked well
while serpents swam under the surface, unspoken and unseen.
But my little guts felt all that was unsaid.
Felt the violence and rage lurking behind the uncertain eyes of my Father
Felt the depression and anxiety swimming in the cells of my Mother
Felt the hatred of their own unresolved misery as it poisoned our home.
The poison tree was validated when they split apart so soon after my arrival
Was vindicated the first time my Father’s hand met my flesh with violence
Was sure of it’s ground when the rage erupted on one side
When the depression simmered on the other
Was fertilized and began to flower when my brother sickened and died
When my sister left the house that Christmas Eve night
Amid shouted allegations and hatred, never to return.
The world is not safe.
The world is not safe.
The world is not safe.
As I grew big so did my poison tree.
It was in the depression and anxiety that now filled my body and mind
It was in the clumsiness and false bravado that led to all those stupid falls and injuries
It was in the compression and constriction of my muscles and bones
In the irregularity and misery of my bowels
In the need for that next smoke, that next hit
That next sweet and fleeting relief.
And so it would have stayed.
That poisonous seed grown to poisonous tree
Would surely have created within me
The same poisonous cancer flowers
That took my brother
If not for one thing,
My will to heal.
It was my will to heal that took me far away from my home.
My will to heal that led me into the wilderness
With only my backpack and my banjo on my knee
That led me to the jungle spirits of Hawaii
To the healing waters of the Oregon forests.
It was my will to heal that led the expedition
To explore my own untamed inner wilderness
Where I began to hack away the dead vines and rotten flowers
Where I began to uncover that hidden, suffering tree.
It was my will to heal that brought me the gift of my wife
Who led me by the hand out from my 15 years in the woods and into the world
Where I began to consider that maybe, just maybe the world could, possibly, be a safe place.
It was my will to heal that led me to discover
The everyday miracle of psychobiological healing
And to undertake that training myself
So that I could help others navigate their own uncertain depths.
And it was my will to heal that brought me
Yesterday afternoon, to my mentor’s office
That wise, old man who is counselor and advocate, catalyst and friend.
It was my will to heal
And the culmination of 20 years of self-effort
Learning, willingness to sense myself and be with what was found
That, combined with the skilled guidance of my old wizard ally
Led to me encountering, yesterday afternoon, my inner-most nemesis
That old, poison seed from whence grew that old, poison tree.
I lay there in the wizard’s office
On his table, in the present moment
And at the same time I was there
Within my cells, curled up behind my belly-button
Where I at last truly unearthed that old, poison seed.
I said to those poor uncertain cells
Which still vibrated with the fear of their beginnings.
Come out and see.
Come and feel.
Feel these loving hands holding my head.
See this room where I am safe.
And the seed heard.
And the seed felt.
My body flexed and then constricted
Turning onto my side, curled up in the same manner
As that developing fetus was, so long ago.
The wizard moved to my side and leaned his body there
All along my back, warm and inviting – a living, present-day womb
Where I, now a little cluster of vibrating cells
Now a grown man of 42
was firmly attached.
And into the silence of that moment he spoke the perfect words
That the little, poison seed never got to hear, so long ago…
“It’s ok. We are here. It’s safe now. You are wanted. We’ve been waiting for you.”
The seed heard.
The seed felt.
I used to have a seed.
I used to have a little, poison seed that
Grew into a big old blackened tree.
But now that seed is gone,
The tree is green,
And I am free.