It was my dreams, and later an email from a friend, that reminded me of a legacy of rejections, but it was the great blue heron in its silent flight to water, who reminded me of resilience and strength.
As Ted Andrews notes in his book Animal Speak, the heron is a symbol of self-reliance and inner strength. Although the heron has the power of voice, it is known for its quiet, stealth-like nature. Unless it is breeding and tending to its young, the heron is often alone. The choice to spend much of its life in solitude benefits, instead of hinders the heron’s ability to survive and thrive.
In light of recent events, I have been thinking about the concept of rejection. I was, in essence, rejected before my birth. My father had wanted a boy, my mother, no child at all. Yet, I was born a girl of “truth.” I was destined to experience the lessons of resilience and rejection throughout this life. What started as a birth mark, became legacy of wounds that would cut into my soul, scar-over, and open again, and I would learn how to persevere and survive.
The heron teaches us how to find the truth inside. When I started unraveling my mother’s truth from my own, I experienced the slow, painful, yet freeing release of the bonds I had desperately held throughout childhood.
In her email, my friend wrote about feeling like an orphan with family. It is a concept I have often associated with. When I began to reject to truths I was raised on, I was rejected once more by my mother, and the stepfather who’s truths she has always favored. I have, in essence, become an orphan with living parents. Yet, I have not lost everything. I have, through this process of rejection and self-discovery, uncovered my truths, and with them, the permission to love and include the people in my life I once rejected.
Last night I had a series of dreams, most of which have by now become the blurred snapshots of scenes. It’s funny how the feelings that are evoked from our dreams linger more strongly sometimes than the images. Like most nights since Easter, I experienced dreams about my childhood family. Last night, I was back at my childhood home, but as an adult, attempting to hide from my angry stepfather. He found me in the garden, where I was emerging from the covers of a bed.
This brief snapshot of the dream that I recall is filled with symbolism. Not only am I still unearthing the fear deeply imbedded in my cells from childhood, my soul is seeking the rebirth of the true self.
My friend and I have been corresponding about rhizomes and the totipotent abilities of plants. Referencing the french philosopher Gilles Deleuze, she wrote, “to our detriment, western society has been too obsessed with the idea of unity, progeny, singularity, seed–the model of the tree.” Instead, it is the metaphor of a rhizome that he applauds, as she wrote, “a tuber who can shoot off brand new shoots in any direction, at any time, and is not “unified” so that several new places of growth can’t always be linked to the same seed. I love this sense of family! I am and I am not my father’s seed. I am so much more and other.”
As am I. I am my mother’s daughter, and my father’s (both of them), but I am not. I am a collection of cells and their memories that have chosen to grow a new form, to break apart once more, and grow again, new and separate. I have retained the memories of the original form(s), yet I am becoming my own, self-reliant self. As my dream reflected, I am still shedding the imprint of fear to emerge new and whole from the garden of self. Fear, I have found, is a hard habit to break.
Later in the night I found myself flying, it seems, as I was level with rooftops, along a street with beautiful buildings. As I passed each structure, my eye examined the intricate details of the designs. Instead of the clutch of fear I had experienced in the previous dream, I was filled with the breath of freedom and bliss. I was the heron studying all the gifts I held inside (and out).