Emotional Alchemy Part 2 – Storytelling as a technique and a friendly berserk
This is a follow-up to this post: https://facingthefireswithin.wordpress.com/2012/11/25/emotional-alchemy/
I had promised to discuss some longer term approaches as time progressed and now is the time to talk about one I personally used tying to my child and my own anger and fears. From last summer and before, I was struggling with tremendous anger and frustrations. I have hesitated to discuss this on a public blog post and will still keep most details to myself but will focus on the fact that I WAS raging in very destructive ways which, at one point, nearly affected my child.
I have had no greater fear in my life than harming someone I love. This has been with me since childhood and is not something I have a desire to completely resolve but, when my child might feel threatened, that hurt me terribly. There were other, internally destructive, issues to face but part of dealing with my rage was finding a way to soften that terrible anger to my child while still maintaining anger as legitimate and not hiding the emotions. I firmly believe that ignoring such feelings, hiding them or “stuffing them down” is a serious mistake.
Without covering all the details, I reached the point that I was raging in one room while my daughter was in another room. The power of it was terrible, and something I could not allow to continue. At the beginning, I had not looked into anger from a heathen perspective and started with Stoic meditation. In time, when I realized that no longer worked well enough, I began to research the history of the berserks and related elements that led to where I am now. Now, the storytelling piece I am about to mention was not initially a conscious thing but flowed from the need to entertain my child at bedtime but also became a way to soften the effects of my rage and anger.
I began to tell the story of a friendly berserk warrior who loved children and drew his power from a gentler form of bear spirit that other berserks would not waste their time with. The story started with an origin, saving children in the forest and then proceeded into fighting a dragon rather like the end of Beowulf (and earning his sword in the process) and onto many stories since then. At first, I saw them as stories to entertain my child but over time I realized that they really served to soften my own anger to myself. By telling the story of a friendly berserk who would never harm a child, I also programmed and reassured myself that I would do no harm either. From there, I found ways to talk to my child about my anger and what I called “little Fenris” (that inner Fenrir that represents our own beast but can be controlled, with effort). I introduced the concept to her in a story where the friendly berserk encountered Fenris in a dream realm but became partially possessed and has to sometimes fight the little Fenris inside so that his anger does not harm others.
I know this worked in several ways:
1) My child has said to me more than once since: “Daddy, does he have a little Fenris in him?” when watching a film or other presentation.
2) She has been around my angry boxing workouts without it bothering her or me. I can even tell her it is how I deal with “little Fenris”.
3) We have worked together on breathing exercises together as part of dealing with our emotions.
4) I have shown her other elements of my practice, including symbols and altar elements without any worry on my part.
5) I have no fear of my anger harming my child.
Emotional alchemy can come in many forms. This is a long term transformation involving the power of story to change our internal narrative. While I had not read the book during this process, I do recommend this one: http://www.amazon.com/Storytelling-Animal-Stories-Make-Human/dp/0547391404/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1356482208&sr=1-1&keywords=storytelling+animal. It talks about the importance of storytelling and internal story to the human condition. I highly recommend the book. It also refers to some of the neurology involved.
So, in the end, remember that we can determine many elements of our own story and that story telling has tremendous power to affect and change us. Try a bit yourself, it might take you places you never realized possible.