Sunday, January 03, 2010

Meeting My Twin

Sitting in a circle at the monthly shamanic journey meeting that I occasionally attend, I only noticed my neighbor to my right because she was chomping her gum. For some reason, recently, noises bother me more than normal, and this noise bothered me a lot. We were in a dark room, the sun was just setting, there was a candle in the middle of the room on a piece of cloth that was surrounded by sacred objects – an altar in the center of the space. There was incense in the air. People talked softly. The shaman tested his drum. The space felt warm, healing, and sacred. And this girl sat, slumped in her chair, chomping her gum.

We went around the room introducing ourselves, and it was only when it came to her turn to tell us about herself that I turned and looked at her. Because she has the same name as I do. I looked at the gum-chomping girl, smiling in recognition and amusement at the coincidence that we had the same name, and noticed that, in some ways, she was a mirror of me. She had limp dirty-blond hair, like me, acne streaked her cheeks (I have had acne since I was 10), she had pale blue eyes. And she shared my name. There was something about her that reminded me of myself, or of some part of myself.

We continued going around the room, and after a few people had gone, I turned to my twin and asked her if she could take the gum out of her mouth, because it was distracting me. Barely looking at me, she started raking around in her purse for a piece of paper in which to deposit the gum, and did so. When I said thank you, she didn’t acknowledge me.

I found myself becoming judgmental of my twin; she was skinny and staring, slumped gracelessly in her chair. When she had introduced herself, she had said something forgettable, something about “Just being a random Meetup person” with nothing about why she would attend something as spiritually weird as a shamanic journey group. She had no personality that I could sense. She was without spirit, energyless. Later, when we went around the room sharing our journeys, she was the only one who chose not to share; when we held hands before breaking the circle, her hand in mine was limp and lifeless.

During and after the group, I kept thinking about her. Why was this girl so compelling, in a strange way? What did she trigger in me? I felt judgmental of her and also strangely protective. But I also wanted to shake her just to get some life into her.

I realized that there was part of me that was afraid I was like that – limp, dull, uninteresting and uninterested. Like she was a shadow part of me that I didn’t want to acknowledge, a child part of me, that I wanted to protect . I wanted to turn to her and urge her to find the fire inside that would sustain her, or else she’d just fade away, the way I sometimes fear I will. I realize I still don’t respect her, but I’m fascinated by her. The way her eyes didn’t focus on anything, the way , in body language and vocal tone, she carefully communicated unimportance to everyone who saw her or heard her speak. Yet in the gum-chomping was a sort of brazenness; the part of her that gave the finger to the rest of us, and by not participating in the group, she was telling us, too, that we didn’t matter, and that our experiences were not important, the way she was unimportant.

And there is a part of me that’s like that, that hides yet projects “fuck you” energy to anyone else who dares stand up for their own spirit. There’s a jealousy there, sometimes, when I hear people speak unequivocally and bravely about their deep, dark life. I judge them or silently mock them. And that evening, I met part of my shadow, someone who physically manifested that part of me. And someone who reminded me to sit up, feel the fire and the energy of the universe flowing through me, to speak strongly, to show up, to own my own soul and spirit, and to never apologize for who I am nor judge others for who they are.


dann said...

You are too good of a writer to not write professionally. I love reading your blog Melissa. Write MORE!!

bechtoldlifework said...

Hi Melissa - Thanks so much for coming over to my blog and leaving your delightful comment. Here's a bit of serendipity: right before I saw your comment, I had just clicked over to you from Belinda's site, was dazzled by what I read, decided I needed to think about it before I commented, and then discovered your waiting comment on my blog. Neat, huh? Anyway, I don't think I've ever read such a deep and wise personal exploration of shadow. I was struck by how your twin is all of us; we are all limp and dull, and of course strong and vibrant. We are all of it. And stopping long enough to see this right in front of your eyes must have been profound.

BTW, one of my favorite books is "Owning Your Own Shadow" by Robert Johnson. Plus your writing is just fabulous.

All the best, Patty (

Honey B said...

Thank you both, so much! I'll have to check out the shadow book; I'm fascinated by the concept.


Scott said...

your words move my soul. I feel driven to your site for more glimpses of this amazing kindred spirit. your poem on sadness touched me deeply, and i feel I know you more than I know my friends, my family. Thanks for sharing yourself, your beautiful heart.
Love your Sadness poem. Seems comfort comes in many guises, no?

Belinda Munoz said...

Hello Melissa,
What a great read! Your words are engaging, truthful and profound. Glad I finally clicked over. And I smiled when I saw that Patty's already been here. So cool that you've already bumped into each other.
Be well,