The final layer

Part of my journey towards readying myself for a new relationship is making peace with the past. I’ve got a book, blog posts and hundreds of hours of therapy that tell me I’m healed, but there’s one more layer I’ve yet to unravel. To me, ‘making peace’ means looking at every aspect of my previous relationships to really understand the lessons and gifts of my time spent with each person. At a friend’s suggestion — and not one to do things by halves — I’ve been reading up on the shamanic process of recapitulation. This article has been particularly enlightening:

“Recapitulation, and in particular Shamanic recapitulation (as popularized by Carlos Castaneda‘s books), is the art of excavating through our past storyline chapters, locating the emotional imprints and releasing the charges.  The process, like most things we engage with in our lives, rewires our very brains and establishes new neural pathways. Once done a few times, it is possible to be re-framing our experiences in a continual (moment, daily, weekly) fashion so that we don’t lug so damn much baggage around.”

Moleskines |
Using a combination of journalling, meditation and talking with my therapist I’m slowly working my way back through the years. Some recollections are easier to work through than others. Last week I began reading the journals that chronicle my relationship with my love. One of the benefits of being such a compulsive journaller is I have everything written down in the most astounding detail: conversations, feelings, events, realisations, turning points, printed-out emails… it’s all recorded in a big pile of Moleskines. In all these years I’ve never sat down and read it through from beginning to end. It’s not the most fun I’ve ever had, I’ll be honest, but I’m joining up the dots and learning so much about who I was back then. Who WE were. The frustrations and love…. All of it.

Next will come a whole 10-year relationship to piece back together — I have a box full of journals and photographs for that one. Then the shorter connections of my early twenties and teens, leading back to the relationship at the root of all of this: the one with my absent father.

There are days when I wish I wasn’t such a navel gazer, but it’s the only way I know how to be. I want to know what makes me tick so I can feel deeper, live wider, love better — the unexamined life is not worth living, as Socrates boldly put it. In many ways I’m making up for all the wilfully unconscious times in my life when I plunged into situations and relationships without considering the consequences. Now it’s different. Now I’m different.

I’ve honestly never felt more awake, or alive, in my life.

17 responses
  1. Aline

    I’m sure you’ll get! :) You are a lovely, generous, and always find the truth into yourself. Deserves to love and be loved like anyone else. Trust! Goddess bless you! :)

  2. Jill Salahub

    “What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open,” (Muriel Rukeyser). Split open, or unravel. xo

  3. melanie

    I seriously think we are kindred spirits. I have journals that go back 25 years, avid detailed, and have used recapitulation to clear the decks so to speak. Enjoy yourself through your courageous process Susannah. A really great book that accompanies this is Calling in the One. I found it encouraging and supportive and it took me places that were sometimes a little too scary to go on my own. Here is the link:

  4. Micala Duvoux

    Is it navel gazing or are you the bravest person I “know”? xx

  5. Lydia kimble-wright

    I look forward to hearing about your journey. Once again, you serve as a role model for many of us, and we look forward to you achieving your goals. Blessings.

  6. Lucy Chen

    Whoa! Susannah! You are brave! Like Micala said above. Oh my! I remember tearing and throwing away my journals when I was a teenager because I simply hated them when I read them a year or two after I wrote them. And I never kept journals like that since.

  7. dal

    Hi Susannah, soooo fab to read about you exploring shamanism for healing. It’s one of the most powerful modalities out there (if practised properly) and reaches parts that other therapies just can’t sometimes. I’ve worked with an absolutely amazing shamanic practitioner trained by Alberto Villoldo this past year on an issue I’d not been able to shift in years despite trying. Working with the shamanic practitioner led to big breakthroughs and lots of neural re-wiring! Because of this work (and it hasn’t been easy, my buttons have been seriously pushed and I’ve had to step up massively) I am now in a very loving relationship as well as other big changes. It’s a path of the heart and soul, full of miracles and magic. All the best xxx

  8. Alexis Zinkerman

    Wow. I wish I had the money to see my therapist. I feel I could get even deeper than I already am and really be living life and my loving relationship with my husband.

  9. Kerstin

    I went through a very similar phase of clearing in my early 40s and it was one of the most freeing periods of my life. That Socrates quote reminded me of another quote by Werner Herzog who loathes psychoanalysis so he is kind of saying the opposite but when I read his words they made a lot of sense to me, too: “When you move into an apartment, you cannot start to illuminate every last corner with neon light. If there are no dark corners or hidden niches, your house becomes uninhabitable. Human beings who are trying to self-reflect and explore their innermost being to the last corner become uninhabitable people.” I love the idea of being a habitable person both for myself and the people in my life. So make sure you keep some hidden niches in your wonderful soul :)

  10. luisa

    Wow, you’re brave. I have a box full of journals myself and I already burned many from the worst period of my life in an attempt to “move on”. I wish I could read my journals with genuine curiosity and compassion but I can’t. I cringe every single time. I would like to share an artist I love and who gives a new meaning to the hated word “selfie” her name is Cristina Nuñez and her project is The Self-Portrait experience.
    It takes guts to see oneself in a compassionate way.

  11. Gracey

    Ohh, how fantastic – you lucky girl!

  12. allison

    Kudos to you Susannah – you are one amazingly brave woman.

  13. Anne

    You are so courageous! thank you for all your inspiration.

  14. Sheila Bergquist

    What a journey you’re embarking on, one that will serve you well, I’m sure. I think that’s one of the huge advantages of getting older is that we learn to reflect on things and not just jump in with both feet without looking first! I know my attitudes are very different now (I’m 60) than when I was twenty and for the better. Good for you, Susannah!

  15. Cherie

    Oh the places you’ll go!

  16. Sarah

    You are so awesome my love xxx

  17. lori

    You are such a beautiful example of living from your heart. A wayshower, showing us the only way out is through. Thank you for being so brave and real.

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