Thursday, August 4, 2011

Intuition's Distorted Face



Intuition’s face, the only time I saw it, was so frightening that memories of it continue to haunt and disturb me.  Intuition appeared to me years ago during a women’s spiritual study group. Several weeks into our study of Women Who Run With the Wolves, Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype, by Clarissa Pinkola Estés, PhD, not every woman was thrilled with the book, but I was. Within its pages, I explored deep-seated beliefs about being a woman and my role in the world as I examined my spirituality, my relationships, and my path as a woman, mother, writer, and gardener.

On the surface, life was good. I attended a church I loved and I was committed to my walk as a Christian. I exercised daily. I wrote daily. I gardened. My creativity and sources of inspiration were wide open. I was deeply committed to my family—my husband and my children, as well as my extended family. I was deeply committed to and involved with my friends.
Beneath the surface, however, other events over which I had no control were transpiring. A sense of unease often nudged me from below that surface, but I pushed it down and continued to live a life I was living well.
Intuition continued to nudge that unease to my conscious mind, however, especially because the focus of a few group meetings was a story about intuition. Pinkola Estés’s book relates a Russian fairy tale about Vasalisa and a doll she receives from her dying mother. In the tale, the doll’s magical powers help Vasalisa and guide her in her quest for fire for the family hearth. Vasalisa keeps the doll tucked in her pocket, and, at times, the doll jumps to signal a certain path to follow and to signal danger, much like a guardian angel. Estés relates that the doll represents intuition in women’s lives and that often, intuition jumps around in our pockets, with increasing vigor because we tend to ignore intuition and its message. We might think, as I did during those weeks that stretched into months, that something in life is awry, and we also might dismiss our intuition as imagination, negativity, worry. As I did, we might even voice our concerns, only to be advised that our apprehensions relate to selfishness, imagination, negativity, worry.
Intuition doesn’t allow dismissal. Intuition speaks and jumps, and even though we might look away, intuition sometimes stares us in the face. Intuition was telling me about betrayal, yet I refused to acknowledge, much less believe in, such a betrayal. Betrayal is an ugly concept and an even uglier act. During those group hours of friendship, sharing, and spiritual quests, someone committing betrayal sat across the table from me. Vasalisa’s doll jumped in my pocket, stood on its head, pinched me, yet I ignored it. One day, I could ignore it no more.
Intuition can change a face, just as emotions can change a face. A friend’s face has a different hue, a different shade, a different substance. In such a face, we see caring, truth, wisdom, love, compassion, support. I believe that when we care for someone and they care for us in return, regardless of scars, illness, disfigurement, wounds, a friend’s face reflects love to us and we in turn reflect that love. I cannot be objective about the beauty of those whom I love and who love me in return. I cannot be objective about the face of someone who was once a friend.
I also cannot be objective about the day when intuition changed a face. I sat across the table from a woman whom I considered a friend. I don’t remember the exact conversation that day, but I know Women Who Run With the Wolves was the topic. I looked up and gazed across the table at my friend, and as I did, her face morphed into something twisted, frightening, distorted. Unlike her former appearance, her face changed and was ugly, so ugly. Scared out of my wits, I closed my eyes, shuddered, shook my head, and reopened my eyes. I was relieved to see her face had returned to its former appearance. I don’t know if I was visibly shaken, but the memory haunts me and I feel shaken as I recall that day.
I don’t do drugs, I don’t drink, and I don’t hallucinate, so I have no valid explanation for that eerie incident. Intuition—insight, cognition—is how I answer the question of what happened to my perception. I know I never looked at her the same way after that day. In days to follow, the betrayal became known, and I knew the reason for my unease; I knew my intuition—the face of my intuition—spoke the truth.
I don’t know that acknowledging the nudge of intuition would have changed the events that transpired so many years ago. Clichés exist in abundance about hindsight. Foresight, however, has no attached clichés, so since that time, I listen to the prodding of intuition, feel the doll jump in my pocket, and pause to give attention to the way in which I am directed. I cannot precisely define intuition, but I know it exists within and without me, and it exists for a reason. Giving intuition its due changes the face of my life.

*****

The Ralph Waldo Emerson writing prompt on intuition was sent June 23. It has taken me several weeks to confront my fear about sharing my experience and muster the courage to write about intuition’s face. In the end, I faced my fear and wrote this piece because it might help someone recognize intuition’s face and heed the inner voice we so often ignore, brushing it away like so many breadcrumbs scattered on a tablecloth...

This blog post is part of participating in the #Trust30 30-day writing challenge from ralphwaldoemerson.me. The prompt for June 23, 2011 can be found here:
http://ralphwaldoemerson.me/susan-piver http://ralphwaldoemerson.me/mars-dorian

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