When did you die?


One day, in my late thirties, I was driving across the state of Florida, enjoying the scenery, the landscape, and the immense blessings of nature, when all of a sudden I had a strong thought: What if I swallowed my tongue on this long country road and died? How long would it take someone to find me? This was before we all had cell phones.

With this fleeting fear—which took me almost out of my body, because I could barely breathe—I realized that I needed to share this with someone, so I told my shaman teacher and confidant during our next appointment.
As I mentioned earlier, I was raised in the South, where you do not share your deep secrets. I had learned to tell my teachers and the other people in my life only the good things they wanted to hear, so for me to tell my teacher—who had been telling me how gifted I was as a healer—that I had such deep fears was a huge breakthrough. I was so afraid that I would diminish in her eyes and that she would be disappointed in me.

This fear, like a constantly open window running on my computer, had been an integral part of my life long enough, and I was ready to do something about it. I began to list all the things I had been afraid of over the years, and although I had outgrown some of them, like the need to always wash my hands, new fears would take their place. As a kid, I saw someone trying to get in my window; as an adult I felt dark energy outside the door. And now I was telling Berenice Andrews, my shaman teacher, that for no reason whatsoever I feared swallowing my tongue and dying on the highway.

It was an incredible relief to share all these things with another person and never feel judged for my words, my fears, and my feelings. Immediately, what I noticed the most was that just naming and claiming the fears gave me relief. I could now see clearly in my life there is no breakthrough without feeling the ‘ache’ (break) and ‘ooh’ (through). It is so common for us in our humanness to feel some of the ache and never approach the “walking through” part.

Excerpt: When Did You Die?

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