Many people and cultures believe, that as humans, we travel through life with a collection of spiritual guides. Some believe that these helpers show up in the form of spirit animals, and that through them we can learn life lessons and wisdom. For the past month my spirit animal has been roadkill.
I have been feeling ugly, squished, caught unaware, and flat out spiritually assaulted. Just when I feel like I can drag myself back onto my feet, a semi truck comes along and knocks me flat again. These situations have left me a mess on the inside, as well as the out. My brain has been full of hateful, horrible things that find their way out of my mouth.
Now normally I would tell you that I love a good, properly placed swear word. Exclaiming, “shitballs!” helps me release stress and acknowledge the craziness of a moment like few other words can. Cussing gives movement to my frustration, expression to my feelings, and once I’ve said it – I can move on.
But lately, in my state of strife, those swear words have taken up a greater percentage of my brain space, and consequently my vocabulary. As you can imagine, roadkill does not have a lot of pleasantries to share about their position in the world. For the last month I would wake up and fall asleep with the f-word in my thoughts. As I showered and got ready for the day I would mumble my half of a hate filled conversation. Often, I would tell myself to stop, and literally shake my head, trying get rid of the negativity. But I just couldn’t. The ugly thoughts were there… always there. Let me tell you, these thoughts and words did nothing to improve my defeated, puffy-eyed, tear-stained appearance.
Last week I was with a co-worker who doesn’t often swear. Her newbie-young-elementary-teacher vibe simply glows and radiates from every, sweet, pore of her body. In a moment of (justified) venting frustration she exclaimed that something was “bullshit!”. The phrase, uttered with such feeling and vehemence, was shocking. From her lips it was so ugly. And in that moment, I thought. “Wow, I must look so, so, SO, much worse.”
Earlier that week, in an effort to console and motivate me, my husband had said, “Amanda, you are better than this.” And a friend had said, “This rage does not look good on you.” But their kind words of encouragement and support, their honesty and gentle prodding, didn’t have the effect of seeing (a fraction) of my reflection in another. And so, I’ve made a choice. I’m taking a break from swearing.
Sometimes people do a cleanse of their body, getting rid of the toxins and chemicals they had been harboring. Following that principle, I’m going to do the same with my mind. If I can’t say the ugly words out loud, and I am forced to replace them with alternative, positive descriptors, maybe, just maybe they’ll disappear from my mind as well. At least, that’s the hope. Maybe, through sheer determination and mindfulness I can re-landscape my field of vision to be a more pleasant place to live.
Hate and anger are powerful emotions, and honestly ones that are difficult to control. I’m not afraid to confess that I could use a little help in this swearing sabbatical. So, I am in search of a new spirit animal. No longer do I want to inhabit the body of the demoralized roadkill. I tried to come up with something on my own to represent this rebirth, but struggled. A phoenix, who rises again? Too cliché. A butterfly, more beautiful after a difficult transformation? Too fragile. I took a quiz online to see if it would offer me any insight in my quest to discover a new spirit animal.
I got snake. According to the website, it means that my life is in a transitional phase and that there are opportunities for healing. Pretty dang accurate if you ask me. “The snake animal meaning is powerfully connected to life force and primal energy. In many cultures, it is revered as a powerful totem representing the source of life. When the snake spirit animal appears in your life, it likely means that healing opportunities, change, important transitions, and increased energy are manifesting.”
But a snake with its forked tongue seems too reminiscent of the wicked words I’m trying to leave behind… and so, I’m not ready to take up this spirit as my own. I’m still searching. If you have any ideas, I’d love to hear them. Shout them out in the comments below.
But spirit animal or not, I’m turning the page… moving forward… and leaving this ugliness behind… for good.