If a poet believes in the “channel” model of the self, there is almost a mandate to do everything you can to develop yourself as much as possible, so you can do as good a job channeling your muse as you can. This is the way I’ve always looked at it. To me it’s sort of like the way I raised my children: believing that, as pure reflections and manifestations of spiritual energy, they were more innately good than anything I could consciously make them be, I tried to stay out of their way as much as I could while they were growing up. I modelled for them, and I tried to be honest with them about my own responses, but as much as possible I tried to let them play the way they wanted, think and talk and feel the way they wanted. Though we’ve had challenges like any family, they are both turning out to be truly wonderful people, so I hope that this method was helpful.
Similarly, my own process of self-healing seems to be one of cleaning up and clearing out, more than anything else. For decades I’ve been healing from a traumatic experience that happened when I was twelve, when I was sexually molested by my mother’s brother. Though it was one incident that lasted all of maybe ten minutes, the memory is still with me 46 years later. I have gone through countless sessions of talk therapy, bodywork including many hours of painful deep massage called rolfing, energy work, ritual, physical therapy, and other healing experiences to help me recover from this incident, and yet I know that it is still part of my body, because my spine remains twisted in the same direction in which I jerked suddenly away from him during that fateful moment.
After a break of a couple of years, I have recently begun massage again, with a wonderful new body worker who works with what she calls “zero balance” energy work–to create a space inside the body. Last week, as she gently moved my head back and forth to work with the twist in my neck and I lay peacefully on the massage table listening to soothing music as always, all of a sudden I found myself possessed by memory again. “No, no, no!”I found myself shouting, tears rolling down my cheeks and my mouth curling in disgust as I shook my head violently. “No!” For the first time, I was saying no to my uncle, using words and expressions that had been frozen inside me for 46 years.
I consider all this work to be part of my job as a poet. Now I can bring a more loving, pure, and universal energy to my readers. The energy of those words will now no longer be part of my poems.