She stepped up to the podium. The woman who had agreed to dance my dance. To mirror my truth and help me see myself more clearly. She took a breath, a bow. Her hands moved… then her head. Her body tensed. I cringed.
Do you remember this song Killing Me Softly by Roberta Flack?
Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly…
That woman started killing me softly with her dance.
Her movement was fluid and staggering. Her mouth screaming, voiceless. Her dance was stuck, trapped, full of intense pain, hope and despair. Her dance. My dance. In me, every dark corner boiled to the surface. Watch this. No, I can’t. Please don’t make me.
She danced my silent, agonising entrapment in this body, in this world. She danced my helplessness, my intense loneliness. All I had ever wanted to hide away from the world was lit up, visible, shown. Heart-rending and horrendous. I couldn’t watch it, not in truth. Not while my mind sought to run away from it all.
This can not be true. This must be wrong. I can not possibly be loved like this.
The shame was overwhelming. The shame of being visible, seen as I truly am.
Broken, trapped, voiceless, hurting.
When she finished, I wanted to shake it all off like a bad dream in the morning. Whatever. Forget about it. Move on. It felt so relieving to walk up to the podium and offer myself up for dancing someone else’s story. Sometimes it feels much easier to attempt at living someone else’s life than my own.
The woman who had danced, later shared her experience. ‘I have never danced anything so intense before.’
‘It was so strong, I could hardly even watch,’ another woman added.
‘I could only watch half of the dance, then I couldn’t take it anymore.’
‘It felt as if my insides contracted and I had to look away.’
Listening to each of their words, my inner world crumbled, then collapsed.
I had been right all along. Right to hide away. Who I really am is too much, too intense. I am not welcome. I can not be loved. My pain is too much to bear. I have to rid myself from this world for I do not deserve to exist here. I am too bad, too broken to be allowed to live.
I was a helpless child again, receiving judgement from others for how I am. Through my shameful tears, the only consolation I had was that I could still kill myself. I could control this pain by leaving this reality. The only way to be able to handle this intensity. Killing me softly with her dance. She had really done it.
As I sobbed my tears of childlike submission to that inevitable end, I told the women to leave me alone. ‘Go eat something, leave me here.’ I didn’t feel worthy of their presence, of anyone’s presence anymore.
Instead, they gathered around me and held me. They soothed me, speaking soft words of love and encouragement. They called for me, reminding me of what living can feel like.
I couldn’t accept any of it. Their offer of love felt wrong. I didn’t deserve it. Not after all they had seen. Not from them! I was like a puppet of pain, unable to feel anything but miserable. The only thing I could do to help myself was to… not fight.
I allowed the women to love me even if I couldn’t deserve it. I surrendered to the moment, trusting the wisdom of my friends. All I did was keep breathing and crying, trying to allow myself to believe in something good. Sadly, failing at that.
That was until the long face of the tall blue woman from Origins of Anger appeared on the backs of my closed eyelids. She brought a thought into my head. ‘We can not accept love until we have been forgiven.’
That was my lifeline.
Of course! She, that alien part of my subconscious, was still feeling guilty. I had helped her understand that her deed wasn’t bad in the grand scale of things. But what about the small scale of things? One planet and all who lived on it? Her guilt was still here, palpable, strong. She was still trapped.
It’s not me. It’s her. I can do this.
‘Please forgive me. Please forgive me.’ I spoke out loud to the women, to the world, seeking out the forgiveness of the planet for whatever that blue entity thought she had done to hurt it. ‘Please forgive me.’ I spoke those words in Estonian and from the depths of my tiny human heart. I spoke them until something heard me.
A soft light washed through me, halting my tears. There was only one word left in my vocabulary and I repeated it over and over again: ‘Olgu, olgu, olgu, olgu…’
In Estonian, Olgu is a magic word that roughly translates to ‘It’s all right to let things be exactly as they are.’ It carries a mixture of surrender and agreement.
I knew we had been forgiven. The blue being was forgiven. I was forgiven. Everything in me opened, relaxed and I could finally look up at the women who had held me so beautifully through this ordeal. Softly killing, then healing me. I started laughing from the joy and the ease I felt.
Later, over rye bread and potato salad, I learned that my dance had not been difficult to watch because I was wrong or too much. That dance had been full of reminders of the pain that lurks in all of our souls. It had stirred up the uncomfortable shadows and the primal fears of being wrong, broken, voiceless, trapped. If we think we can not be loved, are we safe?
Why had I taken it so personally?
Silly me. I went to prepare for the relaxing sauna we had all planned for the evening.
As we stood in the hallway in our flip flops and towels, one of the women asked if she could wash my feet in the sauna. It was Easter time and foot-washing is a ritual performed by many Christian religious groups. For Christ had allegedly washed the feet of his apostles before he died and asked them to do the same for each other.
I said yes.
Honestly, after what I had just been through, I would have said yes to anything as long as there was love in the asking. This puppet of pain had been starving for love, blocked by guilt. Forgiven, could I now allow myself to receive love?
The sauna was a traditional Estonian smoke sauna, a small room lit with candle-lanterns. The room had been heated for five hours and then vented for the wood-smoke to clear. There was no chimney and the smoke had settled on all surfaces, creating a dark and aromatic, occasionally eye-watering sauna experience.
For the ritual, only the three of us remained in the room. Myself, the woman giving the ritual and the woman who had danced my dance. The room slowly filled with gratitude and holiness as I felt into the transformative power of loving waters, the power of receptivity, the love and support pouring through and into me. Silently, I offered gratitude to whatever had brought this experience to me.
What had I learned that day? About love, about about being a human, a woman?
Love is blocked by guilt, but forgiveness releases it. This planet is made of love, our bodies are made of love. Yet we suffer, entrapped, often unable to access that birthright. Offering and allowing kindness. Is there anything –
Before I could finish that thought, the blue being appeared again in the darkness of the sauna. This time my eyes were open and I could almost perceive her. The elongated skull, a circlet of small black triangles around it, naked shoulders. Looking straight at me, she said, ’Thank you, I am free now. I will leave now.’
Finally! Wait…what about…me?
It felt as if someone really old and dear to me was finally passing away. My tears resembled the ones I usually get at funerals, full of grief and gratitude. Happy and sad.
She stayed for a moment longer as if wordlessly saying goodbye. There was intense love in her deep eyes. Before the ritual finished, she disappeared.
Both of the women left the hot dark room, I stayed glued to the plank. Wondering, surprised, grateful and a little apprehensive.
She’s gone. That part of me that was trapped for as long as I can remember. Gone.
What will become of me? Who am I now?
I slept little that night. Then the next day, during our pancake breakfast, I shared the story of my sauna meeting and parting with everyone. The woman who had offered the ritual of foot-washing, got silent for awhile. Then she added to my story. ‘Now it makes sense. As I poured away the water outside, I felt words come to my head. Now you are free.’
Now I am free.
The part of me that wants to hide, wanted desperately not to share this. Instead of telling the story, it generated drafts and drafts of different ‘teachings’ I had realised through this experience.
How can I let strangers in the internet know how bad it can get in this world I live in?
Or how weird?
Luckily, there is another part in me.
The one that knows – only truth shared will set us free. Our stories are more powerful than our knowledge. Love and forgiveness are abundant, even in the internet. We can trust that whatever benevolent god or the universe has our back, always. And we have immense healing powers in these unfathomable depths of our tiny human hearts.
Now. Can you forgive someone today?