Hero’s Journey and Learning to Trust: Tests, Allies, Enemies and to the Inner Most Cave by Michelle Katz
When I was a teenager and young adult, my parents often told me, “You trust too easily and too much.” This has always been something I was proud of, I believed it to be a strength of mine to see the best in people. My parents’ fear, of course, is that, though this is a beautiful quality, it could also contribute to some difficulties. This trusting shifted significantly when I crossed the first threshold on my Hero’s Journey.
In the initial entering of this special world, I learned about the new rules soon after crossing the Threshold. On my journey, I found Enemies and Allies and faced the Tests to discover who falls in which category, including the enemy and ally parts of myself. This is certainly a different place. I knew that I could not be and act as I did before that threshold crossing. I had to let go of all the ways I knew to be in the world and find the Allies that I trusted to help me reach my goal. And more than ever, the rivals showed up, seemingly larger than life, and fighting me against my dreams and helping me define how much the dream wished to become a reality.
In this place, I learned that I cannot automatically trust everyone I meet. Life requires us to find people we can truly trust, not shallow easy trust, but deep substantial trust, which is necessary for survival through such a journey. Most shockingly, is losing trust with those I had once trusted wholeheartedly, be it with the long-term partner who does something heartbreakingly unexpected or the best friend that shared your deepest secret with another, or a family member that changes his mind on something you were depending on, it is a change that is hard to jump back from. This was a very difficult learning for me, situations left me feeling betrayed frequently. My easy trusting nature died in this process of passage. A big learning and growing experience. Trust is earned, relationships are tested, and true friends are formed as much as foes are exposed.
As I entered the Special World, everything was new! It was as equally exciting as it was challenging and all together eye opening. My heart was open and while I felt mostly alone. I was hungry for connection. It was easy to find it with nature and my dog, though everyone else around me felt like strangers. Strangers I felt I had to connect with in order to survive. After all we are social beings, but I also heard stories of those who came before, one who took his life when not being accepted. It was the first time in my life I tried to “fit in”. This was not my way, and I found myself hurt again and again. I was too new in this world and the tests were painful to my being. Once thought of Allies, quickly became scary dragons that questioned my ability and life goals.
It was the first time I ever got sick enough to be hospitalized and needed help from others. It was the first time, I left a job on bad terms, going into quit but feeling like I was getting fired. The first time I felt I failed, the first I found myself feeling pessimistic and doubtful about myself and the world around me. The first time I felt I abandoned myself in order to survive. I got smaller and smaller when I was actually being tested to get bigger and bigger. It was the first time I felt racism and historical trauma to the core of my being. The first time in my life my dreams become more informative than my waking life. The first time that my best friends were the hills rather than the people I saw on a regular basis. The first time my strength was questioned by a continual meeting of limitations, to reveal my genuine strength is in my vulnerability. Mostly, this was a rich time in asking “Who am I?” and “what is my gift to this world?”
I am, to this day, amazed at the ability I had to find hope in these desperate and heartbreaking moments. I turned to friends from far away, I recalled the words of mentors, and I traveled far for the wisdom I needed from Allies. Things continued to spiral, and more and more I was tested. Sometimes, I really failed those tests. And the only way I found comfort was in acceptance of the land and the mountains. Every time I faced a test, I sought more training from my mentors, more support from my allies, more clarity around my enemies. In every test, I kicked and screamed, I tried to make sense of it all, sometimes I felt utterly defeated, other times, I discovered the hero qualities inside of me. And then, I arrived at the Inner Most Cave.
In the retreat of my cave, my quiet alone time, I created plans, reviewed the tests, thought of who I am and what I am capable of by simply being me. I felt the anticipation of my greatest fear. And I sat alone in the dark cave for as long as it took. I felt humbled in this staying still. There is great learning in this being, rather than doing, state. I survived the initial hardship, and I needed time to reflect, to feel into my human nature and feel myself in this new world as a new being. My commitment to life was strengthened in this time. I was rallying, gathering, and readying myself for the Ordeal to come.
What tests have you faced or are you facing today? What was your journey toward understanding and knowing your Allies and Enemies? What did you learn or how did you feel during the time in cave? Did you resist it or find joy in it? How did you come to discover answers and strengths? Join Oaks Counsel for our next Day Quest on March 25th focused on the Hero's Journey, to explore these questions.