I was working as the head cook at a health-resort-type place where people came for three weeks to drop bad habits and learn better ways of taking care of themselves. One of the guests who was there had made an appointment in town with a therapist who worked with “Soul Retrieval”. When the other clients staying at the facility heard of her decision to do this, there was a lot of “chatter” and concern. They even suspected she may be considering suicide. No one understood what Soul Retrieval meant. I did. I had heard of it before and knew it was a way of retrieving parts of ourselves we have lost somewhere along the way. It is a way of gathering those parts back up.
It’s a funny thing, we don’t even know we have lost parts of ourselves as they silently slip away. As we travel down life’s highway we seek that which feels right to us. We are drawn to the things that feel like “us”; whether in a certain style we take on or people we are drawn to. It is all in the process of “becoming”.
A snake sheds its skin once a year. It’s the funniest thing to see, the discarded skin a snake leaves behind. I have never witnessed the actual process of it shedding its skin but have seen different skins they’ve shed. You even see the eye holes in the skin, it’s like looking at the complete snake almost, it is so perfectly intact and yet the inside substance is gone. It’s very interesting.
I think we, as humans, do a similar thing as we grow and progress. Certainly the things that attract us at age 12, 16, 24, 38, 50 and 60 years old are not the same things. As we are grow and develop ourselves at these various ages, we are shedding the old “skin” and wrapping ourselves in a new cloak of new colors. We leave the old, outgrown, “outfit” (self) behind.
This is a natural process of progression from infancy to old age. Parts of us develop and change and, yet, some parts of us remain very much the same…our life’s blueprint doesn’t really change all that much.
Sometimes in the journey propelling us into newness, we accidentally throw the baby out with the bath. We lose some of our basic self to try to be something we admire that we see in someone else or an ideology, thinking we want to be that and we let a true essence of ourselves slip away. We lose parts of ourselves and don’t see it happening at the time.
Soul Retrieval Therapists have emerged as people who help us go back and pick up the pieces of ourselves we left behind on our journey.
LOST AND FOUND
A recent experience I had illustrates this so perfectly.
My husband and I had gone back to our old home-site, a cabin we had built together eight years ago then sold. We still had some things out there we hadn’t moved yet and wanted to retrieve some items we needed for an upcoming Mountain Man Rendezvous. My husband used to be quite active in these pre-1840 re-enactments of the American Mountain Men. He hadn’t done one for 13 years and had to go find some of these things from the cabin. There were 18′ tipi poles, long pine poles that are not easy to transport so were left till we had a reason to come back and get them. He also had three tents made of heavy, smoke stained canvas to gather up and a mirage of things he sold from the Trade Tent as well as outfits he wore. It is required in the Primitive Camping Areas to keep everything very authentic and pre-1840; which is no easy task.
I was growing tired, sitting in the heat of the day in this sand dune’s region where our cabin was situated and was complaining about not wanting to bring a lot more “stuff” back to our new home and have to store things that weren’t being used. I didn’t mind getting the mountain man items but he was “dawdling”, as is his style, to mosey along and have little concern about time. I was very weary and just wanted to go home.
He exclaimed at one point that I needed to come look at a box he found. I had no interest in any more boxes of “junk” and he had to coax me to come see it.
I finally dragged myself out of the truck and went to see what he had found. I opened the hardened, stain flaps of the dirty cardboard box and immediately felt parts of my lost self lodging back into me, settling into the places where they once lived. For there, within that box, were treasured items from my past. Each item I saw had a strong memory attached to it; the beautiful green-copper Maple Leaf sculpted in the exact replica of a real Maple Leaf I had bought on a family vacation to Vancouver Island, Canada. Lying next to that was a real Maple Leaf my dear friend, who had recently passed away, had brought home from a trip back east and had laminated for me.
I saw a doll I had made, two Pilgrim Dolls I had bought for Thanksgiving Decorations…the box was a treasure trove of my past. These were parts of myself adhering back into me. I could actually feel some of the gaps in myself being filled. I felt like I had come home. I felt whole again.
This is the best, real-life example I can conjure up of soul retrieval. I didn’t miss these things, I had forgotten all about them. Seeing them, in such a startling, surprising way, together in that old, dusty box, filled me with parts of myself I had lost along the way. It was a bittersweet reunion. Sweet to remember who I was back then and to know I am still that same person, sad and bitter because some of the people whose memories were in the box are no longer alive or a part of my life, like my ex-husband who was on the trip with me and my little children, who are now all grown up.
So there, in that dusty, dirty haphazard old shed in that dirty cardboard box that I had balked at even stepping over to look into I found treasures that were parts of my past, my forgotten self. The effect was very tangible.
Of all the things that are lost and found,the parts of ourselves we lose then find again are the most precious.