There is dignity in turning one’s back on petty dramas created by those who feed on pain and crises.
There was a time in my life when I was like a leaf in the wind, blown around by forces outside of me. I was living from a victim mentality. I didn’t even know that I had a choice. I didn’t know that I could create my own reality.
But sometimes in life we get lucky and stumble through a tear in the fabric of reality that allows us to see a different way of existing. It only has power if we are capable of grasping that new vision and holding on to it.
As don Juan taught Castaneda, a warrior must first have Power in order to gain Power. He was also teaching about the warrior’s way of life and gaining personal power was one of the main objectives because it led the warrior to freedom.
I suspect that some people may not understand what he meant by Power. My interpretation is Consciousness. Like the Philosopher’s Stone of the Alchemist, it is consciousness that gives the Alchemist power to turn lead into gold. And for the warrior, consciousness is personal power. The more we expand and raise our consciousness, the more personal power we have, then we can grasp a new vision when we are lucky enough to step through those rips in the fabric of reality.
So, for me, awakening to the idea that I could actually create my reality rather than being a victim of circumstance was a phenomenal increase in personal power. I stepped from the “first attention” into the “second attention.” According to don Juan there is also a third attention, but I know I am not there yet.
The first attention is the victim perspective in which power is outside oneself. The average person is a victim of circumstance, a victim of her supervisor and co-workers, a victim of the economy, a victim of the government and political system, a victim of her family, her relationships, and various bullies coming in all shapes and sizes. She will always be able to find them in her life because she is coming from the perspective of being a victim. There will be no shortage of perpetrators.
I once lived there too. But then I stepped through one of those rips in the fabric of reality and I moved into a higher level on the spiral of consciousness expansion. It was the second attention, a level of consciousness in which I became a warrior. I now had power. I had the power to create my own reality.
That’s not to say it was smooth sailing from there. It only meant that I now had enough power in order to gain more power. My consciousness, my Philosopher’s Stone, was polished enough to give me power when situations arose in which I might fall back into a victim mindset.
When a warrior retreats, she steps off the battlefield long enough to decide if this is worthy of her time, energy, and attention.
As I expanded my consciousness, polished my Philosopher’s Stone, and increased my personal power, I saw that I had the power to choose my battles. I was not a victim. I was not a leaf in the wind being blown about by circumstances. But sometimes when one gains power, it is easy to get lulled into a false belief that situations will no longer arise that test us. But of course they will.
Back in London, before I set off on my journey across America on my black motorcycle in search of the Toltec wisdom I was seeking to write my book, How to Be a Warrior-Goddess, I was teaching a series of workshops on the spiritual warrior’s journey. I had in mind to take everything I had learned about the life of a warrior as don Juan had taught Castaneda and bring it to the public in the form of these workshops, which would focus on alchemizing our lead, the repressed pain and trauma of our lives, into gold, the power of enlightened consciousness.
But I found I lacked patience for those who clung to their victim stories. I would really get triggered and hadn’t completely worked through that in my own consciousness, just letting people be wherever they were on their journey, expanding their consciousness at their own pace.
Yet I remembered how don Juan would sometimes lose patience with Castaneda and I wondered if perhaps that too was part of the journey. Maybe at some point we need someone to come along who says, “Enough is enough!” Someone who is willing to take the sword of Excalibur and slice through the bullshit.
This came straight into my face when a woman began showing up for workshops who was deep into her victim story, so deep, she could no more see her own bullshit than a fish could see the water it swims in.
As my wise mentor said, “She’s had fifty years to become a master manipulator, projecting her victim reality and sucking people into it, tugging on their guilt strings. What she’s showing you is where you are still a victim, where people can still hook you, still pull on your strings and steal your energy.”
Once I got over the initial irritation about the winkle in my reality, I embraced the challenge and the opportunity to learn and grow.
I saw myself as an Interstellar traveler who flew a little to close to the event horizon and got sucked into the black hole of the Victim Vortex. I had to draw on all my power as a warrior to pull those stings of energy back into myself and free myself.
Initially I was engaged in the battle, but I had already recognized that this woman had a victim mindset and had steered clear of a deep connection in order to avoid getting sucked into the vortex, but now it had happened.
I remembered what had happened to me years earlier, the way Blue Eyes had helped me to see my own victim vortex. The way he had taught me was by simply “disappearing” when I went into my critical rants, my narcissism, my codependence, my victim mentality. There was no one there to keep the circuit of energy going to feed my pain body and my righteousness. All I had was myself, sitting alone with myself, I began to wonder if perhaps my strategy of being critical and full of self-pity — “How dare you treat me this way!” — was not an effective strategy for creating the connection and intimacy I desired. Perhaps there was a better way to create the closeness and intimacy I wanted, while still being authentic.
Eventually after sitting long enough with no one but myself to converse with, I realized that the strategy I needed was to take 100% responsibility for my experience, for my thoughts, my action, my feelings, my needs, and to allow myself to be fully vulnerable.
I had to accept that I had no real power to change him. If he wanted to change his relationship to me, it would come from within him, perhaps because I had opened up my heart, become more vulnerable, taken 100% responsibility for the outcome, let go of the outcome, and accepted him for who he was. This did not mean I no longer had boundaries. But when it comes to boundaries, we cannot force another to respect them, we can only walk away.