The Walkabout Letters – Sarah’s Letter To Steph

One of the unique aspects of our online program, The Walkabout, is the ongoing correspondence Sarah Oblinger and Stephanie Gray have with one other as they commit to being real, vulnerable and open using art, movement and words to meet their daily lives as they naturally unfold.  Until now, this has been exclusively for Walkabout participants. However, because of the profound shifts they have felt in their own lives while working this program, they’ve decided to publicly share their correspondence here monthly. These letters are for any of you on your own self discovery journey. We hope you will follow along – with a knowing, that you are not alone. It’s time to get REAL.

Oh, Steph!

Your email moved me. Deeply. I’m feeling so grateful for your friendship and your willingness to be real. I’m also feeling grateful for the work I’ve done with Denise and her help with debunking and reframing my own old whale of a tale.

I believe all of us have a particular old story about ourselves we tell ourselves. Repeatedly. I know I do. And, although it is “invisible” to us, it has a hold on us. It’s often a shameful and hard story. It never ends well and we are never the hero. A story we don’t share with the world.

For years I’ve had a place I go when my old story arrives. I call it Sarah’s Swamplandia. It’s a familiar place. Where I don’t give myself time to drop under the story. To feel and sense into what I’m feeling in my body. Instead I nurse the pain and woundedness I’m feeling with the old story.

Working with Denise has taught me the more willing I am to sit with the strong feelings, the feelings my old story masks, the more I can shine light on the cyclic ups and downs I’ve ridden for a long time. I can see how the old story takes me right down into swamp when I feel sucker punched by life. Where I can swamp wallow for days.

My woundedness is an existence wound. A very early core wound. I understand my old story, about how I don’t exist, was cultivated in the fertile ground of the core wounding. I understand why this old story has been largely invisible to me because our old stories are deeply embedded in us. In our nature. In our cells.

These invisible stories hook us quickly. Often without time to ask if it is true. Because our whole beingness leans towards the familiarity of the old story. And how it has profoundly informed our lives. Everyday. In every relationship. With ourselves and with others.

Recently I read something that makes sense to me. That the seeds of our old stories are planted when we first experience being separate in the world. Separate from the tenderness and comfort of the unconditional love we are experiencing. When this separation from unconditional love happens, it is called core wounding.

It is a shock to our nervous system. It happens to all of us. At some point in our lives. In utero. As a baby. Or a toddler. Maybe older when we go to school. The old stories, that flourish in the wounding, protect us from feeling the shock and trauma of the core wounding.

I understand now, that at the beginning of my being here, my wires got crossed. That this wire crossing caused me to be more afraid of being loved than of being invisible and not existing. So I ghosted myself from myself. I turned away from engaging with life so I could feel safe.

More and more I’m finding, like you did, that when I can go underneath the story and feel what I’m feeling, I can track my way back to myself and just feel how the old story holds me tight and closed down my world. This was my response to feeling separate and unsafe very early in my life.

However, being love and being loved surrounds me. Right now. All the time. In each moment of each day. Inviting this love into my life means giving myself a moment to not be seduced by my story. A moment lets me dive down underneath my story and just feel what I’m feeling. Like you did after reading about your adoption, while sitting at your dining room table.

Can I allow myself to sense into and feel what I’m feeling underneath the story? Can I give myself the time to feel what I’m feeling without telling my old story?

Each time I’m able to stop and drop down under the old story a bit more of it dies. Leaving more room for me. Where I find more light. More air. More being here. Just as I am.

Here’s a poem for you. It arrived in my inbox right after your email arrived. I’m sending it to you “because of the work we do.” It’s not always easy. Often uncomfortable. Sometimes deeply hilarious. And always so worth it.

I lived on the shady side of the road and watched my neighbours’ gardens across the way reveling in the sunshine. I felt I was poor, and from door to door went with my hunger.
The more they gave me from their careless abundance, the more I became aware of my beggar’s bowl.
Till one morning I awoke from my sleep at the sudden opening of my door, and you came in and asked for alms.
In despair I broke the lid of my chest open and was startled into finding my own wealth.
– Rabindranath Tagore

Big being love and being loved to you, Steph!


An image from my altered book.


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