“You live like this, sheltered, in a delicate world, and you believe you are living. Then you read a book… or you take a trip… and you discover that you are not living, that you are hibernating. The symptoms of hibernating are easily detectable: first, restlessness. The second symptom (when hibernating becomes dangerous and might degenerate into death): absence of pleasure. That is all. It appears like an innocuous illness. Monotony, boredom, death. Millions live like this (or die like this) without knowing it. They work in offices. They drive a car. They picnic with their families. They raise children. And then some shock treatment takes place, a person, a book, a song, and it awakens them and saves them from death. Some never awaken.”
― Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 1: 1931-1934
Looking back over this last year, I am filled with wonder, gratitude and courage. Most of my life has been spent in fear. Fear of loss, not being enough, failure, success, cockroaches, expressways, strangers, darkness…the list goes on & on. I had created a life steeped in the illusion of security so that I rarely had to acknowledge my fears and limitations. It felt safe and predictable. But it was not real. And it was not fair to the other characters playing their roles in this production.
A stirring began in me as I began to contemplate my 40th birthday. For a decade I had focused on motherhood with much love, gratitude and appreciation. I am forever grateful to the father of my children for giving me those precious sacred days. My kids were my entire world and as they continued to grow, their needs changed and I found myself feeling empty.
In the midst of this I had one of those moments that divides your life into the categories of “before” and “after.” A nine hour conversation with someone I felt I had known for lifetimes reminded me of my true self…without fear, judgment, divisions, limitations. My soul woke up and refused to be put back to sleep, despite my vacillations between urgent pleading and despondency. My life was going to change. Had already changed and my illusions of safety and security were erased. I had a spiritual path to follow if I ever wanted a chance to live fully and allow those around me to do the same.
The 18 months that followed felt like a bumpy, unpredictable, out of control roller coaster ride. Cliche, but if you know me you know I am not a fan of roller coasters. The fear I was supposed to be letting go of was thriving in the midst of all of the uncertainty, unknowns and change. Guilt smothered me as I tried to convince myself that my choices would help heal everyone involved.
I tend to think those were not my best parenting days, but I reconsider when I contemplate what it is that I would like to teach my children. If I want to teach them to please others, ignore the voice inside that longs for more, not “make waves” and blend in, then I failed. But, of course, that is not what I want for them. I want them to know unconditional love, take risks, learn from mistakes, not fear change, follow their hearts, know they are enough, be courageous enough to love, even and especially themselves, be real and know that their parents are also real and doing the very best they can.
I have felt loss…friends, family, lifestyle, comfort. There has been divorce, fire, biopsies and various other unexpected challenges. I have surrendered days to fear, anger, shame and guilt. My heart has been cracked open for what I now see is the entry point for love and light.
I am ready to give thanks for all that has been, to allow forgiveness where it is needed and then turn from that to the place where I am learning to be fully me. I am choosing love over fear these days, feeling awake, alive, creative, passionate, and real. Still believing that being the most authentic me contains all that I have to give to this world while I am here.
I am ready to rebuild, reconstruct old relationships in new ways. I am surrounded by an amazing community of loving, giving, compassionate friends. I know unconditional love with a partner with whom I am so connected that the only way I can describe what he is to me is “Sacred Other.” David gives me the courage to look inside of myself, to let go of fear, to be fully me, to find my strength, to push, to grow. Even when it’s not pretty, he sees beauty, he knows who we are and keeps reminding me of who I am…Love, Light, Beauty, Compassion.
Love like that can change the world. I think it’s what we should all be to each other.