Last year was devastating for me. Tragedy struck my family. But I showed up.
It was traumatic. I showed up. It was dramatic. I showed up.
In a year that should have been a massive celebration with the launch of my first book, I was in the trenches. I still showed up. My nervous system took a shattering. Eventually I realised I had post traumatic stress. I rested. I retreated. I had to. And then... I showed up.
Souls have been ravaged by far worse tragedy than mine, and they are SS. Still standing.
'Still standing' is what Clarissa Pinkola Estes (Jungian Psychoanalyst and Author) refers to for all of us, for we all go through hardship, whether it be with our physical bodies, illness, betrayal, death, grief, losses, tragedy. You never know what life has for you around the corner. Dr Estes speaks of her aunts who survived the ravages of war in Europe, losing all other family members around them, around 50, and yet, they were ... SS. Still standing.
In a year when I applied less effort in some areas of my life than usual, they were thriving. It's as if the universe said - "Hey, it's ok. We've got you." Because ... I had let go. I had to. There's only so much one body, one mind, one life can handle. And it taught me something. We think we control so much. We really don't.
We think through our effort, our pushing, our goal orientation, that things will happen. They don't always. Something greater is going on here, far greater than our small minds can comprehend.
I am fiercer now. Still vulnerable, my God, still so very vulnerable. But there is a 'don't mess with me' attitude that has just appeared without me even making it so. I've always been scared of that part for I've seen her before, a part that can get furious at injustice. Because I didn't know how to handle it, I would do or say things that I regretted later. It's different now. I've learnt to measure. To not act on impluse. To wait. It's like this ... something I wrote on facebook the other day ...
"When her cage is rattled, she does not react
She waits, she stills with composure
And then walks out through the door when she’s ready.
Her presence denies nothing, yet transforms everything
She is the Wise Woman ... awakening."
It's just a saying .... We are all women, men, awakening... it's just what we turn our attention to, that creates the movement toward some kind of awakening... Or not. It's really up to you.
When I look back at the year, there were several things that supported me deeply and some really started to turn the big ship of torment around. Yes, all inner work. (See #journeymethod)
So if you are going through something big, it is my hope that somehow you can take some courage from these words...
The first was seeing the greater picture - that this 'huge' thing I went through was actually part of a greater, vaster consciousness of suffering, a pattern through my lineage, actually through the whole of humanity, that needed my attention. This helped me see it beyond the personal to the universal.
The second was calling myself to a higher love. Yes I would fall, and then, when I could, the only real sustainable solution was to turn my mind around to Love - to seeing others in love, rather than through the suffering I was going through. Love moves you from victim to Victor. It's the only way. Anything not motivated by love needs to be examined, carefully. And we can fool ourselves, especially in the 'new age', that we are acting, speaking from love, speaking from our 'truth', when really it can be our own shadow of need, pathology or unmet emotions speaking. Some things are just best left unsaid... until you are 'in' love. Then your words will be healing, not hurting.
The third was staying grounded. Body. Body. Body. Back home. Back home. Back home. Always back home - mind going crazy? Back home. Emotions over indulging? Back home. There's a leveling that the body does for us when we live in it fully. Instead of living vicariously through our reactive thoughts and emotions. I found presence work and meditation helpful for this. And moving my body.
The fourth - creating a boundary. Both internally and externally - people either lift you or drain you. Situations either lift you or drain you. Finding a way to stay there if needed, but with an energetic, physical or logistical boundary that keeps you safe, keeps you nourishing self instead of depleting. Maybe it is removing yourself, maybe that is simply just not possible. It's an art. It is so an art and hey it's a learning all the way as every situation has to be taken on its own merit. I often still feel like I am a baby in this.
The biggest biggie. Similarly, though, your thoughts will drain you the most - the most... that's why the second, calling yourself to a Higher Love is your only way through - creating a boundary within yourself to not keep running mindlessly down the neural pathway of negativity, of harsh and unloving thoughts about another and the most dangerous - about yourself. To switch - of course, this can be a mountain to climb. But those who have come through profound, I mean profound hardship, have all been those who have had love and forgiveness at the core.
The greatest and most humbling of all, was the good professional support I received and the deep support from family, my sister in particular and my dear dear close friends, so many, and in particular Sharon Turton and Melissa Borich for hearing me out, also dear Gene. Deepest bow to you all...
Also my beautiful Journey community, in particular Brandon Bays and Kevin Billett for the the gift that keeps on giving - I do not know where I would be without Journeywork. Go to Facebook The Journey Method Community or read the free copy of The Journey here.
And you know what else I did? I found the fun in between, the light in between, the deep fulfiment in this work I do, nature became my friend, and I never stopped being grateful and feeling lucky.
Oh, and I prayed .... a lot ....
Things are not over yet. Fear sometimes grips me at times in the middle of the night. I have come to accept, instead of resisting this thing in my life, that I cannot control. I must yield to it's existence. To call in support of all kinds - seen and unseen. To lean into that at all times. And to know that my mind is not reality, that I am held by a far greater Love, God, Universe, whatever you want to call it. I am not the fear, or anger or grief that rolls my way. They are massive sensations moving through this body vessel and the more I open to them rather than resisting, the quicker they pass.
And to know that the only power I have is how I respond and at that very core - is LOVE. And when I can do that, and I'm not saying I do it every time, in every little way, it makes me stronger. Fiercer. Wiser.
And... I notice that a miracle is happening. A miracle. I'm SS. Still Standing. And I'm feeling a renewed hope and inspiration for life and this privilege of the work I do.
If you are going through a lot right now, I wish you peace. I really do. I hope that something here may have inspired you to keep going, to rest, and to trust that something greater is holding you.
And if anything of this has spoken to you, if you are a woman, come to Womantime Retreat. I welcome you with all my heart. The daily practices I use are all shared in this work. And man or woman, if you would like to work personally with me, I have a couple of openings, go here.
And of course, life is one big relationship isn't it? If you feel called to bring honesty, love and truth in the most tender way possible, come and give yourself an extraordinary experience at The Making Love Retreat
Ps. If you have your own story of 'Still Standing' I'd love to hear if you'd like to share in the comments or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
And hey, in case you're wondering, I'm ok, I'm actually great, really .... but thank you for asking...
Much love to you ...