Next week I will be celebrating the two year anniversary of my life falling apart. My life has seemingly fallen apart and back together several times. I’ve had huge career changes, identity upheavals, I’ve sold everything I owned and moved to a foreign country, and returned from said foreign country with nothing but a broken heart and an impending divorce. I am no stranger to change. But the devastation two years ago was different. This was a spiritual tsunami that would wash away every remnant of who I thought I was. There would be no going back. There was nothing to go back to. I had unknowingly entered my “dark night of the soul.”
I had just celebrated my 30th birthday when I became physically sick. I was continuously sick for over 18 months. Having been blessed with a strong immune system I rarely ever got sick and on the rare occasions when I did catch a little something it never lasted longer than a week. But this time despite the numerous medications, doctor’s visits, and home remedies I couldn’t heal.
Somewhere along the way my dear friend mentioned in passing the work of Carolyn Myss. Not knowing anything about this woman or her work I googled her. And instinctively I knew I was meant to read Anatomy of the Spirit. I devoured the book and I knew then that my illness was not purely physical. Consciously or unconsciously our psychology influences and affects or physiology. As Christane Northrup has said, “my soul was using my body to get my attention.” It was begging to be heard and acknowledged.
But if I am one thing, it is painfully stubborn. I don’t learn easily. Gentle nudges do not generate any traction from me. So I dug my heels in. I was not about to release my long held beliefs of a world without god, or my resentments, or my ideas about who I was and what I was here to do and accomplish. But the Universe just laughed at my attempt to control and resist what was happening
The Universe: Oh, that’s cute. You still think you’re in control.
Me: I am in CONTROL! I have free will and I’m not buying into any of your woo woo. I was trained to think like an academic. I worship at the alters of logic and reason. You can’t change me.
The Universe: It has already begun. Your petulant resistance has left me no choice but to do this the hard way. I’m sorry dear one, but it’s time for you to wake the f*ck up.
While still battling illness, I entered into the darkest mental and emotional place I’ve ever known. This was no ordinary depression. I found myself asking some really uncomfortable questions like: “Why am I here?” “What is my purpose?” “What is the purpose of life?” “Is there even a purpose?” “Is this it…?” Every vestige and reminder of who I had been was stripped away including the need and desire to write. Writing had literally saved my life several times before when I found myself clutched by depression. Even during times in my life when I actually had nothing, no money, no phone, or job, or belongings of my own, or contact with any kind of support system, I had writing. And that singular act, the need to create, gave me a reason to keep going, to keep living. No matter what else had been taken away from me I was always a writer. They could not take away my need to bleed words onto a page. But then they did. I was lost, my identity thieved from me along with my dreams for the future, my beliefs, and my motivation to do anything. I no longer knew who I was or what I was supposed to be doing. It felt very much like this, except I still had an overwhelming desire to live despite not knowing what that looked like anymore.
Then I gave up or rather I gave it over.
Wilted into a heap on my boyfriend’s bathroom floor with tears silently gushing down my face I surrendered. Whether or not it was a prayer, I don’t know. But it was a white flag waving. “I surrender. I surrender. I surrender. I surrender all this struggle and hurt and loss to you, Universe. Whatever is happening to me let it be done. But now, please show me what to do.” And slowly, in very subtle ways, I was shown.
I started praying. I had never prayed before and I was still unsure who or what I was praying to, but somehow each morning, before my meditation practice, I found myself on my knees, asking for help. I started asking for teachers, for healers, for gurus, anyone who might be able to help me. And one by one they showed up. I learned that the only way forward was to go within. I began to see that the struggle, the getting lost, the losing yourself was an essential part of growth. There was no bypassing it. It’s only when you’re lost that you begin to search for the way home.
The decision to surrender, to be uncomfortable, to put my faith in uncertainty was the bravest choice of my life. It just so happens it was also the defining moment of my life. My journey of awakening began the moment I surrendered. Until then I never knew the strength and courage it takes to truly let go.
Most people don’t go there. It’s not comfortable. And it’s a lot of hard fucking work. Soul work. You have to mine the gold from within and in the beginning the moments of light to guide you onward may be fleeting. But it’s worth it. The morning will come. You will wake up to all that you are. And when you do it will be the beginning of everything.
My desire is that this space and my own search may be of service to you while you find your way home no matter where you happen to be on your journey. You do not walk alone.