Process of Illumination

My Complicated Year of Self-Love (Farewell, 2013)

The following is this morning’s Facebook post by a dear friend of mine. It inspired me to get out of bed and finish the blog post I’ve been “processing” for over 3 weeks. It says it all:
“Here’s the truth. The truth never dies. The truth lives on and finds you. And does indeed set you free. To live a lie is to die inside. To live the truth is to know real peace. It is the only road worth taking. The only resolution worth making. Goodbye 2013. You certainly taught me things…xo”

A-fuckin’-men! I cry every time I read it.

So here’s what’s been going on…

I started to write a post while at The Daring Way™ training in San Antonio in early December but there just wasn’t enough time during our lunch breaks to finish it.  Then, one afternoon, each of us was assigned an overnight creative project as part of our group intensive so I thought it might be cool to try to combine my blog post and the creative project into one video. I had intended to post that assignment as part of my blog the following week but I was still really busy traveling with my kids so it kept getting put on the back burner.

What I didn’t realize was that things were about to get really “messy” for me.

In the months prior to attending The Daring Way™ training my intuition told me that my experience there would be life-changing and that there would be a sense of “completion” for me but I had no idea what that really meant. Perhaps I will go into more detail in a future post but suffice it to say that the intense personal work I did at the training opened an important door to a process that I have been in ever since. I came home from that week so excited and energized by the work but did not allow myself any “down time” to really integrate or put into practice what I had learned from the experience. I had taken the lid off of my own “pressure cooker of shame” and yet I still expected that I could just keep on going as usual. But this time was different. This time the lid wouldn’t go back on. It didn’t fit anymore. Something big had changed in me and it was clear that I had to find a way to line up with it, somehow. I couldn’t wait to get home and enjoy the holidays and relax… And then came the final, poetic cherry on top… last week’s ice storm.

Displaced from my home, driving around the streets of Toronto looking for places for my kids and I to eat, stay warm, charge our phones and relieve our boredom was an eerie, symbolic reminder of my childhood. Home was not a place of comfort for me then and I spent years distracting myself with anything that would keep me from having to go back there… friends, my boyfriend and his family, work, wandering, exploring…until, at 19, I finally had an opportunity to move out… and I took it. I left my mom behind, not knowing if she would thrive or not, and chose to start my life anyway. I’m just now realizing that, all this time, I must have been carrying a lot of shame about that decision. That’s why it’s so hard for me to leave anyone behind and it’s also why I feel I don’t deserve to “choose me” unless I’m sure the other person will manage on their own.

But the truth is, I have been in the process of a major, life-changing, paradigm-shifting metamorphosis for just over a year now and the time has finally come to “choose me”, once again. I must allow myself to integrate everything I’ve learned but in order to do that, I’ve needed to just stop moving, wrap myself up in my own cocoon and let the process happen naturally. As I wrote this I decided to look up “metamorphosis” to help me explore the metaphor and what I found is that the “cocoon” is part of the “pupal stage” in which the insect “rests” while old structures are broken down. “Pupae are inactive, and usually sessile (not able to move about). They have a hard protective coating and often use camouflage to evade potential predators.” 

Sounds about right. I’ve basically been hibernating since I got home.

Even more amazingly is that the stage that comes after the pupal stage is called the Imago. That’s right, Imago. Of course it is. For those of you who know my work well, you’ll remember that one of the therapeutic philosophies I believe strongly in is Imago Therapy. “In biology, the imago is the last stage an insect attains during its metamorphosis, its process of growth and development; it also is called the imaginal stage, the stage in which the insect attains maturity.”

So what does that mean for me?

Tomorrow is New Year’s Day, a New Moon and my 52nd birthday. As I look back on 2013 I feel as if I have had the shit kicked out of me. It’s been an endless hurricane of responsibility, heartbreak, shame, disappointments, painful endings and reluctant beginnings.  I have put unbelievable amounts of energy into practicing my belief that the universe is supporting me and yet my belief has been tested more often than ever before. I’ve done my best to maintain my dignity and integrity and made sure to always speak my truth, especially when I’ve been terrified to do so. Overall, I’ve put Self-Love at the top of my list, wherever possible, and that has been an incredible challenge, at best. For my efforts I have been judged, rejected, abandoned, guilt tripped, ignored, taken for granted, taken advantage of, misunderstood and blamed and, probably worst of all, I’ve had my motives mischaracterized.

But 2013 has also offered incredible blessings. I have made things happen that I never thought possible. I finally unhooked myself emotionally from my ex-husband and his toxic family. I reached out and was vulnerable with the people I care about even when we were estranged and there were no guarantees. I went on my first meditation retreat in Mexico. I partied with amazing people there, got drunk on Tequila, danced my ass off in a club till 3 am and then went whale watching at dawn. I came home and committed to being fully authentic. I started the Self-Love Sisterhood (not knowing what the hell I was really starting at the time – terrifying). I went to England, Ireland and Spain for a month! While in Ireland, I visited the man I had thought I would spend the rest of my life with (and whom I’m still in love with) but from whom I had been broken up with for months. Talk about being vulnerable! We spent 6 days together and while it was somewhat reassuring to be with him and having an adventure together, it was also incredibly sad. I left there feeling so deflated, and heartbroken but I still managed to maintain my hope, courage, and belief that it would all work out eventually. I went on to Barcelona alone and, even though I was so sad to be doing it without my partner, I was committed to making sure I learned whatever I could about myself in the process. While there, I attended an intimate workshop with Krishna Das (amazing!) and sat next to a man from Portugal who turned out to be a kindred spirit who told me I needed to find my Guru. We stayed up all night walking and talking until I had to leave the next day. For the rest of the summer I began to focus on how to identify and create safe relationships and was determined to be even more authentic and truthful with myself. Somehow, I started writing this blog every week (yahoo!) and it turned out to be an exercise in sharing my very personal process with an even wider audience. This blog has proven to be one of the great blessings and accomplishments of the year because it not only helps me tap into my truth and creativity but it has also helped me realize that there are people out there  – friends and strangers alike – who really care about who I am and want to hear what I have to say. It helped me to identify the people in my life who really want to be there for me and let myself be supported by them. I went to Ecstatic Chant at Omega, the Imago Conference in New Orleans and the Daring Way™ training in San Antonio and met countless kindred spirits and people in the healing profession with whom I felt safe enough to let myself be “seen”, even with strangers. I treated 11 friends to see Deva Premal & Miten in concert. I wrote out my “anger journal” and read it aloud to my therapist… all 50+ pages of it…and then I burned it just the other day. And last, but not least, I launched the Self-Love Society and who knows where that will take me? Also, pretty terrifying.

And through it all, (which was probably the hardest part) I reached out and tried to be authentic while also attempting to heal the relationship with the man I love… again… and again… At times I felt selfish, foolish and pathetic and, god knows, I have questioned my motives and my sanity but the truth is that I’m just a woman who is still loves, longs for and believes in a man she can’t be with and that is really, really hard. I kept reaching out because that was… and is… my truth and because I couldn’t not reach out. Maybe I made it worse by doing so. In fact, I’m pretty sure I did. But, at least, I followed my heart. I’ve learned more about myself in (and out of) that relationship, over the past 6 years than I had in the previous 46 and for that, I will be eternally grateful.

So, if there was a wish I would make for 2014 it would be to finally stop feeling responsible for every goddamn thing. Stop “working” so hard to “fix” everything. Release the need to distract myself from loneliness or boredom or ordinariness by creating more “work” for myself (which ends up manifesting as chaos and feels overwhelming). Relax into Self-Love and let it be ok to just be “me”…and allow myself to discover the beauty of what being in a Divine Partnership actually feels like…someday.

I think I’ve earned it.

All blessings to you for a joy-filled 2014!