“I can mend bones in a heartbeat, but growing them back….
You will be able to, won’t you?
I’ll be able to, certainly. But it’ll be painful. You’re in for a rough night, Potter. Regrowing bones is a nasty business.”
~ Harry Potter, Chamber of Secrets
It took me the entire year of 2012 to do a lot of things, or, rather, it only took me a year to do a lot of things.
The first three-quarters of the year were spent transitioning from careers and from past states of consciousness. Healing began, both internally and externally. The impossible was achieved, on many levels.
When I think over the events and changes of last year, I’m amazed and so full of gratitude that I almost don’t know how to be grateful enough for the enormity of everything that happened. And that all leads to one simple truth—I did it all.
It was not without an immense amount of support, be it from friends, family or the universe. But all in all, I was responsible for forging forward, for not giving up, for not crumbling in the perceived face of defeat. I made tough decisions—really tough decisions. I took risks (lots of them) but I’m always wont to take risks—I see them more as adventures.
If nothing is risked, nothing discovered, nothing gained, then what’s the point?
I stayed true to myself and followed the path that unraveled before me.
“And the trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more.”
~ Erica Jong
The foundation didn’t really start to materialize until the last four months.
During this time, I was unemployed but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t working. I was doing some of the most difficult mining I’d ever engaged in, and through that internal landscape, I found the debris of the foundation that had never been built. Although, maybe debris isn’t the proper term, because it indicates the rubble of something that was destroyed—and you can’t destroy something that was never there.
I guess I could say I found the clay, the dirt, the nutrients, the buried strength and power and self-love that are all essential components in the mixture of this foundation; it was an alien support system I had never known.
How do you build something without a blueprint? How do you build something blindly?
“Your life is a house. Abundance is the roof. But the foundation and the plumbing need to be in there first or the roof will fall down, the house will be unliveable.”
~ James Altucher
But that’s what these last four months have been about—opening my eyes, clearing the energy, the debris, the soot, the protective veils that even I didn’t realize had been hanging so heavily over my eyes and heart. I came to terms with my past, acknowledged it and chose to release it. I’d been wearing it like a battle scar for so long—like a fucking badge of honor—and releasing it was the hardest part.
But what surprised me was the heaviest, most gargantuan pieces of luggage—the archaic trunks and beat-up hockey duffel bags that I’d been dragging through the dirt and shit for so long. These were somehow the easiest to let go, once I acknowledged and honored them and the terrible power they had held over me. Sometimes all it takes is a nod of acknowledgment, even if it takes half a lifetime.
There was an image I wrote about for years, probably the first image that ever came through in my myriad of journals starting around nine-years-old.
It was of a little girl sitting at the bottom of a motionless pool. She was always sitting either cross-legged or with her knees pulled into her chest. I never really saw her face, but she had long, brown hair, just like mine.
There was a single spotlight coming from some unknown source above the pool, which was actually enclosed in a dome-like structure.
Somehow she could breathe underwater, but every so often, she would swim to the surface. The ascent was slow and labored—always a struggle. Once she would reach the top, her hands would breach the surface first, then her mouth and she would take one huge gasp of air. But it never lasted for long and she would once again be dragged down to the bottom.
This image has haunted me for years.
I took a writing class this fall and she showed up again, this time in much greater detail and in full force. I decided to try to write her out of the pool, make her the focal point of my story. When I workshopped my story, everyone was completely captivated, albeit, a little creeped out by the imagery of this ghost girl.
People had different ideas as to who or what she might be, but my teacher’s insight was the most poignant. He made an analogy about going to a party with some friends, then meeting different people at the party and deciding you liked them better than the people you came with.
He looked at me and said, “Just because this little girl is what brought you to the page doesn’t mean you need to write about her.”
It didn’t sit well with me at first because I had a personal mission.
But the more I let the message sink in, the more I realized that just because this driving force had brought me to the page, didn’t mean it was my job to dissect it. Maybe my job was just showing up? Maybe putting her on the page marked the end of her long waiting period, her essential incubation period, giving way to my long over-due launching point—the point at which I could actually start creating?
Sometimes you need to clear the area before you can begin to lay down any semblance of a solid foundation.
And when you begin this clearing, that’s when the excavation process truly begins. This process can unearth shadows and black holes you hadn’t even realized existed, bringing to light those blind spirits who had spent a lifetime in a sort of dormant, festering slumber, waiting to be discovered, waiting to explode and, if you can find the strength, released.
If you can push through the muck and the mire enough to allow light in, you can create that foundational work space. Through that muck and drudgery you may just discover validation. You may just find hope, renewal and, if you’re lucky, a seedling of compassion. You may find the reason for all of the demons that have plagued you. The realization that there’s nothing wrong with you.
It wasn’t your sensitivities or your inability to cope or operate at the most basic level—there was a real battle being waged. You’ve finally come to the front lines to see it, first hand. You’re in it, and the only way you can really release and rebuild something is to get in it.
Then comes victory, large or small; there is always some sort of ah-ha moment. When it does come, you realize you’re a fucking superhero for arriving at this juncture in your life in the condition you have. You know you can do anything and that nothing is impossible. No load is too heavy to bear and, at this point, you’re a work horse anyway, having carried so many crushing burdens for so long and still showing up for more.
This is the moment when being a survivor transforms into being a thriver.
To anyone who has ever operated in survival mode for any extended period of time, you know that’s when you’ve made it home. You’ve come full circle, and now you’ve arrived at the true beginning of the next chapter in your life—the day you look back at your past and it feels like a lifetime ago.
You look back in compassion at all of the growing pains, defeats, failures and meltdowns and thank yourself for never giving up.
You can thank yourself for continuing to push forward even though you had no evidence, no reason to believe that it would ever get any better.
All you had was an ungrounded sense of hope and all of the dreams you had ever dreamt, hoping that one day you would be strong enough and confident enough to make them into a reality. One day you would have the strength to manifest this future you had always seen for yourself during your darkest, most isolated moments—dreams that lifted you up off the floor and got you moving.
You knew somewhere deep in your gut there had to be something more than being a beat-up, torn-up, numbed-out zombie. That day would come, you just had to carry on a little further for a little longer.
One day at a time. One moment at a time.
That is how a foundation is built from nothing, because a foundation can only be built and a house can only be constructed after you’ve put your blood, sweat and tears into the excavation of your soul.
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Assistant Ed: Amy Cushing
Ed: Bryonie Wise
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