“Sit down. You’re not going anywhere.”
Dr. Kate, my OBGYN, made me wait for two hours in her office to have my blood pressure tested again; the results remained the same. I told her that I had been experiencing debilitating headaches, numbness in my feet and light-headedness for months.
My doctor could not understand how a thin, non-smoking, mostly vegetarian yoga teacher could have such high blood pressure. Since 2005 my blood pressure had always been on the low end of normal. She suggested medication.“Hypertension is symptomless.”
I know this isn’t true. After years of yoga and meditation practice I have a deep sense of physical awareness. I can feel the vibration of my cells in Savasana, the movement of my blood in my veins and the beat of my heart deep in my abdomen.
After the initial shock of coming face-to-face with my own mortality, I understood perfectly why my blood pressure was elevated. I was about to burst, to explode and I was way out of balance.
“Mutually agreed upon departure”
This was the language used in my exit letter from the job I had left just weeks before. I was a single mom, making a career change with less than $80 in the bank.
Last year I took a job despite the uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. I stayed even after the job I was promised was not the job I walked into. I gave up my power because I felt desperate and “needed money.” I failed to value myself worthy of a fair salary and I continued to bury my desire to be a writer deep beneath my justification to work a job I didn’t value for the sake of security.
Frequent emotional breakdowns in the bathroom at work were common—even daily at one point. There were days I had to leave early because I couldn’t regain control of my emotions. I thrive on communication: honest, clear and reliable. I tolerated a level of unhealthy communication for many months, and when I finally spoke up, my exit began without my knowledge.
I lost my peace, I lost myself and I lost my mind.
The problem was I knew what I needed to do and I didn’t do it. I didn’t listen to my inner voice until it began screaming so loud I could no longer function.
After a few months separation from the job, I understood why this experience leveled me. I was deeply entrenched in a work pattern that made me physically ill. I needed to stop working for money and start living the life that I was born to live. First, I needed to believe in my ability (and my right) to be happy and successful doing what I love, and what I do best.
To make room for a new life, we need to release the old.
It is one thing to see that I had established a pattern of employment that did not serve me, that I was ignoring my deepest desires and dancing around myself for the last 20 years. It was far more difficult to accept and release the feeling that I am not good enough or worthy of success as a writer. I had to acknowledge this faulty thinking and then shed years of self doubt. I was breaking my own heart and it was affecting my health in grave ways.
I made the decision to commit to writing and I bought myself six weeks to transition out of my job. During this period, I turned 40 and burnt most of my old journals and writing.
Ninety percent of them began, “I am going to commit to writing everyday without self-criticism” and 90 percent of them were blank after the first three or four pages.
All my life I have written on scraps of paper, napkins, loose sheets, menus, matchbooks, in the margins of magazine articles torn out and saved. I wrote all over disposable paper but couldn’t bring myself to write in a bound book—too much permanence.
For Christmas, I asked Santa for Wonder Woman Underoos. This was my first published piece.
What I was really asking for was permission to be powerful beyond my imagination; I needed to feel like a superhero. Stepping into the shower earlier this week, I received a clear message:“We know we are on the right path when there is no turning back. “
The next day I received an unexpected gift from my sister—Wonder Woman Underwear.
Publishing online is like sending messages in bottles out to sea; we drop them into the dark and never know who picks them up and reads. My sister was reading—and listening; what she didn’t realize was how timely her gift was for me. It was like receiving an award.
Four months and one painful, moulting later my blood pressure is 117/ 82. Last night, just before 11pm, I published my 61st post to my blog. Soon I will receive my first check as a professional writer (thank you elephant journal).
I earned my Wonder Woman underwear and I didn’t need them on to do it.
We can’t wait for Santa—or some man, or company, or anything outside ourselves—to hand us our power. We are Wonder Women and we don’t need permission to flaunt it, not just on International Women’s Day, everyday.
We are the superheroes of our own stories.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: Jennifer Moore