Every day as I consumed article after article on Elephant Journal, I thought, “Good Lord! I could have written that.”
But I was too afraid and too insecure to put my words out there for the world to read.
So, I continued reading articles and saving memes that spoke to my soul. My heart was pulled by quotes about challenging myself and the personal growth that it brings.
“When it hurts—observe. Life is trying to teach you something.” ~ Anita Krizzan
We all get lost in life at some point and need to step outside our comfort zones to find ourselves again. We really haven’t gone anywhere. We just put on our daily-life face and go on. I was tired of this game. I was ready to jump back into my life.
I decided to set a goal for myself and write daily. I have journaled for as long as I can remember. Writing is a way to heal deep wounds, free our deep inner pain, and cleanse our souls.
I came to some important realizations during this challenge:
>> I was suffering from more than a broken heart.
>> I had a large ego that insisted on blaming others.
>> I needed to keep my mouth shut more often.
I had broken up with my boyfriend and moved 2,798 miles from everyone I knew. I started a new job. Quit that job. Started a new job. Moved again. I sold most of my possessions.
I thought I had lost myself in my last relationship. I thought if I ran away from everything and traveled the country, I could find and recreate myself.
I was wrong.
I tattooed Meraki on my finger. It is a Greek word that means, “No matter what you do, put the best of yourself into it.”
The tattoo didn’t help; I was still failing. I was desperate to end the pain, loneliness, and emptiness I was feeling. I was afraid I would get trapped in the cycle of searching for a man to fill my emptiness.
I vomited out the toxins in my mind and into my journal. The puss of my negative thoughts poured out onto the paper with every entry I made.
Then I received a notice from Elephant Journal about the Elephant Academy Apprenticeship. My ego told me: it was too much money, I was not a writer, and I did not have the time for this. Those egos have a way of messing up our lives, don’t they?
I had been making one excuse after another. No more. I filled out the application, hit submit, and waited.
When I received the email that I was accepted into the Apprenticeship, fear clutched my throat. My hands got sweaty. It was hard to breathe. Was I really ready to bare my soul to the world? Could I do this?
I promised myself I would stick to it and be proud no matter what. It was another challenge for growth.
And what a challenge it has been. I encourage everyone who has thought of signing up to jump in and do it. This is not just merely a writing class. It is a soul cleansing, get your sh*t together, wake up, growth opportunity.
Here is some of what I learned in my three months in the Apprenticeship.
Lesson #1: My ego was larger than I thought.
I had been writing articles for myself for months. I thought I would have no problem getting published on Elephant Journal. I was wrong again.
I mustered up enough courage to submit a couple of my articles. Every piece of writing was rejected.
I had a meltdown. I cried. I went out and bought a bottle of wine and had pity party. I poured all my self-loathing into my journal and myself another glass of wine.
My ego took control of that night. When I finally awoke the next day and realized what I had done, the shame kicked my ass. Or was it the wicked hangover?
Once I had some coffee, called my best friend, and had one last cry, I grabbed my Kindle and bought Chögyam Trungpa’s Training the Mind. I needed help now.
In the book, I read how we have sore spots. When these sore spots are poked, we want to react. We want to lash out. But, we must learn to sit in silence and feel them. We must face our weakness.
“Love and affection are largely based on free love, open love which does not ask anything in return.” ~ Chögyam Trungpa
My ego did not want to hear this. My ego did not want to be silenced. My ego did not want me to know I was running from my sore spots. My ego was expecting someone else to love me when I did not even love myself.
We can learn a lot about ourselves and what we need to work on when our sore spots are poked and our egos fully emerge. Silencing our ego is not easy; however, once we face our weaknesses we have power over our ego.
Lesson #2: I had to learn to take the blame and forgive.
I was starting to realize I was not broken from a relationship going bad. I was just broken.
I was writing about my hurt, but I was blaming it on everyone else. Whether it was mine or not, I needed to take the blame and the pain that came with it. I needed to sit with it and not put it back out into the world.
“You don’t have to run away from yourself all the time in order to get something outside. You can just come home and relax. The idea is to return to home sweet home.” ~ Chögyam Trungpa
Home is where I went. I faced me. All of my demons. I learned it is not about the “I” or even the “me.” It is about everyone else.
We can scroll the internet and be surrounded with hate and blame. We can find ways to catch spouses cheating on us. We can find the latest gossip on the stars. We can even spy on our friends and learn all the trash in their lives. But, when do we spend the time looking at our own lives?
We need to go “home” and look in the mirror and deal with our own demons. Eventually, we must forgive ourselves and forgive others. We are all wounded creatures and if each one of us does our part in healing ourselves, we would be gentler with others and ourselves.
“Because he has never forgiven himself any fault, he can forgive no one else’s.” ~ Linda Berdoll
Once I learned to forgive myself, my writings softened. I was awakening.
The process of writing is healing. I was learning to write from my heart and not my ego. The Apprenticeship taught me to write as if I am sitting in a coffee shop chatting with a good friend.
When we write to heal, we can offer a benefit to others with our words.
Lesson #3: Keep my big mouth shut.
During one of the Apprentice meetings, Waylon Lewis said, “When you write, your words are forever part of the universe. When you put the words on paper, you have no idea who will read them.”
I thought of all the times I acted out my emotions and wrote something I later regretted.
“When we act out of emotion, we cannot not take our words back. They are forever engraved into the universe. I then realized that patience is forbearance. Whatever happens, you don’t react to it.” ~ Chögyam Trungpa
How many of us do not take the time to pause and walk away for a few moments before reacting? When we react, what are we reacting to? What that person has done or the sore spots they poked?
When we are hurting, it is easy to blame the other person and talk poorly of them. However, by talking trash about another person we are making ourselves look bad. We are attempting to take the focus of our own issues and project them onto someone else. This is the easy way out.
We really need to just keep our big mouths shut and do our own inner work.
No matter how poorly this person may or may not have treated us, by talking about them we miss the point. We are to take on their pain with our own and grow.
“The only way that we can live is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.” ~ C. JoyBell C.
If there is one thing I have learned in the Apprenticeship, it is that by challenging ourselves, we find enormous amounts of inner strength. I will keep writing and submitting my articles to Elephant Journal. I write because I have to. I am still learning and growing.
Becoming an ele-apprentice with the Elephant Academy is a challenge to learn and grow. It is a safe place to face our demons and learn to love even the dark parts of our soul. It’s a promise to ourselves to learn who we are, not just who we think we are.
And it is a promise to not give up on ourselves.
Author: Christina Martin
Image: Flickr/Pedro Ribeiro Simões
Apprentice Editor: Tracy White; Editor: Travis May
Copy Editor: Catherine Monkman