Great mother writhes and moans on her sickbed, Hoping her discomfiture will jog us awake. Wildlife waits in the wings, Wondering if we will answer the call. The wind gives the trees their voice, “Remember yourselves, remember yourselves…” The buzzard screeches down from above, “It’s not too late, humans!” The world holds its breath, watching our every move.
We lift our heads, deer-bright eyes lock in wonder, Our hearts entrain with an urgent pulse, A critical mass of knowing is reached. Great mother roars, the world sighs as one, And, in a tsunamic surge of grace, We are born anew, awash with wildness. We gaze out from innocent eyes, that have seen it all before.
Although the last piece of journal writing that I shared felt like a truth that wanted to emerge, it’s been niggling me somewhat. I didn’t quite tell the whole story. I’m always trying to integrate my ‘spiritual’ seeking, questing, oh-so-virtuous side with my earthy, flawed human side. Both are beautiful, both are equally worthy of being loved and honoured, but so often I skirt around or brush over the messy human-ness that is a huge part of who I am, why I’m here in fact. It’s crazy – spiritual by-passing at its finest! My mantra these days is, ‘own it all’, so to honour that, here’s the missing part from my last post, Warrior of Love…
Yes, a warrior of love will get swiped down by a sword to the heart many times during the battle that this human life can feel like sometimes. And, what happens between the blow to the heart and the picking yourself up again to rejoin the fray, heart wide open? Well, many things can happen, and most of them aren’t that pretty. The first is that, as you face-plant into the soil, you’re likely to get some kind of ‘spiritual concussion’ and forget that you’re a warrior of love at all. In this place, you’re more likely to feel like a fragile, vulnerable human being, scared and alone in the dark, writhing in the mud to avoid the trampling boots and hooves of those still battling it out above you. All kinds of paralysing emotions swirl through you – shame, fear, anger, frustration, disappointment, guilt, blame, rage, sadness, depression, jealousy, self-loathing… The wound to the heart is bleeding copiously, you’re not sure if you’re going to make it. Perhaps hopelessness takes hold, and maybe even an eventual surrender to what seems like the inevitable end.
But then… what usually happens is something occurs that reminds you of the warrior of love that you also are, alongside this vulnerable human being. This occurrence could take many forms, for example the glint of sunshine from above the fray enters your eye and you remember the sun, you remember there’s something beyond the battle. Or a fellow warrior of love reaches their hand down to touch your head or heart, or you hear a distant battle-cry of ‘Remember love!’ from across the battlefield. Something changes… A remembering stirs. “Why was I here in the battle in the first place?“, you might whisper to yourself. Then the answer emerges like a leaf softly landing on your tired mind, “to learn about love, to grow the love in my heart...”
You do a bit of a body check and realise you’re still alive and well, your heart is still beating, your lungs are still breathing. A fellow warrior of love will probably notice you stirring at that point and reach down to help you up. You remember that there have always been hands to help you, you start seeing them all again and it’s like slaking the thirst of your startled eyes and bruised heart.
To be sure, it’s an effort to stand again. You will need those helping hands, and you will be unsteady for a while. But stand again you do, eventually on your own two feet, unsupported but knowing your tribe are close by, should you stumble. It might take time to feel ready to re-enter the battle, you might just stand on the side and watch for a while. But eventually the lure to open the heart again is too strong to ignore. And in you go, sword of love blazing, heart wide open once more.
We are all warriors of love and we are all vulnerable human beings face down in the dirt. It’s a never-ending cycle through this gift of earthly life. And no part of the cycle is more or less important than any other. It does me good to remember this. I salute those in the mud right now. I’ve only just got back on my feet myself, with the help of many fellow warriors of love, and so soon did I forget that time in the mud. But it was a precious time, a vital time, a time that cranked my heart right open, and now I am the one running into the heart of the battle again, shouting at the top of my voice, ‘Remember love!‘, and hoping that someone face down in the dirt will hear me, and will begin to remember again at that point why they are here…
Increasingly, I wish to just share what comes through me sometimes in my journal-writing, even though it feels vulnerable to bare my soul like this. I guess this kind of uncensored, ‘stream of consciousness’ journal-writing carries within it the purest gems of truth, as well as a lot of surface prattle padding! But, by drawing out the gems, where another, wiser aspect of myself suddenly surges through, often flipping to the second- or even third-person voice, there feels a deeper authenticity to my writing. At these times, I know it’s coming from the mysteries of my heart and soul direct to the page, not for an audience, just to express the truth that lies deep within me. So, here’s a gem from the other day… 🙂
“Today I wish to celebrate myself, for refusing to close my heart down, no matter how many times it gets bruised or wounded. Many old relationships are re-entering my life right now, where there has been wounding from both sides, and all I feel pouring out of me is love, and a sincere desire to bathe each of those relationships in the love that I feel. Love breeds love, to infinity.
Warrior of love, your heart is open to all, your vulnerability is your sword. You will be swiped down from time to time, but always you arise and bless the sword that wounded you with your limitless ability to forgive and love. Beneath it all, love is the only truth, and you know this; this is the wisdom that you carry through your days. Every time you don’t feel love you simply pause and observe what is energetically happening here, what shadow within you is being revealed by this precious sword-wielding angel in disguise? And then back into the fray of love you go, heart wide open, shining like the sun, dazzling your would-be opponents, bathing the battlefield in rainbow jewels of hope.“
Yesterday was the full moon, and felt very powerful indeed to me. I am increasingly in synch with the lunar cycle and have started offerings women’s gatherings with each new and full moon, along with a gorgeously wise soul-sister. It feels like very important, meaningful work at this time to hold space to bring the sisterhood together, as women are being called to step up, become visible in the world, find their voices and own their power.
Anyhow, it was a timely day of lunar empowerment for me, as earlier that day I had become aware of myself slipping back into old, unhelpful energy patterns, where I let my power drain away. During my retreat in Scotland I had really stepped into my power. It mostly feels like a soft, gentle power of the mother energy, which can hold and contain everything with love and acceptance. But its gentleness does not detract from its great strength and depth, and the Kali energy of action is always there in the wings to be called upon when it is wise to do so; this is the fierce energy that destroys what no longer serves and that stands for justice and truth. Then there’s the wild, sensuous goddess power, which I feel when I dance, sing and drum – at these times I am simply a conduit to let different energies flow through me, yet conversely it’s when I feel I creatively express myself most fully. And then there’s the innocent, child-like energy of the elemental nature spirit who feels the joyful freedom of skipping through the wet grass in bare feet, chatting to the insects and animals and smelling the flowers, hugging the trees. And of course the irreverent, earthy one who likes to eat pizza and cake, drink cider and wine and who finds farts amusing and loves to belly laugh with gusto. The empowered divine feminine is all of these things and much more, she is multi-faceted, rich and complex. And the power comes from allowing all of these different facets to express and flow through us with ease and grace, without censor or control.
So, having really felt in my power in Scotland, and having felt the magnetic attraction of this to others, which arises through no conscious intent, just as a natural by-product that comes from inner fullness, inner acceptance and self-love, it was painful to observe how I was giving it away again yesterday. I was moving back into the space of not feeling enough and trying to fill the void within me from things and people outside of me. It was a sense of pouring myself into moulds that I thought I should inhabit, in order to be approved of, accepted and loved. There’s such an anxiety to this energy, as my mind tries to work out who I ‘should’ be, what I should do. There’s a fear of ‘getting it wrong’, failure and rejection. It’s old, old stuff, which has followed me into all of my relationships and jobs and which I am done with now. I let a lot of this go in the pine trees of Scotland, when I did a powerful burial ceremony, burying a pine cone to represent this old version of myself I was leaving behind. And I know this ceremony worked, most of this energy now lies as compost in the Scottish Highlands, being transformed into fresh, positive life by the earth. But… it’s like we’ve emptied the bowl of stodge but we still need to take a spatula and scrape the edges clean. We commit to releasing an old pattern, and the universe perhaps just likes to give us a few tests of our commitment to this new way of being, as echoes and residues of the old energy arise. To me it feels like tying up loose ends and affirming a resounding ‘yes’ of commitment to the universe.
So, this all feels very much part of the work I did during my rite of passage solo fast, where I committed to maturation, to stepping into full womanhood/adulthood. In this new chapter there’s no room for these old energies, so they must go now, and I am so grateful I clocked the echoes of the old yesterday and was able to harness the power of the moon and the sisterhood to help me transmute them.
To finish, I will include an extract from my journal entry yesterday, which documents my process of moving from old to new energy and reclaiming my power. Towards the end of the entry, as often happens, a different energy moved through my pen, a higher version of myself, and provided the cosmic perspective. I hope you enjoy… 🙂
“Today I walked along the swift, swollen river, about to burst its banks, and was struck by how full it was. There was an alluring edginess to being so close to it – I wanted to draw near, to appreciate its magnificence, deep power and beauty. Yet I also knew that at any moment this river would spill its watery depths onto the land in an act of dramatic destruction, which would ultimately nourish and fertilise the earth with its fluvian deposits. I was attracted yet utterly respectful. And, still, the gentleness of water was there – swans slid gracefully by on its surface, unperturbed by the mighty power that surged beneath them.
This is the power of the divine feminine, which incorporates the ability to give and take life. It is why it is so attractive, magnetically so, yet also can be fearful and elicits due respect.
This evening, under a clear, full moon I felt a huge surge of powerful kundalini energy flow through my body and I felt like the river, utterly replete and full to the brim of my own authentic self. I howled, laughed, writhed my body in a strange, serpentine dance and chanted a mantra that came through me:
Flow like the snake, flow like the snake, flow like the snake up my spine. The roots go down and the branches go up, So flow like the snake up my spine.
This happened through me, because I was so full of myself, of my own power and self-belief in that moment, that I could become the circuit connector between heaven and earth. These aspects met in the fullness of me and found substance enough to meld and merge, express and create.
This is what the cosmos longs for, and this is what women are being called to embody now. To fill ourselves up with ourselves, for no audience, no reason, just because it’s who we are and it’s our God-given right to express this.
This is our power, our magnetic attraction, and all good things will be drawn to us from this place. I felt that so strongly tonight. The power is non-local, it ripples through the entire cosmos, as though we’re the spider at the centre of the infinite web of life, gently strumming the strings just through the simple vibration of our sublime, authentic essence.
This is how we’re going to change the world, sisters, simply through being our authentic, magnificent selves….“
To follow on from my last entry, which documents my recent experience of depression, I wanted to share my ongoing journey towards subsequent recovery. I must caveat this entry by saying I am no authority on how to recover from depression, I can only share my personal experience with heartfelt honesty. Every story is unique and is to be equally respected and honoured, and everyone must find their own path towards healing. I am certainly not here to pass judgement or offer advice on anyone else’s healing choices. My hope is merely that my story might inspire those who sense deep in their bones that there is another, time-honoured salve to their wounds, which is not much spoken about in the modern world. But still, we thirst for it.
You see, my box of antidepressants remains unopened in its pharmacy bag, and the appointment I had made with the NHS counselling service has been cancelled. I reached a cross-roads and I chose a different route from the prescribed norm. I am deeply grateful for the amazing health service we have in this country – the GP I saw was a beautiful, compassionate soul, and the services I have been provided with have been efficient and free. We are so blessed to have this. But, despite having taken antidepressants in the past, this time it just didn’t sit right with me.
I have been consciously evolving my soul for many years now, deliberately stalking and courting my fear-based beliefs and illusions, bringing them to the surface to be examined, challenged and eventually released. This process is often not very pretty at all, and there are certain crisis points of mega-unravelling as a particularly deep core belief is challenged. The resistance to letting it go can cause immense suffering, and I knew deep down that this was at the heart of my depression. Beneath the fractured mind, my soul was steady as a rock, whooping with joy that I was finally ready to face these deep pains I had been running from for so long. And so, in the end, I had to choose the soul route to healing rather than the purely physical route of tablets and mind reprogramming. I didn’t want to numb the pain I was feeling, I wanted to feel it all in its acute intensity whilst keeping my heart as wide open as possible throughout, as I knew I had to do this in order to no longer be held in its thrall at a sub-conscious level.
So, instead of the prescribed NHS resources I chose two other resources of healing support, which are sadly often overlooked in modern life, despite being innate human needs – without these dual bastions of support, to me it is no coincidence that mental health issues are so rife. I chose deep nature connection and the strength of a loving and supportive community. I found my way to these resources by choosing to participate in a rite of passage based ceremonial retreat entitled ‘Earth Initiation – a Wilderness Rite of Passage‘ up at the Anam Cara Retreat Centre in the Scottish Highlands. The retreat lasted nearly two weeks and I can honestly say that during that period I know I have healed myself from this current bout of depression. I feel myself again and I feel ready for my next chapter.
The retreat involved a lot of sitting in ceremonial circle and being given time to speak our truth, just as our ancestors would have done long ago, and just as indigenous communities who haven’t lost touch with the old ways still do today. Every person in that sharing circle counts just as much as the next one; everyone’s words and stories are there to be heard and honoured. The healing power of being held by a supportive community whilst you bare your soul and speak your truth cannot be underestimated. It is something most of us have lost within our lives, an alien concept, and we suffer for this. During our time together, each member of our group stripped away the masks and identities that we usually show to the world and instead we connected from our vulnerable human hearts, revealing our flaws, fears, hopes and fragility as well as our soul-gifts, unique creative expression and joyful quirkiness. Love flowed between us, barriers melted. We truly ‘saw’ each other. It was beautiful. It healed me.
Then, in the middle of the retreat we built up to spending four days fasting and solo camping out on the wild land. Previous to this, we each were given time in circle to set a strong intent for the fast, helped by our three amazing guides, who asked pertinent questions and gently nudged our scattered thoughts into the seam of bedrock truth lying behind them. Mine turned out to be beautifully simple and traditional as I wished to mark my passage into fully-fledged womanhood/adulthood – I realised my depression was largely sparked by my clinging to an old, younger identity that avoided responsibility and commitment, which no longer was truthful and did not serve me. It was time to honour my maturity and take responsibility to become visible in the world in my authentic power, to share my gifts with others.
During the fast we had ample time to contemplate our intent, whilst held by the infinite love and care of mother earth. Again, this was profoundly healing. I lay and walked on her bare earth every day, communing with her, singing to her, listening to her, loving her. And I felt her love me back. She gently reminded me that everything was OK, all parts of me were welcome, there wasn’t a single part of me that couldn’t be loved. And she brought me back to the healing peace of simply being present, accepting each moment with ease, even the challenging times. As I watched the ever-changing cloud-scape I knew everything was transient, everything could be borne, simply by patiently waiting it out. As I kindled a small fire on a half-moon night I saw in the flames our ability to transform and transmute anything, simply through our determination to do so. As I bathed in the little burn I felt myself washed clean, a blank canvass in each flowing moment. Dancing naked in thunder and lightning brought me back to the joy of spontaneity, and climbing the steep heather-clad hillside on a four-day empty belly to enter a pitch-black narrow passageway deep into the earth reminded me of my great fortitude and ability to overcome fears and hardship. Nature was our mirror; every experience and encounter with nature was a gentle lesson and, above all, the words I heard in my mind on a loop were ‘rest in the mother’s love’.
When we returned from our solo experience, our fast-bright eyes filled with ecstatic joy to be welcomed back into the little community we had become part of, we feasted together and again spent time in ceremonial circle. This time we were each given ample time to tell the story of our time on the land, what it had brought us, the lessons we had received, the things we had left behind and the resolves we had made. It felt an utter privilege to hear the moving intimacy of everyone’s stories and it was again very healing to tell my own story and have it reflected back to me with sensitivity and wisdom by our beautiful guides.
Behind everything, we are held, utterly held, by mother earth, all of the time – we forget that we can draw upon this resource of infinite strength and healing whenever we need – we are never alone. And we can be held in just the same way by community if we let ourselves – when we find courage to drop our stories and connect in circle once more, speaking and listening from the heart, we will find our healing salve. In the days leading up to the retreat, when my mind was in a dark place and my self-confidence was low, I doubted my ability to attend the retreat and asked a respected shaman friend for his guidance. ‘Do it,’ he told me… ‘you need strong medicine now, Becky, to move past this darkness.’ And that is exactly what it felt like – strong medicine from the kiss of the earth and the loving gaze of others as they listened to me speak.
I truly believe a rekindling of these two lost tenets of healing could save our stricken society – by remembering our profound, sacred connection to our mother earth, and by consolidating heart-felt connection with each other in community, we will be able to also re-connect to the truth of our souls, and find healing for any problems we might be facing. As I often say on this blog, the proof will forever be in the pudding and, for me, my pudding is well and truly baked right now and tasting delicious. I feel healed and I am grateful I chose the soul path, the natural path, the time-honoured traditional path. I am oh-so ready and excited to see what the next chapter holds for me, as I step back into the flow of the world as a fully fledged mature woman. Finally the future is bright again. Thank you mother, thank you guides, thank you circle sisters… 🙂
I’ve just taught another successful yoga class. Happy customers file out the door, thanking me as they go. I smile the loving, benevolent smile of a safe pair of hands, someone highly experienced in the field of personal well-being. Then my own hand reaches into my bag for my car keys. But instead it finds a small oblong box. A sting of shame courses through me and a tear pricks my eye. But still I smile.
The box is still in its paper pharmacy bag, unopened.
‘I don’t prescribe antidepressants for everyone, you know,’
the doctor had said last week. ‘But I think we’re at that stage where
you need help.’
I nodded and quietly said,
‘I respect your professional opinion.’
It was true, I did. The suicidal thoughts were with me every
day now, and I was starting to drive erratically, often through blurred eyes
from sobbing, a part of me hoping the car would spin off the road and that
would be that.
How had I missed this? I had been here before, in 2012; in a suicidal depression, having to stop work, move back in with my parents, take antidepressants, my life unravelling around me. And here I am again, only this time I am a yoga teacher, surely I should know better.
When I teach yoga it lifts me, and the depression feels far away. I remember the things I love about myself and I feel empowered and happy. I can very easily switch to ‘professional mode’, knowing that these good people didn’t come to spend time being dragged down by a depressed person – they came to be inspired and uplifted, and I don’t want to let them down. But then often on the way home the negative thought spirals begin again, and it’s too galling for me to accept, especially when I’ve just taught a workshop about managing the monkey mind. So this leads on to its own self-destructive thought loop, about how I’m a terrible person for being so duplicitous with my students.
Basically, I feel like a fraud.
I’ve always tried to lead by example in sharing my vulnerabilities. I passionately believe it’s one of the things that will save our society – when we start owning our flaws and shadows and sharing them with each other openly, rather than this competition mentality we’re in now, where emotions are often seen as weakness.
But… for some reason, I too have felt the taboo of depression, and I think mainly because I am a yoga teacher. What an irony. I don’t want to admit this about myself to people, in case they stop coming to my classes. What can a depressed person teach about yoga?
Well, one thing I do know about depression, which has been biting at my heels my whole adult life, taking me down on the odd occasion like now, is that it does teach you a lot. And I want to share what I’ve learnt. I want to get over the shame taboo of depression/mental health issues and open up about my experiences. Because I know I’m not alone, and the only thing that helps in that dark place, is feeling a hand extended into the void from someone who tells you they know that place, they’ve been there themselves, and they escaped in time, and so will you. Sharing is empowering; our vulnerabilities become our greatest strengths when we own them with an open heart and soul.
For me, these two suicidal depressive episodes have both come at a point in my life where major change is needed, and I have been resisting this inner knowing, ignoring my voice of intuition. I often feel ‘weak’ because of my depression, but a wiser me know it’s my immense strength, positivity and awareness, which of course has been cultivated by many years of dedicated yoga, that keeps me going through the days, even when it’s to my detriment. I refuse to give up and give in to it, until circumstances conspire to force me to give in. I know from experience that I can keep going for a long time, and most people won’t have a clue what spectacular unravelling is occurring within me. I hide it well, looking after my appearance, keeping up with deadlines, smiling in public. But… the signs are there, and they progressively leak out more and more, and I really should know them by now but they seem to creep up on me, like a stealthy stalker I hoped I had left behind.
Random crying in public, stopping socialising, ‘bleakness’, not being able to imagine the future, physical aches and pains, insomnia, anxiety, lack of appetite, obsessing over painful things in my life that can’t be changed, wishing they were different, struggling to meet work demands and having to let commitments go and let people down. And then the suicidal thoughts come. It starts with ‘what’s the point’, a feeling of meaningless to life. Then it moves to ‘I just want to end it’, then it turns to actually obsessively thinking about ending it, then onto contemplating the pros and cons of all the different ways of doing it, whilst feeling self-loathing at my lack of courage at actually doing it. And then, eventually, it starts to physically manifest – at first through the erratic driving. Luckily, I haven’t got beyond this point this time round, but last time it progressed to pressing razors to my wrists, willing myself to cut the skin. It’s terrifying really, when I write it all down. How did I kid myself I was managing?
It actually took a firm but gentle talking to from my GP sister, who kindly explained I was in a text-book depression, as I had been before. As soon as she said it I knew she was right. A part of me must have clocked what was going on, but the part in denial had been stronger.
All through this dark time, which began towards the end of my time in Mexico, early this year, where I spent the last two weeks crying and barely leaving my room, I have managed to keep up the smiley, happy, Yoga Teacher act. And it doesn’t even feel like an act, it feels real. It feels like a little reminder for me of what Becky May is like outside of depression, it’s like a ray of hope. But it’s a head-f**k too, to be sure.
But, what depression does is crystallise things for you – it forces you to stop, strip away everything extraneous, take stock of your life, and it literally becomes a matter of life and death for you to make positive changes. I remember this from last time. So strong was my urge to die, yet amidst that there came another voice within me, determined to learn from this experience and use it as a gift. As soon as that voice was heard, the healing and change started. I made huge changes – I travelled solo for the first time, something I had wanted to do for years. And when I returned I trained as a yoga teacher and massage therapist, again things that I had dreamt of for years and ignored up until then, which was the source of my suffering. Finally I followed the quiet voice of my soul, and it was the best thing I ever did, and it shifted my depression and led me onto a beautiful new chapter. Depression gave me courage to make big shifts, because I could no longer afford not to.
So how come I’m here again, you may well ask. The healing and positive changes can’t have been that significant if it’s back to square one. Well, no, that’s not quite right. This yoga journey is one of systematically shedding illusory layers, with more and more consciousness of the process as time goes by. Following my big yoga journey since the last depression, I have much heightened awareness of what is going on here. On one level, yes, this is a purely physical issue, due to a hormonal/chemical imbalance in my brain, which does run in my family so is possibly genetically inherited. But there’s another, equally valid and far more empowering way of looking at this.
Once again my soul is trying to get a message across. It’s a message I’ve been wilfully ignoring, clinging to my old ways of living, hoping these will suffice but knowing deep down they won’t. I know there need to be some big changes now. This is a real opportunity. Last time I listened and finally heard the voice that told me to become a yoga teacher. This time it doesn’t seem so concrete/tangible, but I know it’s about putting myself first/ truly honouring myself in a way I haven’t done before in my life. It’s about owning all that I am, the light and the dark, and not hiding any of it away. It’s about becoming more visible, owning my power, stepping out from the shadows into the light. It’s about sharing my wisdom more openly, and unveiling the parts of myself I have hidden from shame. It’s about creating a home, and it’s about writing. It’s probably about many more things too, which will become clear when I make the choice to step through the door that this darkness has been leading me to. From the darkness comes revelation and bright light pouring back into your world. Such is the way of things. In writing this article I have already made that choice. The next, bright new chapter awaits me.
The question of ‘where or what is home?’ seems to be a huge theme for me at the moment. In a way, it has been with me my whole life as I have frequently felt plagued by a strange homesickness even whilst sitting in my own home, felt as a visceral nausea in my body at times, and other times just as a nagging sense of not-belonging. It has perturbed and puzzled me, and has sent me on a real journey in pursuit of home.
I suppose, like most of us, home as I grew up was my family home, and I was indeed blessed to have a very stable and loving home indeed. But, since I fledged the nest, to become my own person, it has never felt quite so simple. I have changed home so many times – at one point I worked out I had moved on average every 6 months for the last 10 years – seriously!
When I look back at my adult journey, it seems like I have followed a trajectory of inhabiting less and less permanent and stable homes. I’ve been a tenant, a house-mate, a lodger, a house-sitter, a joint home-owner twice, a volunteer live-in home help. I’ve floated through innumerable hostels and airbnbs as a restless, curious traveller. I’ve lived in a touring caravan, a static caravan, a campervan, a windowless box-room, and I’ve had two stints moving back in with my parents as an adult, one of which is now in fact. And it’s not just habitations I have left behind, I’ve also moved on from the safe ‘homes’ of relationships and jobs, never staying around for too long, always moving on.
And yet… here I am back at the family home; back at the beginning as it were. Yet this time it’s different; I know it’s not my home, I am here as a guest. A much-loved one of course, but still, a guest passing through. A guest passing through… I wonder at this statement. Aren’t all of us this? Just guests in these precious bodies, passing through on this earth-walk?
And so I continue to wonder – where is home for me? As I grind to a halt in my parents’ guest-room, and finally stop running, I feel a sense of bone-heavy exhaustion, a sense of ‘enough already!’, defeat even. I feel I’m being given a precious opportunity, to take stock of my choices and my journey to date, which has brought me back to this place; a life review if you like.
The last time I was here I was moving through a severe depression, and this time round I’ve only just caught the same negative spiral in time. Why does history keep repeating itself? Why am I continually running? Why do I restlessly chase transience and impermanence? Am I just a massive commitment-phobe? Have I been running away from home all this time?
A simple answer is, ‘yes, I have’. Because I have come to understand that home is within, it really is where the heart is, where it beats right inside of us; home is who we are when we are complete, it is our life-force, our birth-right. We take home with us wherever we go, or rather we don’t take it with us, which has been the case for me my whole life, I can see that now. And this is the source of my home-sickness. I have never felt at home in myself.
Yet… things are never so clear-cut. I’ve come to realise that, for every truth and definite stance that you take, the opposite is also true in some way. And so, as well as running away from myself, I have also been running towards myself, albeit via a rather convoluted path. It is through my constant running that finally, through the universal law of cause and effect, I face the deep wounds I’ve been running from, as the outcome of my life decisions come to land on my lap and I face the grief of a broken-heart and the angst of an uncertain future, fittingly, in the first home I really remember. Perhaps this great reckoning and opportunity for true homecoming was what my soul intended all along. I certainly like to think so, it seems empowering, and reveals a method behind the apparent madness that my life might seem on paper. And, not just that, through my constant journeying, I have learnt so much about the world and about myself. I have grown a lot and learnt new skills, as each closure leads to a new opening. On one level I have resisted commitment, but on a deeper level, I remain ever-committed to my own soul growth, and to sharing the fruits of my journey with others, with more and more consciousness of this fact through each goodbye/hello threshold and the opportunities and lessons it provides.
In this contemplative space, I search my heart and find I have no real regrets. I know I’ve hurt myself and others through some of my choices, through my moving on. But I am human, and I can forgive myself; through my mistakes and failures, I have learnt so much, and I know those others have too. I truly hold to the following Epictetus quote:
“It is not what happens to you but how you react to it that matters.“
In other words, no experience is wasted, no matter how painful, as long as we learn the lesson we’re being presented with and move on in greater wisdom and self-knowledge. I’ve learnt about our human fallibility, our vulnerability, and how our pain and suffering unite and connect us as much as our love. I’ve learnt how we have to first and foremost be there for ourselves, to be our own safe place, to protect and nurture ourselves through all of life’s journey. I feel ready to think of home in a different way, by calling all of the missing parts of me home. I have rejected parts of myself, hidden them away, and running has been a defence mechanism, to stop me feeling the pain of these deepest of wounds. No more will I run from them – I am ready to feel it all, in fact I commit to this.
Yet… again, the yet… This, neither, is the whole truth. The truth always lies somewhere in the middle of the two opposites; a mysterious third way, where both polar truths come together to create something new. I know, for wholeness, we need to love and accept all of us, the good, the bad and the ugly – we have to welcome them all into our inner home. But we also need each other. Ironically, we cannot make this journey back to ourselves without the help, support and love of others. So, yes, home is within, but we have to let others into our home, and be willing to bring all parts of us into others’ homes too. Home is where our heart is, but it is also where our hearts connect.