What I didn’t expect was the isolation, this strange and increasing sense of detachment; though I see it as a cost worth paying, a million times over, to live a life free and true.
There are people who used to like me, who don’t anymore. Of course, it’s difficult to describe how I could know such a thing. No one has come out and explicitly said anything of the sort to me. But I think we all can tell this kind of thing, energetically, through interactions. Though, perhaps “like” isn’t the correct word. What I really mean is, there are people I used to feel I could connect easily to, who no longer feel available to me in that way. I see them, and we know. Something has shifted. Something has changed.
I don’t blame them. I do my best not to take it personally. I know everyone changes. I am no exception. I’ve changed, shifted over the past few years, and not insignificantly. I’ve changed a lot. And it sometimes bums me out, this disconnect. Of course it does. I want to be liked, approved of. I want the people I admire to admire me back, even if I struggle to meet the generally agreed-upon standards for conventional relationships at every turn.
I think I’ve figured out I’m not really capable of holding a relationship with someone who can’t gladly meet me where our paths might cross on our separate journeys, then freely continue on in their current, and free me to continue on in mine.
And you know what? It’s strange. Because the more I embrace what feels innate, natural, true for me, the less I feel able to relate to most of the people around me. The more I come to accept myself, the more alone I feel. But not in a negative way. It feels natural, somehow, like a necessary process on this road I feel bound to follow.
I’ve finally found the nerve, the trust and faith I always needed to throw myself into what I have always felt beckoned to. Taking my ideas seriously, trusting the energetic taps on my shoulder that say, “Write that story. Add this character, this dialogue, this scene. Play this melody, pound out this rhythm, really give yourself to it. Show up honestly. Do what comes naturally. That’s it. Just trust me. You’ll see.”
The more that I trust it, the more it gives to me. The more I listen, the louder it speaks. I never knew before, just how powerful trusting myself, my ideas, thoughts, feelings, instincts could be, where it could lead me. I had no idea what inner peace could be gained. I’ve been sorting through my doubt, slowly drawing it out of me, letting it go, making room for more trusting, more expanding, more creating.
It has taken so much of my energy and awareness. It has taken all of me. To such an extent, I scarcely have time to look around and see that the room I operate life from isn’t so full anymore. I didn’t expect it. It’s different than I thought, but as someone I admire recently wrote, “Nothing in life feels how you think it will feel.” (@nicolajsousa)
I don’t mean it as loneliness, per se. It isn’t that. It’s more a feeling of limbo, floating between two worlds. Like an odd disconnect from things that used to feel familiar, that I used to hold as part of my identity, including the need for other’s approval; and a sense of waiting to discover what’s next. And that would make sense, because I’ve been working hard for a long time now to discover and be my own power source, rather than seeking permission and power from others.
The thing is, I had a breakthrough recently, whilst listening to Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations. I mean, obviously. Of course. What more could we ever need than Oprah?
In a particular episode, she’s talking to Lynne Twist, who says, “When you actually pay attention to, nourish, love, and share what you already have, it expands. It’s the opposite of what we think… When people know that, it frees them from this chase of, ‘more, more, more,’ because there’s so much energy tied up in that in everybody’s life. The shorter way to say all that is, what you appreciate, appreciates.“
And I thought to myself, “That is it.” I forget so often that our attention is our power, that what we choose to give our attention to grows, what we focus on expands.
I had felt for most of my life that what I needed was out THERE, somewhere ELSE, in some other place, in some other life I had failed to find or create for myself. I’d wake up every day feeling like I had missed the boat to my destiny. It would frustrate and discourage me to the point of exhaustion, depression, anxiety, all of those old saboteurs. But I know now, it is not so. I know now that is a lie, yet another illusion of the ego, well-meaning but misguided in its efforts.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned in all of my work in therapy, reading, creating, in all of my work of the soul is this: I am exactly where I’m meant to be, and everything I need is already within me.
“Life is not about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” -Shaw
All of the answers, all of the love, capability, imagination, forgiveness, the potential for greatness – it’s already there. It was expertly built right into me. The key to accessing it is to take my focus away from the external, the “out there,” and plug it into the internal, to what I already have, which is a whole lot, which is more than I ever expected to have. The key is not to chase after the ever-elusive and insistent voice of, “More!” But to send my roots deep, deep, deep into the ground from whence I now stand, reach up, up, up to the nourishment of the sky, and expand. To start where I am, rather than remaining in the cycle, the comfort zone of stunted growth with thoughts of, “I would, if only….“
I’ve finally decided to start where I am, to grow where I’m planted, as they say. It may seem like I’ve changed a lot, but I find the deeper truths of it is, I’ve only decided to unfold, show up, bloom as what I’ve always truly been. I’ve come to see that is, in reality, the only way forward. There is nothing to be gained from hiding ourselves. The trouble is, I spent so long thinking I was, or needed to be, something else.
The other day, Drew and I sat on a log under which ran a river. We dangled our feet over the water, enjoying some rare moments of peace in our always-absurd calendar. Rivers are great for moving energy, and I thought it would be a perfect opportunity for each of us to release to the river something we wanted to let go of. I was somewhat surprised, but knew immediately mine was shame.
When you spend your entire life trying to be one thing, and suddenly realize you’re another, it is thrilling and liberating and affirming. It’s like coming home. But it is also complicated, and painful. For me, at least, it has been a big, messy adjustment, and not only for myself. It feels as if I was a flower bulb destined to grow into a lily, but thought all my life I was just an extremely dysfunctional and disfigured tulip. (And maybe that’s my worst metaphor ever. Anything is possible.) And as I emerge, grow, unfold, or, you might say, bloom, it becomes increasingly clear that I am not what I previously categorized myself as. And this shame was coming from how this process has affected my gardeners, the people who have helped to nourish and guide me. The people I love.
In that moment at the river, I visualized pulling out all of that energy of guilt I had been projecting onto the people around me. The guilt I felt for the disappointment I may have caused them, for the adjustments they’ve had to make in their lives due to the adjustments I’ve made in mine. It came out as soot – deep, dark, blackest of black, the color of fear, the color of intense feelings, repressed old emotions. The color of not understanding life’s lessons.
I sat with it a moment, looked at it from every angle I could. Because I know now that anything which has power over us, we have endowed with said power, I asked myself, “Why have I been carrying this? What does it give me?”
The answer was as the answer always is. If I’m busy projecting my insecurities onto other people, if I’m busy feeling guilty, playing the victim, the martyr, the part of the poor, dysfunctional sad girl, I get to stay comfortable. I don’t have to take responsibility. I can blame my malcontent and disappointments on others. I can stay in a state of convenient self-deception.
And as soon as I looked at it that way, I knew it was time. That holding shame wasn’t worth what it robs me of. And so I thanked it for its service, and, at last, let the river take it away.