Facebook showed me a memory today. A picture of me from the brief time I lived in Portland. That time was a pain peak in my life, but the picture says otherwise. I’m smiling, holding a finger with a mustache drawn on it up to my face, ostensibly exuding silliness – a part of me I often show to people. But not always. When I was young I was shy, and then slowly I grew into some loudness. First just with friends – making jokes, singing loudly, dancing weirdly – but soon boisterous became a go to, a brand of armor against the inward pain I dare not show anyone. And then came the story of expectation. I made up that everyone expected me to be happy, fun, exciting, loving life. I played out this story so well it became my truth. I believed no one could handle my pain, and if I voiced it no one would understand. And surely they would all think I was crazy, ready for a strait jacket, some meds, and the psych ward. So when friends asked ‘how are you?’ My answer was always ‘oh good, fine…’ followed by some joke about being single, or a quip about not quite having enough money to do exciting things. I buried pain after pain for years. Not letting it out to breath, not voicing it to honor my emotions and experiences. I didn’t really know how. I did the only thing that made sense at the time. Repress and pretend. Then there was no more room to bury anything. I was oozing pain at the surface. The ooze of pain came out in daily panic attacks, dizzy spells, and crying fits. I tear up thinking back to those memories and realize it had to happen that way. I look at the picture again. My sister took the photo on her trip to celebrate her 30th birthday, which she also used to help me move home. Definitely an act of love. I had chosen to withdraw from grad school, and turned down the path of inward exploration, my journey of spiritual remembering was ignited. Almost seven years later I am looking back and my heart sings with hurt, sadness, and gratitude at these memories. Then with a deep breath I realize my heart is really singing love.
Love for my journey.
For each step on my path.
The pains. And sorrows.
The changes and reframes.
I’m in love for a minute with all of it.
And keep going.
Have faith and wait. I heard that message recently as I walked a labyrinth at beautiful women’s retreat I just attended. Having faith and waiting are not words I embody. I pretend I am. I say I’m giving something to the universe or I’ll wait until it feels right, and then underneath both of those is a deep frenetic uncertainty. It leaks out of me in anxiety and a very loud mental loop of sorting through all the possibilities. Asking myself what do I want? How am I going to get that? It’s not possible because fill in the blank with one of my many insecurities that all boil down to fear and not enough-ness.
At this retreat, the leader was coaching another woman and articulated what faith might physically look like. She said faith is like taking a step and then standing on one foot until the universe puts the next step in front of you. In hearing those words I felt into an understanding about why I struggle to embody faith. Having faith and really giving something over to the universe isn’t comfortable. If I’m just standing on one leg in the middle of my path and my only job is to surrender, I feel out of control. My mind immediately wants to kick into problem solving mode. It feels better – it feels like I’m making progress. Maybe I take a jump to the side on my path to look at an option, and then jump back, and then sit down, and then do some twirls, but I’m still in the same spot. Stuck. Then I usually start feeling frustrated so I try to charge forward and find myself running into a wall of money issues, sickness, or anxiety.
I realize now that my hops, twirls, and sits powered by my anxiety are simply an attempt to protect myself from any possibility of getting hurt. This is really great news! Now I can thank the anxiety for protecting me. I find most anxiety is rooted in a deep desire to protect ourselves, and it keeps going because often it works on some level to keep us safe. So thank you for protecting me anxiety, I now want to up level you to intuition.
I am clear now. I do want to surrender to the universe completely. That’s my first step, and now I stand balanced and waiting. I breathe through the habit of trying to control how something will happen. It’s not my job to know how. Things never happen the way they are expected anyway. In letting go and really standing on one foot and waiting I can live faith. I can listen. I am communicating to the universe that I am open to divine wisdom and timing. And I know the next step will be there with this beautiful surrender.