The Journey

journey

“You are ok,” was what my therapist told me during my next breakdown at the second emergency appointment, a year or so after sweet Leif left my womb. I looked at her unblinking stare through the thick dead-fish glaze that was hovering over my eyes, and then around her office for something to throw at her face. One of her many psychoanalytical books she quoted way too often. That’s how ok I was. Clenched jaw and fists, violent thoughts, and unpredictable outbursts of anger were becoming my norm. But maybe it was ok to want to hurt others and to cry, on and off all day, everyday. I was the definition of bi-polar, oscillating between my maniacal love for existence, and my “I-want-to-die-what-is-the-point-of-this-fucking-life” states. She had the tendency to say things that really pissed me off, trying to shine light in a room closed off, dark, far away from any chance of luminosity. She told me I was strong when I felt so fragile, I thought I could shatter to pieces if someone breathed too hard. She pointed out that I was still alive – young, bright, with a promising life ahead of me. What she didn’t know was that I actually played dead because I was terrified of life. When I would cry some more because I wanted to claw at her uterus, and didn’t know why I came to see her in the first place, she would hold immense space for me. She didn’t judge me or tell me that I was supposed to be something other than what I was. She allowed the storm to rage and pass. The space was often terrifying; too big, and too small, all at once. The world outside would explode, while my internal universe imploded, and always, at the end of each session, like all the others, I felt a bit better – all cried out and empty. Calm. The emptiness was somehow fullness. I was all Zen-ed out.   And then she would say that it was only going to get easier, that these storms would start losing their intensity, that I would be and feel right again. That’s how I would survive yet another day, another week, until my next breakdown.

I drank a lot because somehow my conscious mind was convinced that wine could drown out the pain. Little did I know then, but I missed my blind spot entirely. I drank and raged like a wild animal disillusioned by the deceitful thoughts that urged me to simply disappear. Nothing was ever drowned except for my liver. Alcohol brought up the 500-year floods of tears, the shame that I was burrowing in my intestines, and the thunderous anger I felt for life. It eventually, slowly, became clear, that I was actually trying to flee from the dullness. Some very twisted part of me wanted to drink up the pain.  Boozing brought back the visceral experience of emptiness. How can we comprehend this loud, echoing call of emptiness? Why in the world would I want to hurt? Part of myself was asking for one thing, but really wanting, and needing the opposite. Feeling was much better than not feeling at all. But my mind didn’t think so. I was torn between my own life and death.

Pain turned to fear. What could I lose next? How much would I have to swallow to never again spit back up? I grasped to those close to me so tight that I suffocated them. I imagined my loves ones dying at every moment they were not in my presence. I played the game of push and pull to see just how far I could get them away from my frantic, dangerous mind, only to desperately pull them back in. I hungered for love and security, fully knowing that both were illusory. But still, I hung on to deception.

I realized how things have changed when others asked me how I was doing. I would really feel into my answer, saying, “I’m alright…” I used to be “great,” and sparkly eyed and then the dead fish glaze set in. I rarely went into dissecting my “ok,” because I knew I would fall apart. I was ok with being ok, but really missed being alive.

Light shines in dark places to create life. Life finds itself, no matter how small, or lost. The Universe wants to evolve, move on, create, and become. It took many, many months of therapy, pain, and isolation to witness the path of unfolding. To feel the point between dying and rebirthing, the small space separating one from the other. Vast.

There is no exact time that these shifts began to take form. There was no intimate play with the witness. It was too gradual. You don’t just wake up one day and feel blissed out, like nothing ever happened. I mean, you could, but you would be hiding. Grief is its own entity; timeless. The beautiful crone.

Every experience of my life makes up who I am today. Sure, I would take some of those back, especially from the years where I was tiny and not able to remove myself from disserving circumstances. But this…I don’t know. A big part of me would not change a thing. It’s all part of the divine plan and I trust that. It altered my path and opened doors that would otherwise remain close. But the Mother in me is mourning. Always. She would take it all back.

It’s strange to write about this other Ania who I know still resides deep within, but is not present in this moment. At least not in this dimension, as I know it. I hold her in my heart so tenderly because I know all that she has gone through. And when I have a flashback, a relapse, or identify with the sadness of her soul, I hold so much compassion for her pain, because I know it far too well. But who am I now in relation to who I was back then, and what separates the two? Am I the progression? What is this unfolding?

I believe I am stronger in some ways, wearing my battle wounds with a mix of pain and pride. I am fascinated with death and birth, like never before. I see it happening all the time, in me, in those around me, in Nature. One experience swallows me up, only to spit me back to what was never before imagined. Energy moves, onward, only to be reborn again. I witness that in my garden when I rip out the roots of precious “weeds” to make space for the seedlings I planted. How is that any different from extracting a baby to create room for something greater and more inclined to flourish? I feel that I have been initiated into something deeper, darker, more transparent. I am learning how to surrender to powers greater than what my limited mind can comprehend. I am learning to give my heart away, trusting in its loyalty to never really abandon me. I trust in Life.

And I trust in Death.

This has been the greatest and most intense journey of my life. Putting it into words seems like it’s cheating the experience. But I try anyway, because somehow that is a gift I have been given, even in its limited form.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been over two years since those therapy appointments, and I can look back and not only feel right again, but also see that I was OK even then. Because the truth is that we’re always ok, even when it seems like the world is crumbling down. Even in the darkest corners, light penetrates, eventually. Creation wants to shapeshift, to keep on creating. How else could we experience the essence of light if we don’t experience the darkness, in whatever form it manifests?

In the end, my wise therapist was right. I was dunked under and came to resurface to witness Life anew. To find a purpose that’s awaited me. To let go of a vision not yet ready to be manifested. To miss and love the child I never got to hold in my arms alive. To dive deeper into the mystery. To be in awe of existence and trust in its coordinates. To open, and close, only to open again. To laugh and cry, seeing one as the necessary step to the other. To breathe in life. To breathe out. To die. To tell the story.

Gratitude

grate

I am grateful.

For all the people in my life who so tenderly supported me through this difficult journey.

For the anger I did not know existed that transmuted into explosive creativity.

For my partner who never gave up on love, and stuck by me throughout my madness.

For the mysteries I unveiled within the contours of my grief.

For my sister who flew out to hold me while I birthed a breathless being into the world, then cleaned, cooked, and held the most sacred space.

For my inner strength that kept me driven to come out on the other side.

For my best friend who was next to me when I found out the worst news of my life, and for driving my car back from California to be with me.

For the messages I received from friends and strangers, encouraging me to keep going.

For my therapist who kept insisting that the storms would eventually pass.

For  my heart that broke a hundred times over to let me know that I was alive.

For loving a being I grew and never really met in person.

For realizing that I am not in control, and learning how  to surrender.

For the darkness that could only show me the light.

For the questions I would not think to ask.

For the hope that rose out of the ashes of despair.

For being able to share my process and lift the spirits of others.

For vulnerability that otherwise would remain hardened.

For being thrown into the underworld where so much wisdom resides.

For the beautiful stories of others that somehow made it all ok.

For witnessing the societal fear in the transparency of death.

For surviving the unimaginable.

For just being with it.

As I sat at the Thanksgiving table with my lover’s family, I came to really ponder what it is that I am appreciative of.  I felt the throb of that deep scar in my heart as I watched the kids run around, wanting so much for Leif to be there, playing with his cousins.  It’s a sharp ache that returns in those moments, one that brings forth tender emotion and lucid remembrance.  I welcome it, for it speaks of love.  And for that, too,

I am grateful.