I can’t say 2016 was a bust. Despite the obstacles and trials, including almost jumping off the edge of a fifteen year marriage, it still goes down in my own personal story as one of the best years of my life. I made it to the end! And here I stand.
Here I still stand!
In the smokey haze of an explosion of deep-rooted emotions that had built up over time, causing unbearable pressure that was bound to combust, the Executive had reached out and grabbed my hand, refusing under any circumstances to let it go.
“Just let me go,” I had said.
“I can’t,” he replied.
Somehow we ended up in a small town none of us enjoy. If it is possible to let a location on a map suck away your energy, happiness, and creativity on every level, I had become an expert at it. The discontent reached inside and grew from the root of my womb where a baby had unexpectedly started growing just a few short weeks after we had moved. Suddenly, I was faced with the never-ending truth that, while my plans may seem best at the time, the universe is always in control. Life will move along a spectrum of emotions and feelings and actions without pausing long enough for me to wrap my head around the throbbing rhythms of time.
There is only one thing that is always certain:
It’s another hand
holding itself out,
brilliant and trustworthy
with well-defined lines.
It’s luminous, gorgeous, and pure.
My control is in my choice to grab ahold of it.
“Take me then!” I had told God, but it was more of a scream, a plea. “Then show me already, dammit! What is the purpose of this? Where do you need me to go?”
I joke around about where we ended up, in this town that doesn’t seem to settle in our bellies very well. We miss home, things like the time we used to spend outdoors hiking on trails leading out to the lakefront, having a picnic by the water and reading in ENOs we would hang between trees standing like ancient, wise soldiers reaching up to the heavens.
Life wasn’t perfect, but it was ours.
Now being far off the beaten path in a neighborhood surrounded by beautiful homes row after row after row, with amazing local schools and an abundance of shopping twenty minutes down the country backroads, isn’t a curse by any means. For all of this, I am grateful. Still, it feels like I have been sent off to a birthing place on a lovely, far-off plantation with entire homes serving as dormitories. The purpose for being here is that I have had to silently come to terms with my self…my BIG self…my ego. Perhaps there was no other way for me to do this other than being far removed from a familiar flow of patterns that had become habit, both in thought and action.
In my solitude I have been forced to stare her, my ego, in the eye day after day as I have watched this seed within me grow from an apple to a pumpkin to the awareness and vision of a fully formed baby. I have had to tell my ego time and time again, “YOU are NOT bigger than me. YOU are NOT my soul. YOU will NOT steal my joy. YOU will NOT have this moment. YOU will NOT have your way.”
Egos do that, you know. They are clever and cunning.
We all have to come to terms with them…
Lest we stay in a flow of pleasure and pain,
unable to differentiate between fulfillment and those two things.
Day after day, I found myself going on a mindful search within to figure out where I have been, where I may wish to go, and, most importantly, to come to grips with where I am now. I have seen a glimmer of peace creep in, oftentimes with my rosary in my left hand and a bead pinched tightly between the thumb and forefinger of my right.
Hail Mary, full of grace…
Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus!
Our Father who art in heaven…
…forgive us our trespasses …
…lead us not into temptation…
Please, God! Deliver me.
And to my BIG self—to my ego—I say:
Here I still stand.
At my core I am a woman.
I’m sprouting new life from within.
Alongside the uncontrollable aspects of nature and time I will use all of my strength to bring his life forth, naked and crying; to nurture him as a precious gift once he arrives; to lead him down a path where he will come to know the lengths of my relentless forgiving love along his own web of intertwined and ever-expanding branches.
I am a woman.
Made internal and living internal.
I have been made by God, sprinkled with my own gifts beyond the material of these four walls. Therefore, it is my duty, my goal, to uncover the nature within me. So, I’m sorry, dear ego, but you will have to go.
Take with you the bags I have packed. I left them out in the hallway. Within them you will find decades of messages society has force-fed me. It is my own fault. I allowed it to happen. They are the messages that incrementally led me away from myself, that inched me toward an unattainable ideal of how I thought I needed to look and behave. Also enclosed you will find a map poorly drawn in red crayon that I no longer wish to follow.
Furthermore, ego, I have been thinking.
I know a lot of unhappy women and a lot of happy ones too. The happy ones aren’t defined by external influences because they have learned to tame their ego. They have learned to hold onto like gems all of the beautiful aspects of life with all of its imperfections, and they keep them tucked away in a beautiful wooden box carved with the intricate and delicate designs of their stories. These woman have learned how to tame their ego, to grab her by the arms, shaking her wildly and declaring, “YOU are no more!”
And as her ego decreased, her spirit increased.
So she grew, exponentially it seems, to encompass the kind of internal love it takes to expand from the center of her core outward to the edges of her being, bursting forth in a blinding light to love and appreciate others. Her ego has been flattened. She appreciates life, day in and day out, no longer suppressed by either herself or the world around her.
For a long time, I lived in limbo. The fluctuations of being happy and being depressed waved wildly on a pendulum dangling from the skies above me. Everything that affected my mood was external: my children misbehaving, a disagreement with a friend, a post on Facebook I felt might be directed at me, a day when my jeans were a little too tight because I ate Mexican food the night before…
the fact that I didn’t feel that I was in love anymore,
a town that I didn’t want to be in,
a baby that I wasn’t ready to have.
But guess what, ego? Eventually, I held my hands up.
“Take it then, God. Take all of this,” I had said.
Do with it what you will!”
Here I still stand.
Looking up through the fog, long after the dust had settled, I noticed that there was a third hand there all along, not holding on too tightly, but simply resting upon my chest, feeling the rhythm of my heart slowing down, calming, and finding rest.
It was my own.
And I told myself, my true self, standing on the rubble of my ego buried beneath the sand,
“A woman is whole in both her softest aspects and the ones fashioned by her fierce bravery and fire. When any part of her is suppressed, especially the colorful palettes of her passions in their brilliant hues, she will either fold in, or she will become incredibly hard to hold onto in the wake of her blinding light.”
It’s OK to breathe now, true self. Let it all go. Release yourself. Shine.
Here I still stand.
At the beginning of every single day, I know that the first place to travel is always within. I go to the secret places where I meet God, where all is still and quiet. From there I gather my colors, mixing them just so, and I proceed to paint the world with the gifts God has given me.
“Don’t ever let me go,” I tell myself.
I promise I never will.