I’ve spent a great deal of my life feeling deeply discombobulated as I’ve fractured, re-formed and fractured time and time again. In fact, it’s happened more times than I care to recall! This process is a part of life and it’s how we evolve but no one warned me just how gut wrenching and soul spinning it can be.
For a long time, I thought the key was in learning how to outwit the cycle of discombobulation and I rode the waves of life with a kind of smug sense of knowing as I tried (in vain) to stay one step ahead. Yet I could no more stop discombobulating than I could stop the day turning into the night: it happened whether I wanted it to or not. After a few distinctly challenging and arduous years where, with no clear escape route, I felt increasingly disenchanted and discombobulated, I fell apart.
However, instead of running or trying to outwit the cycle, I started to seek out nourishment in this seemingly bleak and inhospitable place, a bit like the bacteria that thrive in the dark at the bottom of oceans or in volcanoes and I found a way to breathe. Strangely, it seemed the more I fell apart and the more I learned to breathe, the more whole I started to feel. This may sound like a contradiction in terms as it feels counter-intuitive but it’s my own experience and that’s my reference point!
Experiencing fracture after fracture after fracture creates deep scars in the soul but it also opens the doorway to strength and courage. The more challenges I faced, the more I leaned into them and this took me beyond the mind-set of feeling the negative aura of discombobulation and instead I started to move into a space of an awareness of the bigger picture of recombobulation. It’s a word that speaks for itself: it’s a ‘coming back together’ and a willingness to allow the process to continue with an open heart and an open soul. (I’m not sure if recombobulating is officially a word, but I like it, so I’m using it!).
Words carry power and energy, and recombobulation feels empowering and inspirational to me; it’s a breakthrough and a re-emergence. It’s a shift of perspective allowing me to breathe more deeply into life and, at the same time, allowing life to breathe more deeply into me. Recombobulating is re-connecting, re-awakening and reaching out into life akin to a daffodil turning its head towards the warming sun on a spring day.
In many ways, life hasn’t changed much for me as I’m still experiencing fractures and challenges but I face them differently these days: I turn to them and face them wholeheartedly, taking a deep breath and letting go of resistance. This doesn’t mean I love having them in my life but they’re staying so I’ve chosen to adapt. Nor does it mean I’ve given up, I’ve simply stopped giving myself a hard time for not being perfect and not being the me I’d hoped I’d be or thought I should be. The me I am isn’t the me I’d dreamed about but it feels more real and more genuine as I’m fully engaged and connected to the process. By being real, I’m giving my true essence the room to flow freely.
Life is rarely straight forward or black and white; life is a kaleidoscope of colour, experiences and change. When we fight and resist, we stagnate and recoil. When we let go, we find new ways to thrive. There is no way to avoid the cycle of discombobulation as it’s how we grow and evolve but when we step back and see the process as a part of a bigger cycle, it helps bring a new perspective.
If we wholeheartedly buy into the essence of feeling discombobulated, life feels heavy and challenging, yet when we see it as a part of a cycle of recombobulation it somehow feels lighter and easier to navigate as we’re no longer victims but conscious souls riding the ebb and flow of life…
Sunday, 6 December 2015
This year I’ve fallen apart. Everything I once held dear has been torn down and ripped away. My beliefs have been shattered, my sense of spiritual connection has disintegrated and turned to dust, and my physical self has crumbled with ill-health and disability. The story of my life unravelled as everything fell apart; I broke. It's not easy to admit any of this as the truth is rarely easy to face. Yet, I've reached a point where I'm no longer able to hide behind the relative safety of my keyboard or to wax lyrical about the joys of pain and struggle. Life isn't all fluffy bunny and marshmallows; sometimes it's gut wrenchingly difficult.
I’ve been standing precariously close to the edge for quite some time looking into the murky depths below, wondering what’s hidden in the mist and trying not to let my imagination run riot. I clung tightly to the edge until the day I couldn't and I fell. This year I’ve been falling, just like in those nightmares of my childhood when I’d suddenly lurch backwards into freefall, waking up in a blind panic, feeling nauseous and trembling. It felt like the nightmare had shifted into reality as I turned to face my ‘what is’ head on. Yet, this makes it sound like a conscious and willing choice, but I was dragged to this point and pushed into a corner leaving me with no escape route; I’ve had to face my reality as there was nothing else left as all of the facades, false beliefs, hopes and various levels of denial fell away. In hindsight, reaching such a point was inevitable, after all, no one can keep putting on a brave face, smiling and pushing on forever.
As the storm clouds kept coming, their relentless and tenacious determination ensured there was nowhere left to hide. There was no shortcut around the storm, the only way was through. This meant facing my shadows, facing my reality and facing up to myself with a lot of brutal self honesty. I guess I'd always believed that life is a journey, and, as we evolve, we step from one room to another, carrying with us new insights, new wisdom and new awakening. Yet, in a slightly whimsical kind of way, I hoped my point of breakthrough would be akin to walking in to a new room, turning the light on and starting afresh. I thought I would simply start seeing the world with fresh eyes and a new perspective, and keep striding forth as I've always done. However, life had a very different plan for me. Admittedly, I tried hard to cling on to what I had, even though I intuitively knew I couldn't carry on as I was. I felt a kind of safety in denial, it was an uncomfortable comfort zone to me, yet I didn't want to let it go.
There is a lot of wordage given to the concept of awakening, breakthrough and acceptance. I myself have written a great deal about this, feeling a deep sense of awareness of the process of my own personal evolution, as well as a sense of collective awakening. Of course, I, like everyone, am on a continual path of growth and learning, but it has always been a more palatable option to believe that breakthrough and, indeed, breakdown, were, ultimately, immensely positive experiences. Who was I kidding?
As I gazed around at the debris scattered all around me in the aftermath of the storm, it was undoubtedly hard to feel a sense of positivity. In that moment, I felt grief, anger, despair and desolation; positivity was conspicuous only by its absence. I had been forced to a point of breakdown and surrender, and yet, although it took me a while to see through the blurry haze of my tears, I was aware that my perception had shifted as everything looked different. Every sound, colour and smell was somehow more vibrant, as though I had opened myself up to a new layer of awareness. Initially, it felt as though I had no skin as I couldn't filter out the intensity of the shifting vibration all around me and within me. However, despite sensing a shift, I kept on resisting and denying as I couldn't bring myself to face the truth that everything had imploded and fallen apart. I kept on resisting until my resolve was smashed and there was nothing left standing between me and, well, me.
By being forced to a point of surrender, I had stripped back the facades I had clung on to for so long and I was left naked and bare facing my ’what is’ with total honesty as there was nowhere left to hide. The intensity of the chill in the cool air was undeniable, yet, at the same time, it felt refreshing as I could breathe freely for the first time in years. Spiritually, emotionally and physically I felt able to expand and, although the pain of falling apart was exquisite, the sense of reconnection I sensed would rise up within me stirred my curiosity and spurred me forward. However, reconnection wasn’t the default setting that emerged at the point of breakdown as I found myself in a kind of numb voidal space: not quite here, there or anywhere.
I felt as though every atom and cell of my being had been shocked and broken open; like an egg being cracked apart. Through those cracks poured a lifetime of ‘stuff’ and it was immense. Perhaps breakout is a better description than breakdown as although I definitely fell apart, I sensed a profound and intense feeling of indescribable release at the same time.
I've often pondered why this was the year for my falling apart. I’ve faced a lifetime of challenges, so why now? I’ve spent my life trying to be the best me I could possibly be, I’ve embraced self-healing and spiritual teachings, and I’ve worked so hard trying to heal myself in order to free myself from the ties that have bound me to ‘ought’s’ and ‘should’s’. Yet I’ve pushed my own self-destruct button as I wouldn’t pause; I wanted to keep on keeping on just in case everything fell apart if I stopped (even though my fragile house of cards had already fallen apart, I wouldn’t accept or acknowledge it). My head became a logjam of thoughts, beliefs and fears, and my soul became saturated as I built layer upon layer of facades. I stored up years of uncried tears for all of those experiences I wasn’t fully present for and I allowed the cracks in my physical health to become a gaping chasm as my body buckled and crumpled.
I fell apart this year as I could no longer keep on keeping on, trying to cling on, trying to push on. I fell apart as I tumbled into the gaping chasm I’d created and landed in a heap on the cold ground below. It wasn’t a soft landing but, in that moment, everything stopped, frozen and raw as I saw the truth of myself in all it’s glory. It wasn’t pretty, yet it was also beautiful at the same time as my awareness was fully in that moment and I realised that, despite my best efforts, I’d spent most of my life focused on what I hoped was ahead of me; I'd never allowed myself the opportunity to step fully into the present moment, and it was this denial and resistance that finally broke me.
My overloaded mind, body and soul needed to fall apart in order to fully get my attention. It was time to express the pain, sadness and the disconnection, and it was time to allow my true self to step consciously into the here and now. I found myself staring into that big hole, so beautifully described by John O’Donohue as, ’the precarious broken threshold of my own heart and soul’. I needed to let those uncried tears flow freely and I needed to let myself breathe, rest and take stock of my reality.
I guess it is somewhat ironic that in the process of trying to find myself, I actually lost myself. I looked so hard for the truth of me, I failed to notice my reality. I have long been dealing with health issues, but it was only when they escalated and I fell apart, I realised that I wasn't accepting my 'what is’, I was doing quite the opposite. Integrity, authenticity and acceptance are crucial steps on the path of awakening, yet all three involve a willingness to see beyond the facades we've created in order to stop trying to be anything other than what we are. Although I believed I was in a space of acceptance and surrender, I wasn’t. Of course, I would have preferred a little nudge to show me the error of my ways rather than a devastating tsunami tearing me open and ripping me apart, but, in truth, I’m rather good at ignoring nudges.
I’d love to say that the sun then rose and everything was well in the world as all the pieces suddenly fell into alignment and I felt a deep sense of peace. Entering the chilled darkness in the depths of my heart and soul pushed me to the point of extinction as every ounce of foundation fell away. There was nothing left to cling on to as hope was absent as I was made to truly face everything I had denied, repressed and ignored for years. My sense of spiritually, of inter-connectedness, shattered and I felt so angry and abandoned. The intensity of the pain rising up from my depths left me feeling isolated and alone, scared and confused. At the time I needed my spirituality the most, I turned my back on it as it felt hollow and without sustenance. This was of course a reflection of how I felt: disconnected, desolate and barren.
Although I’ve spent my whole life in the dark believing I was already in the light, reality shook me into consciousness and I remained fully awake and aware in that dark, cold place for months. I had days when I longed for death and I had days when I longed for life. I felt frozen in paralysis, not having the energy or strength to do anything other than be fully aware of where I was. Denial takes a phenomenal amount of energy but acceptance takes much more. I stayed there until the day I didn’t. I can’t say I had a powerful moment of revelation or insight, I just felt a weight lift from my soul and a light re-ignite from the core of my being. It was as though someone finally flipped the light switch on in that room I’d been pushed into on the next stage of my journey of evolution. It took a while to adjust my eyes and, in truth, my soul still feels jaded as I recover from the devastation. Yet, I find myself grateful as I feel as though I’m finally home: I’m present and the facades and falsehoods have fallen away. Of course, more will surface as that’s a part of being human, but, for now, I feel a glimmer of hope rising from deep within me as I'm tentatively exploring a deeper and more enriched connection to my mind, body and soul.
I'm still coming to terms with my physical ill-health and disability as its changed my life from the inside out and this involves grieving, anger, compassion, allowing and accepting, all of which churn up layers of emotions and belief patterns. Of course I have days when I'm angry about my reality but it passes as I know I'm the only one who suffers as a result. Awakening is an on-going process but I finally feel ready to be here now. Maybe ‘awakening’ isn’t the right word but it’s hard to extrapolate an apt description that suggests a positive to a period of utter devastation. I think I’ve been awakening for years and I’ve realised it’s not ‘being awake’ that matters, it’s noticing or paying attention. It’s the same as being alive: being alive isn’t the same as feeling alive as the former suggestions existence but feeling alive suggests a conscious interconnectedness. It’s only now I can say, hand on heart, that I actually feel alive. It’s painful and raw, but I’m wholeheartedly feeling every emotion, feeling and sensation. I’m feeling a growing sense of the true essence of me as I breathe deeply into my heart and soul. The threshold of my heart and soul that I’d feared for so long is still fragile but I’ve dived in and now fear isn’t the force that’s holding me back or shaping and defining my life.
I, like so many of us, have experienced breakthrough over the last few months after years of spiritual, physical and emotional upheaval. I had to breakdown to reach a point of surrender and I had to have every one of my many escape routes cut off in order for me to stop trying to out-run and out-wit truth; not to deliberately live an ‘un-truth’ but in a somewhat futile attempt to relieve the discomfort of being human. It’s taken a while for me to assimilate the process in order to articulate the essence of the changes within me as I find myself with a brand new vocabulary and a brand new perspective as a result.
In truth, I’m still adjusting and I’ve given up trying to condense and distil the experience in order to try to make sense of it as it’s beyond my logical and rational comprehension. Thinking about it gives it structure and it has none. My wounds are still raw and my soul feels weak and, although I intuitively know that falling apart was what I needed, I know it’s my willingness to be vulnerable, genuine and real that is setting me free. My essence shattered, but spiritually I feel more whole than ever before. It's certainly complex and confusing!
So, this was the year I fell apart but it’s also the year where echoes of possibility began to ricochet down the long corridors of my soul, tickling my consciousness and re-igniting my desire for life. I haven’t, as yet, given shape or form to these possibilities but I can feel them stirring within. For now, I’m resting in the moment, allowing myself to breathe fully as I slowly begin to open wholeheartedly to the process of healing; I feel weary from the battle, but the whisperings of hope keep the flames of my optimism flickering gently in the darkness.