But somehow this one feels like it just might
Happen to me
Happen to me.”
(Lyrics, Happen. From Emeli Sandé’s Long Live The Angels.)
(Lyrics, Happen. From Emeli Sandé’s Long Live The Angels.)
At the start of this year, I had a well-paying job and a beautiful new studio apartment in an idyllic Colorado mountain town. Within a few weeks I’d traveled to Houston to spend a lazy Christmas and New Year’s with family, Los Angeles for a life-changing seminar, and to D.C. the day after the inauguration for Women’s March with my mom. Life was full and busy, and on the surface, perfect.
But it wasn’t.
I hated the well-paying job, and I hated the idyllic mountain town, a place where (despite all the gorgeous pictures I’d post on Facebook) I’d never felt lonelier. And despite having a steady paycheck and a beautiful apartment, I lived in a state of constant and near total anxiety and self-loathing, which I tried to medicate by smoking as much pot as I could legally consume.
It didn’t work. Come February, that perfect facade began to show its cracks, leading to an implosion that was years in the making. I got a spur-of-the-moment (and not so tiny) tattoo that I ended up hating, and then came the two-week flu from hell. I fell in and out of love so devastatingly fast that it made my head spin. I lost the will to do the job I hated and either fought with my boss or sat at my desk and sobbed every-single-day.
And then I left it all behind. Scraped together every last bit of cash I could muster (which wasn’t much) and went to India for three months. You can read about that adventure in my previous posts, but since I’m feeling more honest than not these days, I’ll share now that the trip was far from perfect. Again, there I was with the pretty pictures, and the pretty words…none of which were dishonest, mind you– I had some transcendent moments along the way that will always be a part of my story. It’s just the things I left out, the things I’m realizing I always leave out.
Life can be pretty fucking hard.
In so many ways, India was really fucking hard, and as much as I loved it, I also hated it.
(There, that feels a little better.)
I’m ending the year sleeping in on a tiny fold-out single bed in my Dad’s office with less than $5 in my checking account. But don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the roof over my head. My parents have a small but exquisite home, and though it hasn’t been the easiest living with them again, at least I’m fed, warm, and loved here.
There is nothing left. These are the words that keep coming up, the words that prompted me to start writing this post.
A few weeks ago I posted about the collapse of most of my views on contemporary spirituality. This, combined with a recent bizarre and directionless existence has pried opened a deep, dull, dark, empty hole, one which feels like it sits at the very center of my being. It’s a tragedy, and a miracle.
I’m usually different. I’m usually inspired, and lucky, and radiant, and resourceful, and productive. Or at least, I was all of those things, (or I thought I was,) once upon a time. But somewhere along the way, I got really, really lost, so lost that I didn’t even know I was lost, and I’m pretty sure that’s why everything blew the fuck up this year. Because underneath all the radiance and mantras, I buried past trauma. I buried my suffering. I buried my anxiety and ignored the constant fiery ache in my chest. I buried the tiny voice that said, over and over again, “I hate myself.”
Yesterday, the word “regeneration” came to me. I was sitting outside on the patio, staring into the woods, when suddenly all my limbs felt like young vines. I took a breath and felt that something different was possible, that something could be born from this darkness. That for every little death this year, there were tiny seeds planted that have been waiting patiently for their moment in the sun.
I wonder what I will do differently, in the future. I wonder if it’s possible for me to just live simply, and with purpose. (Or without purpose.) To love the woman in the mirror now, with her tired eyes, mismatched PJs, and unexpected strands of gray hair, as much as I love the radiant version.
There is not a neat and tidy way to end this post, nor this year. I am simply here, with the emptiness, and the tiny promise of regeneration.
My last post poured out of my heart while I was listening to Marshemello & Khalid’s fabulous collaboration, Silence. Here’s an acoustic cover version by Matt Johnson that’s equally amazing:
This song speaks to my experience right now on so many levels. With each listen, it becomes more profound….lyrics taking flight, re-interpreted by the listener as a soundtrack for life imploding and being birthed anew.
(currently listening to: Silence, by Marshmello & Khalid)
I’m having one of those “fuck ALL of it” moments.
The past several weeks have been a hibernation. Pre-winter, incubating a new dream. And it’s been so hard. But so necessary.
I’m witnessing the unexpected dissolution (again) of almost every idea I had about what my life would look like now. What my communities would look like. What my gifts are, and how I would use them.
Every day, even the days that I think I couldn’t possibly take any more, becomes another stripping bare.
I got lost re-reading an old blog of mine the other night, and was so moved by words I’d long forgotten. I was so young then, and raw, and bitchy, and beautiful. And honest.
It was a revelation, what I’d lost, that I didn’t even know I’d lost.
Honesty. That’s what’s been missing from my insanely watered-down life, especially since I shut that old blog down because I was ashamed of it. Because I was suddenly too “spiritual” to be so young, and raw, and bitchy, and beautiful.
The word “spiritual” makes me want to vomit. At least, in the sense of what it’s become, it’s essential meaning warped by the toxic, dysfunctional culture of contemporary new age “spirituality.”
I talked to a friend recently, who laughed during our conversation and said, “I thought you’d be the one to come back from India with all the beads, and the mantras, and the glow.”
I’d just told him that I wanted nothing to do with any of it anymore. Yoga culture that is often either overly-dogmatic or overly-commercial. Being a black woman, trying to connect to spiritual “communities” that are the furthest thing from diverse and inclusive. (And unsurprisingly, finding zero connection.) Spiritual bypassing. The disturbing ways we deify teachers and ignore the beauty and innate wisdom of our own hearts. Enlightenment as a thing we are obsessively trying to get to, something that doesn’t include the messy imperfections of right now. Personal development as a thing…you have to do.
All of the above may be perfectly fine for someone else, but they are not for me. Not anymore, at least not the way it’s looked in the past. Time for a radical re-framing.
I’m laughing right now, because all of it has been the bulk of my obsessive existence for so many years. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say there were some true gems in that mess. One of my favorite quotes is from N.K Jemisin’s wondrous The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms: “There is truth, even in tainted knowledge, if one reads carefully.” This holds true here too.
That, paradoxically, was what spending three months in India taught me. I too, thought I’d come home with all the beads, and the mantras, and the glow.
And instead, where I am, after truly integrating what this trip meant to me in the torturous weeks since I’ve been home is,
“Fuck ALL of it.”
Let’s live, instead.
“Deeper dimensions of experience are now available to us, where we are not limited to experiencing just the physical plane. When you look at a tree you will begin to see not just the physical form of the tree, but rather a multidimensional experience of the tree, its spirit, its communication, its soul. The same goes for people around you. You will begin to experience them as multidimensional beings with loads of history. The downside of this expansion is the tendency for overload and the possibility of losing ones tether to the agreed upon collective experience of the physical world.” – Unknown
Today was an initiation.
I could feel it coming. Something in the air. Something in the way my mother moved about the house and played gospel music yesterday. Something in the sleepless nights and jet lag I’ve clumsily dealt with since I’ve been home.
None of the small signs prepared me for a day I expected to be normal, but turned into nothing of the sort.
I think every single one of us has had a day like today.
Unexpectedly hard. Unexpectedly sacred.
I can’t spell it all out right now. I simply wanted to mark it, here on the blog.
It’s all messy and close to my heart.
I feel, in this moment, like a child. Full of awe at how big everything is. So deeply held and cared for. Broken…made of sunshine and grass and roses and moonlight.
#thetower #sixofswords #thestar