Over the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about how life is not something that just happens to us, we are not victims of circumstance. Life is a series of choices. We make our choices based on our inner state of being, our awareness, our perception of our possibilities.
When I was just out of college, I moved from the East Coast to the West Coast by myself to start a new life. It was a leap of faith. What I discovered at the other side was self-doubt, fear and loneliness. I made many choices at this time driven by these inner conditions and my limited perceptions of my possibilities and capabilities.
One of these choices was to plunge into a relationship at 22 with a man that I would call husband until I turned 42. While this choice led to other wonderful choices, like the decision to have two sons who are my greatest creations, I have thought a great deal about my early time in San Francisco.
The opportunity I missed when I was 22 was to explore the shadow of my fear and loneliness. To cross the chasm of self-doubt, through darkness, and struggle up through the light. To build my strength, my self-worth, and my self-love through the struggle with my own shadow. Instead, I had to learn these lessons a different way, along a longer more windy road. The road I chose was filled with laughter and love and experiences I never want to forget; but it was also fraught with daily challenges that compelled me to face my shadow and grow.
“Any situation that you find yourself in, is an outward reflection of your inner state of beingness.” —El Morya
My inner state of beingness at 22 was one of self-doubt, and wanting someone to tell me how to do it right so that I could feel like the world was safe, and I was protected. I got what I asked for. But as I grew into a woman, and a mother, and started finding my own wings–this relationship couldn’t grow along with me. As I grew, I stretched the relationship in ways that caused conflict. This conflict, I now understand, was necessary for my transformation. All my life I have loathed conflict in any form; I have always run away rather than stand and fight. But in a marriage, there is nowhere you can run. I had to learn to fight for myself, for my voice; I had to learn to stand up to pressure and be strong in the face of argument; I had to learn to trust my own wisdom and hold my ground. This, too, was an outward reflection of my inner state of beingness.
Eventually, I had to take another leap of faith–I had to choose myself and trust that I could fly all by myself. When I chose myself at 42, and left my marriage, it was the beginning of truly facing my deepest shadow: being alone. I entered the cocoon state where I left behind all the masks I ever wore to pretend to be whatever would get me love and attention from another. I set down my armor used to encase my heart in an impenetrable vault. I walked right into the dark forest of my fears. I embraced loneliness. I had compassion for self-doubt. I relaxed. I released self-loathing. I forgave myself. I opened. I breathed.
My heart started beating again.
Wings unfurled in the morning sunshine, stretching into the soft misty air.
Wind met wings and soon I was flying…
The lessons will be learned in our lifetimes. But we have the choice for the path we take to learn the lessons. When I was growing up, my mom would often ask me “Why do you always choose the hard way?” As I consider this question right now, I am smiling. My life is sweeter because of its challenges, and how hard I had to struggle to overcome them. I have earned my freedom, and it feels good to fly.
“It’s hard to love the fruit, when I never did climb the tree.” –Big Apple, Brooklyn Funk Essentials