Turns along the path

When I was an undergrad, I had no idea what the hell I wanted to do. I majored in French language and culture because I’d taken 5 yrs of it in high school, I was good at it, and I had no idea what else to study. I slapped on another major of International Studies because I liked learning about other cultures and there were few requirements that I’d have to take since I’d planned on studying abroad my whole junior year. When I returned and took the one mandatory course for that second major I hadn’t yet satisfied, I was in a class with people who had a minimum of two majors, more often than not 3 or 4, and who all seemed to know exactly what they wanted to do after graduation. I didn’t have a clue. I knew I didn’t want to teach or translate, and with an undergrad degree in French, that’s pretty much all you can do without going to grad school.

As college came to a close, I found myself at the end of a wild phase thinking I’d conform and return to my conservative Christian roots, taking a job as a youth leader at a church in France. My time there marked a huge turn in my evolution as a person on numerous levels. Ironically, it was around that time that I began studying Paganism and Wicca and discovered in those two systems a form of spirituality that finally made sense to me, unlike my Christian upbringing. It was also during that time that my passion for psychology and working with young people resurfaced and I realized one of my greatest assets: my sense of compassion. I decided (conveniently, since my contract was only a year long) to return to the States to pursue graduate studies in psychology.

Since that time, it seems as though pieces of a puzzle have begun fitting into place, slowly at first, and then with quickening speed. One of the books that a very dear friend and spiritual mentor gave to me when I was working in France helped me to understand the reason for this. The book was called Sacred Contracts: Awakening Your Divine Potential. In it, the author discusses how we all have a sacred contract in each life that we determine before being incarnated – the central purpose of that life. Once we begin taking steps toward fulfilling our Contract, things begin to fall into place because that is what our soul is meant to be doing. Roadblocks are cleared, the path becomes open.

I’ve encountered what I’ve perceived as a few roadblocks and other challenges along the way, but every single time, things work out, I learn valuable lessons in the process, and when the dust settles, the way is clear. One of my growing interests within the past couple years is Native American spirituality. I have a set of medicine cards that I read regularly, especially when looking for guidance. One of the cards that has been the most influential as I have endeavored along this journey is Ant. Ant teaches us to trust that the Universe will provide for us when we are working for the good of all, to have patience, and to strategize for the future. Most importantly among those three lessons for me has been trusting in the Universe and not second guessing myself and my Contract in the process.

I leave the city I’ve called home most of my life on June 2nd to venture to Atlanta, Georgia to pursue graduate studies in counseling. Traveling far distances isn’t new to me, but while most of my close friends are now spread across the country, I’ll miss the few I have here. Mostly, though, I realized that I will miss knowing the place I live, being familiar with my surroundings, knowing the city, etc. There’s a sense of belonging in that knowledge that is not developed overnight. And it’s understandable to be a bit anxious about that. One of the things I’ve learned over the past few years is that it does not do to fight against our emotions. Permitting myself to feel a bit anxious is the only way to decrease that anxiety and be able to focus on the exciting new chapter I am about to begin. New cities can be learned, new friends made to add to the old. And new turns along the path aid us in fulfilling our Contract and continuing our personal evolution.

Advertisements

Growth

I’m a moderator on a Pagan/Wiccan (yes, I realize those two are not synonymous, but for the sake of convenience, I’m using them that way) forum where I have been a member for 3 yrs now. This forum welcomes people of all paths, a wide span of ages, and a whole spectrum of developmental levels when it comes to spirituality and personal evolution. During my tenure as member there, I’ve seen some interesting people come and go. I’ve made some of the best friends that I have, even though I’ve never met some of them in real life, and I’ve run into some people that make my blood boil.

Recent circumstances lead me to question my own growth, where I am in my personal evolution, and consequently, I decided to pursue a theta healing session over the phone with one of those good friends I referenced above. During this session, my friend brought to my attention a significant number of beliefs I held regarding my self, my life, love, spirituality, etc. I realized that those unhealthy beliefs were blocking my potential for growth. When we finished the session, it was as though a massive road block on my path had been taken down with a recking ball and the path was clear for me to continue. In addition to those experiences, one of the books I’m reading now is entitled Pagan Spirituality, and it focuses on growth and development. All of these things, in causing me to monitor my own growth more steadfastly, have lead me to discover that I’m noticing more frequently where others are as well in their personal evolutions.

So when a situation arose on the forums where one member was illustrating through her experiences where she was developmentally, and it was frustrating to a number of us who are not in that space anymore, the replies she received to her post were of the tough love variety. In the past, I’ve been an advocate of tough love to the exc lusion of all else. I still am an advocate of it, as I definitely think it has its place and, for some people, it’s a great way to reach them and to help them. But for others, it can have the exact opposite effect and end up setting them back further. The poster in question had responded to a peer in real life with tough love and had gotten nowhere. And those members who responded to her on the forums with tough love were also getting nowhere. Some of the responders were annoyed by what was perceived as hypocrisy in this young woman’s behavior or were frustrated, I imagine, with the fact that what they were saying seemed to bounce off without really getting in. And I realized that the avenue we were advocating to her to embrace was not the one we were embracing in communicating with her. We were in the same position as she, bitching about someone who we found annoying and less advanced developmentally.

One of the things that my youth group leader had said again and again (back when I was active in the church) was that you have to meet people where they are. While I no longer consider myself a Christian, I think this is a really powerful and meaningful attitude to have. How could I reach this young woman where she was and help her to grow by showing her a larger perspective? I began to think of what the response would look like if I reached out to her in the same way we were advocating to her to reach out to her peer. In the end, I formulated a response with which I hope she will connect.

One of my favorite books is Strands of Starlight by Gael Baudino. It’s a fantasy fiction book set back in the 14th century complete with elves. One of the major growth markers that the main character reaches is when she identifies that, as elves, they exist to provide strength, aid, and comfort. Personally, I don’t think that should be limited to fictional characters in books. I’ve learned in the past few years that’s one of the reasons I exist – a pursuit I am to continue in this life and the ones to come: providing strength, aid, and comfort to those I encounter. And some of those people are a lot harder to aid than others.

I believe in building people up. If we let our anger and frustation get the better of us, we set ourselves back developmentally as well. A lot of the means of aid we could give to others requires us to grow beyond ourselves. And it is our choice to grow beyond ourselves and become more accurate reflections of the Divine or to stay where we are. I commit to never stop growing.

Closing the circle

I had just gotten home from work last night and was getting ready to go to my usual happy hour to meet my upstairs neighbor, when I checked my cell phone and saw I had a text message. Ex-boyfriend was at the bar sitting on the patio. I had a rather violent reaction of, “That bastard! That’s my bar, damnit!” So I took my neighbor’s advice, put on a sexy top and went over there. I didn’t look for him on the patio, but rather kept my eyes on the door to the entrance and a very normal look on my face. When I got inside, I was shaking. My neighbor assured me my reaction was normal – it was a territorial thing. And we proceeded to drink beer and fantasize about kicking his ass.

After I got home from happy hour (only 2 beers – go me), I hung out for a bit and then went out to the store to get a few things. I treated myself to a new movie – “The Rock”, which I love. Anger in situations like these is like a drug in that it’s a sort of high. But coming down is rough. I am not aggressive and spiteful, and I can’t maintain that attitude for long without feeling like it’s eating away at me. And when I did come down last night, I just felt empty. I started to think about all the things I really liked about Ex-boyfriend that I will miss. There was something about not returning his things to him that bothered me. I was fine with throwing out his toothbrush and shower poof, but the other few items…no. I had no problem NOT giving him the present I’d bought for him for graduation, but his things – there was something there. I was at a tug-of-war with myself over wanting to see him and not wanting to see him, though realizing not seeing him would probably be best. I decided before I went to bed that I would get up early before I know he would leave for Philly and I would drive over and leave his book, t-shirt, and body wash in a bag on his porch. No note, nothing else.

This morning, when I got up to do all this, the feeling and energy that surrounded me was very somber. Like I was taking flowers to put on a grave. Saying my final goodbye. I got out to my car, unlocked it, got inside, and was setting the bag down on the passenger seat when I saw something on my windshield. I got out. A long, beautiful peacock feather was laying across my windshield tucked into one of my wipers. I picked it up and held it then got back into the car. The feather sat beside me as I drove to his house and my heart ached a little more because of it, but it made my task that morning all the more necessary. I pulled up to his place and saw his dad’s truck out in front, but Ex-boyfriend’s car wasn’t there. I don’t know if his dad drove his car back yesterday leaving him the truck for the last of his things, if Ex-boyfriend had just driven to go out last night and slept somewhere else and hadn’t come home yet or what. It didn’t matter. I just hoped he would get his bag of stuff. I left it on the porch, walked back to my car, got in and drove home. I went back to bed after getting home.

It wasn’t until I was talking to a close friend later today that I was able to articulate just why I had to make that drive this morning. I had to voluntarily give back what was his and voluntarily get it out of my life. The break-up had been his idea, but I had to commit some sort of action to be in accord, for my own peace. Now, I could have thrown his stuff out to get it out of my life, but what was important for me was the closure. Me giving back his things was my way of closing the circle that was ‘us’ in a peaceful way – restoring some semblance of balance. Not an action filled with anger, frustration, or animosity.

We are at very different places in terms of our personal evolution, our personal development. I know he loved me, and in loving me, he was straddling two developmental spaces. Unfortunately, he was not able to take that leap to the higher space and opted to remain where he’d been. I know that doesn’t detract from his feelings for me. I’m not sure if understanding this makes it harder or easier.

Loss

I have experienced loss throughout my life – loved ones dying, friends moving away, breaking up with friends, breaking up with boyfriends, being broken up with, etc. I think how we deal with loss illustrates a great deal about who we are. Some deny emotion, others wallow, some fluctuate back and forth between the two. Some eat, some drink, some cry, some shut themselves off from the world. We all grieve in our own ways, some of which are healthy, some not.

This evening, the man I love made it plain to me that he did not care for me as much as I did for him. He’d been second guessing our relationship for the past month, while giving me no indication anything was wrong. He seemed to stew in his emotions to the point where when I finally noticed something was not quite right (yesterday), he had already made up his mind as to what he would do. Discussion was no longer an option, explanation wasn’t going to help, and I no longer had a say in the status of our relationship. I attempted discussion all the same, as well as explanation, and he wavered in his stance and agreed my points were all valid. But in the end, amidst his asking half to himself, half to me, whether something was wrong with him, was he just trying to find fault with something great, saying that he loved me and didn’t want to hurt me, he caved. I told him that if he was going to break up with me to just do it cause it would be easier on me than drawing it out. So he did.

I am one of the strongest women I know in terms of being able to “handle” emotionally draining and difficult situations such as these. Comes from experiencing lots of situations like those above and just plain stubbornness. I was completely in love with this man. I could see myself spending the rest of my life with him. Before him, there was one man who hurt me more than any man has ever hurt me or will ever hurt me, and in that situation, I experienced that sinking, hollowing, heavy feeling of caring for someone more than they care for you. I think it has to be one of the most horrible feelings ever. I had really been hoping that I wouldn’t ever experience it again, and yet, I have. I forgot just how emptying it feels.

I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason. I believe that everything that happens has meaning. I believe that there are lessons we can learn from any experience. Unfortunately, in my life, it seems that those most valuable lessons are always accompanied by great pain and great loss. I don’t know what lesson I can learn from this specific situation, what meaning there is to draw from it. I know I will heal. Eventually. I had just really hoped that he would be “the one.” Now it’s just seeming like that one is never going to come around, and it requires summoning all the strength in my entire being to even begin to consider the possibility that I could be wrong. My eyes are puffy. My throat hurts. I can’t breathe properly through my nostrils. My head aches from crying. And I just want to scream all of my anguish out into the universe so that I will be completely exhausted and can rest and escape these feelings if only for a brief moment in sleep, but when I go to scream, my voice gets caught up in the very anguish I’m trying to express and no sound comes out save that of labored breathing, gasps, sobbing, and heaving.

I will go to work tomorrow. I will more than likely not get a damn thing done and be bitter that I have to be there at all, but I have no vacation time left, so I have no choice. I will try, mostly unsuccessfully, to focus on the other massive source of stress in my life right now: everything I need to take care of to begin grad school in about a month. In a different state. I will inevitably tell this story more times than I’d care to. I will get wonderful emails and messages from my close friends who shared in my excitement when this relationship began and are always there to help me pick up the pieces when things fall apart. I will be more grateful than I can express that I have those friends. I will probably cry a few more times tomorrow when I start to realize all the things I am going to miss about him. I will stop by his house after work and drop off his graduation present (because I wouldn’t want it anyway) and his book, t-shirt, toothbrush, and shower gel, and I will listen when he says he is sorry. I will say I am sorry, too (that this has happened). I will add that he will be even more sorry when he realizes what he has given up. I will fly down to school for orientation next week. I will somehow figure out how I am going to move next month. I will begin classes. I will continue to think about him. I will begin to put this into perspective. And eventually, one day will come when I will no longer feel anything about this, and I will identify the meaning that all of this has. I will grow and I will become a stronger woman because of it.

But right now, I just want to curl up in my bed, shut the rest of the world out and cry.

Blessings

I have to admit that the pressure of the first entry of a blog is one that I’m uncomfortable with. I’ll eventually fill this space up much in the way that shoes, catalogues, or those little decorative boxes that really don’t serve any extravagant purpose other than housing books of matches and/or foreign coins accumulate. But I’ve gotten match books and foreign coins from some interesting places in my life up to this point, so perhaps you will at least find some mild entertainment here, if not a kindred spirit who simply wishes to capture in cyberspace the jumble of thoughts in my head along this earth walk of mine. Many blessings to you whoever you are and from wherever you come…