Fasten your seat belts readers! Get ready for an honest post.
"Love Warrior is a book about self-trust. It’s a book about a woman who has painstakingly learned that there is a still, small voice guiding her through this brutiful life one next right thing at a time. And that the only thing she cannot do – not ever again – is betray that voice. Self-betrayal is allowing the fear voices to drown out the still, small voice that knows what to do and is always leading us home to ourselves and to truth and to love. Love is the boss of me, not fear, and certainly not 'success'." Glennon Doyle Melton, from her Momastery Blog
I just finished the book Love Warrior and could not put it down! It so spoke to my heart and soul and what I ache for and believe that I read it over the course of 3 stay-up-late nights. It is a memoir about a brave warrior (the author) learning to radically trust herself, and a reminder that we are all love warriors at heart.
It's hard to write the Truth, but it is right to do it. I left about 3 weeks ago for Maine with my sweetie, and it took about 500 miles of driving to find out that I was not where I wanted to be. I didn't want to be on the trip, I didn't want to be with my (rather confused) partner, and I did not even want to be in my own skin. I was not living in my own Truth. I was living a Lie. Sometimes, as the book Love Warrior illustrates, we are living so deep inside of our own deceit that we don't even know how far from our deepest self we have traveled. We do not even know that our aching guts or knotted hearts or twisted souls are really wanting to be seen, heard, loved, listened to and believed. Sometimes we do listen, but flat-out ignore what we hear. Sometimes it takes a long journey, into unfamiliar territory, or any number of other things to wake us up! Sometimes, when we lose a pet or a loved one, a job or a home, we realize that everything is up for renegotiation and nothing will be the same again. We can either accept this or fight it.
When my beloved cat Gatty died over Labor Day Weekend, I felt as though I was about to lose everything. It was as if I was grieving not only my cat, but losses that were yet to come. It felt like life squeezed me really tight, so tight in fact that everything false would fall away and only what is real and true would remain. I could feel it in my bones, as though Kali (the goddess of destruction and transformation) were sneaking around my back door, just waiting to find a way in! Gatty was one smart kitty; we were very in tune with each other. And, I think at the time of his passing, he was trying to get my attention. But instead of listening, I kept pushing through, ignoring my feelings, perhaps hoping that they would go away. Obviously, that never works.
D and I departed for our trip tense and out of synch, but I kept telling myself, "This too shall pass and just keep going and keep trying and keep breathing and keep meditating and keep communicating and keep, keep keep it up!!" As though I had an inner drill sergeant that was smashing down my own precious, wise, still, small, lovely, important voice within. So we kept driving and driving and my feelings did not get any quieter, they became louder and louder. I think it's no surprise that in the rampant consumerism and 'noise' that is the Freeport/LL Bean Mecca, that something inside me finally said, "STOP!". I was about to drop a bomb and kill any hopes for our lovely perfect Maine vacation. I took D's hand, looked into his eyes and said, "Honey, I am not happy." With those 5 words hanging in the air over the LL Bean parking lot like a black cloud of truth, we turned the car back toward Vermont, only 1 week into our planned 3 weeks of couple-vacationland bliss.
As if almost by the stroke of Kali's sword, our vacation evaporated, the house I had under contract in Montpelier evaporated and when I returned to Cape Cod to lick my wounds and try to put myself back together as best I could, I got a phone call that the husband of one of my best friends in Montpelier had died suddenly of a heart attack. All this following the loss of my best kitty friend of 13 years. As Glennon likes to say, 'Sometimes we get an eviction notice from our life.' This is how I truly felt, that I was being evicted from my current plans, dreams and expectations. I jokingly referred to the whole ordeal as the 'Wreck of the Hesperus' even though I had no idea what that meant at the time! Looking into my sarcasm more deeply I found out that the Hesperus poem by Longfellow did have a connection to Maine and did involve one man's ego, which is in fact, not too far off point, although I am referring to my own ego here, not anyone else's.
I remember talking with a friend a few months ago, and gleefully exclaiming (in regards to the house, my man, my life etc) that everything was 'just great'! and I was doing 'just fine'. But in that very moment, sitting on D's front steps in the sunshine, I remember thinking quite clearly, 'Why are you not telling the truth?' If I wanted to replay and tell the truth, I might have said something more like this to her:
"I'm happy about the prospect of buying a house, but I'm also terrified. I actually don't know if I can afford it without a lot of help and that makes me nervous. I'm feeling anxious today, and afraid. I'm worried about my relationship. D and I have been having a challenging time, and we are in therapy. I don't know if it's working. I don't know if I want it to work. I don't even know if I want to be in a relationship. I miss being single. I love being single. I'm supposed to feel happy and good but I feel like there is a heavy anchor in my gut weighing me down. I feel more weighed down each day. My heart is not clear and my soul is not free. I love D, but I don't know if I can do this. I don't want to go on our beloved vacation and I'm sad that my cat is getting old and sick. I feel bad, I don't want to disappoint D and we have been planning our trip for so long. I'm too weak to say how I really feel. I feel shame that I don't feel happy and good and shame that I am not telling the truth. I love feeling happy and good. Maybe this is about me, maybe there is something wrong with me. Or maybe there are big thing wrong with D or both of us. Maybe nothing is going to work out. Oh, by the way, how are you doing today?"
As we were driving through the mountains of Western Maine, I kept thinking about the Maine slogan 'The Way Life Should Be' and how wrong that one little saying felt in the moment. My soul was screaming out, crying out, 'This is NOT the way life should be!', but I also did not know in the moment how to make it better, how to fix things, and to have it all come out okay. Sitting in Freeport, amidst all the happy shoppers filing their ubiquitous LL Bean tote bags with stuff, I just wanted to go home. Not home in the literal sense, but back home to myself, to my own core of radiant truth, to my joy, to my love, to my compassionate, clear, centered self. It took so so much energy to be living an untruth that I literally felt like I was walking around with a heavy object in my gut, knowing full well it was there and a burden, but too afraid to even look at it directly and confront it honestly.
As things unraveled, I ended up in Boston at one point, with Siri dictating directions from my IPhone. I kept missing turns and ending up on one way streets as I tried to navigate Brookline traffic and follow Siri's commands during rush hour. She kept shouting, 'Rerouting, rerouting!!' I immediately picked up on the metaphor. "The Universe is just rerouting me", I thought to myself, "The Universe has my back." My ego wanted so badly to stick with the plan, but my higher self had to take over the steering wheel and drive me Home. The funny part is, Maine has been a home, Cape Cod has been a home, Vermont has been a home and I ended up in all these places. And, I also landed (in a very roundabout way) back in the home of my heart and soul. How did I get there? Not by driving many miles or following the directions on my IPhone, but by finally and simply speaking the truth out loud and following the directions within my heart. Although I must admit it was not at all simple at first. It was messy, it sucked, it ruined our well-laid plans and it was hard for both D and I.
I'm back in my Vermont home now, relishing every moment in my peaceful apartment (not my shiny new home that I was going to buy), I have been able to comfort and grieve my best friend's deep and terrible loss, I dove down to the bottom of my truth with my sweet D and we are still swirling in it, not exactly sure what our relationship will become. And I'm listening to the pitter patter of my kitty's paws on the hard wood floor (yes I see and hear him everywhere). I am content with it all because I am truthful. I am no longer willing to be un-true. I have taken what was hidden, what was deep inside of me and brought it up and out into the light of day. The anchor has lifted out of my gut and my heart feels full but bright and clear. The true colors of the leaves are popping out dramatically here in Vermont and those true colors are actually what were there all along, just covered up. They were just waiting for the right conditions, temperature and timing to reveal themselves. Like the autumn leaves, are we willing to reveal our true self? To take a huge risk and speak aloud what is deep inside our hearts, minds and spirits, even if it is scary or confusing or messy or has the potential to destroy our most carefully crafted plans?
This is how I want to live: I don't want to hide what is inside any more, not even for a moment. Life is too short and to do otherwise, and it is just too damn tiring and draining. I'm not sure exactly what is going to happen from here, but I am taking it step by step. I am practicing a very sacred art, Self-Trust. I believe when we love ourselves unconditionally and wholeheartedly, even the parts that feel messy and shameful, when we practice Self-Love, we are able to access a deeper place of Self-Trust. Self-Trust is born of self love and self love is the only way to true freedom, the only way to fully and richly and deeply come home to ourselves. And, when we are at home in ourselves, we feel it and know it in every cell in our bodies. And those around us feel it too.
I've experienced a lot of loss lately, but I know that ultimately, on the other side of those losses, is a new, more authentic life waiting. I've learned that I cannot do it alone. We cannot do it alone. We need each other. So when I see you around town and I take your hand and I speak my truth and don't fake it, know that I'm here for you too. That you are invited to speak your truth, rather than saying, 'I'm fine'. I welcome you to be real and raw and TRUE with me.
I'll leave you with a powerful quote from Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton:
" I stop explaining myself, because I learn that making decisions is never about doing the right thing or the wrong thing. It's about doing the precise thing. The precise thing is always incredibly personal and often makes no sense to anyone else. God speaks to folks directly and one at a time, so I just listen and follow directions. And, when I need to work anything out, I turn to the blank page. There, no one can steal my pain or try to poison my knowing, and there I always have the final word on my own story."
PS... One other thing- the men in our lives need us, so so deeply, to be true as well. They really want to know what is going on inside our guts, and they want to listen and understand. And, if we women- we self-aware, educated, emotionally attuned women need a reminder to speak our truth, imagine what it is like for the men in our lives to show up and be vulnerable too. For men to show the truth of tears, or fear or shame so that it doesn't morph (for either sex) into the truth of addiction, anger, over-eating or spending or wearing our truth right out there in some other shadowy way.
Contemplations to Deepen Your Practice:
* Where does the Truth live in your body?
* Are you stuffing down feelings that feel too big or scary to feel or face or acknowledge?
* Who or what supports you when you have traveled far from home? How do you find your way back?
* What practices bring you most deeply home to yourself and to present moment (meditating, time in nature, journaling, yoga, prayer, talking, reading, listening)?
* Do you take time each day to quiet the mind's chatter and connect to that still, small voice within?
* Do you need to tell the Truth to yourself about something right now? Is there a trusted friend or loved one that you could share this Truth with, bringing it out into the light of day?
The Way It Is by William Stafford:
There's a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn't change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can't get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time's unfolding.
You don't ever let go of the thread.
The Journey by Mary Oliver:
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.
Read Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton and check out her awesome blog:
Momastery and her powerful interview on Oprah's Super Soul Sunday.
And, as always, I'd love to hear from you! Please tell me about your own experience with Self-Trust and being a Loving Warrior toward yourself by clicking the Comments Button. And, if you'd like the space to go deeper into listening, and being present with your beautiful self- cultivating more balance, harmony and alignment with your soul, join me this March in Costa Rica for a transformational retreat in paradise!