Thinking of Mary Oliver, on The Journey, today. This past week has been ike coming out from underwater, taking big chest-fulls of air, filling my heart with a soft light and breathing normally again. I’m on an upswing and around me even though nothing is different, everything has changed.
This is what moving through and forward – through the joys and pain alike — is like, I suppose.
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.
Unlearning lifelong patterns and choosing to honour oneself over everything else is a deep, slow, long and often painful process. It requires being a little selfish, which has been easier said than done for me. Because in the doing, it has meant confronting the hardcoded people-pleaser in me, shocking the side of me that believed I was always my own person, and now contending with the possibility that I will be seen as selfish, unkind and self-serving.
As I move through this, without willing or wishing it away, and accepting this part of the journey in its entirety, I am deeply aware of how people close to me may at times feel hurt, shunned, abandoned or rejected.
I can see how relationships are shifting from one day to the next, how some have ended altogether, and others are having to find new ground — not always swiftly and easily.
There is a shit ton of grief and sadness, guilt and fear at all this changing, at letting go at a lifelong comfortable way of being. Of being okay with letting people go. Of facing temporary bouts of despair and loneliness. Of having to grow a new skin, and feeling utterly vulnerable until that new skin appears fully.
There have also been moments of doubt, when all of this has been sometimes too much to take. Moments of questioning if this was worth it? Moments when it all do terrible, I wonder when it will feel right again. Moments that make me want to stop feeling at all.
I’ve wanted to turn this around many times over. Shut all of this that I have unraveled over the past two years, back into a box where it came from. Lock it up and throw away the key.
I’ve been here many times before, and I realise that I will come back to this same place again and again. That’s just the way the cycle goes.
Each time I will question if this was worth it. And each time, that voice inside — of the soul I am nourishing and the life I am serving — will whisper yes, very, very softly.
There is a new voice.