I made a big move last year. I bought a home, the biggest financial investment I’ve ever made and a huge commitment to take care of and ground myself. It was quite the feat. The whole way along I kept the mantra “I’ll just see how far it goes, I’ll use it as a learning opportunity”. Suddenly the deal was signed, the keys received a month later and I woke up in my new home entering a new cycle of the sun a few days after the paint dried. There I was, in the middle of a life I’d built and I felt lost.
Over the years of my life I had invented and reinvented myself over and over again. I’d done my best to fit in along the way, but it wasn’t my nature to fully settle into something. Funny how it took me four decades to see the patterns emerge. Well, those I’ve so far seen, you can bet there are more.
Likely it was in my second decade when I started to use the ‘Shedding Skins’ metaphor. Partially as a way to feel confident and empowered by the fact that my skin was dry and flakey and partially to make sense of what felt like emotional writhing and a stripping away of beliefs and structures that I had to shift out of.
Once again, this time with a mortgage and at the age of 42, I was feeling uncomfortable in my skin. I started to feel the itch of layers sloughing off. Except this time, I wasn’t able to draw on the usual “Life did this to me” story that I played out, with every heart ache and behavioural glitch and trauma trigger that initiate the big moves in the past. Suddenly I knew it was now all me. I was making it all happen. For better and worse.
There was the home, the amazing family and friends and co-workers that I had been blessed with and nurtured in my life. It was all my life and it was amazing and I needed to get away from it.
So, I started running. And I realized I couldn’t run into the usual places. They were lost to me, I’d long outgrown them. With the exception of cigarettes, I had come back to them and they were the best long lost friend a girl could have. But the food no longer worked, my body had already stood firm on that. The booze as well had been all but eradicated from my life, though like a few one night stands I gave it my best shot a few times. Both left me with unease and a headache and not quite regret but the taste of wasted time. It was empty high and I quickly learned there was no comfort there, as I had learned years ago when I took a few drugs for a ride. Even going to Cuba, I know, boo hoo, but if you’ve experienced anything resembling what I’m describing, you know what I mean.
I was seeking some form of comfort and also began to push it away when it came or realized I didn’t know how to receive it. My friends and colleagues offered support and treatment and I resisted everything. My parents, brother, sister in law & nephew came to stay and I wasn’t fully present. The only place I functioned at all was in the treatment room, serving my patients, this was the only thing that made sense. I continued to show up there.
Perhaps it was in this act of consistency that I started to generate into a new movement. Showing up for my patients and seeing the depth of their pain and suffering helped me see my own. I saw the strength it took for them to be vulnerable and the energy it took to hide. All helping me realize that I needed to start reaching out if I truly wanted things to change.
From there it began. I started taking herbs, getting treated regularly, talking about the old stories less, pooping and sleeping more, taking myself for walks, assessing relationships and saying yes to anything new.
I went back in time and to old stomping grounds. The Island of Newfoundland and a blast from the past band I loved. I became a groupie once again and allowed myself to live the freedom of being young and throwing it all on the dance floor. Three nights of Fur Packed Action. Still no booze. And the day I left my island home I left the cigarettes behind with it. I stared smoking there when I was 12 and smoked anywhere between casual and addictively with several 3 year breaks since. It seemed appropriate to leave them there 30 years later.
It surprises me to say that I have had a habit for thirty years. I’m also embarrassed by it as I am aware of the judgements that can come along with revealing any form of ‘bad habit’ or addiction, especially being a health care worker. Well the commonly socially judged ones anyway. Strangely sugar doesn’t make the list so much and is likely the most dangerous.
What also doesn’t make the list are the old thought patterns and belief systems that keep us/me spinning year after year. Not fully emerging into myself for fear or other self-limiting beliefs. Feeling stuck and looking for the next big move.
Fiji. Yeah I went there. Found a group that was mentoring me on my personal development and professional goals and decided to join them in Fiji! I mean why not. It was something that spoke to my soul and I needed to hear it. And so I ran into it, terrified and uncertain. And it felt like it was something. Something big.
It wasn’t what I thought it would be. It showed me a very old story that I thought I had healed and dealt with. I was angry and scared and embarrassed the first 2 days and then suddenly I realized all that I had become. That every movement I made brought me there and I realized I had the choice to jump into the flow or continue to battle what I truly felt inside.