For those first few moments I’m not quite sure where I am. I hear a tapping at the window, which awakens my consciousness and brings me back to the soft, warm bed I sleep in.
It’s a bird, tap, tap tapping on my window. It pulls me swiftly back to earth from my velvety dream state and as I descend, my thoughts remind me of my descent to the Underworld.
It was five long, slow years ago that I awoke with a tangible feeling of disgust for my life. It was inexplicable, a sign of madness even; not something I could easily articulate for those who sought to understand me. I tried a couple of times but wasn’t heard. I was instead reminded to be grateful for all I had, to be fearful of what I could lose and to pull myself into line.
I had no guru, no teacher, no ally to explain the magnitude or meaning of what lay ahead, or to pave the way with symbol, or expectation. All I felt was something stirring deep within my weary self. I was forced to go it alone.
I found the courage within me to forge ahead; women of old paving the way for me — though I did not know this yet. I drew from an unknown force that could see what my hackneyed eyes could not. It was my first opportunity to trust the divine guidance I did not know existed, to call upon the knowledge buried within me. The gruelling task before me camouflaged with roses, luring me forth into battle I was unprepared for. I didn’t know just how deep I’d need to dive. All I knew is I had to go.
They say for some, the descent involves some external (and internal) cleansing. For me that was a charming understatement. It all had to go. I placed everything out on my metaphorical (and literal) lawn for the taking. I could not stand the sight, smell, or memory of anything that was mine.
In a way, this led me to even further loss — loss of capital, loss of worth — but I would not rest until it was all gone. I had to be stripped bare, left naked, in the icy depths. There wasn’t one thread of life that deserved to come with. I was so brutally repulsed by it all. My wishes were answered, and then some.
First it was my job. I’d become jaded and bored. My once jovial face could smile no longer, my breath was toxic. I was always one moment away from unfiltered mayhem reaching the ears of those I served. I had no bandwidth for stupidity, or rudeness — and rightly so. I’d taken too much already. So the job had to go. One layer dissolved, many to go.
Next it was my relationship — a long-term one at that. Empty and devoid of substance and the richness I now desperately craved. Filled only with externality, of playthings, security, sameness, and the mundane. Like Groundhog Day on steroids. Be gone, I said. I need and am worthy of so much more.
Soon my home was gone, the one true place I’d been able to unleash my creativity. It was not the sanctuary I’d hoped it’d be. Though it was my creation, I’d drawn every wall, looked over the plan, designed and planted the luscious garden, still it was not me. It was tiles, and concrete, coloured with a stark palette of grey — much like my life at the time. The inviting, luxurious blue of the swimming pool never quite delivered the relaxation it promised. Not even the flowers in bloom could save me. I poured what I naïvely thought was my heart and soul into that place, but all it returned was emptiness. So I let that go too.
Up next was my town, my city of home, which I felt was a curse. So barren, and flat — and a symbol of all that I wasn’t. No longer could I take the cookie cutter houses, the concrete shopping malls, and monstrous number of cars on the ever widening, always broken roads. My soul shuddered every time I left the house. I longed for connection, yet sought solitude. My life was a paradox. I had it all, and yet nothing. I knew I could never find what I needed there. I felt as though no-one should live in that lonesome city; it was so devoid of life, maintained artificially by those who lived there. I was sure it would return to desert once they all woke up and left — like I did.
It was then my family, those who loved me most. But love isn’t synonymous with understanding. Those who thought they knew me would never understand what I had to do and why. Even I didn’t know the answers to these questions, so how was I to explain myself to them? I had gone mad (or so I and they thought). I later realised perhaps the dreadful truth was that they were mad and I was sane.
My friends relinquished themselves from here. Admittedly, I had fled and knew few would remain. Out of hundreds, only one or two made it through. It was as though my life continued as theirs frozen in time, an uncomfortable clash of sameness and change. I became weary as we quickly ran out of conversation, speaking of the same things, the same people, the same events in perpetuuity — all of which mattered little to me. I couldn’t feign interest for long. I began to ignore them all and before long no one called, even if I wanted them to.
I still wasn’t happy with losing so much. I wouldn’t stop until it was all burned to the ground. The nest egg destined for building my brand new life was soon lost as I decided to build a new business with a man on a whim. That wasn’t to be. It was purely an excruciating lesson in the important creation of strong, healthy boundaries. But it would be a long time until I realised that, and so I lost all my money on top of all else.
This man took everything else up for the taking, namely what little confidence and self esteem I had. His scathing words and snide remarks weren’t always blunt, but hidden in niceties and compliments and drove in with a freshly sharpened sword. I had never met someone who I despised and yet (thought I) loved, who could make me question all that I was. To apologise for being me, or being fat, or for the way I ate, for existing, or speaking loud (or at all). The constant stream of pseudo-spiritual, new-age nonsense that left his mouth ensured I knew I was 100 per cent at fault for this all. I hope never to see this man again (for his sake and mine), yet I thank him dearly for the backhanded wisdom he so gleefully dumped in my starry-eyed lap.
And so here I was, with all that I’d asked for: no job, no relationship, no roof over my head, or city to call home. No family beside me, no friends to call, no money, no confidence, and no self esteem.
What else was there left to lose?
At each stop I had stripped off a layer, a burden, an untruth so heavy I could not take another step with it on my back. Each step grew easier, bringing with it new challenges, new ways of being, new ways of seeing, new ways of being seen. I had to relearn, what, who is me? I didn’t know the girl underneath. I was desperately afraid to meet her.
She now stood, so naked, so timid, and small. So scared, and emotional, so open to all. I had not weathered the storm. I had been violently crushed, blown away and spat out by it. When I awoke I found myself on my knees, begging to be heard, desiring to be answered. I wondered if it was possible to live again — to be truly whole.
It took considerable time for the darkness to lift, the light finally bringing warmth to my longing soul, breathing new life into the colours, the scents, and the experiences of my world, and bringing forth the people I had longed for all this time.
Though I was viewed as mad by many, I realised it wasn’t me who was mad to ask and receive all I’d dreamed of. It was they who remained too small, too scared, too fearful of asking for all they desired — and deserved.
It was me whose calls were answered and whose life is now beautifully whole.