Sunday, May 19, 2013

Was Blind, But Now


"... I formed my consciousness by turning pages ..." 
--Sue Monk Kidd, The Dance of the Dissident Daughter



"... being in the fog does not mean being altogether lost."
--Joan Anderson, A Year by the Sea

I've been living in (and writing about) the in-between place for some time now, hovering between life-chapters, biding my time. But I crossed a threshold recently and there has been a shift inside.

"... I have rebounded from a sense of loss to a feeling as new as the morning."
--Joan Anderson, A Year by the Sea


On the eve of Easter, I was standing at the sink brushing my teeth when I was suddenly aware of this new idea - an epiphany, really - coming up from my core to the center of my conscious mind. I watched it emerge, like the thought itself was a bird flying by my window. I saw it come toward me out of the corner of my eye and stop once it reached my line of vision, hovering, humming and singing its song.

I am not The-Woman-Who-Lost.


As this idea floated and fluttered before me, I watched my life play out on a movie screen, as if I was seeing it for the first time. I watched with rapt attention when the most painful ten-year period of my adult life unfolded – the time during which my firstborn died, my health deteriorated, and my marriage disintegrated – and I saw those experiences in a different dimension. Gaps in my memory were filled with the visceral reality I was coming to grips with. I am not The-Woman-Who-Lost. Though I often felt terrified, desperate and utterly alone during those years, those feelings were not the whole story.

That night, I saw what I couldn’t before see – in bold relief. I saw how those tragic experiences pressed me up against a belief system that needed to be dismantled. I saw that I am not the sum total of all the hard things that I have been through, that I am not a helpless woman waiting to be rescued, not a victim to be pitied.  

I am not The-Woman-Who-Lost.

That belief system had perpetuated a deep sense of helplessness, and when my life continued to veer off the path of “what I thought it would be,” I was given the opportunity to re-evaluate what I believed. Instead of waiting for something or someone to intervene on my behalf, I took the reins of my life back into my own hands, and I began to learn that passivity is far scarier than action.

"Being able to say that one is a survivor is an accomplishment ... And yet ... [there is a] time to go to the next stage after survivorship, to healing and thriving."
--Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run With the Wolves

Shedding that damaging belief structure has been a process that has unfurled over the past several years – the clarity that I am not The-Woman-Who-Lost was its natural by-product.

My Easter Eve experience was so valuable because it is a touch point in my journey toward wholeness, a place to return to when clarity wanes and the familiar feelings of victimhood want to settle in again.

That way of relating to my story and my world – interpreting every hard event through the lens of loss – had worn a deep groove in my brain. When I was living in that space, even a glass of spilt milk was a catastrophe – further proof that nothing would ever go my way, despite how hard I tried to will “the good” into being.

That’s why - though I no longer believe it – The Woman-Who-Lost story feels true when I am vulnerable or run down physically, emotionally, or mentally. When those feelings resurface I remind myself of what I know. I remind myself that it was not the hard things in my life that caused the crippling depression and hopelessness that for many years had become normal for me; it was my belief that the hard was all there was and all there ever would be.

I am not The-Woman-Who-Lost. 


This new reality is settling in in waves, and each time one crests and crashes over me, I feel undone by the gloriousness of it all.   

I was blind but now I see, is not a trite cliché, but a perfect description of what has been happening.

I am not the Woman-Who-Lost. I never was. And I never will be.   


11 comments:

  1. "Every day I am being created"- Annie Dillard

    ReplyDelete
  2. You are brave, beautiful, courageous...

    I love what you say here: "I was given the opportunity to re-evaluate what I believed. Instead of waiting for something or someone to intervene on my behalf, I took the reins of my life back into my own hands, and I began to learn that passivity is far scarier than action."

    Angela, I love what you are creating, this new world!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great writing. It's crazy how our circumstances, experiences, environment can somehow work their way into becoming our identity. How "that's how it's always been" becomes "who I am". Our true self is much cleaner and less encumbered by history.

    Thanks for your writing. It's a great reminder. It's also interesting how the realization came on Easter Eve - the day before the resurrection. Maybe the day your true self rose again?

    ~Sean

    ReplyDelete
  4. Those pesky belief systems that run our ship without us even realizing it sometimes! Those beliefs that become our lens to view our world...make our judgments from...we all have them. Thank you for sharing your journey, Angela. I agree with Susan! You are brave, beautiful, courageous! And gifted to put such thoughts into words that we can all relate to...certainly I can!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I hear your victory cry, and it is powerful and beautiful. Love the so much.

    ReplyDelete
  6. i am dancing i tell you, DANCING with excitement for you. I knew it. i just knew that this was coming for you. Let those eyes open real big baby girl. the whole world is at your feet, and you now have the courage to walk into it. so so proud of where this journey is taking you, taking me with my heart along side yours. i cannot wait to see where this is all going. did i mention {!!!} ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You called it when I couldn't even see it through all my squinting and trying to. When we finally touch skin, I'll open my eyes real big and you will see all the gratitude they hold in them for the way our lives intersected.

      Delete
  7. Blackbird singing in the dead of night
    Take these broken wings and learn to fly
    All your life
    You were only waiting for this moment to arise

    Black bird singing in the dead of night
    Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
    All your life
    You were only waiting for this moment to be free

    Blackbird fly,
    Blackbird fly,
    Into the light of the dark black night.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This makes me want to cry and giggle all at the same time! Yes!! Our titles and stories of who are change. I believe just as there are many names for God, there many names for us too. You are Mighty Woman of Valor! and oh so many other things Wonderous Girl!

    ReplyDelete