Do we really have power to change? That is the question I’ve been asking myself since yesterday, upon waking from the second night of ceremony. If you read my post before this one, you will see in great detail the severity of that experience, and how I literally went through hell. To say I’ve faced a great many challenges since that night is an understatement, but I am attempting even in this struggle to find the good, within me, and with the choice I made to come here and do this work.
“I chose this”, I keep repeating to myself. I KNEW that it might be hard. I KNEW that I might meet the ego death you hear so much about. I KNEW that others have tried this and hated it. I KNEW that I might have to work REALLY hard to find the positive after very, very difficult things surfaced within me. I CHOSE THIS. I did. Very intentionally.
Today, what I am working on most is called integration. They call it that because one must take from the medicine space the lessons that were given, the insights, the struggle, and the beauty, and carry that over into the space and time which comes after. While I am no longer in that specific ceremony, I am still very much immersed in the medicine space. What that means is, the entire focus and design of this retreat is to keep us here, locked in, so that we can get from this work everything it is meant to bring. I am “integrating” the lessons from the medicine into my lucid state, and that is proving a very difficult feat, but I am trying my best to rise to meet this challenge.
What is most pressing to me now is indeed making the changes, or rather, allowing what I am learning to change me – allowing it to be true, a new truth. Allowing my heart to understand what has happened is good, ultimately working for my good, because I came to this retreat with so much I knew was not serving me anymore. I came here SEEKING this change, this transformation, but it does not mean the old me will not put up a fight. She is gasping for breath, and I am trying to honor her struggle, because it is not an easy thing to die. I am grieving her space – Christina, who I have been for 35 years. I was the kind of person that believed people do not change, not really, not radically certainly. I believed these coping techniques, my habits, my attitude, my excuses for “the way I am”, I believed it all was “ME”. But I see now, I am beginning to really see, at least just staring at it from the outside from this point, that it is NOT me. At the very least, it does not have to be.
I CAN change, but this work is not easy.
I’ve had to stop myself from trying to rationalize and analyze my second ceremony. I have had to stop and say, “I got through that” instead of, “this horrible thing happened to me”. I am having to stop and reframe how I am looking at it, and stop torturing myself with the images and the feelings they associate in my body, because the power is not in those details, the power is in the fact that I OVERCAME it. I did that. I battled the notion of death, of the essence of it, the powerlessness of it, the complete undoing of EVERYTHING I thought I knew that is “living”, that is “love”, that is merely existing at all – I fought all of that, I was faced with that battle, and I overcame it.
The fact that it was “just in my mind” is irrelevant to me now, entirely, because I am fully convinced was I faced was the generational pain, the suffering, the intense sadness of the people who came before me, and I took that on, and I beat it. If I keep giving it power: The fear, the pain, the devastation, the disgusting things I saw, the way it felt to be completely dissolved as a human until there wasn’t even consciousness or control left – if I give THAT power? Then IT wins.
But if I turn it around, and I say to myself, “This feeling in my chest now, this feeling that I always associated with anxiety, that is where the power is. THAT is the change I was seeking, and I needn’t be afraid of it. It means I am healing, it means I am indeed doing what I came here to do – let the parts of me that no longer serve me die away.” If I turn it around like that, it takes the power away from the fear. It takes power away from the feeling of “this is happening to me” and turns it into, “I am choosing to grow, I am choosing to change, and that is a beautiful, challenging thing – embrace it, do not turn away”.
That is so much more powerful, but so much more difficult to do, and that is the challenge of taking these things home with me.
Soon I will not be in this space anymore, and I will go home. Back to the place where my habits, behaviors, and patterns continued for so long. I am going back to the space where these things, these new lessons, will be hard to keep sacred because life still needs me to continue on. My children will need me, the house work will still need tending to, the animals still need to be fed. I still need to wake up early and get my children off to school when I would rather sleep in. I still need to face myself on hard days, I still need to face the fact that my husband travels half of the time for work and I am left to do all of this alone. I am still faced with my past, my history, and all of the issues I’ve carried with me from that. I will be tested, more there than in this space, right now, believe it or not.
As hard as it was, as hard as it is now, to know I went through hell. As challenging as it might be tonight to go back into that space of ceremony and drink the medicine. As hard as it might be if I have to face hell all over again, in some other way, or in the exact same way. As hard as this time might be, for me, in what comes –
I know the real work is going forward, after I leave here.
So, I am trying to be mindful.
I am trying to hold my head high, and appreciate the hard work I am doing, and the dedication I’ve put into this choice. I am trying to be grateful that I have the opportunity to do this intense, difficult work, and be in this space where I am cared for, watched over, and safe. I am grateful that I can trust those around me, and that we are all going through something quite profound.
I am holding to the Truth of God, and the promise that even as I walk through this, He is with me. He was with me even when the concept of God and life itself dissolved into bleak nothingness. He was there, and He held me, just like He always has. And I am grateful for that, I feel that today more than I have in a long, long time, and I marvel that He allows us the choice to do these things, that He gave us this medicine and the choice to drink it. He allowed me to have the choice to do this work, and I said yes, and I have to believe He understood that I would choose this, and that I would go through hell itself, and that I would experience whatever else is to come, tonight, tomorrow – in the ceremony space, and in the days to come all the time after. I can trust that, that light, that truth, and allow that to be my compass. If I believe the holy spirit is within me, then I can take that and seek guidance from it, and I can be safe, and trust that I will be okay, even as I walk through hell.
I am hopeful I will not, indeed, have to go through hell again. Truly 7 deaths was enough, the 7 layers of hell was … enough. So now I am focusing entirely on positivity. I am focusing on my breath, on being grounded, on what is right here, right now, all around me. I am learning that truly is all there is. That truly is the only thing we have, the right here, right now. That is it, and I need to not be afraid.
There are unanswered questions. There will be, perhaps things I never “understand”, about what I saw, about what I will see, and experience, and I am learning to sit in that space and be okay with it. I am learning to let go of the need to control it, but just surrendering to what I am being taught, about myself, about my strength, and about what I truly believe in.
Right now, I believe in God. That He loves me, He sees me. He will not abandon me, and for me that is the ultimate Truth, and I am rooting into that entirely, as much as I can. For so long I’ve been wayward, I’ve been lost in my own space of emotional longing, in sadness, and self-preservation, and I see now that it is okay, it was okay – that is what I needed all of these years just to survive.
Now I am seeking abundance. In my spirit, in my faith, in my relationships with my children and partner, my family, and my friends. I am seeking MORE than I thought I deserved, because I went through hell and I came out of it. I am still coming out of it, and that is worth celebrating, because it is an accomplishment. I am roaring like a beautiful black Jaguar, and I feel my strength is renewing, little by little, with each painstaking step forward, here in the present time as it comes with each passing minute.
I still believe that there is so much meant for my life. So much I have yet to accomplish, and I am so excited for this next chapter, even as I do not understand everything. God is preparing me, priming me, for something big, and I feel it in my fingers. Probably these words have so much to do with it, but most of all, what I see is that I am coming back to Truth. To God, and fully believing that He is real, and He loves me, and with that I can do anything. Even walk through hell. That is pretty fucking awesome, and I feel grateful that I got to experience it, even as much as it SUCKED in a way I can never articulate. It was His will for me, to come here, to seek Him in the midst of hell, and to believe that it would get me through.
I met the challenge, where it lied. I met my death, several times, and I came from that with a sense that I can do fucking anything. Even change. Truly change. I am changing, right now, and I am … blown away by that. Blown away, in the best way.
Tonight comes ceremony three. Another opportunity to learn, to be challenged, so be faced with something I have yet to understand, a beautiful mystery that lies within me now that I cannot see. What a great journey…
I said repeatedly, aloud, during my second ceremony, “This is the hero’s journey – this is it, right now, this is where I fight and I make it through” and that is continuing even now. The feeling in my chest is real, it feels like anxiety, but I recognize that what it is, actually, is the death of my former self, the clinging to life of this person I always thought I would be.
My chains are breaking, and I am about to run free, and God paved the way for this amazing grace that I could do this work, and find His love still all around me, waiting at the end of hell, to save me though I do not deserve it for all I did was answer the call to step into that space. I said yes, and I got what I asked for, in a way I couldn’t have seen coming. To endure, against all the odds, against every fiber of my dissolving self, that was no longer my “self” anymore, but nothing but death, and I stood up when that was over and knew, “I did it”. And God knew that I would. He really does not give us more than we can handle, and sometimes that even means death itself. Believe that, and believe that change is possible. It just does not always look or feel as we hope it would, sometimes it takes the worst forms of pain to teach us what WE NO LONGER want. I no longer want to live in fear. I no longer want to live as though the only thing that matters is my own emotions, my own state of being, my own space, my own life. I want to expand, and give, and show the world that there is a space of healing, and it is inside of you. You can change, it just takes a lot of really hard work and dedication. Perseverance and trust.
I am ready for tonight. Ready, and grateful. Come what may. It is all part of the beautiful work of transformation that I sought out. I chose to come here. I chose this. So I need to fucking own that. Harness that power and believe that God is working all of this for my good. And I have grace on my side; I will not be given more than I can handle. Even hell itself. He must think I am one strong woman, so I need to take that and believe it. I did that. I did that. I did that…
I can do anything now.