Growth can be painful. Awareness is sometimes agonizing. Enlightenment seems light years away.
Two years after having my big wake up call, I’m feeling more miserable than ever before. WTF?! I thought by now, all this awareness and self-exploration would have brought me some peace. I thought by now I would be the person I wanted to be. I thought I would be feeling great about myself.
After so many middle of the night sleep interruptions, emotionally-charged, vivid dreams, daily meditation and introspection, weekly yoga, six months of therapy, tons of writing and constant scrutiny of my every thought, behaviour and reaction….why do I feel so defeated and exhausted? Why do I feel so sad half the time? Why do I still get caught up in worrying, obsessive thoughts, self-pity? Why am I still feeling self-conscious and anxious? Why do I still find myself in the pattern of blame and resentment?
I’ve been so focused on myself for these last couple of years. Am I being too self-centred, too selfish? I sometimes feel so alone. Is this what awareness and change is supposed to be like? Where is the light at the end of the tunnel? I have all these great intentions to be open, positive, enthusiastic, passionate, joyous, courageous, honest, compassionate, non-judgemental. Yet as soon as my day gets going I seem to get lost and fall into my usual thought patterns and reactions. In fact, I feel like I’ve somehow become a worse person than I was before!
Someone actually confronted me about being negative and judgemental. Me–the girl who has always been known for her positivity and friendly good nature. And the hardest part was admitting to myself that there was some truth to what I was being told. I had been negative and judgemental at times. I had acted like I was smarter and superior to others. I had negated people’s ideas too quickly in order to voice my own.
In many instances, I had caught myself only moments after the wrong words had slipped out. My logical, rational mind knew that this person was in my life to teach me something but my frightened ego mind went into its default mode–It’s not my fault! I didn’t do anything wrong! I’m not a terrible person!– I automatically wanted to defend myself from any possible accusations. But I’ve been trying so hard to be NICE! Maybe I shouldn’t speak up so much. Maybe I should just keep my ideas and opinions to myself. What’s the point?! (Yep, this was beginning to sound very familiar!)
I could feel myself getting smaller, my power shrinking. I knew that pointing the finger at someone else and playing the victim wasn’t the answer. Playing the martyr and punishing myself wasn’t going to help either. I felt more stuck than ever! My ego tried to convince me that voicing my thoughts hurts others but my intuition knew the importance of speaking my truth. What do I do now?!
Following this inner drama, my partner called me out on my pattern, too. “You always react and get defensive like you are saying it isn’t your fault.” To my own surprise, I actually felt a smile forming on my lips when he told me this. I then broke into a laugh. There was no way I could deny my truth anymore. In that laugh, I could see that I had grown; at least a little. Something had shifted. Perhaps I am still coming to terms that I’m not the perfectly nice girl I thought I was.
The biggest difference in my life now is that I can see everything as a learning experience. My ego mind continues to try to weave its old stories and stick to its out-dated reactions but more and more I’m seeing through this dysfunctional thinking. I do occasionally get caught up in my thoughts, emotions and internal dramas but more and more it feels like they are merely dust on the surface of some clean and clear glass. All I need to do is wipe the dust away and the clarity returns.
It’s a confusing time but there’s one thing that I know for sure–this path takes persistent effort and dedication. This is the only way to change unhealthy habits and fear-based reactions. I guess I keep expecting that inner peace and freedom are just going to magically float into my life and then everything will be perfect and wonderful, smooth and easy. The truth is, to break through to the light of clarity and wisdom and find liberation, you must understand your mind and how your thinking works.
I’m not in denial anymore and I’m feeling (most!) of my feelings. I need to honour this process of growth and evolution and accept whatever comes up–confusion, frustration, anger, sadness, resistance. Everyday, I need to acknowledge my bravery. If you are on this path to enlightenment, don’t get discouraged if you feel a lot of negative stuff popping up. Notice it. Accept it. Lovingly let it go. Believe it or not, seeing your imperfections, and your patterns indicates you are heading in new directions . And as the saying goes–“The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.”
I am reminded of a girl who was pretending to be a confused butterfly–What’s going on?! Who am I?! Why do I have wings? Why can I fly? –I thought this image of metamorphosis was an excellent metaphor for human emotional growth. We long to fly and be free and yet there’s still that part of us that is terrified of change and thinks– I was so happy being a fuzzy caterpillar, inching along the ground. All this freedom is way too frightening! Where is my cozy, warm dark cocoon?! It was so comfortable in there.
Hang in there! You may be clinging to that branch right now, scared that leaving it will mean the end of your identity, the end of safety and security, but really this is just the beginning! One day, the resistance will blow away with the breeze. One day, you will be ready to surrender and let go. One day, you will fly!