My entire life it seems that I have struggled with feelings of not belonging. What does home mean? Is it a comfortably worn sweater? A blanket on a cold day? A cup of hot tea? A warm embrace? A loving kiss? Maybe it’s all of these things. Maybe it’s none. What I do know is that as beautiful as these moments are, they are fleeting. What am I left with once they are gone? Myself. Is that enough?
My entire life has consisted of searching for myself. I looked for myself in others, adapting and conforming to fit in. I sought solace in the arms of others, allowing abuse in many forms just to be able to belong in some way, in any way. I’ve allowed myself to shrink so that others could shine. My ability to give has been so grand that it has left me ripped into shreds. Broken, wounded, seeping pain and disgust.
And yet on weak knees, time after time I continued to stand. Attempting to pick up the pieces lost along the way, I continued on my journey. Searching, seeking something, anything that made sense. Anything that would bring me back home, to my true self. Guided by my unwavering belief in there being something bigger than me that existed. That this thing we call life and all of the heartache that comes along with it is for a reason. I just needed to find out what it was.
Yet how do you find something that you never knew you had to begin with? How does one return to self when all you know is what has been told to you? When all you have to go on is the reality that you’ve created based on other people’s ideas of what is true, what is fair, what is right and wrong. And yet still I resisted. Because deep in the core of my soul I knew there was another way. My soul burning to be released, to be free from the anguish of the never-ending row of boxes that you are shoved into from birth. Oh how I resisted.
You said this? Ok, I’m going to say that. You like this? I’m going to like the opposite just to spite you. You want me to go there? I’ll stay here. And yet for each time I did resist, there were hundreds of times that I did not. The countless times I did not speak up when I wanted to. When I moved to create space for others. When I saw, said, experienced moments of injustice not only for myself but others and I simply allowed.
Do you know what that does to a person? How that eats them up inside? How each time that happens is like swallowing thick bile that sits at the core of your stomach that continues to pile up over the years to the point where you physically can’t get sick no matter how much you try. I am, if nothing else, a master at repressing for look at how well I’ve kept it shoved down. That even when given the many opportunities to release it, even when I’ve begged to release it, it remains there. Stuck within the deep recesses of my being. The bile that wants to be released in any way possible. But don’t worry, it has found a more creative way to be released.
As anger. As fear. As hurtful words that I’ve spat towards others. At pressures I’ve placed on my oldest to conform, to do well, to “succeed.” It’s been released as feelings of unworthiness. Of comparison. Of scarcity. See this way of releasing is okay though, is it not? We say some mean things and apologize. All is forgotten, right? We have a moment of fear and then it passes. That means it’s gone, no? Is this not how we as a society deal with our “negative” emotions? Is this not normal? Is this not acceptable?
Ha. No, not really. Not ever. Because see I feel this thick, sticky bile as it moves through my veins. For it has been a part of me for so long that we have become good friends, and not in the "I love you" sort of way. And when the moment is right, it attacks so swiftly that it actually is me. Is it not? I am the one who said/did/experienced the thing so it has to be me, right? But how sneaky it is. For this darkness has gotten so good that I would never pause to think that it was anything but whatever was presenting itself on the outside at that moment. And just as quickly as it attacks, it retreats. Returning to the depths of my soul. Awaiting it’s next attack.
Meanwhile I leave in my path the wounded souls of the numerous beings I have hurt along the way. Of random strangers who caught me on a bad day. Of those I have claimed to love. Who knew that to love me also meant being willing to be hurt by me. To open yourself up time and time again to my pain, my suffering. How many times have I passed along my pain to you and masked it as your own? Oh how I wish I could remove each and every scar I have made my mark on. I am sorry.
Please know that this is not yours to carry. It never was. It is my darkness to own, to carry and to overcome. And I’m onto it now. I know better. And while there’s still a lot of mess to clean up, I have created a bit of space. Space that allows me to breathe a bit better. Space that allows me to see a bit more clearly. And while I feel in some ways there will always be a bit of it I carry, my hope is that one day it will no longer be this thing that overcomes me but rather one that I welcome like an old friend, before seeing it through the exit.
I just left the final day of a mosaic workshop I've been participating in the past two days. Before leaving, our beautiful leader asked me to share what my piece meant to me. I shared what the various symbols were that influenced this piece which all play an important role in my life at this current moment. This includes sacred geometry, alchemy, symbols, numerology, elements and the spiral. And yet as I was sitting in the car I realized that I did not have a response at all about the main symbol that is holding down the entire piece, the cross.
I had a moment when I was going to start to speak about it but I hesitated. Thoughts around people's stigmas around organized religion flashed in my mind but also really my own uncertainty around why this symbol appeared in this piece in the first place is what held me back. The truth being that I wasn't exactly sure why I included it. When I first laid out plans for the design there was no cross. And yet as I played around with the concept that is what came through so I went with it, trusting my intuition in that moment.
When I got to my car, I reflected on this symbol only momentarily and its inclusion in this piece and within a matter of seconds all of these thoughts came to me. It was also at that moment that I kicked myself for not simply speaking. For not saying whatever words wanted to come out of my mouth as I knew that what would have come through would have been my own beautiful truth and realization held in safe and sacred space of the beautiful souls I was with. But I didn't. And I am here, writing now because I need to say what this means to me. Why it was created.
I grew up Catholic. Not the kind of Catholic where religion was shoved down your throat and you were condemned to hell if you did not follow XYZ, but the kind of Catholic that lived in the beauty of community. In which we gathered regularly to talk, laugh, sing and support one another. I loved our church, I loved our community and most importantly I loved how it made me feel.
As I got older church no longer became something that I wanted to do but something that felt forced. Going to obligatory Sunday mass. And as any typical teenager would do, I rebelled. And yet no matter what, prayer and having faith in something bigger than myself is something that I turned to in times of need. Good or bad, prayer was there and it was something I did on the regular even if Sunday mass was not included.
As I moved further and further away from religion there was still always something comforting I found through prayer and through the occasional Sunday mass. A moment to pause, to connect and reflect.
Fast forward to 2012 when I was going through major transitions in my life, seemingly one after the other. And despite church at that point having basically zero influence in my life, prayer was the one constant that got me through. And the funny thing is that no matter what, through prayer everything ended up turning out in my favor. At that time I realized something. Why did I only turn to prayer when I needed something? Why was I only turning to prayer when things felt chaotic or catastrophic? I decided then and there to incorporate prayer into my life regularly. Remembering how no matter what happened in my life, it was through prayer or my faith and belief in something bigger than myself that I was able to pull through.
Over time, prayer led me on my personal journey of self-discovery around my own spirituality and what prayer and religion means to me. Prayer led to meditation. Singing led to chanting. It was also no coincidence that during this time as I was trying to discover myself, I found myself working at a Catholic organization. This time though I knew better. I knew it was no coincidence (there are none) that I ended up being brought back to religion/Catholicism during the time of me trying to find my own spirituality. And the regular monthly masses and the fact that we could openly incorporate faith and prayer into my daily life was just what I needed to keep me grounded as I explored other belief systems.
Which leads me to where I am today. When I was in Ecuador last year on a spiritual retreat, the spirit of Jesus Christ came to me. Not in a funny, I was imagining it sort of way. But in a legit, undeniably, this is Christ Consciousness energy and this is meant for me at this moment. And before you ask, the answer is no. I was not suddenly deeply religious at this time, I was not reading books about Jesus nor did I carry a bible with me. But his spirit came through and what I felt was pure, unconditional love. And it was through that experience I had a greater understanding of what his spirit means for me and how I feel called to live my life which is through love.
Not the conditional kind of love. Not the love that tells you you're condemned to hell if you do or don't do XYZ. And certainly not the kind that tells me that I must believe in one way and only one way of doing things to be on the righteous path. Whatever that means. It's the kind of love that says I love you all, just as you are. No matter your beliefs, no matter your story. And there is nothing, absolutely nothing you can say or do that will stop me from ever loving or accepting you. All of these texts that feel binding or conditional, do away with them. Take what resonates with you and leave the rest. For we are all one, we are all the same. And no matter your belief, it is the ultimate belief in love, not fear, that will carry us through.
My spirituality is influenced by many things. By nature, by deities, by energy, but most importantly by what feels true in my heart. While in Ecuador, I also experienced the beautiful energies of our Virgin Mary and Krishna among others. I realize it didn't matter who chose to show up because the message was all the same - choose love and we got you. For me, being free is being able to read, hear or experience something and make a choice to integrate the message or ignore it based on what feels right in my soul.
Which brings me back to the art piece and the incorporation of the fitting symbol of the cross met by the spiral, transition. I am thankful to Jesus and what he has taught me. I am also thankful that through prayer and the veil of religion I was able to break down the walls needed to find myself where I am today - evolving and transitioning.