Changing the script while allowing the emotional hurricanes to happen. That’s were I’m at. I live every day with depression and anxiety, but work hard to change the internal dialogue. Often it feels like that’s all I do — figure out how to reframe my point of view, so that I can see that silver-lining. The last few months have been excruciating in this vain. In mid-may I started to freak out about my upcoming birthday. I was getting yet another year older and, seemingly still, not wiser or more accomplished. So, the self-help/self-care mindset kicked in, and how! It kicked into full throttle but, what I didn’t see then was why or how, and that I didn’t do it on my own.
As my birthday approached, I planned to dedicate my 32nd year to myself and my art — no longer chasing the love or approval of others. To solidify this commitment, I had planned to hike Cat’s Rock. I was to sit alone on a high mountain and listen for whatever the Great Unknown had to tell for me. I figured it would come bashing me over the head with some grand vision of what I’m supposed to be doing and where I’m at. Because that’s what happens when you meditate on a mountain, right?
In earnestness, I prepped, cleansed, planned, then the weekend came and my day was wet and soggy. Camping alone upstate without proper gear suddenly seemed less inviting. So, I found myself in the city stumbling across another type of high mountain: a man. A man, whose name quite literally translates to “steep hill” or “high place.” This was the exact opposite of what I’d spent weeks hoping for. I was to get away from everything, but instead locked myself in a hotel room with a stranger. High Place had walked into my life changing it drastically. At this point, I’d love to write a sappy, Notebook-style love story, but everything about this torrent of a love affair was wrong. To start, he was married with a child and lived on the opposite end of the country. So, to make a long story short, the magical moments and love found in the two weeks he rushed in and out of my life was doomed to fail.
But that’s ok–it’s not the point. High Place taught me more than I could have ever asked for. His bougie life, met goals, and constant striving pointed to the fact that someone like him could love me and that made me want to be better. But not just better on the surface, but really better, perhaps, even whole. So, I chose to step into myself and think critically about what I wanted, spending time on questions I hadn’t asked since my early twenties. Questions like: What is my life’s purpose? Do I want a partner? What does my life look like with another person? Am I in a place where I can invite another person into my life? Where do I want to plant my roots? Wait, do I want roots? How do I make myself whole to support others with ease and satisfaction?
So in essence, the de rigueur questions revolving around money, job, children, the home, etc. lead me to dig deeper into myself.
I sit here today, one day after High Place’s birthday, which he had said he’d spend with me, alone and assessing my abandonment issues. Woah!! How did we get here? Yup. Meeting High Place showed me that yes, I do want a family. And yes, I do want everything about it to be non-traditional. And yes, I am worthy of having a successful, driven, creative person love me. And yes, I want all of this to come from a place of truth and wholeness. But most of all, if none of this ever shows up I’ll be ok.
High Place is a teacher. People walk in and out of our lives and it’s typical for us to wonder why they came and why they left. In my case, the internal dialogue has always been: What did I do wrong? What did I do to make them not love me? Why am I not good enough? High Place has given me the ultimate gift: I now know and trust that it’s not me.
After meeting High Place, I ran as fast as I could toward what I saw as making myself partner-ready. Convinced if I did enough, well enough, this knight in shining armor would come back and save me, marry me, and we’d live happily ever after. So, I started looking at my habits, making lists, getting my fiances in order. For years, I’ve understood that my physical patterning follows a linear process: if I keep a cleaner diet, I will practice yoga, and if I practice yoga, I will exercise, and if I exercise, I will be creative, and if I’m creative, I will feel fulfilled.
Man, did I run toward fixing myself, literally. I started running in the mornings, stopped drinking alcohol, cut out gluten and dairy, finally quit smoking for good, started flossing, began meditating regularly, built morning practices, got health insurance, started building a new company, organized my finances, redecorated my apartment, started taking voice lessons again, invested in my physical health via The Class, completed the requirements for my 200 hour yoga teacher training (which had been hanging in the air for a year), and the list goes on.
This summer I caught fire. I created vast amounts of change around my life with the hopes of a particular fantastical outcome. What I got was another unexpected gift. I’ve discovered that my emotional patterning of shame, guilt, and never being good enough was created long ago by repeated thoughtless neglect from the male figures in my life. And now I can recognize that this emotional patterning is changeable — and changing it is.
The by-product of working toward shaping myself into someone this knight in shining armor would want to save, is that I no longer need or want to be saved. I can look back on the past few months and reflect on all that has shifted saying, “I’ve done that.” I repeat, “I’ve done that.” Surely a community of loving friends has helped. And I won’t say I’m not without my seriously blue days. But at my core, I’ve found contentment. Contentment with the swings of depression and anxiety. Contentment with my social/financial status and where I am on this journey. Contentment with the practice of living and learning.
I guess that’s the silver-lining of this affair. So, from a room in Brooklyn, I write freely, with deep gratitude and no expectation of outcome. I could not have asked for a greater view.