Some people have a major trauma or event in their lives that cause feelings of defeat, or profound suffering. It is so profound it causes them to wake up and take notice of life in an abrubt manor. Other people have many things that compound over years and years until one day the suffering becomes so heavy that they are pushed to their limit. They are forced to wake up for fear of tipping over the edge. Of course there is a broad spectrum of the degree to which people suffer. What may cause me great suffering might only cause the next person to brush it off and carry on with life unaffected. For me it was a combination of a few events and the compounding years of self-loathing, negative self-care and a lack of awareness that forced me to wake up.
In December of 2015, my family and I moved to a new home within our same community. We had full-intentions on a major overhaul of the house. While living in the basement, we planned on renovating the entire main floor mostly ourselves. In January I took on a new nursing position in a critical care area, one that I had worked towards for a year and a half through distance education. And to add to the stress, my husband was in a snow-mobile accident in February, fracturing his clavicle bone and developing further complications.
Disaster of a home life, new stressful career environment, down a co-pilot.
I agree it sounds like a very sad case of first-world problems. More than half of it was self-inflicted. The compounded stress derived from a long history of delusions stemming from the constant need of wanting more. I realize that this is nothing in comparison to challenges other people may experience. But for me it was enough to push me to the edge. It was enough to make me wake up.
It felt as if my life were an unbalanced infants hanging mobile. Circling imperfectly in the air – each compartment of life hanging by a string. As each of the compartments became more stressful it would weigh down and unbalance the rest of the mobile. Then unexpectedly, one big blow to a single string sent the entire mobile in a frenzy – twisting this way and that, strings and compartments tangling in knots.
One forward momentum to a single string turned our entire life into an indiscernible mess.
I thought I could cope. I thought I could handle it. I had to be strong. I had to take care of my husband, of our son. I had to be a compassionate, competent, conscientious nurse. I was dishing out so much energy to everything else that I literally had nothing left for myself.
I was tired of sleeping in the basement while hammers and skill-saws were roaring on the floor above. I was tired of eating drywall dust for weeks on end. I was tired of fluffing my husband’s pillows as he lay in pain before heading off to my nightshifts. I was tired of hearing that Riley was in trouble at school again. I was just so tired of it all. I was defeated – completely ‘strung-out on the drug of efficiency’ (Shauna Niequist, 2016). I didn’t have a happy bone left in my body. I became someone I couldn’t face in the mirror – an anxious, unwanted presence. I couldn’t hang on anymore.
After the universe sent me a few whispers; after I experienced the storm, I started looking for change. I was abruptly awoken to my reality, standing in the middle of it all, not knowing which direction to take. I found myself saying yes to almost every new opportunity, every new invitation, every event, in hopes that I might find what it was I was looking for. That I might grasp onto something that would save me. Never certain I was actually where I was meant to be. Never certain of my path or even which direction I was headed. I felt vulnerable, and as I scrambled to find a ‘different’ way of being, of doing; I felt more and more at a loss.
I was trying desperately to manage two ways of living. Managing my old tangled life and trying to find a better way. A better path. It felt like a tug-of-war. I felt tethered between two rocks, being stretched beyond recognition. Pulled between painful exhaustion and mindless intemperance.
Looking back I can see that this was my soul’s great call to growth. That it was the universe’s way of seeing if I was ready, if I was truly prepared to live awake. To travel a new path. But birth is no easy process. Transformation takes time. So while I continued to be stretched in opposite directions, as I endured the process, I developed a sense of knowing. I developed a sense of trust that I was going to be okay. That we were going to be okay. I had to trust the whispers. I had to trust that the universe had something magnificent in-store for this little life of mine.
So I hung on. Wide awake. Fully aware of the predicament I found myself in. Vowing to not give up. To keep moving forward no matter how heavy it felt.
Next time I’ll tell you where it took me.
Thanks for reading.