The other day, I took a look through my old blogs and some old writings I did. It seems and feels like a lifetime ago that I was writing. I almost don’t even recognize the person who could have written such things. So, it got me thinking.
What happened to her? Where did she go?
Intuitively, I know she isn't gone. She has burrowed deep into a protective bubble. For a time, it was there for a good reason. A way of self-preservation without losing my mind, like legit I would have gone crazy.
Now? That bubble just serves as a blockage. It feels as if it’s something which is holding me back. But what if that bubble was just a piece of the puzzle?
Pandemic and all other things 2020 aside, this past was a year of great change for me. Perhaps one day, I’ll be ready to put it out there but for now it stays in that protective bubble I mentioned. It’s not that I’ve buried it away, I have space to reflect and revisit all that happened. I have people in my life who are safe. People who’ve created space for me to be where I’m at and when necessary tell me to get my shit together. If you don’t have people in your life like this, create that shit in your life. It was and will continue to be my motherfucking life line. I know that’s a lot of cursing but it hits home to the core of how I feel. So if you are offended by cursing, too bad.
When I was in grad school, I used to say that writing was a visceral process for me. This intuitive feeling that gets all tangled up in my insides, initially without any rational explanation, but this magnetic pull of the words and ideas out on paper or my computer as I seem to mostly do these days. For me, this pull comes from the tips of my toes and pulls upward and out. (A little graphic warning here) Kind of like when you’re puking your guts out and then there’s nothing left but you’re still puking. Yep. That’s exactly what last year felt like. I was left with nothing to puke.
“A great year of change.” Yeah, that’s putting it fucking mildly.
Everything I thought I was or would be crumbled away, like a sandcastle being swept into the ocean by the rising tide. The thing about that sandcastle is it merely ends up mixing and becoming what it was in the first place. Just sand. A clean slate. A tabula rasa. With the potential of creating whatever the fuck it wants to be created into next.
I can look back and see that now. I can see that each and every event was just getting me back to who I was at the beginning. Problem was, I had no idea who that was, what that meant, or how to be in the world. What exactly is "the beginning?"
Like my writing, my my transformation was being pulled up and out from my toes to my head. Again and again.
The Ever-lasting Change
If you had asked me seven months ago what my life would look like now, I can say that it definitely wouldn’t end in my sitting here, outside in my front patio sanctuary, in my same house, with my wife and five cats, and writing this to you. Don’t forget I said, all things 2020 aside because who the fuck could have known we’d be where we all are even just four months ago. And while the last four months may have felt like the longest four months we’ve collectively experienced, this time last year a day would feel like a whole year to me.
Just in case you don’t know, which I’m guessing most of you reading this don’t, I’m no stranger to “change.” By that, I don’t mean the kinds of change like eating at a different restaurant, taking a new route to work, or finally deciding to change your hair color. I’m talking about the kinds of change that rip away everything to rebuild anew. Still yet, each and every motherfucking time it happens, I’m in a state of disorientation. More so with the thoughts of, “how did I end up here again?” than anything else. You’d think someone who has repeatedly been dragged down, sometimes willingly and sometimes kicking and screaming, into the Underworld would begin to notice a pattern. Hell to the nope.
One of my favorite authors put it best, “Sometimes in life something happens and you know that nothing in your life will be the same again. You know it is no longer an option to go on as before, but you are not sure what to do” - Jean Shinolda Bolen
I know it seems like I’m off on a tangent but stick with me.
I promise it will make sense soon.
I’ve talked about this before but when I was a kid, stories were my saving grace. They were my much needed escape from a life I felt like I didn’t fit into. A life that was quite unpredictable at times. The stories of fantasy, magic, suspense, and horror were my door into a world where anything was possible. A world where I wasn’t anxious, wasn’t shrinking down, and could be someone else for a while. In some ways, reading and books were my first addiction. They gave the world meaning and things made sense. Even if for the brief time I was immersed in these worlds of words and imagination.
So, it shouldn’t have surprised me that I felt drawn to go to grad school to study how myths, symbols, and images can influence, impact, and inform our everyday life. Leading to the “discovery,” or perhaps recovery, of how myths and stories provide deeply resonant connections to our innermost being.
It was during this time in my life when I came to understand my process and its relationship to the Underworld. I should probably say a bit about what the”Underworld” means to me. In depth psychology, the Underworld is often recognized as a metaphor for psyche and depth. It’s a descent into our unconscious, the shadow bits of ourselves we are not aware of.James Hillman, the pioneer of archetypal psychology, says” we are not only dragged down into the Underworld but part of us always lives there.”
Insert mind blown emoji here.
Bringing it back to stories…
In Greek mythology, Persephone is dragged down to the Underworld against her will. In Sumerian myth, Inanna goes willingly into the Underworld to be stripped naked of everything she had and everything she was. In many ways, I can understand the need to go down into the Underworld to face what we may not be willing to face and the desire to bring this to the Upperworld, world of consciousness. But what if it is as Hillman said, that part of us always lives there?
Maybe this is why I can’t see my Underworld journey patterns?
Could it be that it’s always been so much a part of who I am?
Maybe my disorientation isn’t confusion but a shifting of my path?
A new way presenting itself to me.
The lights being turned off or back on for that matter.
Welp, turns out there’s a story for that too. In, you guessed it, mythology. One of the greatest insights I gained was in my research for the dissertation that never was, a story for another day.
According to Greek myth, Hecate is the goddess of the Underworld. She isn’t dragged there, she doesn’t go there, she simply is there. She’s there without a male consort, husband, or other. She’s just kicking it by herself and handling shit. Finding Hecate’s story blew me away. She’s rarely talked about and stories are hard to find. Not only is she the Goddess of Magic, Night, and the Moon but she’s also mentioned in Persephone’s story as her guide. The Underworld can also be a metaphor for death and destruction, which leads to rebirth and transformation. Not a literal death, but the parts or ways in which we need to die, to let go of, to start new.
It’s as if Hecate is the keeper of the crossroads, those moments in life when you just don’t know what the fuck to do or where the fuck to go. She’s just chilling with her torches to light the way, the keys to unlock secrets and doors, a rope which acts as connection to new life, and a dagger to cut through all the bullshit and lies.
If you’ve made it this far, woohoo for you! Not just this article but in life.
The kicker about Hecate is you have to ask for help. She's not just going to show up and give you all the answers. And if you're anything like my, you might suck at asking for help, but feel like last year was different. I was able to ask for the support of others. I had no clue how to get through each day. There didn’t seem to be any light. It’s always there though. Light and dark coexist. You have to tend to one just as much as you do the other. Last year was one of the darkest I’ve ever felt but it also provided me with the greatest light. Sometimes, we just have to trust in others to hold the light for us. Even if it’s just a glimmer in the wounded cracks of our soul.
The thing about wounds? They heal. We never know when or how long it will take. I can almost 100% guarantee it won’t happen on your timeline. Healing has its own time. What I’ve found to be most important is to be open to however healing shows up, just as much as however wounds show up. To pay attention to the signs, to notice the people, and to be open to doing something different.
So that’s how I ended up sitting down today and writing to you. Wanting to give voice to the person in that protective shell, to let her know wherever she is, it’s okay. To tell her just because she created what was once a safe space to hide doesn’t mean she can’t use that same space to be seen.
If you want to talk about healing or learn how to do things different, I’m always here to chat or schedule a call.
Book a session here or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.