This morning I wake earlier than usual, daylight softly breaking through our curtains. There is a purple-ness to the air, autumn purple, and the tang of a chill as I reach for my robe. October is here, and She comes bearing memories.
What really strikes me, as I leave the house in search of coffee, is the scent of remembering. The muddy, muted smell of leaves and trodden grass and iron earth.
It is my birthday and it has become something of a ritual to pull a card for myself to welcome my new year. I like the familiar weight of cards in hand, the shuffle reassuring in its rhythm.
As I shuffle thoughts come to me, one after another, memories.
Four years ago almost to the day I handed in my notice – I am handing it in now, I am there again – and so it begins. A time I now affectionately refer to as a ‘Tower moment’, although I knew no such concept then – bricks tumbling, a cacophony of clay and dust, dry throat, ringing, map-less.
A palm without lines, or lines so faint I couldn’t possibly see tangents and turns and roads clear enough to travel.
But, ah, how free – that is what I couldn’t see!
If I could extend a hand through time, if I could hear older me then (and I do believe she could, she can, she is or how else am I here?) I would say the following, I think to myself as I warm my hands against my coffee cup and place my cards on the table, waiting.
I would say the following.
I remember the sadness in your eyes. The sensation of walking through treacle every morning. Thoughts of is this it? and this can’t be it and I can’t see and there has to be more, there has to be.
I remember the back and forth between fear and hope, mustering of courage, crippling anxiety. Deep breaths and tears in the toilets.
If I go now, what if I can’t come back? (I won’t go back.) If I go, now, what if there is nothing on the other side? (There is everything on the other side.)
But go you did, my friend, go you did. I remember the resignation letter, the sheer bravery of recognising a need to leap while staring blindly at the blank page ahead.
Very much a reluctant Fool, staring at a Tower sized situation without recognising that a tumble would accompany your next step. Although I wonder… perhaps you did know.
We’ve never really considered ourselves adventurous, have we? That was pretty ballsy, though. Striking out when it felt far more comfortable to remain where we were.
At first, a long first, it seemed like the greatest disaster. A downward spiral into deep despair, disconnection. Loss after loss – loss of courage, loss of certainty, loss of direction, loss of sense of self, loss of passion.
I remember standing in the storage cupboard, crying. Roll of sellotape in one hand, pair of scissors in the other, printer whirring away next door. It smelled toxic; paint, ink, heat.
I remember the panic. I remember, after finally placed on sick leave, autumn evening after autumn evening spent huddled on the sofa, blank face and flickering streetlights.
Pleading. I remember such pleading. Pleading with God. Pleading with Angels. Pleading for a sign, a sound, a something. I remember what felt like silence, but what was in fact something I would eventually recognise as an invitation.
You need to do this yourself, my love.
I don’t know how.
I don’t know how.
I don’t know how.
I remember worrying a lot. Worrying while pouring Cornflakes, worrying while shampooing my hair, worrying while fumbling for keys, fumbling for words, fumbling to find a way through decisions and choices and calls to action.
So many questions from loved ones, questions I didn’t seem to have answers to.
And the gnawing in the pit of the stomach. A constant churning. I remember that.
Nothing is truly static as energy is ever evolving, and yet slow seconds upon slow seconds create the illusion of stagnation. Shall I ever move? While outside remains relatively familiar, the inside transforming entirely.
A cluster of conditions helped carry me from there to here, and it is hard to separate such shifts but important, somehow, to acknowledge and bear witness to each. Threading together to form the story, the through line, the knowing.
I do know something, now.
I Am Found. What if?
A fleeting thought, brought back into focus. What if, what if, I am found? The little list on my lap, the gathering of evidence, a cartoon question mark resting above my head as I walk.
And so space created for curiosity to emerge as a true guide, the real leader. What feels good? Following little sparks of interest, of hope, of soul recognition.
Such following creating space for present moment focus. Ah, relief! I had always felt behind somehow, as if playing catch-up with a make-believe timeline.
The Universe rubs her hands together and lets out a big old belly laugh – time for me to step in and join the fun! Our co-creator, our team mate, our friend ready and willing to dance the dance of life with us.
I had not trusted Her until now.
There is a photo of little me on my desk and she watches as I write. She is shy, alert, worlds held inside.
I decide to become kinder, amidst I Am Found and finding ways to release the timeline that never was in order to embrace the moment that is.
I love you. I see you. I know you. I embrace you. I am here for you. I am holding space for you.
She is so glad, so glad. She likes the Mother Mary card you place next to her, warmth and light and patience.
She likes such reassurance to anchor into and spring to life from.
Asleep and awake, and something of a delirious daydream in between. My speech is slurred. I cannot lift my arms. My muscles tickle, if such a thing is possible – it must be, it is. My eyes half-closed, mind awake, a demon dancing behind me.
Sleep paralysis runs riot after every nightly pill is taken. The aim here is to stabilise your moods. There aren’t too many side effects to worry about. Take it and see how it goes.
My stomach marches into acid overdrive. Patches of inflammation, repressed anger, bitter medicine, eroding within.
I cannot release my bladder. In the middle of the night I shuffle into the bathroom and wait.
The demon returns to stand at the foot of my bed, and I howl a primal cry, pain and upset cracking across the darkness. My husband sleeps soundly, and I am glad he cannot see my face contorting with the stretching of whatever it is that moves within me.
I stop, eventually. Pills in the bin, demons gone, stomach calmer. Fighting isn’t working. Swallowing, masking, isn’t working. Perhaps embracing will.
If I feel like shit, I embrace it. If I feel capable of creation, I embrace it. Ebb and flow, ebb and flow, tuning into my inner ebb and flow.
Doubtful, yet curious.
She comes to me in a dream, the me I know yet not quite fully. She talks to animals and those who lived before; she plays a flute and sings a deathing song; she drowns and is reborn.
Eventually, the urge to push becomes too overwhelming to ignore. The labour exhausting, the process of releasing into the world something heartfelt, something real, something raw.
I wonder, I still wonder, now that I am on another side as opposed to the side I was on before, which is worse?
The not knowing and the crying out for direction, or the knowing, the deep down soul knowing reverberating within every bone and tissue and sinew, and the fear of failing to birth it into being.
It is the former, it is always the former, it is the former. The latter far easier to bear. To sit on our knowing, to swallow our thoughts, to silence our wisdom is to slowly strangle ourselves. There is nothing, no failure, to fear when anchoring fully into ourselves.
She knows the way – She knows the way – She knows the way.
I chant it now, a delicious song.
It is a way through crumbled foundations, agonising pain, complete confusion, and little pockets of beauty peppered throughout.
Tributaries and hidden streams and forests thick with fallen timber, fallen leaves, wet earth and rising roots.
Prayer and word song, kindness and acceptance and a softness to counter the magnitude of it all.
I savour my sips of warm coffee, bitter tang and subtle sweetness. Shuffle, shuffle, cards and connection.
The Star came to me four years ago, a constant, a mother, offering space and compassion and a quiet patience.
A retreat from the shell shock of the fall. A kindness I hadn’t recognised before.
She is both within and without, and that is Her magic.
She comes to me now as the Sun returns to where it was then, a reminder of cycles and inner evolution, of the need to dynamite our way free from walls and doors and all that is under lock and key in order to grow, grow, grow.
I begin to cry. I cry for the tiredness of the past, I cry for how lost I felt, how vulnerable and afraid and uncertain.
I cry for the heroic mountain climb – because we are all heroic, we are, scaling cliffs and reaching for something – and I cry for the steps taken and the journey still very much underfoot.
Ever evolving, ever expanding, ever healing, ever asking, ever seeking, ever knowing, ever seeing, ever awakening.
I am grateful to be here. That is what I think as I sink the last few drops of my coffee. I am grateful that I want to live became I am living, because there is a fine frightening line between the two.
I am grateful for this breath.
I am grateful for this moment of understanding.
I am grateful for the reins in my hands and for the hope in my heart.
I am grateful for my stubbornness in refusing to quit.
I am grateful for all of it.
Yes. This is a good day to welcome a new year. This is a good day to commit – to the entirety of the journey. This is a good day to remember, to know, to trust, to celebrate.
This is a good day.
Coffee drunk, cards pulled, words written, home.