What NOT to do when fear and pain creep in
My publisher and editor warned me that the week leading up to my book launch could be fraught with extreme emotional reactions. It’s the new reality setting in… the fact that I am being exposed – seen and vulnerable at a whole new level. I understand this intellectually, and I am grateful for the warning. I think to myself, “Okay, thanks! Now I will totally see this coming. I will recognize it for what it is, and I will not give in to it. I will remain connected and committed to the vision. I will not freak out.”
A year of uncertainty caught up to me in a Red Roof Inn on a Monday night.
When I say “a year of uncertainty”, I am referring to what my friend Kelli calls the Void – the place where one door has closed and another has yet to open. It is a dark and difficult place to find your footing. You are never quite sure which way is up and which way is down and which way will lead you forward or even if forward is a place that exists anymore, and if so is it the right way to go? In this vast wilderness, the only thing I had to hold onto is my resolve in the following: I am a child of faith, I am divinely led, and I will have all the resources I need. I have been navigating this wilderness void for the last year, roaming from place to place, searching for something that meant more than my wandering did. People have asked me when I am going to settle down. “I don’t know,” I say, “But I’ll know when I know.”
I believe I have found that something I have been searching for. The door is opening before me, and I can finally see a little light from the other side streaming in. I am returning to a place of passion and purpose. I am returning to a place that feels like home. My book launches in one week, and with it my new business as a solo women’s adventure coach. But first…
Two miles from my exit, I pass under a sign that reads Bat Cave. It catches my eye, as Bat was also present at my recent Reiki attunement. Bat medicine is rebirth. I am excited at the concept of rebirth. Yes! Thank You! THANK YOU! I am ready to step into my new life. I am ready to dive headlong into whatever is next for me. In my enthusiasm for the beginning my new life, I neglect to figure what rebirth requires – death. One must die before one can be reborn. As I check into the motel and settle myself for the evening, the hypnotic hum of the road is broken, and it takes my breath away.
I am reminded of the story of how the Batman was born. A deep pain drove Wayne into the wilderness. Here he encountered the League of Shadows, finding an outlet for his fury and a discipline that honed it into a new purpose. His final test was to face his deepest fear and to be transformed by it. Only then would he be free. Only then would he be fit for service. Into the pit of his childhood terror he fell, and when he rose again, he was a new man – The Batman.
At a Red Roof Inn on this Monday night, I too fall into the pit of my childhood terror. The menacing face of fear looms large at me, fangs staring at me. He slithers under my skin and consumes me from within. He hisses in my heart… Time has run out. You have nothing left. You are alone. No one can save you…
This is not the first time I have fought fear. I grasp at my gratitude, and it is but a vapor against the stark reality of the claims made by fear. My faith fails me. My spirit fails me. I grasp at my mantras, and they fail me. What is happening to me? I wince against the shadow. I know better than this! Fight, Sonya! FIGHT! But there is no fight left in me. I feel my heart failing, the shallow beating shallow beating shallow, shallow, shallow. I just need to sleep. I am so tired. I am so very tired.
I struggle all night to catch some rest and reprieve from the onslaught. I run my Yoga Nidra meditations over and over. I focus on breathing and calling the light. As day breaks, I find myself utterly broken with it, exhausted and desolate.
The last of my points are spent, and I check out of the motel. I don’t know why this hits me so hard. Things are going exactly as planned. I weep as I load the car. There is no strength left in my legs. I weep as I drive out of the lot. There is no strength left in my arms. I weep as the road stretches out before me, yellow dash, yellow dash, yellow dash. My eyes burn red and blinking and weary. I weep as I enter the forest. Please let there be a place for me. I weep as I pitch my tent and pour myself inside and collapse onto my back. My head swells and aches and throbs, and my body writhes and racks itself in emotional agony. A wellspring of tears from the depths of my soul bursts open bitterly and refuses to be consoled. Tears run forcefully across my cheeks and pool down into my ears and stop up my hearing. My mouth gapes open to cry out in pain, but the cry is silent – a black hole.
I lie there at an utter loss for what feels like an eternity. My body and my mind is wholly paralyzed, numb with fear and pain. I am deaf and dumb and blind, hopelessly frozen. My body sinks deeper and deeper into the earth, engulfed by the black cloak of shadow. I let myself sink. I let myself go. I find rest in this pit of terror, letting go of any effort to free myself. I become perfectly content to just lie there forever, unable to move my fingers or toes, unable to open my eyes or my heart – just perfectly, exquisitely embalmed by the ground.
Called Back from Beyond
Somewhere far, far away, a small sound breaks through. I hear a bird calling, an echo from some distant land. My mind orients toward its song. I hear a creek babbling, a playful, bashful dancing across the dream of a forest floor. The sound of scurrying water fills my ears, and awareness rises within me. I feel a tingling in my body. I feel my eyes behind my eyelids. I feel myself, the witness, rising up into my body.
I flutter my eyelids, and they open. I wiggle my fingers and my toes, and goosebumps spread out across my skin. I swallow and stretch my extremities, groggy and disoriented. I see shades of orange and yellow as my eyes try to focus. I become aware that I wear glasses and would need them to see straight. I curl onto my side and push myself upright into a seated position. I spot my glasses and push them onto my face, my vision sharpening slowly. The orange is my tent. The yellow is the sun.
My phone whistles at me. I reach for it cautiously, still moving like molasses. It’s Mom. Her text says, “New breakthrough. Call me.” I see my water bottle sitting within reach, and I wrap my fingers around it and pull it into my lap. I unscrew the cap and take a sip of water. I swallow and feel the water dance down my throat. I take a bigger sip, and I sigh as the water flows and soothes. Yes, call Mom. Breakthrough. Good.
I rally myself up and out of the tent and into the car. I turn the key over in the ignition and roll the windows down. I drive slowly to the rec area where I will have signal. I take a deep breath and another drink of water, and I call my mom.
Mom has been listening to Louise Hay, and she is bubbling and gushing about all that has just come alive in her. The word became flesh. The fog in my mind begins to lift as she speaks. Something about how love for our Self is the birthplace of miracles. Something about a love so deep and pure, the kind of love we have always longed for, and how we are supposed to give that love to our Self. “We must become the love we have always dreamed of, Sonya! And we must give that love to our Self,” she says.
I can feel my appetite starting to return, and I pull out some spicy hummus and zucchini as she continues talking. I can feel the color returning to my cheeks as well, as I slice and scoop and chew and swallow and listen to my mother. Her voice is like salve to my soul. I wish I could tell you exactly what she is saying, but all I really hear is LOVE, love for our Self. Something about all those things we wish our mate would do for us, we need to do them for our Self. If we want flowers, then give flowers in love to our Self. If we want to dance, then take our Self dancing in love. Send our Self a card to show our Self how much we love her. We don’t have to look outside ourselves for love. Love, Love, LOVE our Self.
Something clicks in me as I remember what I read in the brand new book by my friend, TheoSophia Rose. “I am the love I have been looking for my whole life,” I said. And I know that it is Truth speaking.
How can this be? We are just supposed to love our Self? I know that I know this, that I learned this along my journey, but I feel like I have only scratched the surface. I realize I have a head knowing. What I need is a heart knowing. What would it feel like to love myself so thoroughly and so fiercely that my deepest longings are actually being fulfilled? Why does this feel so preposterous? Can it really be that simple?
When I return to camp, I spot a cluster of tiny purple flowers. I pull a small glass from my car and pour some water in the bottom of it. I wander around camp and down to the creek and collect a few more sprigs – a little more purple and a little pink and a little yellow too. I slip them into the glass and sit them across from my chair. There! I brought you flowers, Sonya. I know how much you love them. I want you to know how much I love you too. I feel myself smile all the way down to my heart.
What else do we want, Sonya? I remember the painting from my cousin Teresa, which has accompanied me throughout my journey. I pull it from the car and prop it up next to the flowers. I sit and admire my new pretty sitting space. It speaks to me, and I love it all. The sun dapples through the trees, beginning its even decent. A soft breeze whispers by. Pale yellow leaves drift through the sky, being loosed and falling from the branches above like giant auburn snowflakes. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. When I open my eyes, they fell anew on the painting of the moon and the Phoenix.
You know you have laid ahold of the right dream when you are willing to let it be the death of you — only to rise again. Book launch in T-minus seven days.
On being #WiselyWild
Okay, so here it is: What NOT to do when fear and pain creep in
- Turn off the reminder that you have a call with your book coach in 15 MINUTES, just as the breakdown begins. This is THE TIME you need her most.
- Decide that you will NOT reach out to ANYONE, including your pilgrimage coach, because you don’t want to burden anyone or let them see you like this.
- Turn on a movie for release and inspiration instead, because you can do that alone and it reminds you that the hero always crumbles before the big victory.
- Text your ex when said movie also reminds you that you might very well have all of your dreams come true, except the one you dreamed with him in it.
- Expect your ex to be charmed by your exquisite vulnerability and realize he needs to save you after all.
- Continue to ignore all indications that NOW would be a good time to reach out to the people who love you.
Have a plan for when the darkness falls. If it never does, SWEET! If it does, STICK TO THE PLAN. You have allies for a reason. For peace sakes, let them help you.
If you don’t have a plan and you don’t have allies, just HANG IN THERE. This too shall pass. And when it does, cultivate some new, meaningful relationships. You may be flying solo, but you do not have to do it alone.