August 26, 2015

How being Selfish Changed my Life.

Nastassja Antonia--Courtesy of author

I started my college education in 2000 with a head full of dreams on how to make the world a better place.

I wanted to be an environmentalist and a human rights activist. It didn’t last long; my dreams became stale and out of reach. I partied regularly and went to class rarely. I had good friends, but very low self-esteem.

Things got harder when I became pregnant in my last year of college. I chose to give my son up for an open adoption—a difficult decision, and one on which my life would turn.

I was caught up in major victimhood mentality and could not break free. My anger was omnipresent and destroying me from within. Dating was a terrible experience all around. I worked myself to the bone at minimum wage and overspent as a way out of depression. Sabotaging my happiness, and my well-being, were ways in which I confirmed the only reality I really understood—that I did not deserve better.

Being pregnant suited me. Against all advice, I developed a relationship with the child I would eventually give up. I had a natural birth witnessed by a full room of friends. Everyone was crying. I was elated. I had never felt unconditional love for anyone until the moment I held my child in my arms. It was a pure moment of perfection.

Three days later, he went home with his adoptive family. I stopped grieving, eventually, and did not regret my decision. For whatever reason, as cloudy as my judgment was concerning all other areas of my life, in this I did not falter. This one step in the right direction, in deciding my own fate without endlessly worrying about the opinions of others, would put me on the path of a life that I could eventually own.

My life became one big adventure. I sold everything I owned and backpacked Southeast Asia for six months. I went to Burning Man year after year. I completed a year-long massage and yoga-teacher training, which would eventually lead me to live and work in Guam and the Caribbean. I traveled Egypt for weeks and attended a festival by the Great Pyramids.

Today, I am back in the town where I began living a truly blessed life in this mountain oasis of beautiful forests, clear night skies, fresh air—a blooming culture of music, art, literature and community events. In this place I can play and work, live and love, invest myself fully and still have my solitude. I am fortunate to call it home.

At 34 years old, I am now living a fulfilling, actualized existence. I am in service to a vision outside of myself—one which I create and realize, create and realize. I have joined the land of the living and found my place. I have made friends with death and am aligned with Spirit.

By no means do I want to imply that I have not had painful or stressful or even traumatic experiences in the last five years. I have been brought to my knees so hard I thought I would never get up. I’ve had moments, days and weeks of experiencing utter pain of abandonment and loss. I have felt immensely alone and wept from dusk until dawn. My emotions have and sometimes still do overwhelm me. I have been let down and let others down. I have tempted fate and damaged relationships. I have acted from a place of low integrity and witnessed others doing the same to me. I have been angry for insignificant reasons and indifferent to the pain of others.

In short, I am a human being having a similar experience of life as just about everyone else—I laugh, I love, I cry, I hurt, I am ecstatic, I am sorrowful. I can no more control the behavior of other people than I ever could. And yet, my experience of life has significantly changed. I guess one could say the relationship I have with life has changed. And all it took was one step in the right direction to eventually allow me enough of an opening for love to blossom in my heart. I came to understand how to love my pain, how to perceive loss not as a burden, but as an opportunity for immense expansion.

The catalyst was that one moment of acting from my truth, even if every other decision I’d made was from a place of fear, anger and victimhood. I have often wondered how selfish my decision was to give my baby up. My son is being raised by wonderful parents, yes; but have I damaged his psyche permanently by giving him up? Will he grow up angry and resentful because his birth mother didn’t want to raise him? Will he harm others because of my decision?

I hope I do have the courage to face those questions when the time comes. He is growing up with the knowledge of his adoption, and can find me anytime he chooses to do so. What I will tell him is this:

Whatever you are experiencing, I love you. Whether or not you love me, I love you. Be angry at me. Yell, scream, and rage. Turn your back on me, if it helps you—I will understand. Take every road less traveled—you have my full support. Your experience of life is yours, and yours alone. Without you, I would not be me. You are the light that brought me home, and you are my son. Cultivate the kingdom within, in whatever way you choose.

Just promise me one thing, and one thing only-no matter what-

To thine own self be true.


Author: Nastassja Antonia

Editor: Caroline Beaton

Image: Courtesy of the author, Joshua Ramsey Photography

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