I’ve had a lot to say recently about struggle.
I believe that struggle is necessary for us to change, to evolve beyond who we’ve been and into who we’re meant to be. It’s essential to the process of transformation to be challenged and to be pushed forward by those challenges. I believe in that process—and most of the time I have appreciation for it.
Then there are days when I’ve not had enough sleep and when the burden of being a single mother strikes me as a heavy one. These are the days when we’re tired of feeling lonely, the days when we wonder if we always will be. These are the days where it feels difficult to sit with the struggle and equally impossible to push past it.
And yet we do.
I’ve been working on unpacking the baggage I’ve been unwittingly carrying around for years. I’ve been excavating my life and telling myself a new story. And it started with sitting with my pain. That was the first step. I sat with my pain, felt it and used those feelings to trace it back to the source, to the very beliefs I’ve held about myself: I’m hard to love. I’m easy to leave. I can’t depend on anyone but myself. I’ll always be alone. I’m never good enough.
These belief systems go back far into my life and have been reinforced many times, and I didn’t realize that they were sitting right under the surface of this pain that had been causing me such grief. In fact, a friend woke me up to this by telling me that I would continue to manifest the same situations in my life until I have dealt with these feelings and false belief systems.
So I did. I wrote it all out—what I felt and not what I thought. I focused on feeling and not on analyzing, and at the end of it all, I realized that the pain was focused in those belief systems.
So I began to rewrite my story with the truth and not with my baggage. That’s a whole other story, but once that was done, I was able to start moving forward. There’s such a sense of relief when we just put our baggage down. It’s so heavy, and we weren’t meant to carry it all from place to place, or from relationship to relationship.
Within a couple of days of metaphorically putting my baggage away, I had the most revealing, vivid dream. I dreamed that I was in an underground cavern, almost a maze, and I was traveling with my children and my ex-husband from room to room. At one point, my ex-husband just gave up and left, and I remember feeling angry in the dream that I would have to do everything alone, and the journey became a bit harder. Then, as I went from one twisting path to another, I began to notice that there was writing on the walls.
As I walked along, shining my light into the dark, I could see that the women who had walked the path before me had written messages of hope and encouragement on the walls in bright colors. Everywhere I could see was covered in these messages, assuring me that this was the right path and that I would make it out okay. At the end of the dream, I did make it to a tunnel leading up into the light, and there was such relief that I had found my way through it.
I woke up realizing that this dream is exactly what our journey of change is like. Getting divorced was tough, and there was some anger at having to live a life that I did not anticipate. I never thought I’d be a single parent, and I was so overwhelmed at the thought. But when we make some necessary changes and adapt to what life throws at us, we really can be inspired by the people who’ve made the journey before us. We can move through those painful, impossible days knowing that there really is a light at the end of this tunnel. By telling our stories, we’re helping others keep to the path and make it out.
It’s not easy to change our lives. It’s not easy to dig deep and figure out what messages we’ve been believing and, in turn, manifesting that aren’t really true (or healthy) for us at all. Doing the work of growing is difficult. The path can seem dark at times, but please remember when we feel the weakest and the most defeated, we’re not breaking apart; we’re just transforming into who we’re meant to be.
With that dream firmly lodged in my mind, these words came to me. I hope they’ll be of benefit to you as well.
I followed the path into the woods
I followed the path down into the shade
I followed the path that twisted and turned
I followed the path into the glade
I found myself weeping inside the clearing
I found myself screaming in this safe place
I found myself broken and tired and kneeling
I found myself lonely in all of this space
I stayed in that glade and felt myself screaming
I stayed in that place and wept for what’s lost
I stayed there just broken, exhausted, not healing
I stayed there just counting the cost
I returned to the path my heart just a bit lighter
I returned to the path with the moon high above
I returned to the path, no longer to fight her
I returned to the path to return to my love
Author: Crystal Jackson
Image: Katia Romanova/Flickr
Editors: Catherine Monkman; Yoli Ramazzina