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Fire. It can bring us warmth and comfort or completely burn things to the ground.
As a kid, I grew up having many big, beautiful bonfires in our backyard. It was something that brought me so much joy.
But fire also ended up stealing my joy when it used its power to burn my home to the ground when I was 13. A faulty piece of piping caused a gas leak that led to my home exploding.
My father was killed in the fire, and my mother was left with severe burns, rendering her in a medically induced coma for months as her body worked toward healing.
To say that I was traumatized and forever changed would be an understatement. Parts of me died that day that I am still working to recover.
That was 20 years ago this month. And every year around the anniversary of the trauma that occurred, I drop back into that 13-year-old girl who is scared, lost, alone, and devastated.
And every year around this time, like clockwork, I, in some way or another, blow my life up. Relationships come to an end, friendships become tense, and work becomes unmanageable.
My pain body reenacts the trauma—over and over again. I create the same scenarios and end up being left because I cannot show up in a way that exudes love. Instead, I show up with fear.
As much as I thought that I was in a different place with moving through the trauma, a similar set of circumstances has arrived. My partner (now ex) decided to dissolve our container, and as a result, I have not been showing up at work in a way that allows others to see me as reliable. At this moment, I am in a battle with different parts of myself, trying to navigate the pain of things falling apart—again.
On the one hand, my wounded inner child is ready to run away from this place, people, and circumstances; I want to find safety. But there is also my highest self who knows that I must do something different for this cycle to break. Both are painful. Both are uncomfortable. And neither option will result in things being the way I want them to be.
So, I am left with one question to guide where to go from here:
What choice would be coming from fear, and what choice would be coming from love?
Fear is easy; it doesn’t ask much of us other than to stay stuck in our old habits, patterns, stories, and victim consciousness.
Love, on the other hand, asks a whole hell of a lot of us. Love asks us to lean in when we want to bolt. Love asks us to stay with ourselves instead of abandoning our hearts. Love asks us to see things from a higher perspective beyond what we want—to trust we are being given exactly what we need.
I know what abandoning myself looks like and the suffering it brings. I can’t say that I truly know what love brings because it isn’t something I have ever learned to put my trust into.
I ask myself, “How would things be different if I dared to make a different choice?”
It is a question I don’t yet have the answers to.
What I do know is that I want to hold that 13-year-old’s hand through the grief. I want to help her create something different from it. I am ready to show her that, through love, the joy she has disconnected from is waiting for her. It’s in her heart.
And that is the fire that will alchemize her pain into more beauty than she ever knew possible.