It hit me like a ton of bricks.
Almost without warning, I found myself filled with heaviness. The kind that makes it hard to get up in the morning.
For the past few weeks I have been operating on a semi-auto pilot, a mechanical way of being, simply going through the motions of my day. I can trace some of my anxiety back to my computer crashing and losing all my documents two weeks ago. Or, to losing all my playlists this past Sunday when I decided to sync my iPhone to my new computer. I could tell you that losing my documents and my music were the catalyst for everything that followed…and in small way that would be true. But, not entirely.
What made this experience of loss so poignant for me was the feeling of it. The emptiness of staring at blank document folders was like peering into my soul. I felt lost. And very afraid.
I’ve done a lot of questioning over the past year. I’ve questioned my path, my life purpose, who I am and what I want. I’ve questioned if I’m in right city or I should move to NYC. I’ve questioned what the right relationship is or maybe I’m already in it. I’ve questioned if I should let old conversations go or if I should seek out clarity so I won’t be left with the pain of regret. I’ve questioned if I’m gay or if it’s just a “phase.” Just like my computer, I feel like I’ve lost all my files, the ones that tell me who I am.
My friends call this Ecdysis, a shedding if you will. It’s the art of escaping from the old shell. And, it’s painful as hell. I don’t care that lobsters undergo a fascinating transformation process throughout their lives so they can continue to grow. I don’t care that they build up a hard shell only to break it open and abandon what they know in raw vulnerability. I don’t care that they are continually preparing for and recovering from this molting process because they have unlimited potential for growth…but maybe that’s because I don’t think I am capable of the same.
I thought I had bypassed my Odyssey, Grail quest, rebirth process, dark night of the soul stuff. Call it what you will, it’s all the same. I had been there. Done that. I thought all the questions I’ve asked over the past year brought me to a greater understanding of who I am. I thought I had bypassed hard falls and heaviness and went straight toward bliss and joy and courage and fearlessness.
I was wrong.
I’m here. Having another Ecdysis. And, the heaviness is real. And hard. Without restricting calories or over exercising, without putting my sole attention to all the tasks I have to do so I can avoid feeling–without any of my former coping mechanisms–everything is that much more real. And scary.
“These are the things, the things we lost
The things we lost in the fire, fire, fire
Do you understand we’ll never be the same again?
The future’s in our hands and we’ll never be the same again?”
As I listen over and over again to Bastille’s song, “Things We Lost in the Fire,” I am reminded that living out loud isn’t about having the right answers or being here or there, wherever those places are anyway. I am reminded that living out loud is sometimes saying, “I’m not OK. And this is where I AM.” I am reminded that living out loud is a continual process or Ecdysis where we meet our inner crossroads. On one path are the old ways of doing things that are no longer working, but they are safe and easy. On the other path is the fire. What stands between living out loud and living our life as a whisper–what stands between living a life we love and going through the motions–is what burns in the fire: our illusions, fear, shame, guilt, lack of faith, aloneness, and rigidity. In order to live out loud, we must dare to take the risk to walk into the fire, to confront what needs to change within so that we can live a more authentic and radiant life.
There are things I’ve lost and lost sight of. Some things will never be the same. But, the future is in my hands. I can choose to live as a whisper. Or, I can choose to live out loud, to take one small action that leaves me feeling proud. Today that small step is using my voice to share where I AM. Today that small step is taking a moment to feel what I feel. Today that small step is giving myself space. Tomorrow is another step, another conscious decision, one I have to keep making until I remember that I can run, until I can find the strength and freedom in doing that again.
But today, as I simply take a moment to feel, as I start to use my voice to live out loud in the present, I am reminded of the power of presence. And so I thank YOU. I am grateful to each and every one of YOU who show up, support me and allow yourselves to be seen. I am grateful to YOU who remind me of who I am and who I am becoming as I rise out of this.
To our unlimited potential for growth,