This past year, 2016, has been a momentous year for me. It is as if my personal microcosm has reflected the macrocosm of Trump, Brexit, huge refugee migrations and uncertainty over what the future might look like.
I could write this blog post from a physical, emotional/psychological or spiritual angle, although the three are blended and swirled together like a raspberry ripple, each really indistinguishable from the other and all making up the taste of the year. So, I’m going to post in stages. This first stage focuses on the broader picture and why I’m posting about it now.
I adhere to the principle that while I am still in process about something, and there’s a fair chance I might get upset/react rather than respond/cry or get otherwise emotional if someone speaks to me of it, I do not share it in a public forum. My work as a coach and yoga teacher involves me holding space for and helping others navigate their challenges and processes. So I do not consider it appropriate for me to bring my own emotive issues into that space, and so take the energy and attention away from them. Some things need to remain hidden in private circles until such time as the emotional charge is reduced to the point that I can speak with equanimity about it.
And I’d say I’m about there now. So here goes…
At the start of 2016 I admit to being stuck. Stuck in low energy, stuck in low motivation, stuck in my spiritual practice and in some doubt about my work and career. The year started with a project to which I’d devoted much time and energy blowing up in an uncharacteristic wave of anger and frustration, and I felt I was going backwards.
Then I noticed a lump in my breast. I’ll tell in other blogs of the journey into underlying causes, what I learned about myself, and the experiences and insights into our amazing and also greatly strained NHS. But, for now and to keep it short, it was breast cancer.
I went through a spring of uncertainty and multiple biopsies, a summer of surgery that at first succeeded and then failed in a deep splash of disappointment, and an autumn of chasing up notes and referrals to figure out my next steps. As the physical wounds healed and I reentered my working life, I got really busy. That was great in terms of my bank balance, as a self-employed person the summer entailed so many raids of our emergency funds that they completely dried up, but I also noticed that I had put up some levels of protection that were not there before. I was still finding a delicate balance in my resculpted body, growing into the new sense of who I was and integrating the deep teaching I’d received from the process, and I couldn’t expose this to the world. So I protected it with uncharacteristic scepticism, being sometimes preoccupied instead of fully present with others, and finding ways of distracting myself. Perhaps getting so busy, although it appeared more by coincidence than by intent, was a part of that protection. But also, by hiding my 'secret', I was holding something back.
It took a while to see what was happening, and to realise that I wasn’t, fully, allowing myself to be the new version of myself that this journey has created. And as that is what I encourage and hope to inspire in my clients, I absolutely need to embody it in myself. So I needed to look a little closer.
I saw that each time we are stirred up, particularly in more dramatic ways, new aspects spiral up to the surface and need to be acknowledged. For me, one such piece was the part of me who since being a little girl wanted to be a writer. Although I’d thought I’d lain her to rest in my 20s, when she got entangled with other’s expectations, and realising that freed me up from the torture that the writing process was at that time, she emerged clear and resolute this winter, demanding space to fulfil her ambitions. She may appear to have nothing to do with the illness and recuperation, but it was most definitely her time to emerge.
So I am writing this, and other things that have long wanted to be written. And as I write, the hard edges fall away, and I feel ready to be fully open again. And, indeed, my whole life is flowing again, and in really beautiful and unexpected directions.
If I’ve learned anything from my own inner microcosm, and from the wider outer macrocosm, we need more openness, more vulnerability, more kindness in our inner and outer worlds. And so here I am, doing my best as 2016 closes and 2017 opens, to do exactly that.
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