I stumbled upon this article on a day that my world had imploded. I had reached my upper limit for coping and no longer had the resources to “keep it together” given the mountain of tragedies that had aligned to create the perfect storm. This happens to all of us at some point. No matter how much we prepare, self-care, learn or practice, there will always be something that comes along that will take the wind out of our sails and leave us in a puddle on the ground. After having a good long cry on one such day, I reached to my computer for a distraction, and by some miracle, I noticed a friend had posted a link to an article called “Why Lying Broken in a Pile on Your Bedroom Floor is a Good Idea” by Julie (JC) Peters. Given that I had just peeled myself up off my bedroom floor, I felt that I was being sent a sign from the universe, yet I was still pessimistic that my mind would be changed about my current state of affairs as I clicked on the link.
Her intro had my full attention “You know that feeling when you have just gone through a breakup, or lost your job, and everything is terrible and terrifying and you don’t know what to do, and you find yourself crying in a pile on your bedroom floor, barely able to remember how to use the phone, desperately looking for some sign of God in old letters, or your Facebook newsfeed or on Glee, finding nothing there to comfort you?”
Yes! I did know that feeling. And I was certainly not a fan. Would this article help me figure out a way back to being whole? I remember conflicting feelings of hope and doubt as I read on. I wasn’t sure there would be any solutions to ridding myself of the anxiety, grief, depression and fear that had enveloped me, but I had nothing to lose by reading on.
Peters went on to describe a Goddess named Akhilandeshvari from Hindu mythology, whose name (in Sanskrit) means “The Goddess of Never Not Broken”. She explained:
“Akhilanda derives her power from being broken: in flux, pulling herself apart, living in different, constant selves at the same time, from never becoming a whole that has limitations.”
Power from being in a state of change? It was hard to wrap my mind around this. We all know that change is said to be the only constant in life, yet I didn’t think I was alone in my struggle to accept change when everything suddenly seems so unpredictable. The illusion of control is suddenly shattered by unexpected events, and this is a scary place to be. I really didn’t know how to handle so much change in a graceful manner, as clearly indicated by my ragged post-cry breathing. As it turns out, Akhilanda had the answer:
“... now you get to make a choice. In pieces, in a pile on the floor, with no idea how to go forward, your expectations of the future are meaningless. Your stories about the past do not apply. You are in flux, you are changing, you are flowing in a new way, and this is an incredibly powerful opportunity to become new again: to choose how you want to put yourself back together.”
This is when a small seed was planted into my heart. I started to see the freedom of starting over, of rebuilding my life, career, home and family in a fresh new way. I had an image in my mind of a blank canvas in front of me. I had lost most of the carefully arranged pieces that had been steadily leading me to a vision that no longer applied. But I still had some of the important pieces, and some new ones too. My suffering came from my attachment to that old vision, and from the grieving I needed to do in order to let go of it. But I began to notice a sliver of hope and even excitement at the thought of creating something new.
I knew I had more grieving to do and more fear to face before this transition would be over, but I was grateful to have been pulled out of my despair for long enough to realize that my life was not over, it was just going to be different. This is also the first time I even considered that this different life might be even better than anything I had previously imagined. These ideas transformed my mood from a state of “giving up” to a state of surrender and faith that more would be revealed and the possibilities were endless.
I took this final quote below and taped it to my mirror:
“So now is the time, this time of confusion and brokenness and fear and sadness, to get up on that fear, ride it down to the river, dip into the waves, and let yourself break. Become a prism. All the places where you’ve shattered can now reflect light and colour where there was none. Now is the time to become something new, to choose a new whole.”
This was a few years ago, and I am happy to report that my path has unfolded in front of me in a way that exceeds any and all expectations I had built before that day I found myself in a heap on the floor. I have come to believe that something greater than me will continue to guide me in directions that I never would have been open to following if I remained stuck in my desire to force a certain outcome. I am living life differently and although I still feel an uncomfortable surge of fear before I leap, I take risks and make difficult choices to get un-stuck when I realize I am falling into unhealthy routines. I don’t always know where this will take me, but I am looking forward to the journey. I also take comfort in the fact that if I take a wrong turn, I can always make another change.
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