There I was, a thirty year old, after what felt like a lifetime of working hard, working intelligently, working creatively… didn’t matter… there I was… laid out and unable to move… on my boyfriend’s couch — for WEEKS. He and my mother were taking turns helping me get to the bathroom! It was embarrassing. It felt like I was dying. People around me were very concerned. And it was true, parts of me WERE dying.
I knew cognitively I would survive the physical pain and the healing of my back, but I wasn’t sure I’d survive the mental and emotional toll this was taking on my life. At the peak of everything I had ever wanted to “accomplish” as a dancer, a few months of enjoying it… “WHY WAS THIS HAPPENING?” I found myself at a major crossroads, eyes full of tears unable to make out which way the road would take me.
When your back is injured that badly, something in you switches spiritually. It isn’t like all the other times “it went out” or “something is tweaked,” it’s soul shattering.
And you know: from this moment on, things are going to be different.
It was as if my body was saying, “PLEASE STOP! THIS ISN’T WORKING ANYMORE. I’VE TRIED TO WHISPER AND WARN, NOW I FEEL LIKE I AM YELLING!” (Edit: I’ve been imagining that Mother Earth, the Cosmos, whatever greater power you believe in… is kind of saying the same thing to Humankind right now, hmmm…)
But I just couldn’t let it go that easy. I was heavily attached to the identity that came with my dance career.
Who would I be if I wasn’t that person? I’d be nothing I thought. How could I be nothing? It would be too hard to not be… that someone or something?
Maybe you can relate to this…
Who would I be if that ended?
If I lost that?
If suddenly I were no longer a good fill in the blank?
Yes it’s scary… and it’s real. These questions are invitations to opening and surrendering. They portals into little deaths of what we call the “ego,” little deaths of the mental constructs we assign our identities and lives. These identifications, when wrapped with validation, meaning, drive, and even love can be so painful to let go of, it feels like we won’t survive it or get to the other side of it. It is very uncomfortable, to say the least, to feel the pain we think we can’t survive, especially the more we have resisted feeling it! But in avoidance, it can become a never ending cycle of running away from our soul and a split from our God-given potentials.
With support and a lot of “feeling through it,” in the most trauma-sensitive ways, I received healing around a physical childhood trauma I endured that was the cause of my chronic back pain. This lead to a surrendering to the limitations of my body structure, and it enlightened me in a truth — I would never be able to physically continue as a professional dancer in the capacity that I had.
This was too heavy to carry alone, so I hired the support that I could to help me, and gave myself endless compassion and TIME to move through it. It was a death process, it was painful, and I was grieving my livelihood as I had known it. There needed to be a BIG pause to digest it. A holy.. huge… mother of a pause. In this pause was a gradual shedding of ego with a timetable that I could not control.
In my experience, during that time and space with support, I embodied my soul and integrated trauma. While maybe my dancer career was over, what I now call my “life’s work” was just creative energy endlessly moving through me as me. I trusted I would rebuild something from even what felt like nothing. I then understood a huge spiritual lesson.
I was able to accept the grief for what was lost, and that grief would never truly “go away.” I didn’t feel the need to try to force that to be different than it was. Through acceptance, I remembered I am an endlessly creative and resourceful soul. Two sides of the same coin; an ever evolving cycle of life.
I tell you all this because THIS IS TRUE TO YOU TOO. We are here to “wake up” now — in this lifetime — to our LIFE. Wake up and appreciate the magic of our unique spirits, experiences, gifts, and the sacred love we share with one another.
Now when I start “clinging” or attaching to the known, I sense that old posture of me seven years ago fighting not to lose control of “me and my career.” I sense that old self creeping in and I thank it for trying to keep me “safe,” but I actually am choosing to not have it in control right now, or anymore. I trust in what is happening, no matter how shaky, scary, and new it is, even if I have no idea where it’ll go. I continue to get the support I need if I am unable to handle this transformation alone. And truthfully, no one can do anything alone.
I honor clinging, gripping attachment or need for control AS the physiological trauma response that it is: a trauma response to the “death of the known.” It is both normal and sacred. I honor that response over and over — “Thank you, Fear” — and simultaneously open to receive what is unknown.
What is unknown could be something so much more exquisite than I could have ever imagined, and I may be blocking it with my struggle to maintain some illusion of control. And control is most often an illusion.
Be kind to yourself, and remember you are infinite potential. Whatever “it” is for you, just like the waves… as it comes, notice it, appreciate it, and when it’s time, let it go, and see what remains. What remains may just be the YOU you’ve been wanting to contact, the spiritual current of your soul.