It is 2:59 am as I write this. I am incredibly tired but unable to sleep. It’s been a busy couple weeks of moving, working full-time, and taking three classes. I am mentally wired and fantasize about laying on the ground in a forest, allowing Gaia to rejuvenate every cell of my body, not one electronic device in sight.
But I check my email anyway, and find a lovely message from Barbara inviting me to join her Awakening Challenge on http://www.memymagnificentself.wordpress.com. Given my schedule, my first impulse is to resist, but I am already intrigued. It’s the second time this week I’ve been told about this challenge, so I’m paying bleary-eyed attention.
For now I will attempt sleep yet again…
Earlier that evening, I’d attended my Creative Writing class. It was only our third group session, but I felt compelled to share a very personal, short piece I’d written on the subject of trust. I think the class was surprised – and maybe a little uncomfortable – to hear a virtual stranger speaking so openly about something relatively intimate.
As I walked home afterwards, I felt a little over-exposed. Why did I do that?, I wondered. Why not choose a less personal piece? Why put myself out there like that? Do I lack boundaries? Do I want attention?
Vulnerability can be very uncomfortable sometimes.
I grew up with my feet in two different worlds. Born in Canada just two years after my parents arrived as refugees, life required straddling two cultures that often seemed at great odds with each other. I think now of my small-child self, and I feel her immense free spirit…and her sense of confinement. Her tribe was her whole world, and she loved them mightily, yet she felt somewhat alone and longed for something more. She didn’t know how much she wanted to break free.
I remember family members visiting our home one evening, when I was about six years old. During a group prayer, I recalled something funny that had happened at school that day. I couldn’t wait for the prayer to be over, so I could tell everyone about it. When I shared my story, I was chastised. I remember the shame I felt in that moment. I’m a bad girl for thinking funny things during prayer. God is mad at me.
It wasn’t just that incident. I couldn’t connect with many aspects of my religion. I felt somewhat deficient; that I was missing some reverence or knowledge that everyone else seemed to have. There was heavy guilt surrounding this. But guilt couldn’t force the connection.
What I did have was an obsession with the metaphysical, particularly reincarnation. I remember telling my mother, at four years old: “In my next life I want you to be my mommy again. Only this time I want green eyes.” And for the longest time, my plan was to write my name on a piece of paper before I died; this way, when I ‘woke up’ in my next life, I’d know that I was ‘Aleya’ the last time.
Throughout my teen years my fascination with the supernatural deepened. I couldn’t get enough Astrology. I surrounded myself with Egyptian ankhs. I analyzed my dreams and studied the Rider Waite tarot deck. These realms were so esoteric, mysterious, and enticing. I was hooked.
I loved contemplating all things spiritual, and yet, the niggling guilt was constant. Why be born into a religion I felt no connection to? I figured the day would probably come where I would put away all my silly New Age books, and finally embrace my religion – I would ‘come back to my roots’ instead of rejecting them.
This is how I viewed myself for a long time – that I was wrong for not adapting to what never felt right.
In my twenties, the rage showed up. I had moved to a different city with my best friend, and something broke loose within. We would go to the bars every weekend. I would drink a lot and subsequently turn into the meanest person alive, my poor best friend taking the brunt of my unprovoked fury. My eyes opened: I was one angry woman. Why was I so angry?
It took years to understand that I was angry because I felt fundamentally separated. I felt different (disconnected) from my family, and different (disconnected) from the society I so desperately wanted to fit into. I was fragmented, my identity pieced together by various roles and voices, with no core sense of who ‘I’ was, and what ‘I’ wanted. I felt I had to impress God, but was terrified that winning God’s favour meant living a life I really didn’t want to live. I felt too big for my tribe but too small for society. I felt guilt at the thought of leaving my tribe, because what if something really bad happened if I did?
I look back on those years and feel the fighting, the resistance. I also feel the deep desire for healing, for relief…and the strength and determination to find that peace. The ego’s story is one of pain and separation, and eventually it became too damn hard to play that game anymore. I threw in the towel.
At this stage in my journey, I am allowing the possibility of something more. New life is breathing itself into me. Joy is peeking in.
I am now able to see what a rich blessing it is, to have my unique history pulsing in my blood. My worlds are coalescing nicely. I am now willing to expose my heart. And I am seeing wonderful things. There is acceptance. Forgiveness. Authenticity. Love. Connection.
I am learning that I am not defined by anyone or anything; I choose who I want to be, how I want to feel, and what I want to create. And in doing so, I allow others those same things. There is support.
I am learning to honour my own needs, while knowing I am connected to All, and that my piece affects the whole. For a long time, life was about negotiating my identity through living in two worlds, neither of which felt fully ‘me’. Now I am sensing that life is actually far more complex, beautiful, and mysterious than I could have imagined. There are infinite words and dimensions, within and without. And I am not so different from anyone after all.
Sometimes my journey means doing ‘the work’. Other times it means simply Allowing and Being.
To share my personal feelings and experiences in this blog, and in my Creative Writing class just a few nights ago – to go there, to hear my words being spoken in front of a group, to feel people’s reactions, to see their eyes looking directly at me (as well as averting) – means I am building deep self-trust and love. My belly wavers, but I am okay. This is me.
Going to my depths unlocks something that needs to be expressed, so that I can experience life in a new way. This is who I am and I trust myself enough to share it with you. And I trust you enough to receive it. Trust in myself – and in God – is growing with each breath.
I am very appreciative for Barbara, for this invitation to share my awakening journey. I love that blogging has connected so many of us through our unique life experiences. I am super grateful for the dear friends I have made in this WordPress world, and I sense that our journeys will continue to get a lot more fun, deep, and connected through 2014 and beyond.