Last night I was in pain.
I felt the rumblings late into the evening—bouts of weariness, fatigue, defeat not just over this journey but of life. I was tired of fighting, I said to a friend. Tired of struggling just to make ends meet—a dozen irons in the fire and barely a spark. Tired of holding onto relationships that don’t want to be held onto. Tired of surviving when I want to thrive, to live my life with joy and adventure and passion—with ease. I’d done so much healing the past two years, ramped up the past few months with past-life energy work and doubling down on facing my own shadows, and here I was feeling like I was still fighting for what seems to be coming to others with such ease.
Where is my ease? I asked the universe. I want to be of service to the world, but what of my own joy and happiness? Isn’t that what this journey has been teaching me? To welcome in my own abundance? To free myself from the paradigm of struggle and survival? So why am I still fighting? Why am I so exhausted, so defeated? Why do I feel like everything I do is never enough?
I went to bed.
I woke up in the middle of the night to my mind screaming its thoughts at me—2 am anthems repeating over and over in my mind about how I fought through my illness and I fought to rebuild my life and I fought to get myself this far, and what is it worth? What am I worth?
I wrote. My dog still asleep at the foot of the bed, the world quiet outside my window, I tried writing my way back to myself, reminding myself the words a dear friend had recently told me: “Susan, you’ve accomplished more than most people will accomplish in a lifetime, all while you’re still sick. Do you see how incredible you are?”
No. And I can’t understand what is still unhealed inside of me that I can consciously be proud of myself but that it still doesn’t feel like enough. Because most days, I feel like I’m still in the trenches. Maybe that’s what trauma does to you. Maybe that’s what the ego does. As soon as you think you’ve found peace, it fires off another round to keep you bunkered down.
My ego is dying. I recognized this by the time I got to the end of my writing. Surviving is what she’s done for me my whole life, and I’m nothing if not a fighter. Of course she’s going to be fighting to survive, too. I soothed her, telling her that part of my life is over, that things will be different now.
I turned off my lamp and lay back down in bed.
I dreamed I was on a cliff overlooking a pale blue river, my long white dress billowing in a warm breeze. I was barefoot. I could feel the dew on the grass between my toes. To my right was an ancient stone staircase winding down the side of the cliff. I descended, one by one, until I reached the shore of the river, the water reaching the hem of my dress. The fog of the early morning parted and a bridge materialized, asking me to cross it.
So I did.
Candles lit the way, casting a beautiful glow as I heard the gentle rush of water beneath me. As I approached the lush green landscape of the opposite shore, I saw two familiar figures appear. One held his arms open to me. I rushed into them, feeling the comfort I’d once forsaken, finding peace in his unending love.
Jesus stepped back to kiss my forehead. Mary, her smile kind as always, guided me to a rock and sat me down. Out of a copper bowl, she pulled a cloth and began to wash my feet. I began to pull back--to protest, to reach for the cloth myself--but he put a hand on my shoulder and said a few words, and I relaxed in their friendship—a friendship that dates back near my own beginning. Someday, maybe, I’ll share that sacred story.
They helped me rise again and, taking my hand, they guided me through a small stretch of woods until we arrived at the top of a cliff, a beautiful, lush valley below. I gasped. The valley was filled with people—hundreds of thousands of people.
“What is this?” I asked them.
He smiled gently. “You think you’re so alone. I’m showing you you’re not. This is who you have with you every single day.”
I began to sob. In an instant, we were down below. My animals long-past came running to greet me—my first childhood dog, my cat rubbing between my legs, my beloved dogs I loved since they were puppies. “Cody, go visit Mom and Dad tonight,” I told their dog that we lost last summer after giving him a big hug.
My grandpa. My grandma. My best friend’s dad (“Tell her I’m doing great,” he said. “I will,” I promised.). My friend Amy, who I lost three years ago to cancer before I even knew she was sick, who was always encouraging me through my own illness and telling me I was an inspiration to her. We ran into each other’s arms. Then, as the reunion settled down, she and I sat in a quiet corner in the grass, the dogs coming up for belly rubs.
“I miss home,” I told her. “I miss everyone. I miss everything.”
“You’re always home,” she said. “It just looks a little different than it used to. We look a little different than we used to. But you’re always talking to us. We know you know we’re there.”
I didn’t understand how I could still feel so alone in the world. How I can be so surrounded by people who love me—in the physical, in the spirit realm—and know this, to feel this, and still feel so alone? I didn’t understand how I could have this understanding and belief of myself, and still not feel good enough, like nothing is ever enough. I didn’t understand why I was still feeling like I had to prove myself, like I have to fight for everything—even just to be alive, even for eternal love.
I didn’t understand what was happening.
“You’re healing,” she said. “Right now, this is healing.”
Amy and I talked for a long time. I don’t remember all that was said. I remember visiting with my family—my beloved grandma and grandpa, my animals, others that my conscious mind didn’t recognize but I know are family and friends from the past rooting me on and supporting me in their love.
When I woke up again later in the morning to my dogs begging to be fed, my cheeks were caked in dried tears. I felt calmer, lighter. I still don’t know where I’m heading. I still don’t know what I’m doing. I still don’t know how to let down this guard, to keep from feeling like I have to fight for everything I have—everything, they said, that was always meant for me.
I still don’t fully understand.
But I know that this is healing.