I've been such a fan of "Super Soul Sunday", watching it with my trusty journal as I let myself learn and re-learn wisdom from some amazing speakers. Recently I watched an episode where Anne Lamott was featured, talking about her new book (which I have not read), but I was so inspired by her comment about the "three essential prayers": Help, Thanks, and Wow, realizing that much of 2013 can be summarized in those three prayers.
I need help.
That's where the beginning of 2013 took me. I took this year to be quiet, to break away from virtually everything that took me away from my family or deep healing from old stories. As 2012 was coming to an end, I was given a message that it was time for me to take a break. I didn't know what it was going to look like per se, but I knew that I needed this time to just process with my training, my healing, coming back to roots of dreams that were waiting for the cobwebs to be wiped away... what I got instead was something bigger, tastier, bitter, fearful and beautiful... it's funny how we can dance with various vibrations that both lift us and purge us.
My husband had been laid off back in the spring of 2012, though finding some seasonal work with a family friend, that ended in November, and as we approached the colder months, I believed he would find something sooner than later. That didn't happen. And it was heavy, as only those who have been through this can understand, it's painful, and the judgments that you inadvertently wear from others is so thick and messy, you begin to wonder which is yours and which is another.
I officially began my break at Imbolc (February), and I let myself just dive into my practice. Despite the uncertainty of no finances coming in, my practice strengthened, though it felt like other components were weakening, later to be discovered so I could learn something big: how to ask for help.
I didn't share why I was taking a break, except for a couple of close friends, mainly because these particularly people became my rocks while I silenced everything else. They were my support when words began to trickle down about where I "really" was... stories of my impending death (oh yes, physically withering away... *sigh*), or how my husband and I were in a bitter divorce battle... or how my daughter was in the middle of a vicious custody battle... the stories went on and on. I laughed at first, because I often equate my presence as being so quiet that I have this belief that if I disappear no one would notice. I was proven otherwise, both in beautiful and ugly ways. Then I was upset, or angry... or pissed off. Maybe all three. I was shocked at the stories people can come up with, when there's no evidence to support it. I was angry that these ridiculous things were being spread, but I was guided to still not speak about it. These close friends did their best to correct them, but sometimes the stories are more important and entertaining than the truth. In that case, any amount of correction is meaningless, and you still have to plug on.
I then reached the hurt phase. Didn't people know me at all? And if things were really that bad, then why wouldn't someone reach out? Why wouldn't someone call me, asking if I was okay? Asking if we needed anything? People who I thought understood didn't. This surprised me. People in my community, those I considered confidantes, they held onto the stories instead. Believe it or not, I understood. I did. It's easier to hold onto a story than to confront, or be witness to someone's journey, be it painful or not. If you ask someone how they are doing then you are taking responsibility to bear witness to their process, and sometimes we're not ready to bear witness, but culturally we've been brought up to be respectful and ask, even when the answer isn't one we're prepared to receive, or hold space for.
So, in that context, I understood. Still, it hurt. I hurt. Those things weren't true. Farthest thing from the truth. The interesting component was that despite the uncertainty and extreme discomfort due to my husband being out of work, we didn't pull away from each other, instead we did the opposite: we got closer. In some ways we had to -- the support around us was minimal. There were heavy judgments, accusations, and insults laid before our feet. Some of it I ate up, believing I deserved it in some way, some I viciously threw away, but it told me the truth that when times are tough, you begin to understand who will be there for you, and who won't. Of course this isn't to say that it would forever be this way. Some can't be there for you because they are in their own course of life that they need to be with their own needs. Some are too afraid to be there, and some don't want to. I was amazed that I could hold all those parts without malice, well, without much malice. I admit there was a couple individuals that I felt "should" be there for us, and they were, just not in the way I wanted, though inevitably it was in ways I needed, in a roundabout kind of way...
Earlier this year when I emerged from the Bear Cave, my dreamtime revealed that I needed to surrender and trust... so I did. As I did, I was reminded how important it is to ask for help, so I asked, in small ways, in big ways, when it was uncomfortable, when it threatened my pride, when it made me feel weak...
A funny thing happens when you lean into the things that make you uncomfortable: you become stronger.
Part of my daily practice is gratitude work. I have, or had, a particular gratitude stone that I had worked deeply in my practice. It started off with me holding it, rubbing it (it was nearly soft and smooth from so much use) and saying "thank you". It always started off with thank you. Then I would start to thank various things throughout my day: good sleep, bad sleep, family, my daughter's cranky pants, my husband not doing dishes when he said he would, my bad attitude, my compassion, our health, his unemployment, my fear, our financial lack, our abundance, bills that began to pile up, working vehicles... the list went on and on. It wasn't about changing the bad into good, or making the good even greater, it was simply about pure awareness of what I had in my life, and could I be grateful for the things that felt horrible, or uncomfortable, or like they didn't serve at all, without changing it into some powerful lesson to convince me or to justify my gratitude for it? Could I actually do that?
I could, and I did. The result? It was powerful. I would laugh through some, "Thank you for a shitty night's sleep... Thank you for my neighbor sharing her cherry tomatoes (which were crazy good!)..." and I would cry over some, "Thank you for mortgage debt... Thank you for the uncertainty of financial security..." and I would feel the depth of my heart with others, "Thank you for a marriage that still works... Thank you for my ability to be honest with my daughter about our situation..." It may seem crazy to some, but there was beauty there, and healing.
I've never had a problem thanking others for a job well done, for their contribution, for their gifts, for their presence... but I realized that I hadn't quite learned to thank all circumstances, or even myself.
My gratitude stone has now lovingly been gifted to a sacred sister. I led a Gratitude Ritual where I obtained my new gratitude stone, one that has raggedy edges, and it is now teaching and initiating me into new layers of gratitude medicine.
I had many "wow" moments this year... wow to connection... wow to my ability to say both "yes" and "no" when necessary... wow to surviving... wow to inspiring and being inspired... wow to love... wow to trust... wow to receiving and ALLOWING myself to receive... wow to being scared, and doing it anyway... wow to my husband receiving a job when we truly needed it to come... wow to my daughter being happy and healthy while receiving (and giving) love over material things any day...
Wow, wow, and wow.
No, I haven't read Anne Lamott's book, yet, but I get the essence of her concept of the three essential prayers, because this year that was my medicine, to put it mildly.
In summary, I have asked for help, and I have received it... I have offered thanks, and I have been thanked... I have been wow'ed, and I have wow'ed.
My medicine for the new calendar year? Freedom...
Faithfully Rising, Evolving, Experiencing Dharma, Oneness and Magick.