“Follow your heart and be true to yourself. Never live the life of another. You have to create your own road.” ~James Van Praagh
This is amazingly simple advice, but it’s also one of the hardest things for me to manage to do, especially as a co-dependent. I have a great deal of practice in being true to those around me; I have very little in being true to myself. I cringe in guilt at the very thought of being true to myself when doing so brings disapproval or criticism from those around me.
And then there’s the whole concept of creating my own road!
I want the ease of following a well-worn path laid out by others who already know the way. I want each step of the journey to be mapped out for me before I start out on the way. I want guarantees at all times that the way I am headed is the “right” way to get to the “right” destination. Creating my own road has none of the ease, clarity or guarantee that I long for. It’s hard work that’s fraught with risk.
For the first time in my life, I am finding myself completely without anyone else to live for and without even a semblance of a map to guide my way. I have no career identity, no religious affiliation, no close family, no significant other, no peer group, no organization to which I belong, no community to define me or my path.
I also have more solitude and unstructured time alone than I’ve ever had in my life. Oddly enough, even with all the solitude I have, I crave every minute more than I can squeeze out of every day. I feel as if I am recovering from a protracted life-threatening illness. Even after several weeks now of soaking up the rest, I still find myself needing lots of sleep and quiet and stillness. Even working only part-time feels like an enormous drain of my energy, making it a challenge to drag myself out of bed each morning.
And yet, there are beginning to be small stirrings of life in the depths of my solitude. In the stillness and the quiet, I am starting to hear my own voice whispering in the silence. I’m beginning to feel small nudges of direction from the inner guide whom I have ignored for too long. I still struggle to honor and accept my own inner guidance when it does not perfectly agree with what others around me may wish for me to do or be.
I am impatient with this lethargy and feel like I should be making better progress in making life decisions and charting new paths, but this is not a process that I can rush. I am meeting me again for the first time in many, many years. Like any new relationship, it takes time for it to grow and develop. Trust and intimacy grow at their own pace, not at the speed I want to set.
The challenge is that the world is full of so many other voices who would happily jump in and try to set my direction for me, to put me on a path of their own choosing. Critics and judges abound in a world where the path I am choosing is outside the cultural norm.
It is incredibly rewarding to begin to feel these stirrings of self-knowledge, self-value, and self-trust come to life. I also feel incredibly vulnerable and fragile in dealing with a critical world when my path is still so undefined and my connection to Self is still so tenuous.
I feel incredibly powerful and enormously frightened. I am inspired, encouraged, and weary to the bone. I am lonely and want more time at home alone. I feel entirely unneeded and am beginning to develop a sense of self-worth. I feel like I’m making huge progress and feel unbelievably lazy. I am stubborn and easily manipulated. I am in a hurry, impatient, and willing to move as slowly as I need to. I am courageous and in great need of reassurance. I am broken-hearted and at peace. I am filled with hope and utterly disheartened.
In short, I am a bundle of contradictions trying to create my own path where there is no map and be true to a Self that I hardly know or recognize in a world that calls this a fool’s journey. This is a fragile, vulnerable time when I need to treat myself with great tenderness and, like a mama bear protecting her cub, need to demand the same gentleness from others, especially in such a public setting. In that spirit, I am instating the following comment policy for all posts for my own self-protection and for that of anyone who comments. It’s my way of taking the responsibility for asking for what I need while I’m in this space.
A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a very fragile place, and it takes a good deal of vulnerability to share this personal journey of transformation so openly. Therefore, I need this to be a safe place for exploration and sharing for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight—or the expression of that experience or insight—are NOT welcome here and will be deleted.