Okay, I'm letting it all hang out with this one guys. It's long, so sit back and relax with a cup of tea (or glass of wine) and chill. If you are afraid of woo-woo stories, you've probably ventured to the wrong site and might want to exit the building before you drink the Kool-Aid. All others, thanks for stickin' around. This is the story of how I was self initiated, through trial and tribulation, into my personal spiritual practice.
The details of my early life are a bit fuzzy, but I do remember being an odd one. Like most children of my generation, I was in the middle of a custody drama between parents, and remember observing my environment a little differently than those around me. As a toddler, I could meditate for hours, though at the time it just felt like zoning out of body and thinking about things a little deeper. I was extremely sensitive to both emotions and texture. It's always been hard for me to make friends, even way back then, because I was the weird kid who sat on the edge of the playground watching everyone play.
As a teenager, after years of learning how to move often and make friends quickly, I learned to suppress all my strange tendencies and play along with the crowd. By the time High School approached I was on the Cheerleading Squad, Student Council, Choir, Youth and Government, and several Pre-AP classes. I wanted to be everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Staying busy allowed me to hide myself.
By the time I graduated, my true identity and the myriad of faces I wore in public had become so confused and blended together that one day I woke up and literally realized I didn't know who I was. In my adolescent rebelliousness, I blamed everyone around me. I told myself it was my parents fault for fighting among themselves so much, for making me feel guilty and developing my sense of abandonment. Rather than accept responsibility for my own choices, I acted out and ran away from all the problems I encountered. I blew off my college entrance exams and applications with lame excuses and naively tried to join the Navy.
It didn't take long for me to realize I made a huge mistake and called the whole thing off. In the end, while most of my friends were headed off to college, I was left in my bedroom with no identity and no plan. I had worked so hard in my younger years trying to do everything perfect, and tried so hard to screw it off when it really mattered.
Eventually, I ran into a guy at the coffee shop where I worked. One thing led to another and I fell head over heals in love. I still didn't know where I was going, but this man accepted me. Even the weird parts. I expected that any minute he would run away screaming, but when all was said and done we stuck together. We got engaged on Christmas morning 2006.
In March of 2007 my 18 year old sister died. It's still hard to talk about it. She was beautiful, strong and capable of so much. Yet still, at the hands of an illness that no one suspected the severity of, she passed away.
One morning, at the first sign of sunrise, the phone rang. I answered it and my knees immediately buckled. It felt like my soul was punched out of me. When my mom said the words, “Samantha died”, I didn't believe her, but I knew it was true.
The next month I got married despite the fact that my Dad was away in Kosovo and I was still grieving my Maid of Honor. The years that followed were difficult for my husband and I but we pulled through it. Trial after trial it seemed we came out alive. We became so used to tribulation, it felt we were in a permanent furnace, awaiting our next round of tempering.
After my sister died, spirituality ceased to be a thought process and became a tangible reality. I poured over every sacred text I could find. I got baptized in the Mormon Church. I learned how to read Tarot cards. (Yes, I know that's a contradiction, welcome to my life). My thirst for the truth was insatiable, like an action movie detective hell bent on finding his family’s murderer. I needed to know that my sister was somewhere, that she was safe. Then one day, she came to me in my dreams shortly before my baptism. She sat down on the side of my bed and asked me what I was going through. I told her I was going to be baptized LDS in a few days and I needed to know if it was the right religion. Where was she and was the truth to be found somewhere else. She looked me in the eyes and said, “There is no single truth. What you believe is what matters. Whatever choice you make, know that I'm safe and happy. And...you need to wake up. Right now, wake up.”
Sure enough, my alarm hadn't gone off and I'd overslept by ten minutes.
In 2010 I had my beautiful baby boy. I thought I would be ready for motherhood. I read every crunchy mom magazine, and made all the right preparations. Still, when I held that little man in my arms, I felt the weight of the world sit down on my shoulders. How was I supposed to take care of him, with my screwed up sense of the world. On the surface I was ready with my extensive knowledge of breast feeding, co-sleeping and natural child birth. In reality, I was terrified, but I didn't even know it yet.
As the months progressed, depression set in. I hated leaving my newborn son early in the morning to go to work. For the first time in my life, my flat stomach was drenched in stretch marks and fatty patches from the 40 pounds I'd put on during pregnancy. My hormones were all out of wack. I felt ugly, and sex was the last thing on my mind. Meanwhile, my husband was going through his own brand of difficulty and neither one of us were talking about any of it.
I came up with a scheme to fix it all that sounded divine at the time. We applied for school in California, bought a truck and RV and headed toward the beach. My bohemian dream. It had been a lifelong fantasy of mine to visit the Hopi Reservation, so on our way to Cali, we took a detour. It didn't turn out how I'd envisioned. A Navajo medicine man and his wife found us on the reservation. They brought some delicious bread and offered to cleanse us. I guess we both underestimated the strength of Native American shamanism.
Before we left Texas I committed to a day of silence on the day of the Jaguar or Shaman in the Mayan Calendar. The dream itself would take up several pages alone, so I'll try to summarize it for you.
I was trying to fit in with the other girls (who in the dream were scantily clad in beautifully decadent lingerie, oohlala). I was left wearing my husbands orange shirt, with no pants and unshaved legs, haha. Needless to say, it started out as a nightmare. As the dream progressed, I was trying to attract my husbands attention, putting off the care of my son who was waiting for me in another room. The more I tried to act like the other girls, the more he pushed away and tried to hang out with his friends and ignore me. In desperation, I walked to the casino. (Don't ask me why there was a casino) and won just enough money to buy me an emerald green corset, more beautiful than all the other girls.
I put it on, and walked back to my apartment (where a party was commencing). All the girls finally paid attention to me, infatuated with my silk, emerald encrusted clothes. Now I knew there was finally hope to win my lover's affection. However, when I walked into the living room, a woman stood by the fireplace. The fire was blazing, and all eyes fell on her. She was simple, not much makeup. Her dress was pretty, obviously handmade, with tribal print in orange, blue and green (my favorite colors). Wavy hair fell down her back and despite her being different than the other girls, she exuded a confidence that wasn't pretentious. It was nurturing and comforting.
She led my husband and I outside of our apartment, away from the party and I glanced up at the full moon and felt magic flow inside me. A veil appeared in front of my face. The woman took my hand, and used my wedding ring to rip the veil apart. Instantly, we merged, and I knew this woman was me. This moon priestess was my higher self, there to remind me of my connection with the Goddess and that I had been born here for a reason.
Funny thing is, the second we merged, my husband looked me in the eye and with excitement, ran so fast I could barely catch up. This man, who an hour before barely noticed me, was ready to unveil his deepest aspirations and desires, because now he could see me in my true nature.
We looked over the hillside, down into the city, and saw chaos in the streets. Buildings were burning, thieves were shattering windows and orgies were everywhere. The moon passed by in the sky, as if it were a ship. It moved as slow as a blimp and everyone stopped what they were doing. Despite the war happening below, everyone looked at this false moon and the woman that was projected there. She was dark, powerful and cunning. Her words cast a spell on all who looked and listened. My husbands eyes met hers, and I told him to look away. I tried to grab his face and pull him away from the illusion that was entrapping everyone around me. It was impossible. The emotion of fear permeated the world and I could feel it's heaviness. Suddenly, I could hear my son crying out for me from behind the bushes, and felt the fear for his survival creeping in on me. Within seconds, I was one of them, rushing around in madness, trying to fight a villain that wasn't there.
The moon couldn't have been that horrible machine or that woman. I had just seen her tiny orb lifted high into the heavens, filling me with light and inspiration.
When I woke up drenched in sweat, I felt my purpose awaken inside. I needed to help put an end to the falseness and fear in this world, and embrace the true power of the divine self and our role in the Universe. But first, my dream made it clear. I would have to overcome my tremendous fear of failing as a mother and a wife.
We never made it to the other side of Arizona. By the time I made it back to Texas, my husband and I were miles away from each other. Eventually we were able to get some counseling, for which I drove with my son in the back seat 300 miles in a single day every two weeks. It was worth every second. Those ten months were terrible. My stomach was in knots the whole time. While at my mom's house, I was forced to see the culmination of my life's desires and fears. I fell asleep in the room I once shared with my sister, while patting the back of my two year old son. I got a job working at the same coffee shop where I'd met my husband years before, across the street from the pancake house where all our community college friends talked about our lofty plans for the future. I ran into a few old acquaintances. None of the people who worked at the coffee house were the same as before. My sister never came out of the bathroom to ask me to do her makeup and my boyfriend (my husband) never came to the front door to pick me up for a date. Things had changed. There was no going back in time. It was then that I realized, I could no longer live in the shadows of the past. It was time to be brave and find the strength needed to walk toward my future.
My husband and I moved back in together, thank God we never rushed through a divorce. We've gone through our share of struggles over the past several months, but in a different way. We're watching each other grow stronger. We are healing our wounds, and finding healthy boundaries. We're learning to communicate, and most of all, we're learning how to raise our little man, together as a family. Things are not always going to be easy, but it will always be worth it. When I look at myself in the mirror and see the twenty pounds that have stuck around since my son's birth, I also see the woman with the tribal dress bathed in moonlight. I know she's still in there, waiting to break out. With every step I take toward my potential, she get's closer to the surface. And I've decided to share my experience with you, because it feels like that's what I'm supposed to do.
You're welcome to come along for the ride. Don't worry, not all post's will be this long, but some will. I let inspiration tell me what to reveal. Sometimes that can be done in a few sentences, and sometimes it takes a while. Thank you, to all those who made it this far down the page. I look forward to growing along side you as we journey towards self awareness.