I turn 35 tomorrow. It is a very welcomed birthday; knowing a bit of my personal astrology, this is the year I’ve been waiting for. But before the unfolding of what’s next, I always like to take a little bit of time to reflect on the previous year, and boy-oh-boy, what a year 34 was for me. My Saturn return at age 28 was Skittles compared to the Starbursts that 34 brought.
I guess I could say that 34 was the year that no longer allowed me to “spiritual bypass” my way through life. Spiritual bypassing is a term that describes when one is directly focused on the bright side of things and often times ignores the darker aspects of their lives and personalities. The way my spiritual path initially unfolded was geared towards looking at the “light” and the positive side of things. Positive thinking, gratitude journals, manifestation tools, abundance mantras, speaking affirmations aloud till I was blue in the face… these were not only the bread and butter of my life but also the self-love brand I’d created.
With that being said, I’m not sold on the term “spiritual bypassing.” When I ask myself “Why didn’t I get/do/be this sooner?”, it only perpetuates shame (and there’s really no need to actively invite shame to my table).
I prefer being kind to myself on my path of evolution. A phrase my dear friend Kiersten and I always say to one another to encourage said kindness is “You get things when you get things.”
I prefer being kind to myself on my path of evolution. A phrase my dear friend Kiersten and I always say to one another to encourage said kindness is “You get things when you get things.” Each lesson has a syllabus. Each experience to learn and grow from arrives right on time (life is a journey, after all).
I wouldn’t say that I was completely ignoring the “dark.” When perceived darkness arose from my subconscious into my consciousness, I’d face it with what I call a Breakdown to Breakthrough. My Breakdowns to Breakthroughs usually involved oh, about a liter of tears and a three-hour-long conversation with my mentor and dear friend David. But something happened in 2019 that was much deeper than my usual Breakdowns to Breakthroughs.
One morning, I woke up long before the sun rose. I could feel a Breakdown to Breakthrough coming. Actually, it was a tower moment. I squinted at the clock, remembering that David was in another time zone eons away and was already into his day. He answered after the first ring.
“It’s…” he silently counted the time difference. “…4am your time. What’s going on?”
“I clearly know how to manifest given everything I’ve already manifested. What am I doing wrong?”
This question had been swirling in my head over the last few weeks. I had been working on a project that wasn’t moving as swiftly as I would have liked, amongst other things in my life I was desiring to happen that weren’t quite clicking into place.
David said, “Go deeper.” I’ve heard this phrase thousands of times from him over the last twenty-two years. Anyone who’s ever met David would agree with me that he is a societal wild card in the best way possible. He was my dance teacher when I was a teenager. He mixes all of his music which often includes DJ Shadow with a meditation from Alan Watts. As a native Georgia Peach who would eventually find her home in progressive California, hearing “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, join the dance” while performing the prayerful art of dance really sparked me (of course, I didn’t recognize the impact this would have on me till years later. I always find it charming that I was on a seeker’s path picking up information along the way long before I even realized).
I asked, “Go deeper where? I’ve got a shovel in my hand but I have no clue where to dig.”
He said, “Go deeper… into your childhood.”
I’d like to preface this with I had a great childhood overall. I was deeply loved and cared for by both of my parents. There was always a roof over my head, food in my belly, and clean clothes on my body. My parents worked hard to put me through extracurricular dance companies and musical theatre from ages five to seventeen. I have much to be grateful around my upbringing.
The part of my childhood that David was referring to was a bankruptcy that happened when I was around six years old. While we never went without the essentials and always stayed afloat, the emotions experienced (the creation of this wound) during those formative years stuck with my inner child which materialized in my adulthood as a need for control.
My wound says, “If I can maintain control of the emotional environment, then I can find peace in the perceived stability.”
My wound says, “If I can maintain control of the emotional environment, then I can find peace in the perceived stability.” The thing about having a control wound is that it doesn’t dictate what it’s going to control; its fingerprints end up on everything touched.
After two days of long conversations with David, I understood what was being asked of me. I had two options in front of me:
1. Do the deep dive to understand my childhood situation from my now-adult point of view, which would be in alignment with my growth yet would require me to surrender (something of which I understood the concept, yet not the embodiment). Surrender is control’s nemesis (a.k.a. this wouldn’t be a walk in the park on a summer night while eating ice cream).
2. Repeat control and co-dependency patterns, not facing the shadows that would undoubtedly continue to lurk (something of which I very much understood and was really ready to disembody).
I chose the path of growth (spoiler alert: I always choose the path of growth, even when it’s not easy—especially when it’s not easy). I can now see how perfectly timed the syllabus was. Years of doing the “light” work prepared me to do the “dark” work. I wasn’t going into my shadowy dungeon with an empty hand—I had the gift of a flashlight charged up with affirmations and acknowledgments of self-love. However, having never dived this deep into shadow work before, I was aware that I was going to need some new tools.
I read The Surrender Experiment by Michael Singer, which was a game-changer on my perception of surrender. While reading I acknowledged many, many parallels in my own life which helped me better understand my path. I signed up for Joan of Sparc’s online inner work course The Inner Journey which provided a community of like-minded fellow seekers and space to safely process the unpacking of my subconscious world. I went to a workshop that taught me about relationships (all types of relationships) and how we attract people into our lives that often share similar or mirrored wounds. The workshop provided some excellent tools that I’ll have in my toolbox from here on out.
I began to pay more attention to the elements, seasons, and moon phases, seeing how emotions and situations ebb and flow with the natural cycles. I utilized plant medicines as an opportunity to gain clarity, with one of them being deemed as essential during COVID which has certainly been a blessing and spiritual gift during these unique times. I honed in on my feminine energy, opening up more to the flow to life while still honoring my masculine energy which enjoys creating with focus and purpose.
If I could sum up my 34th year in one word, the word would be surrender. Surrendering taught me to let things unfold naturally versus forcing things to happen. 2020’s global theme seems to be surrender (again with the syllabus, always right on time). Now that I’ve had a taste of surrender, going back to control is not an option. It’s not even on the menu anymore. The work I’ve done over this past year has been deeply internal, a restructuring of my wires. During these past few months, I reached a new depth of surrender that can only be described as a quieting of the mind. In the past, the control would take over and run my mind rampant. But now, it’s far more peaceful than ever before… which is apparently what my inner child was looking for all along.
Personal transformation can be difficult to put into words as it’s a bit mysterious—words don’t often do it justice— yet I felt it important to document (as best as I can) the experience of my inner journey over the last year. As I welcome 35, I acknowledge that I am where I am right now, which is not where I was yesterday and is not where I’ll be tomorrow. That’s the everchanging nature of evolution. While much of life’s journey is a surrender to the unknown, what I do know is that when I chose to show up as an active participant in my growth, everything I need always presents itself along the way. You get things when you get things.