Within each of our lives we travel through so many different landscapes. Within ourselves, we grow through so many relationships - with each other and ourselves.
I am on a journey as a mother; as a friend; as a lover - of people, the planet, life and space; as all the ways I can care. And, in each identity, a journey. And yet, all journeys one, as all parts of us are traveling together. The amalgamation of all the ways I journey, all the ways I grow, holistically creates who I am. We are all travelers, and the canvas of growth we each traverse is different yet vast. All the individual identities we are growing synchronized in motion and step within ourselves.
As a mother, which is my most treasured and most enjoyable identity, I have been traveling toward him coming to live with me this Fall for the majority of the time since my divorce began, 10 years ago. But, even longer than that, since my son's birth, I've been traveling to get to the place I'm nearing, the place I first set out to be as his mother. I see this point in my journey as a mother nearing. A place I have been working toward reaching with him all his life.
There are points in any journey, moments of pause for reflection, celebration and loss. Sometimes, I pause in awe, Awe in the way I feel hope or joy or awe in the way I feel pain or loss in the journey.
This Fall, with my son coming to be with me, day in and day out, for his 6th grade school year, I feel like I am coming up on a moment of marvelous awe and joy. It represents, and is, a crossing in space from a place founded in struggle into a place founded in hope.
This moment stretches across the landscape of my soul from my place as a mother, to my place as a person. I see something else coming, with him, through him.
Looking in, I see myself. I've feel like I've been walking through a desert. From the heart of the desert I've been waking, traveling to the edge, and now, before me in the distance, I see a cliff. And light so brilliant; a soon to be setting sky.
The cliff is high up, and I smile because I didn't know I was so high. I've felt so low so often, that I never thought I might be this high. I smile at the irony and humor of the Universe. What they know and can see and I can't, yet.
Looking at the cliff, I suddenly want to run. Run and jump into the setting sky. Fly. Through the passionate colors of the sky. The colors of an evening in today's journey, as the world dips into a time of darkness. Dips into a place to build. A place of stillness and quiet to build a new day, a new light.
My son coming is the sun for me, a brilliant light. He is a symbol of rebirth to me. From pain and loss into hope and love. I trust the hope and love I have and see in him. Unconditionally. The sexual trauma I experienced as a kid created extra barriers in learning to trust. As it happened over and over again for years, for my childhood and first few years of my young adulthood, it was hard for me to trust in love, hope and joy. That it would stay or was real. But my son, through his very existence, upended the world of fear and isolation I was living in and trying so hard to escape. In the building of our relationship, we began a journey, growing existence into a place of beauty and love, too. And it is. It really, truly, is.
What's interesting is how this part of my journey as a mother is coinciding with another part of my journey. The journey I'm on with my body. My body is also going through a period of darkness. A different kind of darkness. One that isn't peaceful but fearful. I'd had a relatively quiet journey with my body until I was about 27, four years ago. I was healthy and strong. The challenging journeys were in my heart and mind up to that point, my body was pretty reliable. That world has been upended too, causing so much pain.
In thinking about the journeys I've traveled through in darkness, I've realized that for most of my life, some part of my experience has been plunged into what I call the shadow of life. To me, the shadow is a challenging place full of uncertainty and sadness. As a child, I only lived in the shadow, unable to feel light, facing the wounds and pain of my spirit, through my heart, over and over again. Depression and suicidality felt like places in the shadow I had little control in steering myself away from, and places that I found myself in repetitively.
At 25, I fully committed to facing the depths and truths of the trauma in my early life. Since then, I've been working though the wounds I've encountered while healing and growing a more compassionate and loving self. I've been able to heal and steady my heart and my mind, easing the pain. Now, I am plunged into a different place of pain. A different kind of physical pain. That triggers and tests the very foundation I have built in my heart and mind around facing wounds.
I realized earlier this week it'd been years since I was physically comfortable in my whole body at the same time. Most of my body has been inflamed for long periods, which is interesting. I'm not sure if it's the Rheumatoid Arthritis, or the Lupus, or the Mixed Connective Tissue disorder, or the Sjogren's, or the Hashimotos. And on some level, it doesn't matter. What we call our ailments - physical, mental, emotional, spiritual - it's all a part of the same system. It's interesting to me how my experiences with pain have prompted me to travel through different journeys, both separate and together at the same time.
Like a choreographed dance through time. A dancing journey. Walking, moving, flying, jumping. A dance I do not know but through listening, find my next step. I listen with everything I am. My heart, my mind, my soul, my spirit, my body. And, in listening to them all, all the time, I hear an orchestra of experience, building the song of my life in real time.
There is purpose to this choreography. This song of pain and growth. Through the pain, the trauma - the wounds - can come to the surface and be let go. And, sometimes, we can carry the wounds of those we love. The wounds of the world. I feel like I am carrying more than just my trauma, but some of my family's, my biological father's, all of us healing together - wound coming to the surface.
First through the heart first, then the mind and now body. Purposeful pain. Pain to grow. Through the pain of my heart, my mind, and my body to make space. Space to grow. Wings, to fly.
Each of our spirits come from a place in which they - first - learned to soar. We get burdened down by life's pain and forget what we can do. Who we are. That we can fly.
Which is why, I realize, I like running.
Regardless of how fast I run, there's a part of me that feels like I'm flying. Even more so now with my body's limitations in ability and motion.
But, although my body is often inflamed, I can still run, sometimes. Maybe not fast, maybe not long, maybe not in the winter, maybe not many things, but I can still run.
I can still move my body forward in this journey through life, and run - with my heart, my mind, my body and my soul - toward that cliff ready to jump, to fly.
Off into the setting night sky to meet my son in tomorrow's light of a new day.