Thursday 10 August 2017

On letting someone else be awesome for a while.

Part One

"Let someone else be awesome for a while," says Mandy.

I am sitting on a stool in her kitchen in the New Forest, trying to explain to her that I have huge plans despite taking this year off.  Really, I am trying to say, I am still someone.  I find it hard to express myself, and feel like crying.

Mandy looks at me.  She is compassionate and wise, she and I have been through much together as soul midwives, friends, and soul sisters.  Mandy looks at me with her fierce, intelligent eyes and stops me.  "Let someone else be awesome for a while," she repeats, and I am silent.

I have taken this year off.  We all know this, and we know why.  My mother, my brother and my husband died one after the other, and as a soul midwife, I walked with them until it was time to stand and let them go on alone.  I retreated far, far inside myself after this, and took myself off to places to be alone, shutting down communication with the world I had known and began the journey through the darkness back into the light.  I am now well over half way into my year off, and have had time to think and think and think.  And the light, well, it never really goes out.  It is always there. I turned away into the darkness to face myself, and to experience silence, stillness and loss, and for that I am very grateful.

In Mandy's kitchen, I am only a few months into the darkness and the silence.  I don't know who I am any more, and I don't know what to say or do.  I don't come out very much, and have become insecure because I used to be so busy, so involved, so on the ball.  Part of this year off is to detach from the busy world of visible soul midwifery, art, being amusing and clever, and most of all, being seen.  But, sitting on the stool in the kitchen while Mandy puts on the kettle, I feel that I don't belong any more, anywhere.  I haven't anything to report, I have nothing to say.  I have sunk without a trace from the exciting, powerful and meaningful world I knew, and the space above my head where I sank, has closed over me quietly and silently.  I have disappeared without a trace and the world has not noticed, has gone on as it ever had, as if I were never there at all.  Mandy is still working, is still making a difference, is still up there.  I am trying to convince her, and myself, for some reason, that I am still worthy.  Here are my plans!  I say to her, Here is what I am going to do, it is bigger and better than before, and when I come back from my year off, I will do all this!

Mandy is gentle, and loves me.

"Stop it."  She says.  "Let someone else be awesome for a while," and takes my hands.  "You don't have to be awesome any more, let it go.  Let someone else do it for a while.  You can be awesome later, when and if you are ready."  And while she makes us our tea, I cry because I know this.  I am lost and sad, and couldn't cope anyway.  The whole point of my year off ("Take two!" says my Irish friend's mother in law.  She has just lost her husband of many many years, and is so very kind.  "Take two!  One is neither here nor there," she says, and I think, that sounds good) - the whole point of my year off is to be with the sadness, to experience properly all that has happened, and to learn to be kind and gentle with myself.

We laugh about this now, Mandy and I.  She is Scorpio, and I am Leo - what a thing for a Leo to hear, and yet - and yet - my Scorpio friend is right.  Bless her, I was trying to be awesome and getting into a dreadful muddle.  She doesn't need me to impress her, she doesn't care.  She sees the truth and loves what is at the heart of the matter, the person in front of her, the task at hand.  You, she says to me, are awesome enough and you don't need to try.  I cry even more.

Part Two

Who are we then, if we don't tell people what we do.  Are we still any good at what we do?  If no one knows what we have done?

Mum's memorial garden space
This year off is not what I had expected.  I knew that I needed time and space, I knew that I needed to face the darkness and stop not only my work, but my everything.  What I did not know, was that the silence and the space in my days would be so very loud.  I did not know that this time away would be simply about facing myself.  When all the external noises and distractions are gone, I am left with who I think I am; I am left with the idea of me that I have created, that has got me thus far.  It is a long time since I had spent time with myself without an agenda. The silence and the space left by taking time out, is huge, and loud and empty.  And wonderful.  In the end.  My teachers, those who have finished their lives here and have gone home, have left me with profound lessons to learn.  What they are showing me, what they have shown me, will take time and space and courage and most of all, faith that the process is safe, full of love, and necessary.  Who are you, they are asking me, and what will you do with what you are learning?

Dom's memorial garden space
(little angel sitting in front)
It is August,  Despite the rain outside, my world is beginning to shine with little lights.  There is peace in my home, the garden is beautiful, and all the reorganisation and repair work in the house is completed.  I longed for beauty everywhere, and now I have it.  My mother's furniture is here, my brother's bed and photographs are here, my husband's shoes are at the end of my bed and I am wearing his dressing gown, and Steve is here in a little box of memories.  The silence and space is quieter, more a gentle calming hum and I am aware of a lifting of spirits.  Perhaps in more ways than one.  In my garden I have memorials to my mother, to my brother Dominic and to Alan, my husband.  And also to Steve, my partner of ten years ago who's death started all this soul midwifery business.  In the garden, I have found myself releasing each one, and myself.  I release you, I say to each one, I release you.  And with that comes a sense of freedom, of love and of rightness.  I release you, I add, in love, so that we can work together.  So that I can move through the rest of my time here as best I can with nothing to hold me back.  I release you all.  And if I release you all, I release me. I release myself from the sadness and loss, and with that release the darkness.  I release you, Antonia.  And I release you Mum, Dom, Alan and Steve.  I release us all.

Alan's memorial lion
and flowers
Being awesome is neither here nor there.  It isn't what I thought it was.  I thought being awesome was what YOU said it was, in relation to me.  I imagined being awesome was doing things and being admired for them.  That isn't sustainable or comfortable.  Being awesome isn't about being something out there, that is trying to be awesome, about what other people think.  Other people make the judgement, and so carry the power.

Being awesome is not public, it's not about anyone else, it's about me.  If something is done well, that is awesome, and that is enough in itself.  And with this, I take huge comfort.  Being awesome is a private affair, it's between me and myself.  If it is authentic, it works.  If it isn't authentic, then I'll have to try again.

Steve's memorial space
I am creative.  It is the key to all things.  As the darkness is lifting, as the lights are beginning to shine around me again, I understand that I have been creating my house all along as an expression of me.  I have made the garden into a place that I have wanted forever, and as the months have gone by, I have made a place in which to live that gives me joy and says everything about the artist inside me, that expresses and creates despite imagining that I am not.  That in itself is awesome.  So despite feeling as if I had lost my place in the world, despite facing the noise of the silence, sadness and space, what was true about me, continued to work.  The creativity, the expression, the artist.  There is great healing in all of this.

Part three

Once, in a church many years ago, while lighting a candle, a very old man came and spoke to me.  He must have sensed that I was sad.  "You know," he said, "all things are taken care of."

Yes, I see that.  Thank you.  And thank you Mandy, you are awesome.

Mandy Preece runs training and help in listening, supporting and being A Rock for those that need our wholehearted attention.  Her website is here.  It and she is awesome