Okay! So this month we're talking about...the Shadow. I'm in Rome again, and it's exactly four years from the first time I came here. It's a weird thing to be back here and think about that, and how much has changed for me in the time between. The first time I came here my heart was bleeding for the world, it was right in the thick of the fight for gay marriage and my home state had just resumed granting marriages (Prop 8), Macklemore was on repeat on my iPod, and I walked around this place literally puking tears. I felt like I'd just survived a near-death experience (I had), and I went into as many churches as I could, dropped to my knees, and simultaneously thanked God for everything I'd been given and also begged for Her to make me good. Literally, that was my only prayer. Please make me good please make me good please make me good please make me good please make me fit to serve please help me help please please please take all this away.
A year later, back in San Francisco after my second trip to Rome and just months before I published my second website (the Hip Sobriety site), living between my friend Geoff's, Sally's, and my mom's homes - a daily meditator, nearly twice-certified yoga teacher, devout student of all things existential, believer in miracles, and many other "spiritual" things - I discovered something was deeply amiss. It had something to do with the yoga training I was in, but it was also something more. I had done all this work, and basically thought I should have been Jesus Christ, at least, by that point. But I wasn't and it was humiliating and terrifying. I was trying so hard to be the thing I thought I should be, I wasn't being. I have written about this time period in a blog called Poop, Ice Cream, and Spirit Holly.
What this looked like was that I had developed this high bar of how this new me should be, and to uphold it, I was basically denying my human-ness. One day, down visiting my sister and in the middle of a pedicure, I got a notice from my bank that I had bounced a $15,000 check. I had NO INCOME at the time, no prospects what-so-fucking-ever. And I had not noticed that my former company had never cashed the check I issued them to purchase my stock options. I'm sitting there looking down at the woman painting my toes and the Starbucks in my hand and thinking I can't afford this, and I will never be able to. I couldn't even fucking pay for the pedicure. I'm devastated, right? Like wouldn't you be? And yet I am sitting there and also thinking something along the lines of WWJD. I tell my sister about it and she is kind of whatever about it, and I am paralyzed with fear, and she pays for my pedicure, and we go to Vons, and inside Vons there's a Starbucks and they are handing out free Frappuccino samples, and because I never drink shit like that (sorry but coffee places are for coffee), when I tasted it - my stressed out brain went wild, and I told my sister about 10 times that it was the best thing I have ever drunk, and she said If I buy you one of these will that make you stop freaking out? and I said yes. I literally gave myself until the end of the fucking Frappuccino to feel anything about bouncing a $15,000 check and then I braved up and pretended that being $15k in the hole ain't no thing. Because that's what this NEW Holly would do. She wouldn't feel human about anything, because God and Miracles.
Now hear me on this, I'm not saying it's bad to vagina up when shit goes wrong and forge ahead, but there is a distinction between doing that, and what I was doing. What I was doing was denying that I should even feel the slightest bit of human. And this process repeated and repeated during this time period. My mom broke my brand new laptop. No big deal. It's okay mom. My tenant broke an antique table that I had spent two fucking years scouring markets for. It's okay girlfriend, I'll pay for it. No big deal. A guy from my yoga training screams at me so loud that my hair actually catches wind from his breath. I'm fine everyone. Don't we love him anyway? No worries. My cat dies, in my arms, on the fucking fourth of July, on the floor of a vets office. My heart is absolutely MUTILATED and I call no one, I simply take a bath and eat nuts and chocolate and cry and tell myself tomorrow we move forward. She's in a better place. I felt completely and totally out of place in my yoga training and thought awful things about the people I was in it with - I simultaneously judged them and wanted to be liked by them. Don't think about that. Send them love. Love. Love is the answer. They're younger souls. They don't get it yet. Your'e like Jesus. WWJD girl. WWJD GIRL!!!
I was like this fucking robot, and the less I allowed myself to be human, the more and more and more miserable I became. I kept asking myself why I couldn't just be perfect. Why couldn't I just rise above all this shit and not react internally the way I was successfully reacting externally (not at all)? Why couldn't I be all unaffected and wise and fucking sattvic? Hadn't I done enough work to be free of all this worldly attachment, pettiness, and emotion?
This right here is the story of a girl who spent her life trying not to be so many things, and then found sobriety and another way of living, and soon enough cornered herself in to the same exact pattern of trying not to be different things. The thought was - if I just do all this work, I'll get rid of all the things that I hate. The thought was - if I just shed all the "bad" stuff about me, then I'll be free. This is the shadow, my friends.
Dear God, please make me good.
I will never, ever forget the day that I realized this was bullshit, and that spiritual paths or evolutionary paths aren't about getting rid of anything. They are only - ONLY - about accepting the whole. Integration, not separation. The day I realized it didn't make me less progressed or spiritual to be human, that it was okay to be like, me, while I was on this path, was the day one of the heaviest depressions I have ever known lifted. The lightbulb moment was Oh my God, I get to be real? I get to still be a judgy petty mean bitch and not lose my credits?
Make no mistake, we are on a path of evolution. We are on a path of shedding away the old, cracking the shells that contain us, removing the masks we wear. Make no mistake, this is the story of an unbecoming and a becoming. But unlike the 2014 belief I held - that the way to the unbecoming and becoming is to get rid of the things that aren't "good" - the way to this unbecoming and becoming is through the claiming and loving of those disowned parts.
And that's what this month is about.
Oh hai! This is pretty bad video quality, Roman internet. I don't use the slides in the lecture, but they are right here for you to follow along with them.
This month I recorded a visualization meditation from Debbie's book. Make sure and have your journal ready to free write after you do the visualization. The link to download it via dropbox is here.
This month the suggested reading is Dark Side of the Light Chasers by Debbie Ford.
Group Coaching Call.
The coaching call will be hosted live on the third Monday of each month. The link to the call will be sent to you the morning of the call.
The replay will be available immediately following the call. All questions and answers (including mentioned resources) will be posted to your respective FAQ page.