When Everything Has Been Stripped Away Do you feel you are unravelling? Untethered from your safe and known moorings? Lost in your inner landscape?
In any human lifetime there are difficult passages in the soul journey that take us into our depths and the unknown. These are times when it seems we have been stripped down to the core and we’re left trembling and confused, unsure who we are or why we’re here. At such times we tend to feel isolated, alone, separate, an outsider. Even with our closest friends and family it can be difficult to find the words to connect and be heard and comforted in the ways we need. An inner inertia can hold us prisoner in an uncomfortable impasse in which all escape routes seem to be blocked.
The urge to hide away and pretend we’re ok is strong. We are so deeply conditioned not to show “weakness” or vulnerability or helplessness. We’ve been taught to keep our sorrows to ourselves; to take care of others; to get on with life; to be active, positive and successful and put on a happy face. Our loved ones may feel inadequate when they don’t know how to help or they may want to protect themselves from feeling too deeply. Long periods of introspection are counter-cultural. Unravelling people disturb the status quo. It can feel risky to step out when you have no skin.
Although these passages can feel intensely personal, because we are all interconnected, with each other and with bigger global and universal energies, many of us are cycling together and experiencing these challenging aspects of the journey of awakening at this time. This process of being stripped to the bone, which can feel extreme from the inside, is essential for transformation; as natural as the snake shedding its skin and the butterfly emerging.
The Way Out is Through
In my lifetime I’ve been reduced to zero many times and I’ve found there is no magic formula for putting myself back together again; the only way out is through. But I have great faith in the power of finding words for these inner states of transition which are a vital part of our shared humanity. This post is part of my mission to find a common language to ease the passage.
You may be experiencing some or all of the following:
- Deep loss and grief for people or parts of your life situation you have lost through death, the ending of a relationship, a diagnosis of life-threatening illness, the loss of home or livelihood.
- Deep grief for the plight of so many people and living beings on the planet. Perhaps this is accompanied by anger or a loss of meaning, purpose and hope?
- Loss of vitality, energy and life force caused by physical illness, stress or ageing.
- Loss of your sense of self and identity as your usual flow of inspiration, excitement and appetite for life has disappeared; your creative wellspring has slowed to a trickle and you feel unmotivated and disconnected from what is most important to you.
- You may normally be an energetic leader with a strong sense of mission, a positive vision, faith and belief system. You’re someone who loves to help others and get things done. Now the wind has gone out of your sails and you feel becalmed at sea and helpless; you don’t feel up to it and all you can do is wait.
- You may be experiencing intense emotions: sadness, confusion, fear, helplessness, hopelessness, depression, anger, resentment, remorse, despair. You wonder if you can bear so much and how much longer this will persist.
- Your mind may be working overtime and flooding you with toxic judgments of self and others.
- Even though you know there are people you could connect with, you choose to stay with your deep inner contemplation and feelings of loneliness.
- Perhaps, even though this is all very uncomfortable, your usual escape routes and distractions no longer hold any attraction, so you choose to sit with your feelings.
Nearly thirty years ago I went through a midlife unravelling and I’ve been in a process of shedding skins and letting go ever since. You’d think by now I would be an expert and sail through the challenges. But no, we never step into the same river twice; we’re always beginners. I may be stronger and wiser and more resilient but, if anything, I feel more intensely, so when the times of shedding come, the death of the old self feels just as bleak and life-threatening as it ever did. And yet at the same time, my life experience has given me a strong container to hold the experience. Although these times are hard to bear, it’s also been the greatest adventure and blessing of my life.
The soul evolves through cycles of light and darkness; expansion and contraction; in-breath and out-breath. I believe those of us on a conscious path are being called to slow down, to get comfortable with stillness and emptiness; to be receptive and make space for deep listening and healing; to surrender to the bigger unfolding of which we are part.
Difficult passages are an opportunity to practice self-compassion through the in and the out breath of soul work. On the inbreath, experience whatever is arising, give it space, feel it fully, notice any judgements and let them go. On the outbreath, relax, let go and remember your bigger vision. Even a big, positive vision can cause us to judge ourselves when we feel we are not living up to it. So when the waves of sadness, grief and loss wash through you, give yourself to them totally; let the wave run its course, become a loving container for it; trust that it will pass. As you empty yourself and become still, peace, gratitude and connection return naturally. This simple practice of being here now, fully embracing all of what it means to be human, takes everything we’ve got. The rewards are truly fulfilling.
Rose Diamond writes about the process of transition and transformation and holds monthly Soul Sanctuary Circles to encourage the creation of a common language for the soul journey and the process of awakening.
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Rose’s website tribeintransition.net