I worked through feelings of worthlessness and isolation and profound loneliness, my feelings of self-betrayal, self loathing. I've read, danced, laughed, cried, and yoga'd my way to a safe, sound, foundation of self-love, inner peace, and freedom. And yet... when left alone, instead of feeling full, surrounded by my gurus, my god, my love, my loved, I fell back into the shame, fear, worthless frenzy of me before I started the work. The old me. The old shell. The old script.
In my Christian family, this was called "backsliding." It means simply that you found faith, and then lost it. That you found God, found The Way, and then, lost your way to Him. In judgier circles it also meant that you drank beer again, or smoked pot, or danced on tables, or fornicated -- but whatever the thing was, you had heaven in your grasp and then you turned back on heaven and moved toward the depths of hell.
I traveled alone to a town where (almost) nobody knows my name. I worked and happy-houred and dined and slept. And then I found myself alone, in a city, invisible, isolated, off-course, far from the people and places that keep me honest, and I slid right back into that old script. The one that I've written about too many times, the one that I thought I burnt, I buried, I wrote and reread so many times that I exorcised it. And then, there it was. Drink another. Drink alone. Try on danger. Do it. Feel alone. Revel in your loneliness. After all this work you are still a scared, drunk, stupid, danger-seeking, little worthless piece of shit. Boom. [The inner critic lives.]
All it took was taking myself out of intention, out of breath, out of my light, and I was back into thoughtless, reactive living. I looked away from heaven. I looked away from what I hold that holds me accountable. My mat. My loves. My yogis. My family. Me.
Then I inserted the self-loathing. That old comfortable beat-up, worn-through boot. You know the one. Even though I've bought new boots that are comfortable and beautiful and feel great to walk in for miles, I have that one old pair in the very back, dark corner of my closet and they just feel so good when I slip them on. (They do, don't they?)
Downward shame spiral. Self-loathing. Self-admonishment. Shame on me. I know better. Why are you doing this to yourself? Who are you? How quickly you lose your way? What the fuck, H, what the fuck?
I'm so hard on myself. Can you imagine me saying this to you? Can you imagine that you had a bad night, and old-script night, and that you came to me to confess? I would sit you down and shame you. Nope. That would never happen.
I would say -- this is the work. As Elizabeth Gilbert says, "Go back in."
But, I already did this work. I already re-wrote this script four times and it's done and I'm done and I'm all better, see? Nope. Go back in. This is the work.
I'm going back in. I broke my own heart again (but no one else's this time, thank God.) It hurts as much as always. This time I have so many ways to sit with it. So many ways to forgive it. So many new skills to cope through the pain and the pain and the pain again and again and again.
Go back in. Burn off the impurities, tapas. Light the fires and step into the flames. Here I am. Here I go.