One woman’s story of transformation. Mid life crisis or mid life transformation? That depends on the lens you see the world through.
For me, on this journey called life, we can either choose to ‘spiritually bypass’ or ‘spiritually re-associate’ by showing up for the messiness of it, as real compassionate embodiment for our self.
Our story holds our gold; by giving the self permission to hold, heal, and examine the fundamental darkness and lovingly sit with it; transforms this darkness into light. Leonard Cohen once stated, ‘Without the cracks, the light wouldn’t be able to get in.’ Acceptance of one’s emotions is now backed by a body of evidence connected to better emotional resilience and coherence, with fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety.
For many years I ashamedly pushed away my pain body, and that of my adopted mother Joy, preferring the distraction of my perfect 2.2 family, career and outwardly seemingly perfect life. Yet inside, I wore the victim costume, I was ‘abandoned’ by my teenage birth mother from London and heroin addict, teenage biological father. I was informed of my adoption at 10 years of age and this was my first awakening in life. I remember going into the bathroom to look at my hands and wondering who they belonged to, distraught. My younger siblings were natural by birth, and how from that point on, I’d switched on my internal victim mode button as I did not, not want to belong. I often felt like the black sheep, and hell was I jealous at times. Funny how the monkey mind plays its role isn’t it? Of course, this is not a reflection of my dear Mum or Dad in any shape or form, they were the best and did everything they could to give us four kids a happy home life. I loved and love them dearly. However, whilst growing up, my Mum repeated often that, ‘I would be happy and settled once I had my own kids.’ This was deeply embedded into my sub-conscious mind and totally conditioned throughout me. This is probably why, when I fell un-expectantly pregnant with my first born in my early twenties, that I chose to go ahead with the pregnancy. I had chosen a really big hearted guy to be the father, nothing could go wrong for I knew that he would always look after us and he did, until the shit hit the fan and I couldn’t cope any more. My inner world felt too distressing, I didn’t know that I was an empath and a deeply feeling person or knew anything about energy and the power of the mind, or the healing power of touch or quantum physics, or meditation, tantra, intentions, the Chakra system, plant medicine or any of the so called spiritual stuff. Not one thing. No-thing. Thus far, my life knew nothing about the magic of the heart.
The education system to date teaches us about cognitive intelligence but not about the emotional intelligence. See any Ofsted inspection report. The intelligences of the heart and gut brain is seriously over looked, as it predominately focuses on the head brain and this was to be my why, my tipping point. I had enough of feeling separate in my own home, my body mind. I felt so fucking ugly on the inside and no make up or beauty creams seemed to work either, no matter how much i spent or what brand i bought.
Aldous Huxley, a century ago, claimed that the education system should incorporate both intelligences to integrate the body mind. I am living proof as I became my own scientist and researcher in 2014, after the passing of my dear father, big Ronnie, I popped, literally. My body mind was so detached, it was screaming out to be heard but how? How do you rediscover yourself and go through the dark nights of the soul and burn in its fires to reveal your truth self? It is just too fearful to go there. Was it all in my head? Were the physical sensations I was experiencing in my body even real? Where would I find and experience the information I craved? I knew that I wanted something but what? Where?
Nevertheless, like peeling away the onion layers, my slow process began. Moreover, having worked as a primary school teacher for over 18 years, my conditioning and limiting beliefs around myself and who I was, in truth, were kept completely masked and I used to be very closed, controlling, over weight and boozy, and projected my anger, jealousy, abandonment and sadness at everyone else instead of taking ownership of was was going on inside of me. That is, until I embarked on a trip around the globe in search of how to reclaim my body mind and spirit. I just knew that I couldn’t stay in the UK. I’d tried the usual anti depressants and various prescriptions from the doctors, I’d tried CBT, I’d tried numbing the pain with at least two bottles of wine but nothing worked. Another wake up call came when I was underperforming at work, my head teacher wasn’t pleased with my results, I was hiding my pain through alcohol, I was finding it increasing difficult to get up out of bed in the morning, let alone have a conversation, or make, my then husband, a packed lunch. Internally, I was a mess. That is until, the final straw came when my beautiful Dad became really sick. Early one evening, my head teacher demanded that I stay for the staff meeting, even though my sister had just rung to inform me that Dad was bleeding heavily and needed to go into hospital straight away, Mum didn’t want him to go, but my sister knew better, he needed professional care. My whole nervous system was fried, my whole body was shaking and I couldn’t function properly, I was aware of that. Of course, I went to the hospital immediately. Needless to say, not long after that, I resigned from my job and went to India to study Yoga. This saved my life (and has done many times since). Although, it resulted in the sale of the family home, a divorce and loss of contact with teenage kids for a while, I had no choice, I put my trust in something greater than me. I had worn a mask of being a strong, practical, good enough mother, a taxi driver, a cook and accountant, a provider, oh yes, I had it all together. Haha, what a lie, I was weak, vulnerable, and in desperate need of a good cry, to be seen and held but I had never shown that to anyone before fully or knew that this was ok to do.
After several years of suffering intense loss of the loved ones close to me, seemingly coping with the grief and sadness that i felt. I couldn’t fake any longer, the cracks started to appear and had turned into crumbling walls the day my Dad passed, and only a week after being admitted to hospital. That broke the camels back, I had to find out who I was, alone, and take the plunge and find my path. I was of no use any more to my family, it felt like I didn’t deserve them. I couldn’t look my beautiful kids in the eye, I felt like such a failure. I was living a lie and losing it. Who am I? My whole being just wouldn’t function normally on simple day to day tasks. I wasn’t eating properly and I was throwing up a lot, and there was no way that I could divulge to anyone what was going on in my head or manifesting physically to my body, for I had never learnt how to clearly communicate my wants fully without the fear of being rejected or laughed at. I was very good at wearing the mask of niceness. Nice girls don’t do that do they?
As a young girl, I remembered that I had always loved gymnastics, not that I was Olympic standard or anything, but that I loved the feeling of freedom it gave me. Hence, after a short conversation with a friend, my journey to me began. A subsequent plane ticket was bought and before you know it, there I was in the holy city of Rishikesh, exploring the wonderful science, philosophy and way of being that is Yoga.
Fortunately, I discovered that Yoga is about learning to come back to yourself. It’s finding your limits, expanding your boundaries, and being able to truly relax in who you are and who you have forgotten about in this fast paced life. It helped me feel harmonious, integrated and complete. In fact, in dealing with some of the tricky postures, it trained me to deal better with life events. Most Westerners believe that Yoga is a series of physical postures. Yoga is actually a state of mind, and it’s much easier to relate to something tangible-the body-and then move onto something intangible-the stillness of the mind. So, the more I worked on the postures and breathing, the more I opened my body and mind and I became receptive to the delights of profound inner stillness. I came to realise that the human mind drifts off into thought of past and future, and yet the body only exists in the present moment. In coming back to my body I had learnt to draw my mind back to the present, then my worries started to fade away and there was no more should, have, must or need to. Each time I got on my mat, I learnt to become present with myself and every time I dropped a little more baggage. Or ‘let go’ as most yogis say today, although I prefer to use the term ‘let in.’ Let it all in and sit with it all, make your pain your friend and be your own alchemist to transform pain into love, compassion and understanding. Yoga is a fabulous tool for transformation. It moves you from distress to de stress, from disease to ease. It unwinds you moving from a contracted way of being to easy going, and free flowing, with a clarity to ‘see’ your true self and the vision of who you really are at the core. So, I had discovered how the distractions of my former self had kept me operating on an outward level, using people and loving materialistic things. Yet, the new version of Sarah had discovered how to look inward and how to stay ‘with myself’ while at the same time interacting with others, to respond appropriately to people and events while maintaining a connection to myself.
Most people don’t realise (I am not opposed to Western therapy methods) but traumatised people have abnormal activation of Insula, which interprets data stored via muscle memory, joints and the balance system. It is deep inside the brain and does not respond to cognitive input or conscious recognition. Therefore, cannot be eliminated by reasoning or understanding. A person will just feel on edge and unable to focus, and so affecting the Autonomic Nervous System of flight/fight/freeze triggers. How can you expect anyone to form a clear narrative of the trauma they have experienced? I know that I couldn’t make sense of mine at the time, it was like an old woolly jumper that needed to be carefully, unravelled. Goodbye jealousy, anger and sadness. Hello compassion, joy, love and understanding.
I feel most Western healing modalities keep people in the loop of playing the victim in sickness and disease, further strengthening negative conditioning and ancestral trauma.
Incidentally, do you know the top 3 healing modalities for the survivors of the Twin Towers horrific incident? Acupuncture, Massage and Yoga. I know that on a deeper level we are able to Heal ourselves from the inside out, and when we start that conversation with our body through a moving practice (one that works for you!) It encourages us to be reflective, responsible and respectful to what is.
Movement is the best medicine. Body awareness and connection is key.