The human spirit is described as fiery, full of energy, strong and resilient. A few friends of mine have so much inner fire that they often times have to be careful not to set a room, loved ones, or coworkers bursting ino flames. They are described as spicy, fiery, and sometimes salty. That inner fire is what allows you to move forward in the face of adversity. It offers the energy needed to make a change, to be brave, and to take the leap of faith. I have a rock next to my bed that says “Leap and the net will appear”. Sounds simple enough, right? Just keep taking steps even if you can’t see the destination. The path will reveal itself as you keep moving forward, much like when driving. I certainly could not see the entrance to Yosemite National Park when I pulled out of my driveway 2 years ago, yet I arrived just the same. What lights the path to your life journey is that inner fire. Times like this I want to scream, “Bull Shit!” to all of the positive messages I have displayed around my home. What do you do when your fire is under water?
There has been a tidal wave of events recently in my life that figuratively not only squelched my inner fire but damn near extinguished it. These recent life events are certainly not unique to humanity. We all go through loss, grief, and having the rug of comfort pulled out from under us. This is simply the first time I have been here with this series of events. Depression and inner dragons have been a normal part of my life for a VERY long time. My arsenal of coping techniques is large and well stocked to deal with these dragons under “normal” circumstances. Yet grief from the loss of a loved one, the loss of unconditional love in dog form, and the loss of relationships has completely kicked my ass and threw me into a tidal wave riddled with riptides. The fatigue I have recently experienced reminds me of life with an infant. Only this time there is no one waking me up.
How in the world are we suppose to know what is best for ourselves when our spirit is under water or drowning? What do you do to get out of the water? In this case, I have to surrender to this riptide within the tidal wave of events. In order to survive a riptide, the very first thing you must do is relax and call out for help. Then you are to swim parallel to the shore and conserve your energy. Finally, you swim diagonally to the shore once you are out of the riptide. You will be on shore eventually but in a completely different spot. When every part of you wants to swim back the way you came in, your mind is freaking out and in full on panic. How in the do you override that urge? You have a choice; do what your mind wants and die or surrender.
I surrendered and asked for help in my emotional riptide. I find myself on the shore of life completely exhausted and coughing up water. Yet, I am relieved, happy and scared all at the same time. The place inside of me where my internal fire lives is drying out. I can breathe again while I collect the tinder needed. This is a process that I find myself frequently saying, “Clearly, I don’t know what is best for me.” Although I do know what the first steps are. Actually be kind to myself, give this girl inside me a break, for she has just arrived on shore. It is going to take time and small steps forward. I am surprised to experience different small steps. I desire to sit on the couch holding hands, to go running outside in the cold (I hate to be cold), to draw, and to consider a new way of life that scares the shit out of me. I just keep breathing in and out all day long as my fire pit dries. I will soon be warmed by my beautiful inner fire, for this I know to be true. I just have to be patient, which is not my strongest attribute.
I offer a word of caution to those of you who have a loved one in a tidal wave of emotions. They need to be reminded they are loved more than anything. You can’t fix them, but you can hold their hand and stand beside them as they move through this experience. Even though it may feel very heavy for you to watch them in this place, don’t abandon them. If you need a break, tell them honestly. Just leaving them without any explanation is like shoving their head back under water.
We are stronger than we think. We are resilient. Life is hard at times and at other times it feels impossible to keep breathing. It is in those moments where your true loved ones and friends become obvious. I am forever grateful for the loved ones in my life. Support, encouragement, and love show up in surprising places and in ways I never could imagine.