There is Always an End

A few weeks ago, I grabbed coffee with a friend and shared how my autobiography had transformed since I first began it in 2002. As we enjoyed the sunny Palo Alto day, my friend leaned forward and surprised me with her question.

She asked, “are you as strong and solid as you appear to be? Because you seem like a diamond that can’t be broken.”

I paused and took a moment to reflect on my own personal transformation. I felt that it was important to take in her comment before I responded.

My mind went back to the 16 year old girl that I was (as shared in my first featured blog), who had given up on herself after a failed suicide attempt. I was proud of my willpower and endurance that allowed me to still become the successful businesswoman that I was, yet my sadness for that young girl who gave up on everything that was important to her was equally real.

I took on a career, got married, educated myself and ended up in a decade-long battle with one of the world’s largest accounting firms in support of my husband. In my mind’s eye, as I sat at that cafe, I saw how I had been broken and defeated after pouring my soul into the fight. Our supposed success didn’t matter.

I saw the painful journey that I had to take in my 40’s. The one that required me to deconstruct my life because I couldn’t continue to live in a world that was founded on the betrayal of my truest self.

I had to come out of my closet. While, not a lesbian (as my family rumored), I had to reawaken my inner 13-year old self who believed she could help others.

So, I had harnessed the courage to tell my husband that I needed to leave to sit in the Rocky mountains and write.

In these mountains, I sat at 11,300 feet, above the tree-line, enveloped in the pain of my suffering. I hadn’t felt like this since I was a child who was longing to escape the life that I had been given. Staring over the Continental Divide on a freezing February day in 2012 I once again Dared to Ask myself, “what is my truth?”

I had always encouraged others to live in their truth, yet in that moment of complete solitude, I realized I was not living fully in mine. And the truth was I didn’t want to be play the part of good wife or live in South Africa. The truth was that I had even started blaming my husband for my own unhappiness. In truth, I was the only one to blame for not speaking and living a life true to myself.

Heading down that snowy mountain, I decided to embrace my fears and unleash the avalanche that roared through my marriage, companies, friends, employees and family. I let go of everything so that I could pursue my truth.

This was the beginning of an 18 month journey that led to me crossing North America and experiencing a painful awakening to Self. It was also the beginning of accepting the life that I had been given, with all of its suffering.

After my moment of reflection, I turned to my friend and smiled. My voice rose from a deep place of truth.

I said, “I’m no diamond – I’m more like a stone that has been so shattered that there’s nothing left to break. My chest has been ripped open, my heart smashed in a million pieces. The individual pieces of stone so small, there’s nothing left to break.”

The conscious choice that I made to change my relationship with my stories of suffering had broken away all the pieces that had blocked my internal light. I told her that as a diamond I would only refract light, while as solid stone I blocked the light of others.

I was now completely broken open. Here I could live in the full presence of the life that I was given, let my truth shine out and make space to let the light of others in.

I said that I now understood how people left this societal life and became monks. That I understood how they could contemplate life from a distance and live with peace and curiosity in the face of the unknown. My friend laughed.

She asked if I planned to spend the next decade on a mountain meditating on a single word like “the”. I, too, laughed and said I understood the concept, but I thought my word might be “know”.

Smiling I said, “No, I will not be retreating to the mountains. I will publish my book, share how I found courage to listen to myself and honor my heartfelt desire to live my life fully. I will tell my story so that others cans see that they are not alone in the journey of discovering that it is a choice to live a life true to ourselves, in their full expression of Life’s Purpose.”

I had finally found space to sit in the discomfort of not knowing, continuing my life’s journey in truth, even when I simply did not understand. And for all that I did not know, what I did know is that I did not need to escape the life that I was given and born to.

My fears now silenced.

I then shared with my friend a poem I had written the night before:

I Don’t Know?

The more I know,
The more I know.

The more I know,
The more I know there is to know.

The more I know there is to know,
The more I know I want to know.

The more I know I want to know,
The more I know I know.

The more I know I know,
The less I know.

The less I know,
The more I know,
There’s less to know.

……Jacqui Burnett
Copyright© Jacqui Burnett 2014

 

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Showing 14 comments
  • Pat
    Reply

    I have only met you for a small moment in time. I applaud your brave new journey !

    • Jacqui Burnett
      Reply

      I remember you well. Our souls delighted in conversation and laughter for a few hours.

      We have but moments in this life and how we enjoyed those we shared.

      Thank you for your kind words of support.

  • Gerard
    Reply

    Dear Jacqui. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know you during your journey, even if only for part of the way, will always be there to support you, but more importantly, to learn from you, learn with you, and hopefully to share your journey!

    • Jacqui Burnett
      Reply

      Dear Gerard,

      As a dear friend, I feel the need to repeat the words I wrote on a reply comment to a close friend of over 40 years, just 3 days ago.

      It takes watching people we love and admire the most live in their truth, to find the courage to live in our own.

      So I continue to learn and continue to grow. I know well what you have taught. I thank you for this.

      Your friendship, advice and challenges have helped me see things I am often blind to, as they hide behind my shadow, my ego and my inner critic. I am grateful for your courage in these moments.

      Warm love
      Jacqui

  • Lindsay Ross
    Reply

    Dear Jacqui
    The same courage that you’re showing now was always in you. It was the same courage that let you take on De Loitte’s, that let you conduct that battle with everything that was in you. Even though you now dismiss it with ‘our supposed success didn’t matter’, what did matter was that you put your hand to that task, and continued fearlessly until it was finished. I know you will do the same with the task you have now put your hand to, and I applaud you for doing so – and for having the courage to share your journey with us. Much love Lindsay

    • Jacqui Burnett
      Reply

      Dear Lindsay,

      As someone I admire and respect, consider a teacher and a mentor in my life, I share with you that my external battle with Deloitte was nothing compared to my internal battle with myself. The Deloitte battle ripped at my mind and gut. In fact I still shudder that documents could be destroyed so frivolously with no consequence or full truth, but that is their journey to travel.

      My internal battle left me on the floor in the fetal position many times over the last 6 years, as I found courage to fully examine my internal rage at self and share my story. This was a battle with my heart.

      But once my head, heart and gut were aligned I knew I could press on and continue this journey, as I reveal my dark side and my light and how all those I love and hold dear played the parts that they did to ensure I remained whole no matter my moments of hate, fear, isolation or suspicious. For what are we if we cannot see ourselves in the mirror and or in the experience of others. I will continue to share how I found love for all and opened to Life’s Purpose and a full connection with all of God gifts, both external and internal.

      Thank you for your continual ability to support me and challenge me all at once.

      Warm love and regards
      Jacqui

  • Lloyd
    Reply

    This is a fascinating story of a journey from fear to courage. But, do we ever know ourselves more than just partially and then fleetingly? So many factors – internal and external – seem to influence and shape us every single day, and this seems to point to a never-ending journey of self-discovery: “The more I know / The more I know there is to know”. Thanks for sharing this thought-provoking story that has raised a few questions of relevance to my own comparatively benign journey. Wish you continued strength and courage on yours, Jacqui.

    • Jacqui Burnett
      Reply

      My dear WISE friend,

      As always, you ask a thought-provoking question. In truth what do we know?

      I know only, that my awareness is higher. I know only, I still have blind spots. I know only, I still require change and evolution. I know only, I am still to learn. I know only what I know. I know only that there is a lot that I don’t know. I know only that when I include my heart, whilst often more painful, compassion and truth are easier, making the next moment of knowing joyful. But I also know, there a lot I don’t know.

      So I try remaining curious and open as I question and explore.

      Are we not all on this journey together?
      Surely each of our unique stories is relevant?
      Can sharing in truth, without judgment not release us from shame and guilt?
      In truth are we not all ultimately the same and interconnected?
      In truth when opened to this connection, can we not have compassion for all, no matter their journey or their choices?

      I leave with one last question, a question to your question? If we only know ourselves just fleetingly and partially, how well can or will another ever know us?

      As I delve into these questions more aware, I continue to look internally and continue to discover new things about myself, long hidden, as I question and seek wisdom allowing space for my own understanding.

      I don’t doubt you will continue to question me, yet as always more bravely and courageously question yourself.

      Love from Jacqui

  • Lauren
    Reply

    jacqui, thank you for your deep humility. it strengthens my own resolve and sense of peace about the similar committments i’ve made to myself almost 7 years ago to follow my inner voice and trust my inner knowing, to say my truth and get what i want. it’s not been easy but i’ve been rewarded with the intimacy and sense of connection that i longed for for so long. i’ve broken through a lot of my own fears that were passed down or picked up that were meant to keep me in chains. i am finally feeling what it is to be free.

    • Jacqui Burnett
      Reply

      Lauren, few keep their souls as open as yours. Most of us quickly take on parental, societal and peers narratives for love, acceptance and to be seen.

      Whilst our time was a few weeks in passing, I noticed your ever-pressing desire to question and remain open. I share the final words my grandmother gifted me on my 21st birthday – I sense you too can benefit from her wisdom – and wise she was… I still miss her dearly.

      “………So the only advice I can give you is press on in your beliefs, make mistakes along the way, know what is true, keep questioning what you believe and be careful and curious of what might be rumor. This will not make your life easy, but it will teach you grace, patience and purpose.”

      Much love to you, Jacqui

  • Robyn
    Reply

    I love the poem. Round and round we go but there is a peace. I hope one day when we are grey and wrinkly we will share a glass of wine and think what a wonderful time this actually was.

    • Jacqui Burnett
      Reply

      Ah Robyn, you make me smile.

      But in the interim, know that right now I toast to my current wonderful times.
      Hope to see you soon.

  • Yvette Smith
    Reply

    Dear Jacqui
    Your journey has truly been amazing and I thank you for sharing it with us. You are such an inspiration to me and reading this is gradually giving me the strength to “Dare to Ask” and to face my fears and live a true life. Thank you.
    Much love – Yvette

    • Jacqui Burnett
      Reply

      Dear Yvette,
      Thank you for your acknowledgement and kind words.
      Each of us has our own amazing and unique journey, yet we are all connected in our experiences through our human emotions.
      I believe that in sharing and listening to each other we find courage to Dare to Ask for support from others, and more importantly ourselves as we find courage to look at our own truth.
      Through this we can connect in love and compassion for all.
      Much love Jacqui

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