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.
Copyright© Jacqui Burnett 2014