Last Thursday my husband, 16 year old daughter and I left Ontario and headed for North Carolina in my beloved blue Chevy Colorado. I was meeting with of a group of women, that I’d done a 3 month on line course with, in Outer Banks, North Carolina. The fact that I was willing to make the trip to North Carolina to spend the weekend with 10 other women that I’d only met on social media is in itself nothing short of a miracle for this recovering introvert. I say recovering because I realized during this weekend experience that “introvert” (in the way I was applying it to myself) was a life jacket that no longer served its purpose. I love the introvert in me, and how it connects me to beautiful fellow innies, like my charming new friend Susan, but choose to now see myself as deep (thank you Tara) rather than introvert as an excuse for being different.
Also of importance is that I was once diagnosed with social anxiety disorder and generalized anxiety. Goes to show you that when you’re being called to do something by a higher power (whatever that higher power may be for you – gut instinct, spirit, God, the universe, your soul) you can overcome ANYTHING.
The workshop (which wasn’t really a workshop but I still struggle to find the words to accurately describe what it was) started on Saturday at 10am. I’d met two of the ladies the night before because they were staying at the same hotel and they’d joined my hubby and daughter and I for dinner. Another fun fact, when my new acquaintance, Linda, sent me a message and invited me to her room for a beer, I actually went. My husband even teased me saying, “you’re going to talk to a stranger!?”. Yes, I was that much of an introvert that I rarely talked to people I didn’t know. I was never one for small talk or for being a conversation starter. But this was different. Although we’d only chatted on our Facebook group page, we all shared the same journey of self discovery. We knew that we’d like each other because our hearts and souls had connected long before our persons had actually met.
It’s almost like a knowing when you don’t really know, you know?
I loved Linda the instant I saw her. Interesting to also note that first impressions are made the moment we see someone, before they even speak. Subconsciously we make decisions about myriad things we’re picking up on without even knowing it.
Next we met Michelle who, funny enough, I bonded with when she reached across the table to pull apart the shell of the shrimp I was trying to dismantle. Not only was I eating off someone else’s plate (Linda’s), which is rare for me, I was totally comfortable with my other new friend helping me navigate the best way to do it. Introvert’s generally do not eat off of other’s plates unless they’re family or long time friends, and hesitate when someone else enters our space, and that includes family and long time friends. You can see how I let the introvert label hold me back.
Saturday morning the three of us shared a ride over to the sacred location for the gathering and I was feeling totally at ease about the day ahead.
Thinking back, that may have been the only time I felt at ease that day because I just pictured things coming to a crashing halt in my head as I typed those words. Don’t get me wrong – the day, the location, the women, the experience – all absolutely gorgeous. I just wasn’t mentally prepared for the staunch resistance that would come up for me over the course of the day. In my mind, this was going to be a beautiful, sensual, flowing happily through the day unfolding of insight and acceptance. In reality it was all of those things, but it played out very differently due to some misperceptions about myself that were holding on so tightly and so deeply ingrained that everything in me fought to let them go.
Even through the discomfort, every time I looked across the room and met June’s gaze, she was smiling back at me. It’s like she knew something I didn’t. I felt warmth, love and acceptance in her smile and it will stay with me forever. Much like Laurie’s authenticity and laughter. I can hear it now…
When I got back to the hotel that night, I was physically, mentally and spiritually exhausted and when my husband asked me about my day, I told him it felt like group therapy bootcamp. Yet I instinctively knew this was a pivotal part of the most beautiful transformation in process.
I’d shared with the ladies earlier in the day that I’d been struggling with menopause symptoms, most notably, the lack of sleep. I blamed the shortage of slumber for almost everything, come to think of it. (Deirdre, who spirit had given me as a loving partner for the weekend, suggested a book* that would help and I was thrilled because I love books and it gave me hope.) Menopause had become another non-serving identity like my introvert pfd and that night, it arrived like clockwork around 4am. And I fought it. I wrestled with it, I cursed it, and then I did something different with it.
Tara, our pure white light of a guide and mentor on this journey, tells us to ask our Indie** for assistance when we need it. So I did. I sat up in the bed, crossed my legs and held my face in my hands with tears silently sliding down my cheeks.
“Sage (that’s my Indie’s name), help me please. What do I do? Tell me what to do.”
My husband woke up and gently put his hand on my back in an act of love and kindness. It didn’t help. In fact, I almost recoiled from it. Which told me that what I really required in that moment was space. But where do I go in the middle of the night in a hotel room in the Outer Banks of North Carolina? Carolla, to be exact.
I picked up my journal, my pen, and the huge, thick, luxurious, black blanket that I’d thrown in the truck at the last minute because I thought Emmy would like it for the drive. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I knew instinctively that I needed to be swathed in soft, and that blanket was it.
I went to the bathroom, closed the door ever so softly so the click wouldn’t wake my hubby and daughter and turned on the light.
I folded the blanket in fourths so it would be soft on the hard tile floor, but still large enough for me to curl up on. I sat down with my journal in hand but I didn’t write. I thought I would (a writer by nature, it seemed like a possible outlet for my inner angst), but writing wasn’t what I needed. It was what I thought I needed. What I actually needed, was to lie down on the floor and let go. I curled up on the blanket and felt my body soften and my mind relax. I was struck by the realization that the softness of the blanket and the solidness of the floor was EXACTLY what I required at that moment. My Indie brought me to my knees by taking me to the floor.
It was there that I was able to let go. To really let go – of what I thought I needed – and embraced what my inner being knew I needed. I let go of the struggle with menopause and what it meant to me. I let go of the meaning I’d attached to insomnia and sleeplessness, the struggle, the constant dismay and blame. I suddenly saw it as an opportunity. A gorgeous opportunity for me to have space, to entertain infinite possibility, to have no agenda, no thoughts, no restrictions or rules.
I stared at the under side of the vanity and the welcomed the different perspective it gave me. Yes, it’s beauty is seen from the top, but it’s foundation is underneath, and equally beautiful. I looked at the toilet paper role and my mind flashed back to earlier in the day when Tara asked for a box of Kleenex and LA (who works with Tara) brought out a role of toilet paper and set it on the coffee table. We all shared a heartfelt laugh.
I was there for an hour. Completely at peace. I was in awe that I could see how being awake at this time of the morning was a gift, not a curse. That instead of fighting it, I embraced it. Allowed it. Welcomed it.
We were to be at the beach house for 6am Sunday morning as Tara had planned for us to watch the sun rise down on the beach and journal. When I met Linda in the lobby at 5:45, I felt peaceful, but still a little bewildered by the change in perspective. As much as I welcomed the shift, part of me was still skeptical. Would this peacefulness last? Would lethargy set in? Will I be too tired to fully immerse in the experience of the day? It can’t possibly be that easy to change something I’ve struggled with for over a year. Can it?
As we walked to the car, Linda asked if I slept well. I told her I’d been awake since 4 and what I’d learned from the bathroom floor. She’d only slept a couple of hours herself. I wasn’t alone and smiled a little at the thought.
The sunrise was everything Tara knew it would be for us, unique to each, but also the same. Spiritual, beautiful, soul soothing, heart full. As we shared our experiences back at the beach house, 10 women shared their intimate moments of awakening. Cecile so eloquently described it as transcendent. Carla was overcome with emotion and forgiveness. We all felt love. For ourselves and our journey within.
When I asked my Indie “Who am I?” as Tara had suggested, a poem flowed through my pen, connecting my outer being with my inner being. I shared it with the group. I thought I was writing about the ocean but when reading it out loud, I realized it was also about me.
It felt good to write poetry again.
As the day drew to a close, my new friends – my sisters as I called them in a poem I’d written while on the bathroom floor – commented on how much more relaxed and peaceful I looked compared to the day before. Stephanie, who my soul recognized as the embodiment of softness and strength, said she could see it in my face. The resistance was gone and I felt it in my core. Like the ocean waves, the angst had washed away and left my beautiful truth shining in the sun.
At one point, I’d moved to the floor (on my soft, sensual blanket of course) and was sitting with the sun shining on my face, to which Tara asked, “are you ok in the sun, Jen?”
I couldn’t help but smile.
Tara, I’ve never been more ok. It’s right where I belong.
*The book Deirdre recommended – https://www.drnorthrup.com/wisdom-of-menopause/
**For more information on the Indie and the Femme Types – http://elegantfemme.com