“This girl is a woman now
She’s found out what it’s all about
And she’s learning learning learning to live…” ~ Gary Puckett & the Union Gap
“The wound is the place where the light enters you. ” ~ Rumi
“Surviving meant being born over and over.” ~ Erica Jong
Adversity can crush our spirit – or strengthen it – it is our choice.
Yeah, this post isn’t about reincarnation in the sense of the rebirth of a soul or spirit after biological death. But it is about death and rebirth in a sense.
This post is more directed at women but men and anyone who identifies as both/none can read and learn too! The message is definitely not exclusive to women. The book I’m reading is mostly geared towards women. But the lesson goes for anyone.
I’m reading Sarah Ban Breathnach ‘s “Something More – Excavating Your Authentic Self.”
I absolutely love her writing style. It’s so warm and gentle but so strong and passionate.
In this book, in a section called, “Near-Life Experiences,” she writes
“Every day we experience death. The death of dreams, misconceptions, illusions. The death of vibrancy and enthusiasm. The death of hope. The death of courage. The death of confidence. The death of faith. The death of trust. More often than any of us ever expect, life stuns us with the sudden wrenching away of a loved one, a devastating diagnosis, a conversation that begins with the chilling words “There’s Something I’ve got to tell you.
We feel as if life is over, and we are right. Life as we knew it is over.”
Sarah Ban Breathnach writes about when her marriage ended and when her health was threatened. She writes
“In each instance, when I regained consciousness months later, I was someone else. I died to myself, and a stronger, wiser, and more passionate woman was resurrected in my place. Although this woman answered to my name, she was profoundly different. “
This woman was in a serious accident, years ago, in a fast -food restaurant with her toddler daughter when a large ceiling panel fell off and crashed into her. She fell unconscious onto the table. No one else was hurt. She suffered a severe concussion, was bedridden, confused, and disoriented for months and disabled for a year and a half. For a few months her senses did not function properly. She had to stay in bed constantly in the dark because her injuries rendered her extremely sensitive to light. She was inarticulate and couldn’t speak coherently. She felt imprisoned in her own body, neither alive nor dead but having a “near -life experience.”
She shares a quote by Eudora Welty, “the fantasies of dying could be no stranger than the fantasies of living. Surviving is perhaps the strangest fantasy of them all.”
And here is, what I see, as the most beautiful part of Sarah Ban Breathnach’s story.
When she was bedridden in the dark she had nothing to do but tell herself stories in her head. She writes this,
“In order to get through this purgatory, I would lie in the dark and tell myself stories – discombobulated sagas, to be sure – as I wove in and out of wakefulness. Clara Pinkola Estes believes that ‘Stories are medicine.’ They certainly became my homeopathic remedies. Although I had been a journalist for ten years, I had never thought of myself as a storyteller. But snatches of stories-fairy tales I’d heard as a child, adventures I’d lived as a young woman- would float to the top of my distress and hang in midair until I retrieved one and recast it as a personal parable. Each starred my own romantic heroine, an extraordinary woman who triumphed over her travails with courage, grace, and grit – a person who bore no resemblance to me at all. This woman was beautiful and radiant, with a strong, healthy, and vibrant aura. Her eyes sparkled and she laughed uproariously . She was mysterious, magnetic, accomplished, powerful, irresistible, confident, smart, sassy, funny, and sexy. She was passionate. She possessed verve, but more important, she reflected, even in the worst situations, the essential characteristic of all romantic heroines – repose of the soul. I couldn’t remember having an imaginary friend as a child, but now I did and I adored her company.
I looked forward to my alter ego ‘s daily dose of diva-gation- her wandering, straying, but always pulling through with pluck to live and love again.”
After this ordeal was over, Sarah Ban Breathnach realized that this beautiful, passionate, strong woman in her waking dreams is in fact herself. Her authentic self.
The self she always knew deep, deep inside she can be. The self she already was then but buried beneath layers of social demands and pressures, the stresses of everyday life, denial, feelings of unworthiness….She had to learn this and practice acknowledging it but eventually she came to know that she is a strong, wise woman of love, passion, and strength. This woman and this wisdom were born of pain and horror but she was there all along waiting for the birth of herself.
It’s true that every single day parts of us die so new parts can be born. Even our skin and cells physically die and give way to new ones.
Death hurts. Not just the biological death of someone we love or the death of a relationship but even the death of minor details in our lives or the death of certain ways of thinking can hurt. Something we once believed and no longer believe. The death of certain opinions, the death of an illusion.
The death of certain ways of living.
Even the death of something unpleasant can hurt at first. A job you always wanted to leave and finally do get to leave it. It can hurt because you’re pushed out of your comfort zone, something you have known for so long. It hurts. Even though it’s what you wanted.
When hope dies, when faith dies, and we fall, when we have setbacks and seem to fail, we can let this all guide us, push us forward to something bigger and better, we make room for new things, better things, more beautiful things to fall into place.
We can allow our pain, struggles, challenges, failures, setbacks, relapses, and unpleasant experiences to strengthen us, make us wiser, better, enlightened, empowered, and more empathetic and compassionate to others and ourselves. We can take our pain and struggles as challenges to come up with creative ways to better ourselves and use them to our advantage.
So, girls think of the woman you long to be, the one you would love to know, be friends with, be in the company of, the woman you KNOW you CAN be and deep inside ARE already her.
Materialize her. Realize her.
Think of the best girl friend you would love to know or one you have already if you’re that blessed or the the kind of mother you want to be if you want to be one and would love to have for yourself, the kind of sister you would adore, the professor you would look up to in college, the counselor you would love to talk to, the neighbor you would love to chat with on the street, the girl of your dreams….
What do you love about her? Why do you adore her? What traits does this beautiful woman possess and display? What virtues does she embody? What surrounds her? What dwells within her? What does she do? What do you see in her? What ways does she have about her? What goals does she have? What does she dream about at night? What daydreams occupy her mind? How does she feel? How does she love?
If you can dream her, you can be her.
You can recreate yourself into the you that you want to be. You can strengthen and play up the things you already love about yourself and develop the things you want but do not yet possess.
“Act like a lady, think like a boss.”
“She believed she could so she did.”
“She stood in the storm and when the wind did not blow her away, she adjusted her sails.” ~ Elizabeth Edwards
“She always had that about her, that look of otherness, of eyes that see things much too far, and of thoughts that wander off the edge of the world. ” ~ Joanne Harris
“Girls compete with each other, women empower one another.”
Don’t deny your needs and desires. Don’t repress yourself. Let your opinions be heard. Don’t feel threatened by an opinion which opposes yours. If you know what someone says is or may be correct and you are wrong, admit it, at least to yourself. Let it shake you up and then change your views. If you know in your heart of hearts that you are correct then let your opinion be as loud as the opposing one. Don’t let anyone make you squirm or back down. Stand tall. Stand proud. Stand.
It’s ok to be wrong and it’s ok to give in and see the other side and admit it.
It’s ok to build yourself up.
To call yourself beautiful.
To love you.
To cherish you.
Do what makes you happy no matter what, don’t let anyone dull your sparkle or get in your way. Be true. Be you.
Take care of yourself, tend to your needs, be selfish occasionally when you have to be for your own mental/emotional/psychological/spiritual & physical health. Say no when you must. Say yes to you.
Buy yourself flowers.
Laugh loudly. Live passionately. Love fiercely.
Reflect and think about who you want to be, write in a journal, meditate, list qualities you wish to posses or strengthen and ones you want to abandon.
And if you’re not a woman, this can still apply to you. It applies to all humans. We can all work to be a better version of ourselves.
Each moment we fall apart, we are made new. Born again. And again. And again. And again…..a new dawn comes to life. The sun rises again. Morning has awakened.
Crumble. So you can stand again but even stronger.
“Oh yes, I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything .”~ Helen Reddy
“You can bend but never break me
‘Cause it only serves to make me
More determined to achieve my final goal
And I come back even stronger
Not a novice any longer
‘Cause you’ve deepened the conviction in my soul” ~ Helen Reddy
“I’m not a one in a million kind of girl, I’m that once in a lifetime kind of woman.”
“Well I won’t back down, no I won’t back down
You can stand me up at the gates of Hell
But I won’t back down
No I’ll stand my ground, won’t be turned around
And I’ll keep this world from draggin’ me down
Gonna stand my ground and I won’t back down.” ~ Tom Petty
Let your pain make you better, not bitter.
“Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens.” ~ LeeAnn Womack