My soul was dying. And it took a friend’s death for me to wake up and understand that this is what I was going through.
Let me start from the beginning.
The catalyst for my journey started 3 years ago, almost to this day when a friend passed away. When one faces loss, it makes you think about all other losses that you’ve dealt with in your life; not just the loss through death but loss of childhood, innocence, dreams. And when this catalyst occurred I did not at the time even think that I would end up here. But as life is unpredictable, I began to seriously question the point of it; not just life in general but the point of my life. Up until then, I seemed to just be gliding through; going with the wind, hoping it would take me in the right direction, waiting for some big moment that would make me realise my purpose; give me back my ambition (not ambition in work though because this is always a good distraction for me but rather my ambition for my personal life), my “feistiness.”
Slowly though, this life of mine started doing strange things and I started acting out of character; I changed job roles on a whim (thank goodness, my leader at the time seem to know me better than I knew myself and encouraged it); had the focus to finish my degree finally; pushed myself to go through a divorce and started reviewing each of my friendships and relationships one by one. None of these was or is an easy task. While I type these words, I know that it makes it all seem quite flippant but the number of hours, days, months and years that it took me to finally wake up again has been agonising. Growth is painful. If you think of the process a caterpillar goes through to become a butterfly, or the skin a snake sheds, it is no easy task. And these last 3 years have not been easy.
I must emphasise that this journey and the pain I inflicted and felt was nobody else’s fault but my own. I was unable to verbalise what I wanted in this life. How could I when I wasn’t even sure? How could anyone else help me if I, myself, did not even know what I needed to be alive?
Right now, you might be wondering, how I knew my soul was dying? I didn’t. I knew something was “wrong” with me but I could not put it into words. I just knew that I needed to follow my intuition and make some radical decisions; some good and some bad. Looking back, I can say that it’s all in the little things. And this might seem cliché but it is the only way I started to notice.
I stopped speaking up if I didn’t want to do something; “whatever” was my favourite word. I would literally go with the flow even if I didn’t want to; believing that being agreeable was a better way to live. But every morning I would wake up frustrated that I had no space; not just physical space but mentally and emotionally there was no more place for me. My frustration would occur in waves; quiet and unassuming. To those around me, it came through as someone who was always tired (“it must be work”) and in a way, all I did want was to sleep.
The frustration would not go away though and once I finished studying I had no more excuses and nothing to distract me from my reality that I had created. The ability to stay numb was waning and the frustration no longer came in waves but in bursts.
I remember the way I dealt with my divorce; methodically and clinically. In fact, when I made the decision I took appropriate steps in seeing a therapist not to deal with any emotions through the process (there were none because by then my soul was dead); but to ensure that I had mentally processed my decision correctly. I had one or two close friends (who I will love with all my heart) who tried to encourage me to feel and deal with my emotions. Bless them for even trying to get a fight out of me; and bless them for still being with me through this journey.
I thought a divorce would fix me. My soul would become alive again and I could blame the institution of marriage as the problem. Especially since my now ex-husband and I are still good friends (he has a pure soul, that one, for the level of understanding is not human-like). But still, I wasn’t yet fully awake.
While the therapy helped me understand a lot about my soul-less state, I could not depend on it to fully awaken it.
I continued my search unknowingly. I was trying to go from my “frozen Elsa” state to my “awakened Pocahontas” state and while I knew this is what I wanted I didn’t know how to get there. I wanted to live life fully but didn’t know what this meant.
I was on the search and deciding to follow my gut I figured I would need to try something that was not quite the norm. I now see that I needed a place to trust; a situation that would allow me to feel safe and myself, that would allow me to feel vulnerable and make me believe that there is good in the world and that not everyone or everything should be looked at with a sceptical eye first.
From the beginning of the year I was unable to wake up at 5am; my meditation routine (which by the way previously occurred from a place of forced routine and irritation if not done); was non-existent and I just knew that I was now ready to go on a retreat. I picked one with a title that stood out to me; “Open the heart and still the mind” a 3 day, silent meditation retreat. Alone. With strangers. In an unknown place. Something I had never done before.
I woke up one morning, and booked it. Paid. And when the day arrived, I took the 2-hour drive to the location. And in those 3 days, I felt relaxed and refreshed but nothing life changing had occurred (or so I thought). The first Day of Silence I listened to my body’s exhaustion; my headaches; my full deep sleep but lack of energy. I completed all the meditation exercises with focus, structure; the way I deal with my work and tasks in my life. Diligent. No emotion. The second day was a little different; I heard the words spoken by the facilitator about being kind to myself and forgiving myself and most importantly loving myself; and because I could not speak I could not argue and all I could do was absorb.
By the third day, I thought I was leaving with a bigger appreciation of meditation and silence only. I accepted that maybe doing tasks from a place of “discipline” and not “commitment” adds a certain unnecessary regimented quality to it; and that one dose of love helps change the feeling.
I left with more than just an appreciation of kindness though. I left with the gift of tears; which I received in our final group meeting. At no other stage in my life have I felt as safe as I did than being surrounded in a group with strangers, with no judgment, no agenda, no words spoken by anyone for three days and yet they provided me with the gift of their understanding. I had finally arrived. My soul woke up again. I felt safe and I could trust. Trust myself, be kind to myself. Love myself.
A few weeks later, I noticed that I was more aware of myself and people; less sensitive to trying to please the world, putting my foot down when needed (in a thoughtful way); my directness coming from a place of concern; my ability to finally speak up again strong enough.
My journey of introspection for this chapter in my life coming to a close; I know I may forget a few things but this deep feeling of self-love and kindness for myself I cannot.
Take care of your thoughts, be gentle to yourself.
Love, light and kindness.
4 thoughts on “How my soul died.”
Mrs Nozipho Faith Dlamini says
Whew!!! Took me days to read it because it’s so deep. Glad you are in a better space now.
My Butterfly Dream says
Onwards and upwards:-)
Sue Cooper says
Beautifully written Dhiya, and an honour to have been part of your journey! Thank you for Opening your Heart with such courage Xx