How many times in this life, I have thought I reached “the bottom”. At this ripe old age of 57, I am being shown again that “bottoms” are illusory. If I am fully living and risking in life, loving, and leaping to experience the depths of my heart and meaningful purpose, I seem to be blessed with experiencing new “bottoms”.
For me, “bottoms” have been times when the determination of my will to figure out and power through life’s obstacles, was utterly crushed by the piercing internal pain of losing my struggle to maintain control.
My mother’s 5-year life prognosis when I was 17 years old. Primitive fear of abandonment and disconnection.
Getting the call that my first husband had committed suicide just shy of his 40th birthday. Instantly and literally brought to my knees.
Answering the door at 11:00 p.m. to hear that my husband and the father of my 5-year-old daughter had gone missing in a paragliding accident, presumed dead. Utter shock followed by raw and exposed collapse. Somehow, I thought that one HAD to be the bottom for this lifetime.
Fueled by the chanting fans of my life, “you are so strong Kathy”, “you are so courageous Kathy”, “you are so brave Kathy”, “oh, the places you will go Kathy”, I have spent most of my life fighting to solve problems, trying to fix and rescue others, or running into work and busyness to stay ahead of and avoid feelings. Those oh-so relentless feelings.
Life’s bottoms have summoned me to instantaneously release deeply suppressed feelings. Kicking and screaming, no will of mine could compete. Deep and cathartic, dark and frightening. Feelings. The paradox is that on the other side of releasing those deep and intense and frightening feelings comes an almost immediate and indescribable peace and momentary ease. One would think that experiencing this paradox would inspire invitation and allowance of free-flowing feelings for evermore. Not for this stubborn and willful woman.
Slowly but surely, the layers of self-protection rebuild. Years later, building and swelling and patiently waiting, the once dormant volcano of my heart becomes again active and seizes, or even calls forth the next bottom. The sure path to release and freedom. It doesn’t feel like we can survive the heat of those long-buried feelings. I wonder now, if that heat is actually our true path to survival…certainly our path to full aliveness.
October 21, 2022, getting ready to re-engage with a past therapist for a “tune up”, he messaged me, “I hope we get a chance to further understand your distaste for feelings and your belief that they are weakness.” I should have paid attention to that invitation. The volcano was clearly waking up. Instead, I procrastinated and avoided getting started and tightened the reigns of control, managing, rescuing, fixing. But the old reigns were frayed and little by little, for the last year, they have unraveled. And over these past 4 months, they have broken. Not just once, but three times…so far. This is a new “bottoming” experience. It’s coming in stages. Apparently, these suppressed feelings are too much for one eruption. I choose to look at that as a gift.
This round of life is bringing me to my knees once again. I am being asked to once and for all surrender my attempts to control other people, to manage other’s lives, to fix other’s “problems”, to rescue others from their own life path, which includes bottoms that may lead to their freedom. And oh, by the way, to look in the mirror and ask what that woman needs, wants, and deserves.
This bottom, coming in waves, is led by my 16-year-old daughter. A wise and old soul, in the body of a raging, wild, and willful stallion, she is teaching me, in no uncertain terms, that I cannot control, that I don’t know what is “right”, and that my nose belongs in my own business, including clear expectations, boundaries, and consequences. Designed to make my life manageable for me. No matter how much love I have for her and fear I have for her, I must let her go to her own path. And I must return to mine.
There is quite a lot of wreckage for both of us, and there may be more to come. Fortunately, I have experienced in the past that surrendering completely takes me to a resting place of unwavering faith and an experience of being taken care of, in the ultimate sense of life. There is a freedom that I can only experience when I let go of all the ropes. Today, with puffy eyes from sobbing, humility from loss, and the continual pull to help others first, I am grateful. In truth, I wouldn’t have it any other way. If this is the path to greater joy, freedom, adventure, and full vitality in this one and oh so precious life, then I say…bring it on.
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