I am a helper, by nature and by trade.
Over the past dozen years, I’ve helped hundreds of people learn how to accept, love, forgive, and nurture themselves.
I have many tools for processing emotions. I am organized, self-motivated, and by-and-large pretty self-disciplined.
I also have a pretty sweet life. My partner is endlessly supportive – materially, intellectually, and emotionally. We have a beautiful apartment in a lovely part of Northern California.
I have friends who love me, and family I can call at any moment for anything, and they are right there to pick up the phone.
Just today alone, before it even hit noon, I had to have three different conversations with three different people, just to talk me out of the dark pit and back into the present moment. I needed three different ways to get out of my head, and out of my what if’s, and my shouldas, wouldas, and couldas, and back into what is. What’s here. What’s now.
In fact, throughout these past several weeks, I’ve been unable to help much at all. I’ve only been able to retreat to my own inner world and process a seemingly endless amount of grief, sorrow, guilt, shame, jealousy, judgment, resentment, and sadness, along with all the fear, panic, and overwhelm.
I’ve had to shed layers and layers of my past, along with layers and layers of what I’d hoped, planned, prayed, and worked really fucking hard for what I thought my future would be.
I was thiiis close. THIS. FUCKING. CLOSE.
And then it was all gone. Everything I’d been working on, gone in a literal instant.
My burn out level back in October, when I decided to make one more big creative push for my company, was already maxed out. Burnout level by March/April 2020, having pushed so goddamn hard just to have to stand still all over again?
Absolutely fucking brutal.
So, over these last few weeks, I’ve done what I always do whenever something isn’t working for me. When there is no more energy to build with. When the work of holding on is too much:
I let it go.
I let go of everything. I had an ugly cry that the entire neighborhood heard. I cried it all out. I let go of who I am. I let go of who I thought I was. I let go of who I thought I wanted to be. I let go of doing, and pushing, and creating, and helping, and striving.
I let go of my ideas of profit and revenue. Again. I let go of the idea of my excellent, newly-recovered credit score. Again. And my IRA ever being worth something. Again.
I let go of the idea marketing, of leading, of guiding, and I let go of my identity as a helper. I let go of forcing myself to show up for impossible things, in impossible ways, at impossible times, and even possible things, in possible ways, at unusual times.
I have been sitting in here, poking around and looking for the real Sam. Asking her what she needs right now. Who she wants to be. What does she need?
It’s messy and awful in the space inside yourself that you’ve been hiding from. That’s why you hide from it. That’s why you try to fill it in with achievement, and power, and being seen by others.
I’m good enough, right? Right?
Getting under all these awful, sticky, uncomfortable parts of myself. Reckoning with each and every one of my choices, personally and professionally. Getting to the root of my complicity – how did I get myself here, to this place and this moment. And my complicity in moving with the same flow that got us all here. A system-level breakdown that we all contributed to, whether we meant to or not.
There have been moments of optimism, and there will be many more. There have been moments of creativity, and there will be many more. There have been moments of beauty and connection, and there will be many, many more.
But first, a walk through the pit of fire.
In order to build any sort of authentic compassion for others, and in order to heal and contribute to creating the world I want to see, I first have to be honest with myself.
Like brutally fucking honest.
My mantra lately is:
Whatever you’re feeling…feel that.
It doesn’t have to make any goddamn sense. Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn’t. I feel it, acknowledge it, own it as what’s true right now, and then, when the truth changes, as I change, and as the situation changes, I work toward owning whatever truth comes in next.
And just because on the surface I might ‘have it good’, or other people ‘have it worse’, doesn’t mean that my feelings don’t matter. I own what I’m feeling, then I can clear it. I own it, to the best of my ability, however ugly it is, SO I can clear it.
It’s fucking awful.
And it’s also a fucking miracle. What a goddamn awful, disgusting, gorgeous gift of a blessing it is to be forced into being wholly with myself.
But we’ll talk about gifts and outcomes later.
The pit is just this part of the journey. I’m brave. I’m tough. And I have my team of helpers helping me. And that’s how I know I’ll get through it. And I’m super fucking excited to see what is born on the other side.
But for now, patience and excavation, discovery and self-compassion, and sitting in the compression.
That’s how diamonds are made anyway.
📸 : Sam Whitehouse