“Turn you face toward the sun and the shadows will fall behind you.” ~Māori Proverb
I am looking out of the window of the airplane. We are above the clouds; the evening sun is just setting. There is a glow all around me. I am lost in this moment. I feel like I’ve never been closer to the heavens. I can stay here in these clouds forever. I am at peace.
I am returning from my first trip to Jamaica.
I went to this island paradise on what was supposed to be a fun, party trip. Yes I had fun and I partied a lot. But I also discovered my heart and the truth of my soul.
I have been running for a long time. Not physically, but emotionally and mentally. I was running from the grief and sadness I feel about my mother’s death. I was running from the fact that I was eating ice cream everyday to deal with this loss.
I was running from feeling pain. I recently ended a “relationship” with someone who was emotionally unavailable to me. I was running from the truth about that situation. I was running from the boredom I feel at work. I hate corporate life. Sleep wasn’t forthcoming. My mind was too busy running from itself.
I was running from this person who felt trapped all the time. I felt like if I stopped and faced this hurt, pain, frustration, sadness, and disappointment, I would shatter into a million pieces and I wouldn’t know how to put myself back together. I didn’t like who I had become.
And then I got to Jamaica, and I had space between me and all the crap I was running from. I was so damn tired too. I finally felt like I could stop running. I felt like I could just be, like I could breathe. I felt like I left all the crap that was my life back in Trinidad and I was free.
Free to just be. This freedom brought clarity. I realized that, in my running, I was running away from the light, and so the shadows had swallowed me up.
When I thought I was running away from the negative emotions, I was actually running toward them, running into them, surrounded by them—the sadness, grief and pain, disappointment and loss were like a heaving, swirling smog of grey, all around me, suffocating me.
But I continued to run, and the more I ran, the deeper into them I got.
I let the darkness consume me and I let it smother my light. The thing is, light and dark need each other. There will always be shadows where there is light. Until I was able to stop running and embrace the dark, I couldn’t find the peace my soul craved; I couldn’t change. I could not begin to heal.
The grief I feel about the loss of my mother to cancer two years ago comes in waves. My mother was my home. Now that she’s gone, I feel exposed and raw.
This kind of loss, we might learn to live with it, but overcoming it is a whole different story. I am learning that I have to feel it in order to heal it, let it go, and move on. I carried around an ache in the pit of my tummy for a long time. I tried to ease it with ice cream. Fifteen pounds later, it still ached.
The hurt and disappointment I felt when my “relationship” ended felt like loss on top of loss, to which I added feelings of unworthiness, questions about my judgment, and the fear of the unknown.
I was frustrated at work because I was no longer happy or motivated to be there. I continued to show up because they paid me just enough to keep me coming back. But I died a little inside every day.
I was in desperate need of some soul light.
My soul needs the light. My soul is the light.
I am learning not be afraid of the dark and the shadows. There is good in it.
It is in the darkness of the womb that new life is created. It is in the darkness of the earth that diamonds are formed.
I am embracing the light and the darkness inside of me; they are part of who I am. This was the epiphany I had in Jamaica. This was the first step in the soul work I needed to do.
When you turn away from the light, all you can see is the shadow, the shadow that you created. When you turn toward it, shadows become smaller and eventually disappear. How do you turn back toward the light?
For me, it was literally soaking up the sun in Jamaica. Every day, I let the sun heal me, through my SPF 45. I would place my palm over my heart and one on my tummy, because it still ached, and just breathe in and hold for three counts and exhale. Those breathing exercises helped me so much.
I surrounded myself with my positive friends and I belly laughed as often as I could. I could feel love giving life to my soul light.
For you it might be simply committing to smile more every day, soaking up some sun by taking a walk in a park somewhere, or treating yourself to some “me time,” but it all starts with first allowing yourself to feel.
Only when you acknowledge the truth about what you feel can you start to heal.
Jamaica was a time-out of time, and then it was time to leave for home. There was a moment of panic, when I boarded the plane. I was consumed by doubts about my newfound clarity. What if it didn’t last? What if the darkness was waiting for me when I got home?
Then we got into the air and I saw the sun. I was reminded that it is always there, shining above the clouds, through the clouds, despite the clouds. And I was ready. After all of my running, I was finally ready to come home to me—home to the real me.
That’s what coming home is—coming home to what’s in our hearts.
Photo by h.koppdelaney