Eyes Wide Open

This summer was difficult for me. Painful, in fact. For the first time in 38 years, some dramatic life events happened which caused me to face the fact that I had created a reality for myself, which was neither realistic nor sustainable. A harsh truth to come to terms with, but deep, thoughtful introspection made me realize that I had created a fictionalized world filled with unrealistic expectations to make up for the disappointment that had long characterized my childhood and adulthood. I was aspiring for the perfect marriage, perfect friendships and perfect career; largely because I felt so imperfect inside. But the fantasy was slowly caving in on itself until I had no choice but to face it head on- eyes wide open.

I think I had this realization in late August. Sometime after the bottom dropped out. My relationships were suffering. Things were rough at home. A good friend that I’d known for over twenty years and a close relative that I relied heavily on for moral support both suddenly stopped talking to me. I began to feel restless at work. I started questioning the meaning of life and realized that I was experiencing more than just a midlife crisis come early.

The signs were everywhere. My head throbbed and my inner voice shouted loudly but I had trouble deciphering the message. But there was no clearer sign then when I was at my weekly healing circle and randomly chose three cards from a soul coaching deck. The first card I pulled was “Awakening.” The card said: “I am joyously awake and aware… and ready for anything.”

The second card read, “Joy.” The third card read, “Adventure.”  

The message suddenly became crystal clear. Opening my eyes fully and seeing what was in front of me would lead me to find joy, which in turn would bring wonderful new experiences.

I promised the universe and, more importantly myself, in that moment that I would no longer go through life with the blinders that had protected me for so long. The blinders gave me the illusion of safety and were my default modus operandi but they were really preventing me from seeing not just reality but the humanity and imperfection in myself and the people around me.

As painful as reality is, it can also be a catalyst for growth and change.

It was time to wake up. Like Laurence Fishburne’s character, Dap, at the end of the movie School Daze, every fiber of my being was yelling at me to “WAKE UP!”

My memory flashed back to years ago when I had my cowrie shells read and the reader told me that my eyes weren’t open and that I refused to see the truth about what was in front of me.

Suddenly, I detected a theme in my life. One that I was apparently blissfully unaware of or chose to ignore. One that may have temporarily felt safe but was also no longer serving me.

I began with small changes. I was overwhelmed with the idea of changing my life dramatically but I knew that I could do a few things here and there to find joy and adventure.

I found my way back to dancing tango after almost a decade away. It has been pure bliss. And unlike my first time around, this time the classes have other Black women in them. Of all shapes and sizes. I feel like I’ve finally found a dance home.

A good friend sent me a meditation app for my phone and I began a daily meditation practice. The meditation serves as reminder to keep breathing and stay calm. For the first time in my adult life, I have been able to deal with certain conflicts that deeply trigger me without flying into a rage and becoming unhinged.

I got brave enough to commit more fully to my desire to give up eating meat and have started experimenting with cooking vegetarian options through Green Chef. I still hope someday to become a full vegetarian. Aside from the good I think it will do in the world, it also feels better for my body. And, at this point in my life, it feels important for me to make choices that honor my physical and emotional well-being.

Most importantly, I have begun to see the world as it really is. I have finally begun to acknowledge the pain I feel from disappointing interactions and relationships with intimate partners, friends, family members and colleagues without trying to transform it or creating a fantasy to wish it away or make myself feel better. I sit with the pain now and don’t judge it or myself for feeling it. I make an effort to feel it like I feel joy. I practice giving voice to it. I also practice letting it go.

Last week, I randomly happened across a horoscope for myself and have been repeating the words ever since. They are exactly what I need to anchor my awakening in this moment.

In part, it read: “With this new moon, I cast spells of psychological well-being by refusing to reject any part of myself, no matter how fearsome, powerful or intense. I do not turn away from myself. I cast spells that help me to create healthy boundaries in all the relationships that I share my energy in. I cast spells that help me to hear my own needs more clearly and to tend to them more carefully.”

After 38 years, I have finally abandoned the fantasy in my head for reality- in all its messy complication. I am proceeding through life eyes wide open. I am ready to be awake and even more ready for the joy and adventure that await me.