“What lesson did my soul want to learn? I liked this question. It was new. Right then and there I felt it pointing me in a different direction. I felt it leading me up toward the light.” ~Elizabeth Lesser
A few weeks ago, in the middle of my hot, heavy and stuck season, I was supposed to go for a long run. I was supposed to meet a friend for coffee and the farmers market. When my alarm went off, I felt stuck in bed. I cancelled my plans. Later that day, I was supposed to go to a family pool party. I sent the boys ahead without me. I simply couldn’t process any more that day.
Not everyone can understand what it feels like to feel every emotion so intensely. Not everyone feels every nerve ending in their body when life becomes too much. Everyone doesn’t feel hot, heavy and stuck, but some people do. Scattered through my life and around the world are people who have also felt like I have felt all summer.
At first I thought it was just me. Something must be wrong with me. My entire life I’ve struggle to avoid feeling this. Then I’ve struggled to identify this. If I could label it, I could overcome it. Am I depressed? Do I have anxiety? Am I crazy? I’ve googled “seasonal depression in summer” a million times.
My entire life I’ve bottled it up, and I held on to it. I let myself venture through this space alone.
During this season of hot, heavy and stuck, my body finally resisted. I was done fighting it. Maybe I needed to finally feel it. Maybe I needed to spend a day in bed when feeling became too much. Maybe I need to finally be okay with feeling it. Because words are how I process life, I need to share it.
That day I cancelled plans with my friend, I also told her the truth. I wasn’t cancelling because my alarm didn’t go off or because Chet wasn’t behaving. I was cancelling because I’ve hit a rough patch. I was cancelling because lately I’ve been so stuck in my own head that I’m physically stuck in bed. This was the moment the world started to feel less heavy. Her response back to me took weight off my paralyzed body. She said the magical words we all need to hear. She said Oh I so understand. I’ve been there too. And then she talked to me. She showed me that no matter how we or the world defines this feeling, scattered throughout my world and the entire world, others have also felt hot, heavy, and stuck.
In that same conversation, my friend recommended a book: Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser.
Every day this week, I’ve spent my lunch break sitting outside by the river reading this book. I’ve kept my highlighter close as the words on the page having me nodding along in agreement.
“It’s time for you to answer the call of your soul…It’s calling, but you’re too scared to listen. You think you know what’s important, but you don’t. You think it’s important to keep things safe; but that’s neither here or there. What’s important in this life is to learn the soul lessons.” ~Elizabeth Lesser
This week I’ve felt a new breath forming inside of me. I’ve physically felt it pushing against my chest as it takes form and grows into what it needs to become. Feeling once again calm, light and free, I took a step backwards. I started looking for a reason for this new feeling. I tried to define it. Was it the cooler temperatures? Was it the book? Maybe it was empathy from a friend. And then I stopped.
If I’ve learned something in this season, I’ve learned that life isn’t meant to be defined or understood. It’s meant to be lived. It’s meant to be felt. This is the lesson my soul is trying to learn.
“Rumi tells us that that moment when we accept what troubles we’ve been given, the door will open. Sounds easy, sounds attractive, but it is difficult, and most of us pound on the door to freedom and happiness with every manipulative play save the one that actually works. If you’re interested in opening the door to the heavens, start with the door to your own secret self. See what happens when you offer to another a glimpse of who you really are. Start slowly. Without getting dramatic, share the simple dignity of yourself in each moment – your triumphs and your failures, your satisfaction and your sorrows. Face your embarrassment at being human, and you’ll uncover a deep well of passion and compassion. It’s a great power, your Open Secret. When your heart is undefended, you make it safe for whomever you meet to put down his burden of hiding, and then you can both walk through the open door.” ~Elizabeth Lesser
This summer I’ve felt hot, heavy and stuck. I feel this way nearly every summer, but this summer I gave myself permission to feel it. This summer I shared it.
Summer is my season of hibernation. It is my season to sink and restore. It’s my season to allow myself the space to feel so growth can happen. I can’t tell you what is on the other side. I’m not there yet. Right now I’m in a moment of new breath forming. Right now I’m going to enjoy this moment of possibility.