This is me.
At 36 years of age, I just began to live an authentic life. I am no longer afraid to risk rejection, humiliation, or scorn. I am not easily embarrassed. I do not fear what people think of me.
For the first 35 years of my life, I existed in two worlds simultaneously. The contrast was so glaring that I feared I would never be able to bring the two parts together and still be loved by my family or respected by my peers.
Part One: I am what mainstream society expects of me.
I excel in school and begin taking college classes at 16. I marry and have my first child at 18, and finish college with my Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education at 21. I begin working at an exhibit company that focused on environmental and cultural sites of interest throughout the world. With the birth of my second child I begin teaching students with disabilities at an elementary school to be closer to my children. Six years later I take a position with the Florida Department of Education where I support students on a statewide level. I earn a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership, and advance to the University of South Florida where I expand my skills to include web development. I provide for my family, pay my bills, vote, serve as a member of my homeowner’s association, and try to be an upstanding citizen.
Part Two: I am rejected by mainstream society.
I am a mystic. I read constantly and my library includes books on psychic development, philosophy, astrology, Buddhism, and tarot. I am drawn to religion and spirituality but have lost faith in organized religion. I accept Jesus as a profound teacher and role model but do not believe he is the only messenger of God. I sit in nature for extended periods of time trying to connect to the earth and my spirit guides. I believe in spirit guides. I read tarot cards and I believe that they provide insight and guidance into our daily lives. I surround myself with crystals that I believe contain positive energy and vibrations. I bathe in salt and essential oils when I feel down to cleanse my aura. I believe some people have gifts that allow them to see auras, communicate with spirits, and see the future. I track the phases of the moon and align my intentions accordingly, and will complete certain rituals that I believe manifest my desires. Some would call me a witch, but I don’t really believe in the Devil.
For many years I kept the two parts of myself separate and few knew the whole truth of who I was. Only my closest friends knew the “real” me. I was afraid and ashamed to reveal my interests and beliefs for fear of people thinking I was crazy or just plain stupid. How could an intellectual believe this crap? I feared that this side of myself would open me up to public scorn or potentially hurt my chances of getting a job in the future.
Mostly, I was afraid of hurting my dear grandmother that I loved deeply. She was the best grandmother that anyone could ever wish for. She was deeply afraid of anything “new age” or “spiritual” as she believed it was from the Devil. She was in her eighties and I didn’t want to do anything that would stress her already fragile heart. A couple of our family members were struggling with addiction to narcotics, stealing and lying to support their habits, and she was deeply hurt and stressed out about this. I would never have forgiven myself for causing her any more stress or risking her health further.
Beginning in February of this year, most of my readings began featuring the Three of Swords in the future position. This card represents deep sorrow, grief, and heartbreak. Naturally, this scared the shit out of me. What it could mean? Would my husband betray me? Was someone going to be hurt? What awful thing lurked around the corner? As a result, I loved deeper, I hugged longer, and I made sure to tell everyone how much I cared about him or her every time we were together.
The Three of Swords came to fruition on May 12th, 2016, and it is a day I will never forget. My beloved grandmother had been in a rehab facility due to an ankle injury for which she required physical therapy. I was going to see her as often as I could, rubbing lavender oil on her bruises and bringing her food that I knew she enjoyed. That afternoon, my mother had visited her after work and found that she was quite ill. She didn’t look right, and she was so weak she couldn’t lift her arms. The staff had not noticed this, but my mother was alarmed and insisted a doctor check her out. The physician was called and he agreed it would be prudent to have her taken to the hospital. My mom was scared, so I decided to join my mother and grandmother just to make sure everything was okay. My grandmother was loaded into an ambulance, and mom and I followed her to the hospital.
Upon arriving at the hospital it became apparent that everything was not okay. The moment we arrived at the Emergency Room, a team of people rushed in. It was determined that her pacemaker had stopped working and her heart was failing. We were immediately barraged with questions about her DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) orders. We were told it was serious and she could die very soon. We had to make frantic calls to try to determine her wishes. After several insane, tear-filled hours, the doctors were able to get her pacemaker working again. It turns out that the rehab facility she was in was not making sure she drank fluids or taking her to the bathroom regularly, and her kidneys failed. It caused her blood levels to become toxic and force her heart out of rhythm. When she was stabilized that night, I told her that her sister and my sister were so worried that they were on their way to see her. She laughed and said, “Well, I ain’t dead yet!” Those were the last words she ever said to me, and it was the last time I saw her smile.
After a moment of hope that she would recover, I awoke the next morning to find out she had slipped into a coma. Various life-saving procedures were tried to revive her, but within the day she was gone. It was May 13, 2016. Friday the 13th.
Even now, months later, I feel a vast emptiness inside as I remember that she is dead. She is not at home in her recliner sitting with my grandpa. I can’t call her and tell about my day. Tears flood down my cheeks as I remember that last moment we had together, and I hope wherever she is that she feels my love for her from beyond the veil.
In my experience, the death of a loved one creates a vacuum in your life that I do not believe will ever be filled. It is such a void that when I allow myself, it swallows me whole and I swim in an ocean of grief and tears. It is a physical sensation of heaviness and emptiness simultaneously that I feel in my chest whenever my mind wanders and I think of her.
I recount this story of loss and grief for two reasons, I suppose. The first is that this is the first time I have written about it, and it is therapeutic to do so. The second is to return to where this story begins, and explain how it took the passing of my grandmother to bring the two sides of me together.
With my grandmother’s death, I no longer felt I had to conceal who I was. I would have hid it forever if I could have kept her in my life, but that was not possible. For the first time, I was free to be me and to integrate the two parts of myself without shame. I no longer feared what people would think of me if they knew what I did behind closed doors. Fearfully at first, I began to share my metaphysical interests with my family and my close professional colleagues. I then publicly shared information on my website and blog on my personal Facebook page. There was no more “hiding in the broom closet.” This is who I am – take it or leave it.
Death serves as a reminder that life is fleeting. With luck, we might have 100 years to experience all this existence has to offer. No one knows what comes next – NO ONE – and anyone who tells you with certainty that they do is full of shit.
We are not here just to get an education, work, fall in love, raise children, and accrue possessions. In fact many of these things distract us from our true purpose. We are here to be our authentic selves and live the life to which we are destined. We are here to help others and be our best selves. There is so much love and beauty to experience and share with others.
Forget what you think you know about life. In fact, don’t think at all. As Eckhart Tolle says, “You are not your mind.” For five minutes, don’t think. Just be you, in the moment, and be still and silent. Pretend your mind is a puppy and when it begins to think about the laundry, tell it to sit.
Be in the present. The only thing we truly have and are guaranteed is this present moment. Try to live in it and be as authentic as you can be. Every moment that passes is a moment lost. When we come out with confidence and lose the fear of judgment, we inspire others to do the same.
As soon as you are able – and it might not be now (you have your own reasons for holding back) – I encourage you to live without fear and be who you are. People might just surprise you.
*I am so thankful for my mother, for her unconditional love. Though I am not at all the person she would like for me to be, she loves me anyway and never makes me doubt it. I am so blessed to have her in my life.*