A Home for the Soul – The Nasty Business of Building a Foundation
By Jillian Locke
I can mend bones in a heartbeat, but growing them back….
You will be able to, won’t you?
I’ll be able to, certainly. But it’ll be painful. You’re in for a rough night, Potter. Regrowing bones is a nasty business. ~ Harry Potter, Chamber of Secrets
It took me the entire year of 2012 to do a lot of things, so I guess I shouldn’t say entire but rather, it ONLY took me a year to do a lot of things. The first three quarters of the year were spent transitioning from careers and from past states of consciousness. Healing began, both internally and externally. The impossible was achieved, on many, many levels. When I really think over the events and changes of last year, I’m truly, truly amazed and so grateful that I almost don’t know how to be grateful enough for the enormity of everything that happened. And that all leads to one simple truth – I did it all. I was not without an immense amount of support, be it from friends, family, or the universe. But all in all, I was responsible for forging forward, for not giving up, for not crumbling in the perceived face of defeat. I made tough decisions – really tough decisions. I took risks – lots of them, but I’m always wont to take risks…I see them more as adventures. Nothing risked, nothing discovered, nothing gained, and then what’s the point? I stayed true to myself, as I’m wont to do, and followed the path that unraveled before me.
But the foundation didn’t really start to materialize until the last four months. During this time, I was unemployed, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t working. I was doing some of the most difficult mining I’ve ever engaged in, and through that internal landscape, I found the debris of the foundation that had never really been built, but I guess debris wouldn’t be the proper term, because it indicates the rubble of something that was destroyed, and you can’t destroy something that was never there. I guess I could say I found the clay, the dirt, the nutrients, the buried strength and power and…self-love…that are all essential components in the mixture of this foundation, this alien support system I had never known. How do you build something without a blueprint? How do you build something blindly?
Your life is a house. Abundance is the roof. But the foundation and the plumbing need to be in there first or the roof will fall down, the house will be unlivable. ~James Altucher
But that’s what these last four months have been about—opening my eyes, clearing the energy, the debris, the soot, the protective veils that even I didn’t realize had been hanging so heavily over my eyes and heart. Coming to terms with my past, acknowledging it and choosing to release it. Releasing it after I’d been wearing it like a battle scar—like a fucking badge of honor for so long—that was the hardest part.
But what surprised me was the heaviest, most gargantuan pieces of luggage, the archaic trunks and beat-up hockey duffle bags that I’d been dragging through the dirt and shit for so long…those were somehow the easiest to let go of, once I acknowledged and honored them and the terrible power they had held over me. Sometimes all it takes is a nod of acknowledgment, even if it takes half a lifetime. It’s a sad yet raw truth, that better late than never is better than never at all.
There was an image I wrote about for years, probably the first image that ever really came through in my myriad journals starting around nine years old. It was of a little girl sitting at the bottom of a motionless pool. She was always sitting either cross-legged or with her knees pulled into her chest. I never really saw her face, but she had long, brown hair, just like me. There was a single spot light coming from some unknown light source above the pool, which was actually enclosed in a dome-like structure. She could breathe underwater, somehow, but every so often, she would swim to the surface. This ascent was slow and labored, always a struggle. Once she would reach the top, first her hands would breach the surface, then her mouth, taking one huge gasp of air. But it never lasted for long, and she would once again be dragged down to the bottom.
This image has haunted me for years.
I took a writing class this fall and she showed up again, this time in much greater detail and in full force. I decided to try and write her out of the pool, make her the focal point of my story. When I workshopped my story, everyone was completely captivated, albeit, a little creeped out by the imagery of this ghost girl. People had different ideas as to who or what she might be, but my teacher’s insight was the most poignant. He made an analogy about going to a party with some friends, then meeting different people at the party and deciding you liked them better than the people you came with. He looked at me and said, “Just because this little girl is what brought you to the page doesn’t mean you need to write about her.” It didn’t sit well with me at first because, seriously, I had a personal mission. But the more and more I let this message sink in, the more I realized that just because this driving force had brought me to the page didn’t mean it was my job to dissect it – maybe my job was just showing up. Maybe putting her on the page marked the end of her long waiting period, giving way to my long over-due starting point.
Sometimes you need to clear the area before you can begin to lay down any semblance of a solid foundation. And when you begin this clearing, that’s when the excavation process truly begins. This process can unearth shadows and black holes you hadn’t even realized existed, bringing to light those blind spirits who had spent a lifetime in a sort of dormant, yet festering slumber, waiting to be discovered, waiting to explode, and hopefully, if you can find the strength, released.
If you can push through the muck and the mire enough to allow light in, you can create that foundational work space, because through that muck and drudgery you may just discover validation. You may just find hope, renewal, and if you’re lucky, a seedling of compassion. You may find the reason for all of the demons that have plagued you, and with them, the realization that there’s nothing wrong with you. It wasn’t your sensitivities or your inability to cope or operate at the most basic level—there was a real battle being waged, and you’ve finally come to the front lines to see it, first hand. You’re in it, and the only way you can really release and rebuild something is to get in it.
Then comes victory, large or small, there is always some sort of AH-HA moment, and when it does come, you realize you’re a fucking SUPER HERO for arriving at this juncture in your life in the condition you have. You know you CAN DO ANYTHING, and that nothing is impossible. No load is too heavy to bear, and at this point, you’re a work horse anyway, having carried so many crushing burdens for so long and still showing up for more. This is the moment when being a survivor transforms into being a THRIVER, and to anyone who has ever operated in survival mode for any extended period of time, you KNOW that’s when you’ve made it home. You’ve come full circle, and now you’ve arrived at the TRUE beginning of the next chapter in your life. The day you look back at your past and it feels like a lifetime ago, but at the same time, you look back in compassion at all of the growing pains and defeats and failures and meltdowns and THANK YOURSELF for never giving up, for continuing to push forward even though you had no evidence, no reason to believe that it would ever, ever get any better. All you had was an ungrounded sense of hope and all of the dreams you had ever dreamt, hoping that one day you would be strong enough and confident enough and bold enough to make them into a reality. Hoping that one day you would have the strength to manifest this future you had always seen for yourself during your darkest, most isolated moments, those dreams that lifted you up off the floor and got you moving, if not just to feel your feet on the ground going through the motions, because it was better than being curled in the fetal position in a puddle of tears. When being a beat-up, torn-up, numbed-out zombie was better than the alternative, because somewhere deep, deep, deep in your gut, you knew there had to be something more than this, and that there would be one day, you just had to carry on a little further for a little longer.
One day at a time. One moment at a time. That is how a foundation is built from nothing, because a foundation can only be built and a house can only be constructed after you’ve put your blood and sweat and tears into the excavation of your soul.