If you are on my mailing list, you probably know that I love to write, and that writing is how I process whatever challenge I am facing – individually or as part of the collective.
I have always tried to use every hardship I have ever faced – from feelings of stuckness or shame, to pregnancy losses, to the death of my sister, to difficult changes at The Samarya Center – to find ways to increase my compassion, my understanding of another’s suffering, and to let others know they are not alone. I used to say I made an entire professional career out of being an open book, I called my podcast Transparent – Yoga and Every Day Life.
But for well over a year now, I have not felt able to write. Save my mandatory papers for grad school – did I tell you I started a Masters in Theology? – I have felt uninspired, stuck, and unable to share what is really in my heart, unable to be transparent, unable to even see the little things around me that used to inspire me to tell my stories.
I have heard from many others over this past year or more who have expressed the same.
The pandemic was supposed to give us all time – we were going to learn a craft, or finish our novel, or take up a new language, or get through that stack of books, or organize our houses. Maybe you did that. I hope you did. Honestly.
But maybe, like me, you didn’t. Maybe you watched a lot of Netflix, and when you couldn’t even sustain attention for a 21 minute show, maybe you just scrolled through videos on youtube. Maybe you didn’t reach out to friends in ways you thought you would, or you thought you should, maybe you lost your ability to be creative, to see stories all around you, to feel called to share. Or maybe, like me, you stopped feeling like you could share – out of fear, depression, secrecy, shame, confusion, or even just mental fog and fatigue down to your bones. Maybe like me you got Covid, and were physically and emotionally sent reeling, and didn’t rebound like you were used to, like you hoped to.
I want you to know that if you feel like you lost your mojo this year, you are not alone.
But still, there was (is) so much to be passionate about, so much to fight for, to stand up to, to raise our voices about. Such that those of us who have platforms feel an obligation, a responsibility, to speak up and speak out. In fact, we are told that if we don’t say something about all of the crises, injustices, issues we are facing as a country, as a human species, then we are complicit in it.
But maybe, like me, you felt like you had nothing new to add, or you didn’t know how to say something the right way, and in your already vulnerable state, you didn’t have the resources or capacity to protect yourself against the (real or imagined) inevitable backlash for not saying it right, doing it right. Maybe like me you felt damned if you do and damned if you don’t, and in that state, you just froze.
Maybe you felt pressured to speak, to be performative but you knew you didn’t have the fire to stay in the argument – over instagram or Facebook. Maybe like me, you wrote and erased thoughts and comments and responses over and over because your thought process didn’t feel clear enough to engage on those platforms. Or maybe, like me, they just aren’t the arenas in which you feel like you can meaningfully engage at all. But then, maybe, like me, you felt guilty that you couldn’t, or didn’t, anyway.
But maybe you never stopped fighting the good fight in your every day life – in your personal conversations, in your every day interactions, in what you offered in person as you could.
I want you to know that if you felt limited, or even incapacitated, in your ability to advocate publicly for what you have always believed in and fought for, you are not alone.
We all went through this together – we are going through it together – and we all have our own personal lives and stories that are breaking our hearts, and we are trying to manage it all.
Reaching out to a community that I knew supported me, sharing my story to make space in my heart, offering my own process as a lifeline to others navigating something similar, has always been a powerful tool for me in managing whatever is happening, whether on an individual or global scale.
In these past two years – almost three now – really since losing my sister Erin, the biggest cause of my own sadness, loneliness and confusion has been the disintegration of my marriage.
But how can I share that? How can I tell my story without telling someone else’s, one that is not mine to tell? And if I say it out loud, then it has to come true. And if I leave Sasha, who has been such a huge part of my life, of my book, of my evolution, of my community, then what kind of a void will that leave? Will all those stories now feel different? Will I have failed or let someone down? Will I have failed if I stay? Because what if I didn’t want it to be true anyway, what if I don’t want to leave? And what if, at the same time, all I want is out? Or maybe I don’t even know what I want, but I am supposed to know. What if people judge me for staying? Or for leaving? What if I say one thing today and something all together different tomorrow? What if I am too scared, too alone one week, and the very next week I actually get it together, fly up to Seattle and file for divorce? But then let the process languish. What if this month I’m all about Al-Anon, and next month I can’t bear the thought of another meeting – I’m so sick of hearing myself talk, saying the same thing over and over. And that all must mean that I’m not really the teacher I thought I was, I’m not as strong, or as brave, or as enlightened as I pretended to be. What if everyone finds out the truth? That I just don’t know. That I am scared. That I still, against all odds, have hope.
This too is where I have been, I wanted to share my experience. I want to be a comforting shoulder, or listening ear, to others who are in relationships eroded by alcoholism or addiction. I wanted to tell you how I now understand how people don’t “just leave” even when from the outside it is so, so obvious. I want to say over and over, “it’s all more complicated than you think.”
I wanted to write when I could write about how it all worked out – how we emerged triumphant and stronger as a couple – because that does happen, that could happen. Or or how I was finally living my best life as a wild and free single woman of a certain age, or I had fully embraced the life of a contemplative, or how I had met someone new and can’t believe I waited so long and I”m here to encourage you to move on too, just like I did.
But here’s the truth. None of those is true. And I sometimes just feel so tired. It’s all more complicated than we think.
I want you to know that if you have felt stuck or confused or trapped in your relationship, if you have felt tossed around by the crashing waves of this pandemic and lost your footing, if you don’t really know what you should do, or maybe you just are doing nothing, if you don’t know how to tell people what you are going through, you are not alone.
There are two things friends have said to me in the past year that have been immensely helpful. One was from my beloved friend EB Ferdig who said, “You are still in your marriage for reasons known and unknown.” I can’t tell you how much that impacted me. Yes, there are so many known reasons, but there are all the unknown ones too, the ones that pull at the heart and make no sense. And those can just be. Is there something in your life that feels the same? Where maybe you are there for reasons known and unknown? Maybe you can just be there.
Another friend said to me, “Molly, I’ve been watching your process for a long time, and it’s like watching paint dry. But you know what? Paint does dry.” That also felt like a huge relief. Things are moving forward, I am moving forward, and the process is slow. But that doesn’t mean that change is not happening, it is. I am gaining clarity, taking steps and responding to the world I live in. Does that feel resonant to you? That your process sometimes seems so long and slow that you feel ridiculous and it’s hard to see the changes that are happening? What if that was just your own process, your own timeline? Maybe your process is like paint drying too. We can remind each other, as my friend reminded me, “paint will eventually dry.”
When Saint Ignatius of Loyola had his conversion, he was in bed convalescing from a serious battle injury. He began reading spiritual books because it was all that was available to him, not because he already led a spiritual life. As he immersed himself in these books, he said that “his eyes began to open just a little.” And in that moment, he could see clearly what his path would be, he could see his connection to God, to spirit, to a greater more expansive life. He went on from there to create the spiritual exercises that are now a huge cornerstone of Christian contemplative life.
I feel like my eyes are opening “just a little” too. And simply by writing this, by sharing with you, I am making a crack for the light to get in.
The other day I was sitting with a friend who is going through so many challenges, so many huge life issues all at once. She cried for a bit as we talked about her situation. But then she sat up straight and said, “The thing is, outside of all of this, I’m also really happy. Does that make sense?”
It makes so much sense, and felt like a cool breeze cutting through the fog of heat and humidity we are enduring down here.
I feel like that too. There is so much good, I have so many wonderful things going on. I’m also really happy. Here are a few things that light up my days:
La Ermita is full of life and love
Proyecto Tialli is a one on one volunteer service project where we pair people with a little extra time on their hands with people in their homes who could really use support. It is growing and lifting hearts.
I have FOUR cats! They are all so different, and all so wonderful! Loki, Nachi, El Tigre and Francisco, the temple cat.
Batalá! My drum band! I love drumming and I love being a part of this worldwide community.
Teaching. I am teaching so many online classes that are giving me so much energy and joy in sharing – make sure you check out the offerings I put up for August!
Cedarsong – this is my sister’s pedagogy and non-profit Forest Education model. Along with a dear friend down here, we are working hard to grow the movement and trainings. It is so enriching to work on someone else’s project using skills and experience from my own work.
Residency – I have my interview for permanent residency on September 1. Wish me luck!
And finally, what might make me the happiest is saying all of this out loud. I feel like something has softened, shifted, just by getting this all down on “paper” and opening up to my community.
I will definitely write about addiction and co-dependency. I’ll write about depression and loneliness, about financial insecurity and aging. Because these are all happening, these are all true too. And my hope is that just by writing this, the truth of where I am, I can actually write again.
As Fred Rogers says, “Anything that is human is mentionable. Anything that is mentionable is manageable.”
I want you to feel less alone. I want to feel less alone. We are in this together. This is all human, and this is all manageable.
One last ask – please do not send me suggestions or advice. That is not where I am at. But please do join me on an upcoming class or training, let’s connect, let’s talk in person, let’s remind each other of the power of conscious community.
We are all in this together.