How One Brave Act Can Change the Trajectory of Your Life
“And you? When will you begin that long journey into yourself?” – Rumi
It was 2011, I was 43 years old and entering my 5th divorce. Yet another restart. I didn’t see it coming though it’s obvious now. I was so humiliated that the marriage was only a few months old. But as my then-husband picked an armchair and heaved it towards me, it wasn’t going to be a relationship to stay in. However, the beauty of that experience was that it was THE catalyst for a deep and sacred dive into myself.
I got angry and that’s where I found my courage. The anger wasn’t directed towards anyone; it was more like a powerful force of energy that turned into a driving force for change. From dysfunctional marriages, to giving my power away to supposed authority figures, to an overriding sense of worthlessness, it was time I ended the cycle of dishonoring myself.
Why was I tolerating a life that was killing my spirit? My unique expression? Was I so afraid to be alone or stand in judgment that I would continue to compromise on myself day after day and even year after year? Truthfully, yes, I was… until I wasn’t. I drew a line in the sand and said, “This shit stops NOW!” And it did.
My life was in a box: intolerable confinement, no light, suffocating, forced stillness, seemingly no way out. In hindsight I see the symbolism of that box. It would stem from a traumatic experience when I was 5 years old. This “box” was a literal experience.
My family was in the middle of an out-of-state move. My father had moved ahead and was preparing for our relocation while my mother and her three children (I was the oldest) were staying with extended family. Simultaneously, a relative had also moved back into the home we were staying at, after a recent stint in a psych ward. The family was unaware of a deeper sickness this tormented soul had, and at their hands I fell prey to horrific acts of satanic ritual abuse and torture.
The “box” was one of the ritualistic tortures I endured. I would be forced into a small box (almost coffin-like) and they would close the lid. It was a dark and suffocating experience. I recall a time when I awoke to see two faces looking down at me in total panic. It’s likely I had passed out and I can only surmise that this time they thought they’d gone too far.
This experience was so traumatic it literally fractured me. I had big gaps in my childhood that I couldn’t recall and I figured that was normal. But then the built-in mechanism of the mind to block out intense trauma began to crumble and deeply repressed memories began to surface, in flashbacks, when I was 26 years old. That is a story of its own.
Even though I survived the box from my childhood it would continue to show up symbolically throughout my life in different forms; abusive relationships, disabling anxiety, financial scarcity, people pleasing, playing small to not be seen, etc..
There’s a price to pay for freedom and joy. Though I believe in divine grace it wouldn’t be to our benefit to call upon it without being willing to roll up our own sleeves. It would not be valued if the cost wasn’t recognized. Few are actually willing to pay the price for it and I get it, I tried to dodge the cost myself. I wanted the healing without having to learn the lessons or change my mindset, behavior, or patterns. And it just doesn’t work that way. You can’t have anyone else take your life tests for you. There’s no cheating on this life exam.
Pain and fear are great motivators. Once I quit trying to avoid the discomfort, or wanting others to fix my messes, I armored up with courage and my higher power and walked into the arena to fight my opponent…FEAR. It had bullied me long enough. I would reclaim my life at all cost, and there would be a cost.
I could not expect to heal and continue to ignore that the common denominator in all these experiences was ME. Given my history it’s understandable why I was cycling in dysfunctional patterns, but that understanding wouldn’t give me my power and freedom back. And I was done being a victim! Truly, the ownership of being in a box was mine and only I determined how long I stayed in it.
So, in 2011 I woke up, I mean REALLY woke up! With the ending of a 5th marriage I realized that I had been divorced from MYSELF. The pain, fear, and anger of a life coming undone could no longer be bypassed. The boxes, the labels, and the forced concept of what and who I should be came to a head. Finally, I had reached my limit with being limited. I would stand up for myself and reclaim my life as being my own. Fear took a backseat to my commitment to freedom and self-discovery. I was ready to do a complete overhaul of my life – whatever it took!
Because I didn’t know where to start, I began with what would become a ritual of walking and talking with the Divine. I knew I couldn’t make this change alone and there was no better source than the sacred conversation between me and my Beloved. It’s how I survived all my other life experiences. So as I walked up the long winding red dirt hill by my townhome, I called out in pure surrender “Now what? Show me.” I walked with a pace that made me sweat, felt my legs burn, and my lungs stretched. I was releasing years of pent-up stuck energy and making room for healing.
On the way back home I’d slow my pace down, feeling a mixture of exhaustion and relief. I listened for my Beloved’s reply to my question. Not feeling the need to beg, plead, or for it to be a drawn out conversation; I kept it simple and waited patiently for the response as I frequently checked in.
The connection was so pure that when guidance came it surfaced as a knowing, as if I was spoken to but there were no words. A power beyond my own was coursing through me. It added to my courage and determination. Because of its purity there was no hesitation to act when the answers came. Some of those actions would be terrifying if I weren’t so dedicated. It was ALL on the altar and I would take back only that which resonated with my newfound freedom and commitment to the higher version of myself.
I was finally ready, or brave enough, to explore a territory I had avoided all my life…the journey within myself. I had always been a seeker, but the seeking was always external with touches of superficial skimming into the deeper crevices of my inner self.
When you get to that place of full surrender, you will be severely tested on your devotion. For me, I was to let go of a thriving career, my family (I was raised in), friends, my religion, my home, my cherished beliefs and concepts of truth, and basically my whole identity.
I discovered a beautiful and unexpected truth about relinquishing. Whatever you release is either returned to you with renewed appreciation, or it’s replaced with something far greater. Either way, it’s worth the discomfort to stay the course. This is the place that most people give up, not realizing how close they are to a breakthrough because it feels so much like a breakdown.
And so it began. The deep dive into myself, my own version of Eat, Pray, Love. In the quest of self-discovery and the meaning of my life I would give myself the gift of time, true introspection, and healing. This journey would last 5 years in the belly of Oregon.
I was guided to relocate to Bend, OR. I didn’t know a soul there and it was nowhere on my radar at the time but it came as my next inspired step. Literally as a strong, clear message, “You’re moving to Bend, OR.” So within two months of receiving this intuition I ended my thriving career as an energy worker and intuitive (ironic that I could help others more than I could myself), removed myself from family, friends and community, and entered the abyss in Oregon. People definitely had their opinions about it, and I couldn’t blame them, but their input was at this point irrelevant.
I had no job waiting for me and just a small amount in my bank account. Seeing my determination and knowing I needed help with the moving van, my parents rose to the occasion and offered their support, even though it was against their wishes. They even provided a few months of rent support. As they said good-bye I was struck with the cold-terror that I was literally alone and I wondered “What have I done?”
Doubt was playing a trump card on my courage but I knew I couldn’t afford to entertain that mindset and so I turned it into a game of sorts. I had to convince my mind to see this as an adventure. What could I discover or create in my new life? I could reinvent myself and I gave myself full permission to do just that.
I met a friend, Joe Flora, who would become my adventure buddy. He and his dog, Libby, showed me all the best trails to hike, pristine lakes to paddle, and the greatest campsites that would take your breath away. Together we hung out exploring the magnificence of nature from Central Oregon to the Oregon Coast. I was blissed out seeing an assortment of wildlife from eagles to whales and would return home with a token of my trip, whether it was a shell from the coast or a beautiful stone from the hike. I had no idea what a master healer Mother Earth is. The more I dove into Her the more I relaxed into myself. She was my elixir, my sacred chalice, my healing balm.
I let my hair go gray (dying it since my early 30’s) with wild long curls and minimal makeup, I traded in fashion for comfort, and all around granola-ed out! I took jobs that paid the bills but I didn’t have to be seen or heard. It was my cave time, not to hide out, but to cocoon and heal. I let it be all for and about ME. I had never allowed myself to do that before. I had judged it as selfish but now accepted it as a necessary act of self-love now.
After my 5 year sabbatical, I returned to Utah bringing with me my newly discovered self and the gifts of my journey. One of those gifts would be Joe Flora, my adventure buddy who became my sweetheart. I am now in a loving, supportive, and committed relationship that exceeds my dreams. Once I gave MYSELF the love, honor, and respect, I could now draw a man to me of exceptional quality that enhanced my own being.
Other gifts I returned with were a joyful reconnection and reunion with my family, a relaunching of my career as a Transformation Coach, and a spiritual teacher and practice that feeds my soul and keeps me anchored to my commitment to truth, freedom and joy. Who would’ve guessed that in letting go of so much that so much MORE would return to me?
And that is how my transformation journey truly began. Well, maybe a more correct expression would be how it came to “stay.” Though I’ve had many journeys of diving deep and emerging strong, this time was different. I began to see the thread in my multiple resets and how it finally led to lasting change in the journey of transformation. It’s what I call, The Four Pillars of Transformation.
- AWAKEN (aware a change is needed, ready to commit to the next level).
- EXPLORE (taking an honest inventory, seeing new options).
- CHOOSE (creating anew, decisions based on what enhances and supports).
- BE (authentic presence, action in alignment ).
I felt compelled to create and share this navigational process as a mentor and life coach for those who would travel their own journey of self-discovery.
Transformation is both bold courage and a soft surrender, a mix of fierce and gentle. It’s a journey that is never really finished. Being committed to myself means continued transformation, but that’s okay because I’m getting closer, rather than further, to my highest self. I surrender to the understanding that there will continue to be growing pains as long as I continue to grow and I am committed to growth. I’ll walk alongside fear but it will never be my master again.
I’m in awe of the depths I’ve been, the territories traveled, the wisdom gained, and the place I now stand. I lead from my heart in a surrendered dance that keeps me connected to my Beloved. I fiercely guard my divine right to choose for myself. I will NOT leave myself again!!
I spent 40 plus years of my life getting out of that damn box. But I did it! In my early 50’s, I now breathe the fresh air of freedom, bask in the light of self-acceptance, and feel the space to be my BIG SELF. I emerged strong. I emerged wiser. I emerged free. I emerged…ME.
I live my life as a heart-centered, compassionate, trailblazing, wise, intuitive, shit-slaying woman. All the bumps, bruises, successes, failures, milestones…I own it all. It’s MY beautiful messy life!
“And then one day, she simply stopped
Waiting to Get There, or Be More, or Work It All Out.
And she laid down on the grass and
Drank in the beauty of the messy wonder
That was her life.”
— Hollie Holden Love
What would it be like to invest in a solution, rather than cycling in paying a price? Take your first step towards self-discovery and visit my website: www.TauniaDawn.com.