Three years ago I stepped off a plane from my first trip to India and had the distinct feeling that the breath was being ripped out of my lungs. It felt like I was dying of suffocation. A primal experience that I'm absolutely sure blog words cannot capture... one that I cannot forget and one I don't want to remember.
I'd gone from the highest high to the lowest low; a low that did not include oxygen, all in one plane ride. It wasn't just culture shock; I've had that before. It wasn't just being ripped away from my spiritual tribe; I've been through many a rough re-entry before. It wasn't just coming back to bleak January; everyone dressed in black, the trees bare, the sky grey. It wasn't just jet lag or exhaustion. It wasn't just the shock of coming back to full-blown motherhood selfless service. No, the shock of coming back to my entire life, my entire ME, after feeling what I'd felt there, was horrifying.
I recall taking my son to Target the day after getting home, simply to kill time and avoid the nauseous feeling of being lost and in shock. Wandering the aisles, squinting through the fluorescent lights, listening to people arguing, fighting to get in lines to check out, getting overwhelmed looking for a few simple items... holy shit: this is my Western attempt to "fill" myself... with plastic... instead of something real. This is what I do. This is what we do. I had... no idea how disgusting, how empty... how deathlike my existence was. How starving I had been. The contrast between here and there, was a bit too much to handle.
I'm not sure how long I'd been that starving; probably since the day my brother had died 10 years before. More likely longer. The questions loomed over me: "How the hell did I get here? How the hell am I going to get out? How the hell am I going to find 'that' feeling that I had over there, here? Here, where there is literally no access? I live in a spiritual desert. My tongue is dry. And all I have is a memory of a well... somewhere, somehow, that didn't even make any actual sense."
This photo popped up on my newsfeed memory today. It was taken in the midst of our pilgrimage staring at the Indian Ocean just after a 5am temple dosing. It's been 3 years of integration so far. Identity crisis included. Little by little, I've found ways for that feeling over there, to happen over here. In here. I hesitate to give IT a name because I know my experience of IT is not necessarily yours.
My IT happens in THIS body, in this life, in this place. At any time I remember to remember. IT is a very real, every-day IT. But, it's been a road to be here today. A road I'm proud of. I did not go backwards, but instead trudged forwards. And I still do, even now. There have been times that I wish I didn't know the difference. And there are always moments that I forget to remember. But the difference today, is that I know the difference. And I know I can push that button, remember to remember, at any point in time. Sometimes it's harder than others. But it never, ever goes away. I don't live in a desert. I live in my life.