Darbella’s Articles — “Turtling In”

One of my good friends at Haven once called me “turtle­woman.” I was a lit­tle dis­ap­point­ed with the pic­ture this cre­at­ed in my mind. I was look­ing for some­thing more excit­ing to iden­ti­fy with. Dur­ing the process of unfold­ing at Phase One I real­ized that this descrip­tion fit me quite well. I must write and thank him for his insight. 

There are times in my life when I need to “tur­tle in” and look after myself. The month of Jan­u­ary was much like that. Decem­ber was busy with the usu­al hol­i­day trap­pings. Now it is Feb­ru­ary and I am begin­ning to stick my neck out again. Thanks to those who made inquiries about when I would be writ­ing again. 

I write because I gain great insights into myself through the process. I am hap­py to share that process in this e‑zine and I please myself that peo­ple notice. The “old me” would have been tru­ly amazed that any­one noticed or even cared about what I would write. I have grown past that now. I please myself with the infor­ma­tion and feel warm in my heart when the mes­sages come. I am learn­ing to be present in the moment and to enjoy being “me.”

“Turtling in” was a pleas­ant expe­ri­ence in Jan­u­ary. This was a very dif­fer­ent from past expe­ri­ences. I am pleased to note the dif­fer­ences and I am learn­ing to accept this as part of who I am. It is okay to do this for myself. 

I have spent so much of my life stuck behind thick walls, locked in a room of my own cre­ation. It took me a long time to real­ize that I was the one that pos­sessed the key. Once I gained the knowl­edge that this was a room of my own cre­ation, it still took me a long time to ven­ture out of the room and ful­ly expe­ri­ence the world. The small­est thing that I per­ceived as a threat and I hur­ried back into the room and quick­ly locked the door so I would con­tin­ue to feel safe. In this space I felt total­ly invis­i­ble to the out­side world and there­fore deter­mined that I was safe. 

(Let me note that this inside safe place is very valu­able to me. I nev­er want to lose it. It allows me to feel safe wher­ev­er I am and in what­ev­er place I hap­pen to be. It has also been a place of intense learn­ing through­out my life — a major part of my life expe­ri­ence. I val­ue all those expe­ri­ences, even the ones I judge to be “neg­a­tive,” because they all have played a role in mak­ing me who I am today. I val­ue who I am today. That is all that matters.) 

In the cou­ple of years pri­or to going to Haven for Phase One, I was becom­ing less and less con­tent with this trapped feel­ing of being locked in my room. This pat­tern worked well for me in the past and I was ready for an oppor­tu­ni­ty to explore new options for liv­ing my life. The roller coast­er chaos dur­ing those cou­ple of years pre­pared me for the Haven Phase One expe­ri­ence. I was tired of hid­ing from life and I was begin­ning to real­ize how much I was miss­ing. I was ready to make oth­er choices. 

And then I arrived at Haven for Phase One! I had put myself in a place where I would face almost a month of exact­ly those kinds of expe­ri­ences that led to my hid­ing deep inside myself, so no liv­ing being would have a chance to find out who I was. Those liv­ing beings includ­ed me, too! And I was ready. It was very scary. My major goal was to catch myself as I was going into hid­ing and bring myself back to the present and just be there in my anxiety. 

There were times when I was so scared that my body was frozen and unable to move. I was able to stay in that place until I could make a small move­ment toward the things that were scar­ing me. Many small deter­mined steps moved me far­ther from my retreat deep inside myself. It actu­al­ly felt like thin, trans­par­ent, move­able walls were pro­tect­ing me just enough to stay in the fear. I was only aware of myself and my strug­gle with the fear. I val­ue those small steps for­ward because they came from a place of con­scious choice. I was learn­ing a new way of being. I learned that the choice of step­ping for­ward into my fear was just as easy as the choice to retreat. It was sim­ply a choice. 

Jan­u­ary was a great month. I took time for me. I shut out the world by choice, not as a response to fear. I want­ed time to go inside and tru­ly expe­ri­ence how I was feel­ing. I con­tin­ued to work hard at school. My teach­ing part­ner is back from Aus­tralia and I have had a won­der­ful recon­nec­tion with her. I like how I am see­ing myself in rela­tion­ship with her. I like that our con­nec­tion is hap­pen­ing at a deep­er lev­el. I like work­ing with some­one rather than work­ing along side some­one. I con­tin­ue to learn more and more about me in that rela­tion­ship and many others. 

I have come out of my Jan­u­ary “turtling expe­ri­ence” know­ing more about myself. I am in a dif­fer­ent place now than I have ever been in my life. I am more will­ing to let go of the past. I am less like­ly to live in fear of the future. I spend more time being present in the now. 

I make choic­es in the moment. I catch myself ear­ly on that end­less ham­ster wheel ride of all the things I have not man­aged to fit into my sched­ule. I can quick­ly get myself off that ride and be con­tent with my present sit­u­a­tion. I notice what I am doing and I stop. All that mat­ters is the now. I can’t do all those things in the present. I can only do one thing at a time and I choose to focus my full atten­tion on that task. 

If my choice is to throw all those “have-to things” out the win­dow for awhile. and focus on me and what I want to do, that is okay cause I am worth it. I buried myself in The Lord of the Rings tril­o­gy dur­ing the month. I often do not allow myself the lux­u­ry of recre­ation­al read­ing with all those “have-to things” in my life. 

I was out to din­ner with Wayne at our favourite French restau­rant for Valen­tine’s Day. A retired teacher friend of mine owns the restau­rant with her part­ner, the French chef. We booked a late meal so when we fin­ished eat­ing the cook­ing would be done and we could have a vis­it with our friends. 

We have not seen these friends in awhile and they were ask­ing me about my sum­mer expe­ri­ence at Haven. I explained to them that I was much calmer, more relaxed and more con­tent with life than I had ever been in the past. I was enjoy­ing that feel­ing and was very glad that I had tak­en the time for myself. My friend com­ment­ed that she was quite amazed because I was one of the calmest peo­ple she knew, so I must be quite calm now. I had a pic­ture in my mind of a duck swim­ming in the water look­ing quite calm on the sur­face, yet swim­ming like hell under­neath and unseen. I imag­ine I did look like the duck on the sur­face to friends. I knew how much I was scram­bling under the sur­face to main­tain that out­ward look. 

Now I am more and more often giv­ing up on the strug­gle under the sur­face. When I become aware of the fact that I am strug­gling against life and I sim­ply turn around in the cur­rent of life and go with the flow, rather than the con­stant strug­gle to swim upstream. I am learn­ing to accept what is rather than fight against it. Out­ward­ly, I imag­ine I look much the same. Inward­ly, I feel a tremen­dous dif­fer­ence. My Jan­u­ary “turtling in” expe­ri­ence gave me a clear­er pic­ture of what was hap­pen­ing inside my body and a greater appre­ci­a­tion of who I am and the life I have cre­at­ed for myself. 


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