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.