Radical Trust: What Do You Do When the Bottom Drops Out?
What do you do when the bottom drops out? How do you work with yourself when everything falls apart? Let me share my own journey down that slippery slope...
I opened my computer, the girls had already gone to bed and I was very tired from the wild combination of working at my job, working for myself, and parenting all the way through it with kids home because of snow and minor cold symptoms.
I can’t remember the last time I had a good hug, besides from my tiny three and half year old (she’s the best hugger). I mean, I’m sure my husband has hugged me, but when was the last time we truly had a moment to see each other, really? It’s been ages.
I opened my computer, excited to be getting ready for one of my two writing groups. Back at the top of the year, I realized that the thing most missing from my life was writing, so I quickly set up two different groups of friends who also want to write, and we established a delicious routine of weekly writing salon.
I’ve often said, of late, that the thing I love most about what I’m doing in my life right now is my podcast, and the thing that’s most important is my writing.
Having finally reached the landmark place of having published my first book, I am, of course, hungry to write and release the next one, the one that will really bounce into the world and have impact, or so I hope.
My schedule has been so full lately, that my time with writing is the only real place for introspection, the place I most deeply meet my mind, see my heart, examine my guts.
After a grueling three months working essentially three jobs on top of parenting, I have now settled into a new routine with my job, as well as creating and releasing weekly podcast episodes, re-articulating and deepening my business infrastructure, and making sure I’m actively doing more self care.
The central thrust of everything for me right now is exploring how to come back to my center.
Re-connecting with my core.
I’ve started doing physical therapy and the exercises, though painful, are guiding me right back into muscles in my core that I maybe never had a relationship with. I can see how out of my body I’ve been for so many years, and I am fully embracing this newly articulated journey back towards my center.
So I opened my computer, aching for the release of writing, and when I clicked open my writing program - Scrivener - everything was gone.
And I don’t mean in some trash folder.
I mean gone, gonzo, evaporated, exterminated, just a big black hole of nothingness.
The breath left my body and I heaved with sobs. Yes, I reached out to people who could help me find the files again. No, I couldn’t find them. Yes, I read at least 10 blog posts about how to retrieve the files. No, they didn’t help. Yes, I downloaded a file searching device. No, it couldn’t recover them.
I wept, curled on the floor, sobbing like I haven’t done since my miscarriage, five years ago.
All that writing. All that inquiry. All that poetry. All that insight. All that liquid gold.
“Well, sweetie, this might be a good opportunity to start fresh, to start again,” my husband said. Yes, he was probably hugging me then.
He loves to tease me, usually mercilessly, it’s his love-language. And he often teases that I never listen to him when he’s trying to help me.
Well, this time, I did.
I let the grieving carry through me, probably for about two hours. I felt emptied out. Like a shell of myself. I climbed into a hot bath so I could at least get back into my body. I fell asleep a few times.
And something fascinating started to well within me: a certain kind of tenuous strength. A curiosity. A sensation of opportunity.
How often do we truly embrace the presentation of a blank slate?
How often do we truly allow ourselves to sink into radical trust?
How often do we truly absolve ourselves of all of our mistakes and move forward anyway?
Those were the sensations whirling through me as I crawled into bed with my wakeful daughter and then promptly fell asleep curled up next to her.
In the morning when I awoke, stiff from not sleeping in my own bed, there was the most curious sensation of possibility. I went through the motions with my children, getting them dressed, teeth brushed, hair combed, cereal bowls made. And I kept asking myself: what do I do when the bottom falls out?
I rise up anyway.
I notice the tentative edges of hope, the raucous ravages of despair, the habitual pangs of hopelessness, and there, beneath it all, a wide open expanse of flat, white snow.
I look out the window at the bitter cold vista, and it mirrors my self back to myself: my mind, stopped in it’s racing tracks of hope and fear, stretches out to the distant horizon, still, flat, open, empty, expectant, patient, ready for spring-whenever-it-will-come, eager to rest in the open emptiness and just be.
What reprieve. What gift. What preciousness to feel this blank, embryonic sensation of possibility.
Here I am, back at the core of myself.
Anything is possible. I can use my voice however I want and need to. I am waiting for no one to guide, direct or instruct me. I am released from burden, from the past, from the future, from even the right-here-and-now. I am, essentially, free.
The sky is so, so blue. The snow is so, so white. The sun is so, so bright. The wings of my heart unfurl and I can taste the breeze. I can smell the frozen sap in the hidden dirt beneath my feet.
Finally, I have reached the peak of radical trust. I have decided not to fight anymore. That’s what’s radical about it. I have decided to rest with what is, and embrace the open expanse of possibilities stretched out before me. I shake off the decaying cobwebs of restraint tied to me eons ago, and I step out into the snow, naked of judgement, stripped of fear, bared to the wilderness and ready for whatever comes.
And it’s as simple as that.
I trust that this moment will lead me to where I need to go. I trust that everything that has brought me to this precipice was as it needed to be. I trust that I will be ok. I trust that my story will continue to unfold, that I’ll find what I need, that I’ll create what I most desire.
I step into the blank slate before me.
There is still a remnant of a question swirling about me, or perhaps that’s just the wind. But I lean into it. Perhaps this new space will allow me a fresh look at older questions.
How do I articulate my authority? How do I proclaim my vision and still be genuine? What have I been trying to create and how do I magnetize others to join me in the process?
The wide white field of snow has some answers, I discern.
I, the tree, stand tall and cast a shadow. My shadow shifts and turns and moves because of the way the wind and sun and seasons change me. Therefore, my authority lies in simply rising up from my roots to reach the sky. My authority arises from the simple fact of my presence, my embodied awareness. Just the fact of my being.
How I choose to act, will change the shape of that shadow, read: impact, and so it’s absolutely fine (I absolve myself) to play with it all. To shift and change, to redesign, to redecorate, to re-articulate. No longer do I need outside permission. No longer must I await any masters.
I hereby give myself to permission to shine in any and all directions whenever I choose.
What does it mean to be genuine? It means being willing to show up exactly as you are, in every given moment.
I come back in from the open field. I have work to do.
I sit down at my desk.
I open my computer.
And I find all of the missing files: my writing from the last eighteen months is not lost.