The other day, a colleague asked me how the walk was going on the path to going to school. I confided that half the time I am feeling like a strong warrior-woman, marking bold steps, striding forward and that the other half of the time I was feeling completely undone whether by fear and a sense of “What the hell I am doing?” or just sheer exhaustion from the effort.
“You mean thats not normal?” she commented with a laugh. “Sounds like a regular ol’ day for me!”
Truth is I have been feeling a bit tender lately as I navigate this swing. I have been feeling strange and freakishly fractured even as I felt strong and powerful, and I have been longing to feel whole and solid again. And so it was that her off handed comment caused a warm wave of comfort to envelope me. I had been feeling a bit crazy. But she reminded me that no–I am not a lunatic. This is the way, even if we are private about it. It is. It is. It is how we grow.
I am reminded of the thousands, no millions, of women — soul sisters all– who are right now navigating similar changes and transitions. Rearranging our lives in ways that provoke excitement and anxiety and honest-to-goodness wiped out “sleep for hours” kind of exhaustion. All of us in one way or another can feel splintered and pull apart. Whether we are transitioning into partnership or widowhood, motherhood or empty-nest, setting up a home in a strange land, or learning the curves of familiar terrain when the people we love no longer populate it, navigating career changes or discovering a new power deep inside us we all every day experience a mix of fear, strength, faith, exhileration and exhaustion in different combinations.
Taken together, while moving forward, its called courage. Extraordinary every day courage. And it, and the accompanying tenderness from the rollercoaster ride, well…its normal.
A friend recently send me a link to a post about Akhilandeshvari, the Hindi goddess of “brokenness”. Rather she is the goddess of “never not broken” as in “Broken as a normal every day state of being”. Not the kind of brokenness that leaves us helpless–but the kind of brokenness that happens when our life is shattered and as we pick up the pieces and rearrange them, we create something amazing and beautiful. Broken as in transforming. Broken as in making ourselves and our lives over and over again.
The state of being broken is not a condition of weakness but a condition of transformation and strength. I love that there is a goddess devoted to this state. It reminds me that what I am going through is so normal, so ordinary, so every day and therefor so holy that we need a goddess to help us hold the space, to inspire us and to carry us through. That is it not a negative state but one of profound and positive power. I am part of a chain of women that not only reaches across the globe but reaches back into ancient history. I am one of millions of us who are “never not broken”. It is a condition that is normal.
That knowledge helps dispel fear and helps me stand strong. I anchor myself in the knowledge that “All shall be well and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” Sometimes, before I sleep, I feel a long line of wise women touch me on the shoulder, each one of them whispering, “This is how we know strength, when we allow ourselves to be broken. Only then can we rearrange our lives in a powerful way. This, my dear child, this is normal”.