It was only seven months ago that I wasn’t keeping my head above water. On the surface, it appeared that I was. I lived in a house with amazing like-minded people who were artists; each had a heart of gold and passions for sustainable living. When the season was on, there was never a shortage of fresh food and dinner gatherings were plentiful, leading into many great nights of music and conversation. I made more money that I needed at a job that was second nature and again, I was surrounded by the most supportive genuine people you could ask for. I was also making “a name” for myself within the burgeoning art community and getting paid well to do so. I was in a relationship with a beautiful man who possessed a mind that wrote itself like classic novel. His words were as monumental as his physical beauty and I’d never been so struck by someone I didn’t understand on many levels. Our backgrounds were different; communication was poor but our chemistry strong. He is a man I could write endless pages about and still never get it quite right. At the very least, I had a radius of good people.
I cannot mark the exact time that things began to decline. It started slowly with a bit of lethargy and feeling too warm in my body, cranky. The progression went from general discomfort to nausea after everything I ate. I seemed sharper than usual, more apt to be irate at small things or quick to snap back in response to something I found annoying. I felt ill, like my core was writhing in something, but nothing overtly wrong because I could still function. I was eating really well and not drinking very much so I must have been okay, right?
One day, I had a bull’s eye appear on my thigh, so I did my research. I had not been bitten by a tick that I could recall and after enough reading, settled on a spider bite. It was slightly agitated spot that began to change color and spread out. I figured it was just a reaction to the venom, so I covered it with a charcoal poultice for a few days. About day three, I went to work and began to deteriorate quickly. I felt flu-like. My body ached all over and I had these pulses radiating from my core outward towards my limbs that seemed to mess with my equilibrium. A few days prior I had also gotten a quick flash of vertigo while waiting one of my tables and the two seemed related. I expressed to my manager my condition and after just about everyone on staff seeing my “bite,” I was urged to go to the emergency room.
My then partner and I waited for hours to be seen, only for the doctor to take one look and tell me I had Cellulitis, a common skin infection. He prescribed antibiotics and sent me on my way. I took them dutifully and kept a very mindful eye on the state of my body. I’m not particularly into to medicating every little thing, but I felt so unhinged I thought best to follow directions. After about a week, nothing had changed with the exception of additional symptoms. Joint paint upon waking and a near constant headache now joined the confusion. But in the outside, I looked normal. I looked like me having a bad day perhaps, but no one could tell anything out of the ordinary. I was unable to shake that something wasn’t right. I knew my body; I knew its sensitivities to food and other environmental factors. I knew how to sleep well and listen to it. I wasn’t unaware of what sensation was or how we store things within our bodies. Quite simply, it was not my first rodeo and something was inherently wrong. I did all the research, but I could find nothing.
Luckily, I called my mother who referred me to an old friend of hers, a doctor of osteopathic medicine who was no longer taking patients but he agreed to hear about what was going on. I told him everything: body aches, bulls-eye, fatigue, joint paint, constant headache, nervousness, and irritability. He was able to put everything together and suggest something that seemed worse than not knowing. He said he believed it was Lyme Disease, a tick borne illness. It was treatable with homeopathy and discipline over a long period of time. I was relieved and devastated. After months of not knowing and feeling my sense of sanity slipping little by little, I couldn’t really believe I had a few words that described everything. He gave me a list of eight supplements to be taken 3 times a day. Each set of pills had to be taken with a meal, but I had no appetite.
By the time we had figured out what was wrong, I was about 3 months in and my will was being tested. It took all of my will power to keep going. I was so exhausted upon waking I couldn’t really fathom accomplishing an entire day. To eat three meals and go to work was a feat of strength that I wasn’t entirely convinced I wanted to accomplish. Over the next many weeks, I cried most days. I would tune into the state of affairs and couldn’t help it. Many people found me staring out a window in near despair. But I found if I did cry, I was less likely to yell at someone or say something bitterly to a person that I loved. I couldn’t even see how I had gotten to where I was or how it was ever going to be different. I had been depressed before, but this was a near hopelessness that became darker with each day. No amount of joy or support was changing that. At work I would take a chair into the stair well and cry between tables or running orders. My coworkers were angels, every single one of them. I relied on them a lot and I felt not one penny of resentment. If it was not for them and a few key others, I do not know how I would have maintained. I cashed in on a lot of good karma over those months and looking back, I still cannot express enough gratitude.
During that time, I was working even more than I would normally because I had made a few commitments at the café to cover a coworker who was going out of town. I was also planning and executing a program to run at a local library aimed at inspiring word play. I had made many plans I did not feel comfortable breaking and I believed that you tried to keep your word no matter what. So I kept working, even when I had psoriasis all covering 90% of my body on account Herxheimer Reaction. I was not able to walk without pain and to use my hands was a chore. In a few short months, I went from being a capable healthy woman to a frail shadow of myself.
In the middle of this madness, I booked a round trip plane ticket to Maui to visit old friends because I needed a break. Truthfully, I was also beginning to doubt my ability to keep going. I knew my will to live was strong but I also knew if I went into winter feeling this way, all hope might disappear.
So I went to Hawaii to stay with my very good friend. Upon arriving, she called out how small I looked, how much shorter I was and literally hovered around me with a sort of disdain. She just kept remarking how the mainland had done a number on me. I felt very overwhelmed to be seen so thoroughly after I had begun to feel invisible. All I knew was that I’d healed in Maui before and I was safe. I entered into a world without time or standards, there was nothing governing my space. I was allowed to just be, which was liberating in itself.
I was two days in when it shifted. I woke up one morning, got out of bed with minimal effort and put the kettle on. I walked out to the porch and looked up at the sky, which had been releasing a typical upcountry rain, to gander a rainbow arched perfectly before me. I smiled as tears came and breathed deeply because all felt well, which was unusual. A week went by and I was rising with more energy each day, my joint pain began to slowly fade away, only coming back for short intervals. The headache began to diminish until the space in my head was my own again, a calm pool of water. Within two weeks, it was hard to remember the place I had come from. I had energy to wake with and could move about my day with very little effort, my body was back and so was my spirit.
I had an unshakeable feeling that if I went back to the life I had before, I’d deteriorate quickly. I had a home, a car, unfinished business, a relationship and a room full of things to take care of. I feared greatly that if I went to address those things, I’d never get back to Maui in one piece. The space I was resting in felt like my one window and the ability to step back through it was shrinking quickly. It was as if a portal has opened between the two places and in the middle was a mirror. From the city side, I peered in to see a vibrant me, full of life and exuberance to tackle it. I saw a woman without universal guilt who could care for others by caring for herself first and foremost. I was met with a being that could create without fear and live to no other measures than the ones that nature so gorgeously places before us.
From the Maui side, I saw a phantom of myself, mucked down with things that didn’t belong in a human body. I was wearing old stories like rags. That Jordan clung to not being worthy. She was heavy with the shame of being born a woman and the paradigm that existed therein. She was the embodiment of playing safe and being heard just enough to not make too many waves because to challenge anyone’s structural foundation was dangerous and women had been burned for less. I didn’t want to be her anymore. I had not become incarnate or chose to live a life to be a bound woman, to be an object of adoration assuming I didn’t step out of line. I had been told wasn’t nice to break people’s brains by asking them if they are truly happy endlessly toiling to achieve what exactly? What good is another rung on the ego latter delivering you towards an ever thinning atmosphere? What I felt I needed was a soul unchained from the stakes I had been given at birth and through subsequent conditioning had hammered in slowly over time. The reality was that I was adding more links to my chain over the years, getting further out from the epicenter of self-slavery, able to see more of the world and the time had come to pull up the stake and cut the chain entirely. I had heard it was easier to keep people exactly where you want them not by imprisoning them against their will, but by allowing them to erect their own imprisonment as a reaction to an unsafe environment. With freedom and innocence being something all beings deserve to have, I had built a fortress. For the first time in life, I was able to see how much work had gone into building it. It begged the question: What if all of that energy could go to something else?
When I speak of these two selves that is not to say I was only a shadow, but similarly with my illness, not many were able to perceive its presence. Nor until I stepped away was I able to truly take in its foundation. It took up a lot of space and had many tendrils reaching into most areas of my life. It was like a looping subliminal message playing constantly. From where I was standing, enough was enough.
This revelation began the unwinding of everything. I had to ask for my friends to have faith in me though I could not exactly explain why I needed this so abruptly. I stated my intention to my house steward to stay in Maui and to have it figured out by January. I called my folks to ask if they would store my things until the later time that I could retrieve them, to which they agreed. Shortly thereafter I received a text message from another housemate offering to pack all of my things up in an organized manner, while another offered to sell the truck for me. It clicked very quickly and though there were hitches and some situations I’d have liked to be able to handle directly, it all happened. Again, my level of gratitude is unrivaled and I carry it with me each day.
During my revelations, my then partner was largely missing; there was little communication between us for reasons unknown to me. Everything had happened so quickly, that I was already resolved by the time he finally reached out. He would not be moving to Maui, nor would I be coming back to my previous home. There was an impasse. Before I had left on this journey, he had asked if I was coming back and wanting so badly to make my life work, I said that I was. He was right that I wasn’t.
Now cue doing my work, every piece of my shadow that I referred to, each vine and its tendrils had to be addressed. The largest foundational piece was shame. When I took to unravelling it, I began to see the big umbrella stories I had been playing a part in. None of this was easy to look at. I had to live completely with the process of reclaiming my innocence, coaching myself into believing that it was never able to be taken from me. I had to look at and play with the historical track record of imprisonment of the feminine power. Each time I stood up for myself, I felt shame. Each moment I made someone unhappy for any reason my knee jerk reaction was to immediately shame myself. When I felt unable to own my current situation because I perceived I was failing or not doing enough shame would rear its head. Shame was my main form of self-control and it was a powerful one. It was something I wore in and around my body. When I was ill and couldn’t keep up productivity, it was there. Every time I didn’t orgasm, every time I misspoke, when I procrastinated, when I did something I knew wasn’t good for me, when I stayed in relationships that didn’t serve me, when I had to leave without explanation, every time I needed to take care of just myself and no one else, it was shame central. An elder called me out during this process to say: THIS IS NO WAY TO WALK THROUGH LIFE.
Within that space of releasing, I was spending a lot of time reflecting on bloodshed, the sacrifice of blood to the earth. There are two ends to the spectrum for me: Menstruation and War. Each occupies the space of death. But there is no reverence in war and nothing is sacred there. I was taking my blood and offering to sacred spots with the intention of clearing out my involvement within the aforementioned patterns. These were places of Great War and fire on the island, but each one called me from sleep when it was time to go. During this time, my uterus even expelled my IUD, leaving it neatly in my diva cup for me to find one afternoon. Although I was somewhat shocked that a $5,000 piece of hardware was now null and void, there seemed intelligence in it happening that was greater than I could comprehend in that moment.
As we look two months beyond that work to now, I am 9 weeks pregnant. My counterpart is a longtime friend and just as joyous as I. I am creating life as we speak. It seems the space I cleared, the energy I was freeing up was for this experience. There would be no room for him/her if I still held that shame so tightly. Even now, I feel old areas in my body, long forgotten, asking for attention and they’ll get them.
I’ve given this back story because it is my intention to walk this journey with mindfulness and a brutally beautiful honesty. I’d like to share this walk with you. Will you walk with me?