Following the Will ‘o Wisps

Summer of 2018 I started keeping a special journal I called my Will ‘o Wisp journal. I had started listening to the quiet tugs and really paying attention to the little “coincidences” that caught my eye. It was amazing to me how one thing led me to another, helping me to learn and grow; giving me messages to show me the way.

I knew I needed to finally admit what I had known deep inside–that my ex husband and I just weren’t meant to be. It was heartbreaking and the scariest thing I’ve ever done. It meant walking away from the known and stepping into a scary abyss of the unknown.

I took this picture June 2nd, 2018 right after I told Nate I was leaving and drove away for the last time. I was sweaty from packing my Jeep up with my belongings and headed to my apartment in Fort Benton, driving north on US 87 with the window down. I felt a little exhilarated and free but mostly apprehensive. I had no idea what was ahead of me and being a planner, a type A personality, this was a nightmare. Yet I knew in my soul this was the right step for me. I couldn’t see the big picture, but making small steps that resonated felt right.

The previous year had brought me exponential spiritual growth. Everywhere I looked it felt like the Universe was speaking to me. But once I left, I let fear take over and lost focus.

I continued to make small steps that resonated, groping in the dark for what felt right. I made several missteps that taught me lessons–yet lessons learned the hard way are hardest to forget. I learned what I wanted and what I didn’t want. To surround myself with relationships that felt right, and to burn bridges with those that didn’t. I learned to stop letting people, especially men, take advantage of me.

The discomfort is overwhelming, yet the Universe has always provided me with what I need. It’s been uncomfortably tight at times, but it always worked out in the end.

I ended up moving four times in less than a year. It’s amazing how easy it is to prune down your possessions and realize what means the most to you when it means having to pack and move them. How quickly I realized material things are just that–material. Replaceable. Inconsequential.

With all the chaos–changing jobs, moving, finalizing the divorce, a rebound relationship that ended so horrifically it’s something my dad and I can’t help but laugh about, and everything else, I stopped putting my spirituality as a priority, and suffered for it. Overwhelming feelings of helplessness and inadequacy take over so easily, and honestly some days it took every last ounce of willpower to just get out of bed.

Yet the Will ‘o Wisps…a beloved friend recommended a book not once, but twice. I bought it for my Kindle but didn’t read it right away. When I finally did, the words spoke right to my soul. Glennon Melton’s Love Warrior. I bought it on my Kindle, but if it were a hard copy it would be dog-eared, highlighted, and well worn.

I identify so well with how she describes escapism. I’ve never been good at dealing with loneliness, with discomfort. I learned to read when I was four, carefully rewriting words from my books. Since then books were my way of escaping away from whatever overwhelmed me at the time. Baths were another way I would escape from the world, soaking for hours at a time, refilling the tub with hot water when it became too tepid. As I got into high school I started partying, loving the feeling alcohol gave me. Anything that worked to escape the loneliness, the discomfort.

But you can’t numb the negative without also numbing the positive. The more I ran, the less I let myself feel, until life felt empty, meaningless. I felt so hollow, like I was just going through the motions. I wondered if this is how everyone felt, yet knew I was missing something. Glennon writes in her book, Love Warrior–

“…My entire life has been a race from the hot loneliness. I picture ten-year old me, feeling my anger, fear, jealousy, otherness, unbelonging for the first time and understanding these uncomfortable but normal human feelings to be wrong, shameful. I thought I needed to hide these feelings, escape them, fix them, deliver myself from them. I didn’t know that everyone feels the hot loneliness. I didn’t know that it would pass. So for the next twenty years, every time anger or fear or loneliness started bubbling up, I reached for an easy button–a book, a binge, a beer, a body, a shopping spree, a Facebook feed–to shove it back down. I’d press that button and find myself magically transported to a pain-free place. Distracted, numbed, underwater, gone.”

Like I mentioned–the Will ‘o Wisps. Glennon Melton mentions another book, called “When Things Fall Apart” by Pema Chodron. Reading the first chapter and it encapsulates everything I feel about fear of the unknown.

As Chodron writes in her opening paragraph,

“Embarking on the spiritual journey is like getting into a very small boat and setting out on the ocean to search for unknown lands. With wholehearted practice comes inspiration, but sooner or later we will also encounter fear. For all we know, when we get to the horizon, we are going to drop off the edge of the world. Like all explorers, we are drawn to discover what’s waiting out there without knowing yet if we have the courage to face it…”

Reading her words I can’t help thinking how much time and energy I’ve spent being overwhelmed by fear and loneliness, instead of embracing the unknown and trusting what the Universe has already shown me over and over. Trusting that whatever emotion I’m feeling, however unpleasant, is teaching me something important and will pass. Everything will work out as it is meant for me. What I want most in this moment might not be what I truly need. Trying different doors, expecting them to open and being surprised when they remain firmly locked. It’s only in looking back and realizing with gratitude that those doors weren’t right for me, and being thankful they didn’t open. They would have kept me from something even better.

Slowly things are settling down. I’ve moved into an apartment and am slowly getting unpacked. The divorce is final and our sons seem like they’re handling it well. We try to be as amicable as possible and put them as our first priority, ahead of our own pride and selfishness. I have no idea what is up ahead for me. I have a picture of what I would like to happen, but if anything I know things can change in a moment. So instead I let go of my expectations and just try to live in this moment.

Letting go of control and trusting everything will work out has been one of the most difficult lessons I’ve ever learned and one I’m still learning day by day. That I don’t need to numb myself out of fear of the unknown, that I can face whatever is ahead independently. If I just breathe, stay in this moment, and take small steps in whatever direction that feels right, I don’t need to see the big picture. I don’t need to know the end destination to appreciate the scenery along the way.

Yesterday as I was bringing in groceries for my son’s 3rd birthday party, I watched this feather float to the ground from the tree above. I knew it was meant for me, a sign that everything is as it should be and everything will be okay. Another memento for my Will ‘o Wisp journal…