" Here comes the sun.... Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter." - The Beatles
Even though it was a relatively short and unseasonably warm winter here on the east coast, it was a tough one for me and many of the people around me. I couldn’t be more ready for spring and the literal and symbolic renewal and new beginnings coming forth.
Because of work and some things that were going on with my family, I spent the winter in my home-town of Cambridge Massachusetts, where I haven’t lived since I left for college at seventeen. It was an intense winter, full of introspection, challenging myself in my work and on a personal level. Being re-enmeshed with my family, living in my childhood home after so many years on my own, forced me to examine myself and my lineage in a way that I hadn’t done before. To examine the narrative of my life and face difficult emotions from the past.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of acceptance and change, two entities that I had previously thought to be mutually exclusive. When I was younger I always thought of acceptance as being synonymous with defeat and resignation. It seemed the polar opposite of ambition and optimism. The people around me that I least wanted to be like, seemed to have accepted their limitations and situations in life and were defeated by them. The people who I did want want to be like, it appeared to me, were optimistic, ambitious and had overcome hardships and had achieved happiness and success. I have always been ambitious and optimistic, able to see some glimmer of light even in the darkest of moments. For much of my life, I powered through tough situations with sheer will power, refusing to be restrained or slowed down by fear or past pain and disappointments. I was constantly doing and achieving. Always looking on “ the bright side” never willing to look too closely at the dark side. I was fearless in venturing out in the world, traveling on my own, taking on challenging projects, pushing myself. Where my fear lay, was with venturing too far inward, into the past or into my own well of emotions. I was always looking to the future, never able to stay present in the moment.
Friends, family members and even therapists encouraged me to fight back against my anxiety, not to dwell on the past and again keep my chin up and look on the bright side. But my instincts told me that there was something to be learned from my past. That if I had the courage to stop trudging onward and truly look at my past and my emotions, even the difficult ones, there was much to be learned. I knew, that while this would be difficult, that by doing so, there would in fact, be more hope of change in the future. The analogy that keeps arising for me is that by only looking to the future, it is like cutting weeds and being surprised every time they grow back, rather than pulling them out at the root. I chose to go to the roots. Rather than fighting back against my anxiety I chose to befriend it. By tapping into a deep reservoir of self- trust I was able to get up the courage to ask what was underneath it, where it was coming from and what it was trying to tell me. I asked how much of my anxiety and sadness and fear was even really my own and how much of these emotions were inherited or being absorbed from others. This process of befriending my anxiety, and shedding light on the dark places, has loosened the grip they hold on me immensely. It is making it easier to sit with my emotions and be present in the moment. With the spring equinox I have felt a shift in my internal energy and the energy around me. As I shed the layers of winter and the past I feel ready for new beginnings.