I recently attended the InSite program at Edgewood Rehabilitation Centre in Nanaimo. What an unexpected gem. As per usual for most attendees, I went into the program thinking I was going to be learning about addiction and thus returning home better equipped to help family and friends. I had no idea the person who needed help was me.
I have had several major incidents that have stopped me in my shoes and invited me to reflect, who am I really? The first was last year when I had an interview with a panel as the final phase to determine my preparedness for ordination. I was shocked that the panel did not feel I was ready. Their reason? I wasn’t authentic and perhaps I needed to do some shadow work. Wow! I was blown away at the time and took this information to my friends for feedback. In all honesty, they were as shocked as I. How could this be? Me not authentic?
Okay, I shoved the pain of that experience away, thinking I had completed my healing (obviously not, I am still writing about it) only to discover I still had a wound. I found out how deep my wound was at the Insite program when I shared the shame I experienced through the ordination panel procedures. This is where the story gets really heavy and goes deep. We were working through a group therapy called The Wall. Ouch, a process definitely not for the faint of heart. The group was invited to share behavioural barriers they see in each other blocking intimacy and close relationships. You can imagine what a bombshell to hear from perfectly good strangers that they thought I was unauthentic. How can this be? Twice!!
Since then I have been stumbling around in confusion over this whole matter wanting to throw my hands in the air and give up. Perhaps no surprise, I walked straight from the discomfort of this program right into life transitioning symptoms known has ‘hot flashes’. I was stunned, and it took about 10 days before I had the courage to confess my symptoms to anyone. I was NEVER going to be one of ‘those’ women. And for all you men who are reading this thinking you need not go further with this article, I invite you to read on. This transition affects ALL women and unless you live in isolation, it is affecting you in some way, if not by direct association.
It appears to me this swamp of confusion only goes deeper. I personally feel swallowed up in a mental/emotional/physical transition that has no quick escape route. The only way is through and out. After reading the most valuable text to me on the subject matter, The Wisdom of Menopause: Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing During the Change by Christiane Northrup, I discovered this nightmare is a temporary void, a healing place, a time of transformation and rebirth. Everything in a woman’s life shifts at this time if she allows it and if she doesn’t, her good health is at risk.
The question remains. Am I authentic? An interesting question. Authentic measured up against what or who? I think that somehow if I was grumpy or upset people would consider that more authentic. Somehow, if I am happy and positive it is all Pollyanna. But why do I care what other people think about me anyway? If I like being me and I am happy, why would I want to change that for anyone? I even like talking to myself in the mirror and watching myself sing as I drive down the highway. What? Don’t you do that? Besides, Christiane Northrup states that learning to love ourselves and finding activities that make our heart sing is the easy doorway through this challenging physical transformation. If I am going to survive this one, and my husband is too, I think I better listen to her advice. I’m not changing for anyone.
Jill Brocklehurst is the Spiritual Director at the Centre for Spiritual Living as well as Life Coach and Teacher. She loves inspiring others to discover their passion and live in joy.