When I woke that morning, it wasnâ€™t apparent to me what was wrong, but my body and mind were unusually heavy and I was unable to shove off the covers and put my feet on the floor, an attribute not typical of this early-morning and enthusiastic riser.
While I waited for my body to inch to life and my eyes to adjust to the 5 a.m. darkness, I realized tears were pouring down my cheeks, wetting my pillowcase and sheets. The tears were hot and filled with grief and fear. Overwhelming anxiety filled every cell of my being and imprisoned me inside my mind, and my heart was so sad and heavy, I wondered if I had died and gone to hell.
I had felt emotional darkness in my life, but those times had been typical human response to an injustice or tragic abuse of the mind, body or spirit. That morning however, I didnâ€™t know what triggered the imbalance and I was perplexed by its force and timing.
My head throbbed, my body ached and experience told me the day was going to be a challenge to navigate alone. I grabbed the phone from my bedside table and dialed the number of one of my dearest and closest friends who has walked with me through previous days like this.
Her initial response to my cracked voice was concern for my wellbeing. In her wisdom, she allowed me to sob without judgment of my tears. She didnâ€™t move to fix or question anything; she simply sat with me on the phone and held me gently in her energy of caring compassion. When my tears subsided, she suggested I go back to sleep and promised to check on me later.
I fell into a fitful sleep with the intellectual knowledge I had a friend who cared about me, but the emotional presence of isolation and abandonment.
When I woke for the second time that morning, the heaviness in my heart made it difficult to breath. I forced myself to get out of bed, walked to the shower and soaked in the hot stream until it ran cold. Dried off and dressed, I called my friend and asked her to meet me.
At the coffee shop, I handed her my calendar to review and cancel my appointments.Â As she flipped through the month, the reason this particular day was so dark was instantly illuminated.Â The day was March 24 and it was the anniversary of the day my divorce was finalized. Coincidentally, the same date three years later was when a man I considered a great love exited my life.
My intellectual mind had processed the breakups; but the subconscious and spiritual elements of my being had not yet found the grace and wisdom to release the negative self judgments left behind by the â€œfailedâ€ relationships.
I sat with my friend and let the sobs jar loose the stories and cultural imagery of who I am supposed to be and what I am supposed to want. I had been telling myself for years that I was different and unworthy of love because of where Iâ€™ve been or what Iâ€™ve known.Â But through the tears, the story that I didnâ€™t deserve to be fulfilled revealed itself as the great lie.
I recognized this reality no longer had a place in my life and I decided it was time to set the story free. It was time to invent something new.Â I wiped my face, gathered myself, hugged and thanked my friend and left the coffee shop. With newfound awareness and strength, I chose to let my schedule stand and meet with two potential clients.
I stopped at my home office to gather materials and contracts and center myself before my appointments. I sat in quiet meditation and asked the universe for courage and a sign of hope.
As I drove out of my development, an enormous and unusual bird caught my eye.Â It was flying low and close to my window and seemed out of place in that time and space. I didnâ€™t recognize the species but watched it curiously flop its wings, thrusting forward in an awkward movement.Â I pulled my vehicle to the side of the road as the bird flew upward to land on a low branch.
I stepped out of my vehicle and walked toward the tree where the giant bird perched. As I inched closer, the birdâ€™s head turned 120 degrees and its eyes fixed on mine. Â It was a gaze that made the darkness of the day melt away; a human-to-owl connection that cannot be explained, except through the power of a story.
I had never witnessed an owl fly in broad daylight and I knew the message of this beautiful creature was intended for me. I returned to my office, curious about the significance of its presence in my life. I learned the following:
â€œ… An owl teaches us how to embrace our personal darkness without fear.Â Active at dawn and dusk, owls are sometimes referred to as the night eagle, a messenger from the darkness and a guide through all the mysteries that it contains.
Owls are sometimes thought to come to those that are about to die.Â This does not mean a physical death as much as it means the letting go of some part of yourself that is not serving you.
Owls guide us through the dark tunnels of fear, change and uncertainty to the brilliantÂ light shining at the other end.
If the owl appears in your life thank it for its willingness to guide you through its shadowy realm to the other side of promise and joy.â€ (www.sayahda.com)
I honored my commitments for the day, found the courage to manage my appointments, and ended the day with two signed contracts.Â One of those clients later became the bearer of a magical and mysterious pumpkin that makes this story more meaningful and profound.
That evening, I buried the past and what I had made it mean. I wrote in my journal that I was lovable and worthy of great love.Â I must have written it a million times before it finally sunk in. I realized through that exercise that I am not a piece of property; I am no-more-or-no-less-than any other human; nor am I crazy because I have an opinion or an idea and can see and understand things others might not notice.
I wrote that I am not a contaminated by-product of failed relationships; nor will I allow myself to be labeled according to the people in my life or defined by the things I do or do not own.
I shifted the part of my story that made me believe ending a relationship meant I was a quitter and incapable of trust or commitment.
The truth is that recognizing, speaking and acting on our truth is what makes us powerful and honorable, even when it goes against the grain of what our churches, families or society tell us is appropriate or acceptable.
I now viewed the end of those relationships as powerful new beginnings.Â I let go of the judgment and embraced the powerful perspectives of acceptance, forgiveness and gratitude.
March 24 has become a day of celebration for me. I take a moment to pause and give thanks for the lessons of those relationships and the subsequent â€œowlsâ€ that have entered and exited my life.