I decided to do a diary of a retreat I went on because I want to share what a retreat can be like (this particular one and my particular experience) in the hopes that I will inspire you to go on one, or at least to consider the value of investing in time away just for you.
This is my experience of the fourth S-Factor retreat I have been on. As usual, there were moments of darkness and moments of transformation and ecstasy. They come hand in hand, it seems….
So here is Part 1. From me to you…
Diary of a retreat – Part 1/3
It’s a few days before I leave and I am, for the first time, noticing a pattern about where my thoughts are taking me.
And now that I have noticed it, I can see it everywhere in my life. Whenever I am in a situation (or approaching one) where I am not the boss, not the leader, not the expert and I have to learn from someone else and they have control over me and I will need to show some stuff in order to grow, I go into very big resistance. If I might break down, show emotion, talk about my feelings, appear that I am not in control of everything, that I don’t know everything and that I am vulnerable and tender, just like everyone else, I freak out.
So, with this retreat, here’s what I’m thinking.
This is definitely the last retreat I’m going on.
I don’t really like this stuff anymore.
It’s all bullshit.
I don’t agree with anything they say.
I don’t want to go anymore.
This level of resistance is totally my MO. I pretend disdain, I diminish everyone’s leadership role and expertise, I doubt every word, I roll my eyes, I tune out, I “do my own thing”, I resist, resist, resist.
Why? Why can’t my brain just say I’m worried about all of the uncomfortable and dark feelings I might have and that I don’t want people to see me as “weak” when I show my vulnerability? I don’t know why my brain doesn’t say just that. It’s so weird. My big-hearted but twisted ego wants to save me from something…wants to keep me small where she can protect me, I think.
My body has no such problem. She can’t wait to move, to dance all day, to discover, to play, to be so fully alive in herself. She’s so much fucking cooler than I am.
My final day is filled with buying travel health insurance, doing last-minute laundry (stop, stinky armpits), packing, shaving astounding amounts of body hair, filling my man in on all of the details of our daily life with two young kids, etc.
The ride in the cab as I go away can be the darkest moment. This morning, my body is flush with heat, my stomach has a ball of rolling snakes in it and my head hurts. All fear. Or mostly fear and then anticipation, excitement, panic, anxiety and probably some other stuff that I don’t even recognize. I am trying to think of Pema Chodron’s quote about how living life fully requires that you are continually tossed out of the nest as every cell in my body is screaming, GET BACK IN THE NEST! Is this normal? Is anyone else feeling this?
I notice that fear shuts down everything about me. I forget who I am, what I want, HOW I am. It is a mojo-killer.
And it is dark in the cab. The day hasn’t begun yet. I feel anxiety about going through security, making the flight – I always have a secret fear that I have the wrong time, wrong destination, wrong day. Mostly, but not exclusively, because I have done it before. (Ssshh…don’t judge.)
This time around, however, I have less “mummy’s abandoning her family” syndrome. Something has shifted but I don’t know what yet. Before I had a lot of anxiety about leaving my tribe in their cave all alone. It wasn’t guilt so much as this instinctual prerogative that my job was to be their protector and caretaker and to be there. But on this retreat, I don’t feel that. That comes as a lovely surprise. Evolution does exist.
Once I get to the airport, the gap between me in my nest and me moving towards adventure (and out of the nest) starts to feel more comfortable. I become more ready. The fear melts away from my body.
I arrive at my hotel and write this a few hours later.
I belong here! I was feeling a bit lonely – swimming in the ocean, walking along the beach, going for dinner. And then, this awesome chick, the amazing mover who knows everyone and has been around and belongs here, said “hi” to me! She recognized me! I have arrived. I garbled “hi” back and walked out the door of the hotel smiling like a crazy woman. And THEN! I introduced myself to one of the lead teachers. We talked. She knows my name now! And THEN! I introduced myself to someone else and then WE talked. And then, JUST NOW, someone I recognized and have met before said “Are you going to the retreat?” And I said “yes” and then we gave each other our names. I BELONG! I HAVE FRIENDS!
Sigh. Nothing has changed. This is a page out of my 11-year old diary.
I go to sleep excited, scared, feeling both alone and belonging. Being human is confusing.
The adventures continue in Diary of a Retreat – Part 2/3. Coming up next!