Life, As Unpredictable as the Raging River

My life has changed in ways I could neither predict nor ever desire. Often, I’ve seen my life in the context of someone taking a journey down river, faced with the innumerable, uncontrollable and unpredictable elements of life.

They come as people, places, and inanimate objects interacting and interplaying as characters in my journey. 

A few short months ago, the tragic suicide of one my oldest friends stunned me out of the numbing and blinding stupor in which I had been submerged for a very long time. The realization of how mental illness had plagued and ultimately devastated my friend’s life tore me apart. My own life was already a disaster, and the news uprooted any false seeds of illusion I had planted about my own situation. 

In accepting my friend’s truth, I could no longer deny my own: I was not living an authentic, happy life; not even close. I was depressed, out of alignment physically, living with chronic pain, spiritually I felt depleted and professionally, my career was totally stalled. 

Worse yet, I was going through what appeared to be a cycle of unhealthy and unfulfilling relationships that left me feeling like a failure. Like many, I was also using various crutches along the way to distract myself. The truth was, I desperately wanted to change my life, but fear was keeping me from truly accepting myself, from loving myself and from creating the life that I had always wanted. 

As I allowed the curtains of my own fragile Heart and soul to be drawn back after my friend’s death, I examined her life and, of course, saw my life, too. In my search for where things went wrong, I exposed a sad, little girl inside who has been searching her whole life for a family and a home: a place of Love. The same sad, little girl, I saw looking back at me in the mirror every day as a grown woman. I realized how deeply disappointed I was in my own life, and no amount of positive talking to build myself up kept these troubling feelings from revisiting me at twilight: dawn and dusk were when I was always my most vulnerable, my most alone, it seemed. 

I needed to see why I had made every decision that had led to where and who I was, because if I didn’t go back to where I made the wrong turn, then I wouldn’t be able to figure out where I was standing today. 

First, I needed to find a road map leading backward - the place where my life’s river sprang forth in order to retrace the steps that would take me back to my extremely painful, lonely, and lost childhood, a time I secretly tried my best to just forget. 

Where and who was I? Was I willing to accept the things I did wrong and see where the correct path actually was? Was I also willing to see moments when I was Jyoti: a Divine Light to those around me when I chose right, when my soul and character shone brightly from within? No one hue of our past is painted in one color on the canvas; rather, there is light and shadow. 

I had created and acted every part, every character and designed every background and stage set to my life story, but was I just acting or was I being authentic? Was I willing to see when I was just pretending to be happy, but sad inside, like I was taught as a little girl when my emotions were constantly invalidated. Was I playing a part in a comedy-tragedy I didn’t even belong in? Why had I chosen to hide the real Jyoti?

The Myriad Paths to Recovery

There are many paths or methods to heal from trauma - you just need to make the decision to be fully committed to healing, health and happiness. It is a promise to the hurt, confused, little child inside who needs the tenderness and complete familiarity of the adult self it has become: the one who will never let you down. Find your own unique way to gently heal, seal and allow wounds to turn into faint scars that no longer cause suffering - only reminders of the battles won, not lost.

My own path to healing and recovery is work in progress, a life-long solo journey that started with listening to an excellent audiobook that helped women like me move past childhood traumas of being emotionally neglected and abused. I cried as I listened to the account of other women who as children were judged, envied and neglected by their mothers. I also sat with my rage as I listened to the catastrophic affect this awful mother-daughter dynamic created: lifelong feelings of deep unworthiness and low self-esteem. 

My recovery has consisted of many therapies, such as animal therapy. Spending time with my dog, who is my best and least judgmental friend is my way to return to the source of Love. She is loyal and loving - a companion who is a joy for me. If you are lucky enough to have a pet, try to see if you can have them present while you heal - they have an astute sense of perception of the healing process and possess uncanny intuition. They will know exactly when you need support, and they are always happy to both give and receive your unconditional love, in fact they live for it. 

In addition, I use audio recordings from spiritual books, religious excepts and video lectures from spiritual teachers to begin the process. Prayer, ritual and mantras are also an essential part of my healing process and provide a constant source of serenity when processing painful memories and wading through the turbulent waters of my childhood.

My additional therapeutic tools include my practice of yoga, prayer, mediation, sound healing and daily immersion in nature, art therapy. I am always learning new ways to bring a sense of comfort, serenity, and bliss to my life. 

On Becoming Me

My recovery has also led me to make big changes in my life and not everyone around me has been comfortable with the new Jyoti, and that is just fine with me. As part of the individuation process, I have learned to let go of the desire to please others and now give myself the of honor of placing what is right for me above all else. In doing so, some relationships have been altered or ended, and while the change was definitely uncomfortable for everyone involved, a new sense of self-esteem and self-confidence has emerged. While others might not understand or accept why I need to change, I know exactly why I am doing what I do, because today I live with awareness and intention. 

As I prepare to embark on an internship to spend a month living in the jungle of Costa Rica studying and working hands-on in a botanical garden and learning about psychological and physical healing properties of medicinal plants, I have decided to finish my time and tenure as spiritual contributor for Polo Lifestyles. Much love and many thanks to both Polo Lifestyles and readers of this column over the years.