Free Your Mind: Live Your Normal Life

 In Weekly Forum Discussion

“Morpheus: I’m trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it.” ~The Matrix 

There is a photo of me when I was three years old: I am on a rocking horse, with my wispy, blond hair flying from the motion. I have a look on my face of serious determination. Looking straight ahead, I am all in, wild, focused, committed to the experience. I feel my essence in that photo, Yee hah! Ride ‘em cowgirl! Life is an adventure. I am alive!

I have spent my life losing, searching and finding the little girl on the rocking horse. She was raised in a home with loving parents and relatives and teachers during the 1960s. She received daily messages, subtle and direct, with expectations of who she was supposed to be in the world. The role of a good daughter, wife and mother. She experienced the death of a brother when she was four that changed her life. After his death, she felt responsible for other people’s emotions and happiness and made that a priority.

Other ingredients were added to her human experience. She was born into a family with a lineage of alcoholism and workaholics, with unhealed emotional wounds. The image of, “Leave it to Beaver” family perfection, conditioned with “what will the neighbors think,” and being uprooted to attend new schools because of her father’s job promotions. The little girl learned how to behave properly, not cause any problems for her parents and keep her opinions and feelings to herself (most of the time).

The plan for her life was based on what she saw in her family. Go to college. Get a job. Get married. Work hard. Have kids. Buy a house. Raise your kids. Do good in the world. Travel. Be a nice person. Help others. Retire. Volunteer. Die.

Not a bad vision for a life, except for one thing. The circumstances of her life did not present themselves in a nice, neat little box. She had very few tools to help her navigate rough waters, feelings, and new ideas. And the way she saw the world was different than the way she was raised. Following in the footsteps of those who came before her was killing her spirit. She had to forge her own path.

“Going down the rabbit hole in physics terms is, “how far are you willing to go to discover your true nature? Why are we here? What is the meaning of life?

My internal struggle has been, how to follow the voice of my inner explorer while feeling the desire to stay connected to my family. I have discovered many cool things to explore: reading tarot cards; using alternative medicine; personal growth seminars; couch surfing; Trusted House sitters. Why wouldn’t my family want to explore them, too? They ask me questions to explain why, or tell me I am wrong. I have tried to include my family and friends on the ride with me, this feeling I have of getting on a roller coaster. Come on! Let’s explore this. It will be fun. But, when I try to get them to go on the ride, or go down the rabbit hole, or share the experience, the questions feel laced with fear and wrongness.

On Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, humans have a strong desire to belong. And belonging can be navigated in different ways. There is a push-pull feeling of, do I belong, and how am I separate from you? My own experience has been a dance of autonomy and following my heart before finding my way back to the tribe.

I found my new normal in the rabbit holes and it looked like this:

*Asking my husband to be the sperm donor for our lesbian friends who wanted to have a baby.

*Cross stitching angels by my son’s bedside during his 19-month life in intensive care

*Using alternative medicine, nutrition and healing modalities to heal from a life-threatening illness in the 1990s.

*Homeschooling my children with Girl Scout badges, the Smithsonian, road trips and a regional Yahoo group with 1000 families in the Baltimore-Washington area.

*Renovating a home while living in it, with three broken ceilings, 27 boarded windows, and inviting the home-school community into the space for learning in community.

*Starting an organization for women to write stories to reclaim power from trauma, loss and grief, and self-publishing books on CreateSpace.

*Pushing through limitations of sexuality by practicing orgasmic meditation and setting up intimacy research with a man for eight months, in order to learn, feel, experience, heal and write about it.

*At the age of 60, living house free with family and friends all over the world, while writing books and leading on-line programs.

“Our wretched species is so made that those who walk on the well-trodden path always throw stones at those who are showing a new road.” ~Voltaire

I am still learning to find places to nourish myself when I am in the depths of going into the rabbit hole, the mysterious place of the unknown. I am still learning to come up with a few words and sentences to soothe the fears of my loved ones while I disappear for a while. I am still learning to love myself when I am in a new exploration and I don’t have the answers.

The only way through is to dive in and experience the thing that calls to me so deeply, the next rabbit hole, the next experience. The biggest key is I had to stop letting other people define me. Now, I accept that there will always be uncertainty. The rabbit holes get deeper. My desires are bigger. Authenticity is primary. Things that bring my heart joy, push the discomfort button for many people, as well as myself. The reward, and the reason I keep diving in, is the freedom to experience everything that life offers me. Over and over, as long as I am alive.

The life I have lived looks nothing like the box I was trying to get into when I was young. Thank you, God! My life is interesting and fun and expansive for me.

I am still the little girl on the rocking horse. She is alive and well. Determined. Focused. Full of Life. It is time for the next adventure!

Yee hah! Ride ‘em cowgirl!

Written by: Andrea Hylen; Heal My Voice

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