It was November. Downtown Houston was overrun by blustery gusts blowing up from the gulf, or down from Dallas, or sideways from somewhere else. The sky was a densely packed grey, blending with the reflecting faces of the skyscrapers hovering above where I sat in my art studio.
Outside the thin walls of the studio, a holiday art market was underway. The halls were echoing uncomfortably with sounds of pre-holiday cheer. I couldn’t find my headphones to drown them out, but shrugged, and made a little nest on the cement floor with a duvet and pillow I kept on hand.
Too bloody soul-tired to paint. I’ll meditate instead.
I was at breaking point. Jake was drifting. I could feel the imminence of his departure though he hadn’t said he was going yet. Something in the Texas gusts and my female guts was telling me the winds were changing.
You just know when you know, right? Ours wasn’t just an ordinary love, by the way. It was more than that.
But this isn't a story about loving. It’s a story about dying.
You see, the rest of my life had been crashing around me for a year or so. Jake’s was just the heart I had been holding on to, as if his love could fix the bewildering pain.
It didn’t. And … it couldn’t.
Shellshocked by betrayal and an ensuing gossip brigade, I was engulfed with grief while scrambling to hold it together: my business, my reputation, my income, and my colleagues.
It’s plain as day in hindsight: my life no longer wanted me the way I had been showing up. Back then it was just a searing shitstorm.
So anyway. There I was. On the blustery day. Feeling a visceral bell toll its doom of imminent heartbreak. Trying to shirk the agitation from the holiday loudmouths out in the halls disturbing my quiet time.
Suddenly and simultaneously, a voice reverberating with ancient wisdom bellowed through my guts:
It’s time to die.
How can you argue with ancient wisdom? Especially when you are exhausted from trying to keep it all together, and the moon is full in the sign of Scorpio?
That’s what made the death inkling seem normal, in fact. I was born under a full Scorpio moon, and everyone knows that’s one hell of a time to be born. So naturally, it must be one hell of a time to die, too.
I was certainly dressed for the occasion. Red lipstick. Black lace top, skin tight blue jeans, and high heels. Like any sensual creature stepping into her metaphorical death, I gazed at my reflection in the mirror, fluffed my hair, kicked off my shoes, curled up under a cozy blanket, and flopped deeper into the imaginal realm.
I give up.
Let’s get this show on the road.
I offer myself to the spirit of Death
So that I can be reborn.
And just like that I gave my life over. It really was like Death himself was my lover, my dominant demander, sweeping over and through me, penetrating my world with a certain kind of precision that Life herself does not have. Swooning to receive this Plutonic power, I had zero resistance.
Take me. I’m yours.
In back-arching surrender, I was flooded with the drowsiness that comes from deep arousal. Every bone in my body gave homage with tender weeping. A palpable desire for MORE than Life had offered me surged waves of ecstatic feeling through my body, as if a dam had broken in my marrow.
With it, an indescribable sensation of my everything crashing and breaking apart, while Death crooned:
YOU will live.
Your pretend-life will die.
All the structures you have manufactured in order to play safe will burn.
The crutches. Masks. Endeavors, connections, and creations that do not match your truth.
This burning is your crucible.
I can still hear the voice, like butter melting over the top of a cello as its bow bends dutifully across the strings.
You are Life, engorged upon herself, like a rushing river whose fertile bed swells with alchemical gold.
You are passion personified.
You will thrive.
First, you must burn.
First, you must die.
And then, Death was gone.
. . . . .
When I woke up a few hours had passed. My eyes were puffy and caked with dried mascara tears. I still don’t understand how I passed out on my cement floor with the crowds outside. But I did.
And I’m not even joking. Within hours? Jake departed.
I laughed / ugly-cried with my friends for days.
Well. The next time I decide it’s a good idea to do a death ritual on a Scorpio full moon, remind me to leave the love of my life out of it.
It would take many months for me to recover.
Meanwhile, my surrender to Death swirled and unfolded.
. . . . .
Here’s the thing about surrendering to the truth of who we are, finally, after years of slowly dying under the suffocating fabrications of our pretend-life, while fooling ourselves into thinking we are living.
It’s a process.
It can be lightning quick or it can come as a slow rolling boil. When both speeds occur at the same time, it’s like living inside a time warp of inexplicable immediacy while it grinds it’s heartbeat against the muscle-burning toil of rearranging universes.
To live like that is unbearable.
But, Death has a way of knowing what we need.
. . . . .
It’s been a long 22 months of dying.
Everything has gone away.
Explosion after explosion. Rubble everywhere. A perpetual choking on the ashes of everything I worked hard to build, be, or birth.
I fought. I clung with claws to rival the most fantastical of harpies.
Then I surrendered again.
Back and forth.
Mostly, I cried a lot.
There were many days, long stretches in a row, when I couldn’t get out of bed. Brush my hair. Answer emails or my phone.
Sometimes I couldn’t see or breathe, the blackness was so thick. Up my nose, in my lungs, leaking out of my eyes. Clogging my bones.
Everywhere. Everything. Black.
I thought a lot about literal death. My literal life was a slideshow playing on repeat ... flash-click-flash ... while I was being swallowed in the hellfires of a complete and total burn down.
Some might call it depression.
I choose to call it my Death.
Something about the way I held myself through it all gave me the will to go on.
Like I was Joseph Campbell’s actual character study for a Hero’s Journey.
Or undergoing a great and mythological shedding, like an Ouroboros in high heels, eating my tail in a nightmare I couldn’t wake up from.
Or Persephone lost in the Underworld, guide-in-training for other wanderlustish self-funerary types in need of a helping hand from a Wayshower of the hell realms.
Holding myself in symbolism and mythology made me believe that somewhere on the horizon I would eventually glimpse the shocking orb of the sun.
At the same time, I was drowning in self-loathing and regret; the flotsam and jetsam of a shipwreck personified, at best. The walking dead, at worst.
Every. Damn. Day.
In my blackest moments, I begged for the screeching pain to stop:
Please. Make it stop. I’ll do anything. Please. Driving down the freeway. Tending to my daughter. Walking my dog. Smiling for selfies. Guiding classes of women in person and online. Making art. Writing my second book. Building a website. Washing the dishes. Please. Make. It. Stop.
In the blackness, Death stayed close, with that butter-baritone whisper:
Because you ARE life.
Peel apart your unconscious mind.
Drink your Own. Fucking. Poison.
After all those months of dying, I am here to tell you that Death was right.
I really am Life.
. . . . .
PS . Hindsight notes to self:
The antidote to suffering isn’t found in avoidance.
The liberation from the pain comes from calling forward your shadows so that you can join forces and die together.
It comes from eating your pain like it’s a pomegranate feast from Persephone herself.
It comes from deliberately choosing to make fierce and uninhibited love to every single one of the saboteurs who roam the hallways of your memories and your mind.
The liberation comes from seducing them. Becoming so intertwined with them that they cannot own you.
It comes from looking your own death wish right in the eyes, and opening yourself fully to the sheer volume of power that gushes forth when you do.
The golden elixir comes from truly embodying the wisdom that a life without shadow consciousness is death, anyway.
Let your pretend-life die.
And RECEIVE LIFE as she rushes in to fill the vacuum of the pretend-life that was killing you, anyway.
. . . . .
This is my story of one aspect / perspective of a period of transformational encounters with my own emotional and psychological world. This writing is not intended to take the place of clinical advice. It is my mythology, my story, and my chosen perspective on my own world.