I Choose to be Free

The cycles of the ocean move through my soul. The ebb and the flow. We cannot have one without the other. They move through us all.

I have particularly noticed this movement the last few months. My last semester in graduate school. The semester that culminates my academic work but also the deep transformation and healing I’ve gone through. I am different than when I started over two years ago. I am different now, in April, than I was in January. The cycles continue to move and I continue to grow. Expanding and contracting. Ebbing and flowing.

I started the semester, and year, with an ending. It was time to move out of the apartment I shared with my former fiancé. To go through the things we had collected over the course of our six years together. It was time to officially close a very long chapter, a chapter that lasted the majority of my twenties. We broke up in August so I had some time to prepare myself, time to grieve the loss before saying a final goodbye to an apartment and man that I loved. The ending was both heartbreaking and beautiful. We cried and laughed together. We let ourselves be vulnerable, be raw, and open — revealing the wounds our break up caused. Our break up was messy but this was complete. We said goodbye with love in our hearts. Grateful for the lessons, the memories, and growth we experienced together but ready to close the chapter. Ready to let go and see what our lives look like without each other by our side. We said goodbye and I took a step forward.

Before taking the step, I imagined myself seamlessly moving forward. With my past behind me and only a bright future to look toward. Like a magical fairy goddess floating toward the light, the future. It was more of a stumbling shuffle. I moved from an apartment I had lived in by myself for the last five months into a room in a five bedroom house. I went from living with my partner for four years (and my best friend for four years before that) to living with four strangers. I went from occasionally hearing noise from my neighbors to regularly hearing the sexual encounters of my housemates. It was a giant fucking change.

It was during this time that I began researching my thesis topic in depth. I chose a super easy and approachable topic: the patriarchy. No big deal. Super simple. I dove deep. I read so much. I learned SO much. Reading about the history of the patriarchy is like waking up. You see it EVERYWHERE. I was always a feminist but my eyes had never been more open. It is both enlightening and consuming. I was floating in a sea of information, grasping for clarity that wouldn’t come. Waiting for a wave to come, for movement but only felt stuck. It was a month before my first draft was due and I had no idea what my thesis was going to look like. I had so much information but was unclear how to piece it together.

Then I went to see a magical goddess that works as a librarian at my school. She helped me see what I needed to do. How to voice the story that needed to be told. This incredible woman also showed me something that I imagine I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I’m going to do my best to paraphrase her wisdom (integrated with my own stuff): There are two places within me. There is the old place. The place of victimhood. The voice within that tells me that I’m not enough, that I can’t do it. The place that once served a purpose but no longer does. Its original acts of protection now only hurting me and keeping me from my truth. The place that beats me down when I’m not perfect, the place that keeps me from speaking my voice. The place that informed so much of my life. The place I lived in for most of my years on Earth. And then, there’s the place that’s always been there but hasn’t gotten as much attention. The place of wisdom, of truth. The place that radiates when I am my whole self, when I live from a true place. The place that lights up now as I write these words. The place that was once just a glimmer in a giant sea but is now the whole ocean, ebbing and flowing within me. The place that knows my true power. The place that knows my sacredness. The place I was only able to see and live from after doing years of deep emotional healing. The magical goddess librarian told me to write from this place, the place of wisdom that has always been there.

It is so easy to fall back into the place of victim. It’s so familiar, almost cozy. It’s where I lived for most of my life. I was reminded of this yesterday as I found myself in a place of stuckness. The old tape on repeat: you can’t do this, it’s never going to work, you’re not enough. I have a lot of tools to get out of this place but nothing was working yesterday. Until I got to dance. I went to my beloved Hipline where I’ve been dancing (and healing) for almost two years. One of the first songs we danced to was called “Freedom.” As I moved my body, allowing the stuckness to flow out of me, the lyrics of the song reminded me that I am free. I am free of the people that made me a victim. I am free of my oppressors. I am free to be the woman I know I am. I am free to live from a place of truth. I am free to be my whole, beautiful, and sacred self. I am free to be powerful. I am FREE.

So, I made a choice. I choose to be free. I choose to live from the wise place that resides within me. I choose to embrace my power. I can live from this place while acknowledging the place of victim, that she’s still there, and that there are still wounds to heal, but that place is no longer the driving force in my life. The wise, free, and sacred woman within is what drives me.

As I continue to move forward and as I continue to grow, I will flow with the ebbs and flows of the ocean within. Knowing that when I’m in a place of darkness, it is so I can heal and when I’m in a place of light, it is so that I can shine.