Let me tell you, in as few words as possible, what happened to me ten years ago.
At the age of 39, after a lifetime of suppression, repression, and holding myself back in all ways possible, I cracked open and erupted like a volcano. You see, the real me was ready to enter the world– and though after my eruption it took nearly five years to become solid (I spent half a decade in molten lava form, creating the footprint of my new life), no force on metaphorical Heaven, Hell, or Earth could have stopped it. And believe me they all tried.
Heaven would have liked me to go a little slower. I almost self-destructed, but there was no controlling the pace. I underwent something known as a spiritual emergency (when emergence happens faster than our minds can keep up with). It felt a little like entering the cosmos and nearly burning up upon reentry.
Hell would have liked me to continue to repress. The darkness hates authentic expression. At our core, as human beings, we’re all just stardust and light. Hell hates that.
And Earth isn’t comfortable with rapid transformation. Society likes things to stay the same. Anything outside the “normal” box, gets labeled something from the DSM-5.
It was the hardest, most difficult and terrifying three weeks of total divine insanity a human could endure. I became something completely new (which was actually the true expression of me) overnight. My worldview instantaneously changed. I saw insanity where society expected unquestioned subservience. And I saw sanity in the madness. My senses sharpened. I began seeing spirits and hearing a strong male voice in my left ear. The voice wasn’t chaotic or destructive; it was keeping me tethered, healing and guiding me through an experience few humans would ever agree to. The voice was reminding me what was real, what was ego vs. spirit.
In the world of transpersonal psychology, I had what is referred to as a spontaneous shamanic initiation. And though I had no idea what any of this meant, I seemed to follow it like a script.
The actual melt-down of everything that wasn’t me, in order to make room for what truly was me, took only a few weeks. But through it I underwent a healing so intense that the OCD I had struggled with my entire life spontaneously resolved. I’m convinced that psychotherapy could not have accomplished this for me with fifty years of weekly sessions, and the fistful of daily antidepressants and antianxiety pills they prescribed.
In my particular case, spirit provided for me what science could not– a way out of the darkness.
I do not mean to glorify what I went through, or simplify it. And I certainly don’t mean to tell you what you should do to heal yourself. It was the most terrifying, I repeat– the * most * terrifying — experience a human being could endure and I truly think of it as a near death experience. I spent two years afterward in close to complete isolation, because the simple act of being around other people felt like being skinned alive.
But, as horrific as that sounds, I wouldn’t change one blink of it. As much terror as it contained, that’s how much ecstasy it also contained. I cherish the whole of it. It gave me the greatest gift… it gave me myself.
Healing comes in so many uncountable forms. Do not let anyone tell you that your strangeness has no meaning, that there aren’t universal gifts in your awkwardness. If you don’t feel like you fit in, then cherish your differences. Don’t let the world tell you how you need to act, where you need to put your energy, or that striving for social norms is somehow a virtue.
Be your glorious, unique self.
It’s not supposed to be easy. Nothing about spiritual emergence is easy. It’s messy, complicated, sometimes even terrifying, chaotic, scary, heartbreaking… and it’s also equal parts enchanting, beautiful, glorious, magnificent, and miraculous.
It’s worth every tear, and every struggle.
And those who understand what I’m writing about today belong to a tribe of people who feel a lot of love for each other, even if we’ve never met. You are not alone. We’re never alone.
I’ve written a book about the volcanic experience of my spontaneous shamanic initiation, through the lens of transpersonal psychology, a psychological worldview which helped put my pieces back together. I’ve been editing it for years now, and I have made the solid decision that it will be published in 2019, in its perfectly imperfect form– because I’m a perfectionist and it’s possible that it will never be as flawless as I’d like. I’ve had a simple realization that it’s not the writing I want to give the world, it’s the story… the story of one person emerging from the darkness into the light, through the doorway of such enchantment and chaos– with spirits and angels and demons as characters– that it’s most truly stranger than fiction.
And though not many people’s emergence will look like mine, it’s a universal story that every awakened human being has experienced, is currently experiencing, or will experience in this lifetime.
You are not alone.
I want you to know that.
P.S.– Though I took poetic license in this article, I feel the need to clarify that I don’t actually believe in the Biblical versions of Heaven and Hell. I believe they’re each a state of mind that we drift into and out of, and I believe we have the ability to choose which one we’d like to live within, through the work of personal transformation. It probably wasn’t necessary for me to clarify this, but one of the aspects of my own spiritual emergence was the refusal to participate in fear-based teachings. In matters of the Spirit, we each have to find our own way and stay true to that. This is mine, and I respect yours.