Seven years ago I was worried about money, and struggling with compulsions around food, the internet and overwork. I enjoyed gardening and poetry and spending time with my friends. I was a psychotherapist and a writer and I loved my cats.
Today I am prone to be worried about money, and am working on my compulsive behaviour around food, the internet and overwork. I enjoy gardening and poetry and spending time with friends. I am psychotherapist and a writer and I love my cats.
I am also now married to a different man and living in a new house in a different part of the country. I am a Buddhist priest and I run a local sangha with Kaspa – my name is Satyavani, not Fiona. I have more wisdom and more patience and more insight into how I work and how deeply flawed I am. I have a new worldwide family. I have spent the last two weeks not working and not being online and not eating too much cake. I have more faith. It feels pretty good.
Have I changed at all? Is there anything the same about me at all?
Think back seven years. What do you find?
What really struck me, reading my old words, is how very deeply we are rooted in our favourite compulsions. Like chasms in rock that go down and down and down, almost to the hot bubbling centre of the earth. Another way of putting this is that we all have favourite ways of avoiding the truth, and we use these patterns of behaviour to build our identities. What are yours? Are you always the victim? Do you push away help or other people? Do you use shopping or television or too-much-exercise?
My various favourite compulsions have ebbed and flowed over the years – some have disappeared completely and some are new arrivals. For me, these hard-to-kick habits all came into existence to help me avoid this unfortunate (and wonderful) truth: I’m not in control.
“…the primary addiction that almost every human being suffers from [is] our addiction to the illusion that we’re in control of our lives.” ~ Joan Borysenko
And so, for me, the first step towards change is an acknowledgement of just how deep these fissures in our personalities are. How vulnerable I am, and how little I know. How frightening it is to peel off my layers of protection. How long this takes. The limits of my self-will.
Paradoxically, truly acknowledging this somehow allows something else to step in and help me, and this is where the magic happens. This ‘something else’ might be another person, a book or even an off-hand comment from a stranger that shows me something I needed to see. This ‘something else’ allows me to accept help. I am a very foolish being, and that is okay. There is always hope. Change does happen. Grace arrives, just on time. And it can be truly miraculous.
If you’d like help with making these deep-down, life-changing transformations, our first two e-courses of the year start tomorrow – Writing Towards Healing with Satya and Journalling Our Way Home with Kaspa. They are designed to gently support you as you look at who you are and who you’d like to be. As I write there are spaces left on both courses but we’re expecting them to be full this time round.
Do let me know how you’ve changed and how you’d like to change in the comments. Go well.
Image: The Icy Pit to Hell by Stuck in Customs