According to my rough estimate, I’m the best kept secret for somewhere between one-third and half of the people I’ve worked with in the last nearly nine years. Sometimes it feels untrue for my clients to reveal our collaboration to their partners. More often, they know I exist, maybe even that their loved one has taken a workshop or something, but the details of our collaboration and of my clients healing journey remains unknown. This is one path that works and I'm totally down if this is the way it needs to be, but now feels like an important time to say that this is a hard way to do the work. Let me explain.
When we do the work, we change. Everything changes--our way of seeing ourselves and others, our understanding of the past and future, heart and soul, relationships, spirit, and employment can change. We get to peel back the layers of bullshittery and simply be more of ourselves. When we undergo radical personal evolution like this, without keeping our sweetheart in the loop, we cultivate internal change without holding space for the inevitable external change.
We journey home to the truth of who we are and then we want to live that truth. Meanwhile, the entire world we created before continues to expect us to be the exact same version that made the inconvenient decision to make this change. It’s not pretty.
It's like realizing you want to go live in the city and sell your car and walk everywhere and eat only the organic, vegan foods you can procure from local sources via the co-op that you then transport home in the same six canvas bags over and over again. You want to meet your friends for tea, go dancing, study the spirituality of the self, and wallow in the differences you found in the people in your new world. (YAY! So dreamy!) Oh yeah, you are so ready to change EVERYTHING that you hire an architect and contractors to renovate the turn-of-the-century brownstone on the corner of Bliss and Creativity that you just know will complete your new you/true you life. But you never tell anyone else about the dream.
Your whole new life is starting in the city but you, inevitably, keep waking up every single freaking morning to your same old life. You climb out of bed and look out at the perfectly manicured yard which is perfectly positioned at the end of the cul-de-sac, walking distance from absolutely nothing (not counting the matchy neighbors and kid-filled community pool), where you have to get in your minivan to fetch literally anything more complex than pizza (because they deliver that stuff just about anywhere).
You cannot start a new dream in the city without leaving your old suburban life behind.
And we cannot radically transform our inner worlds while leaving the outer world untouched.
It doesn’t work that way but it’s what some of us have done, mostly because we didn’t know that’s what we were doing and probably also because we were scared of what it all meant. When we find ourselves on this path, we suffer. A lot. We struggle with the profound incompatibility of truth and life. As the pain of our misalignment intensifies, we keep digging deeper and deeper in search of something that’s hard to name but I already know what the rummage is for: our breaking point, because it is the only thing left that will give us relief.
For some people, it is true to walk this particular path of personal evolution.
I did it. And not once, but twice.
Twice, I stretched myself tightly between the old life built up high around me and the truth that was bubbling up from deep within me. The cognitive dissonance peaked both times in what can only be described as suicidal thoughts. I felt imprisoned by the life I had created before I knew what I would come to know about myself. (This path, of course, is how we all come to know ourselves.) I absolutely could not live my truth in my old life. I could not stay in my old life without betraying myself.
In both of those relationships, burning it down was all I could do to free myself, to create a life that was true for me. I could not be me there, so I chose to leave. Both times, my partners were devastated, both desperately wanted to keep previous versions of myself that I could no longer find. I had to leave. I’ve lost more than I can bear to talk about in fires. Also, I found myself, and I found that staying alive, living a life, became possible again when I could build a life that honored the real me.
The best kept secret path can be hard, painful, and dramatic. I would say that I don’t recommend it, except that it’s how I became the woman I am today. And while I’d love to protect those I’ve hurt from the pain they experienced as our time together ended, I know I can’t wish it away. I love the life that allowing myself to evolve cultivated for me.
But there is another path, a different way of evolving that can sometimes also be hard, painful, and dramatic but it give us a chance to avoid the fire. We take this path when the people we built our old life with are the people we want to live with in our new, more true life. This alternate path is available when everyone involved chooses personal evolution for themselves and allows the others to do the same.
In order to move forward together, we have to grow together. I don’t mean that every little thing I do to heal and grow has to be witness and matched by my partner. But when I do my work, The Beautiful One has to find her own way to do her work, too. We have agreed to hold one another gently enough to allow the other to evolve. In doing so, I hope that where I find myself tomorrow (both literally and metaphorically) is on a path close enough to the place where she finds herself so that we may continue to build our lives together. Day after day, both working in our own ways, we keep waking up and choosing one another again.
She was not afraid to release me to journey through the priestess process. And when I emerged as priestess, she chose me again in my new form. And once more, I chose the woman she’d become in the course of that same year. When she entered nursing school, I watched old pieces of her die off as beautiful pieces of her as caregiver, healer, and nurse emerged. I choose her again every single day. I became a minister and a published author. She chose me again. She became a mother and together we’ve released the children into adulthood, also honoring changes in them, all of us agreeing to allow one another to grow and change over and over and over again.
We must keep recommitting to ourselves individually and also to our togetherness for as long as that feels true.
If the best kept secret path is one option for doing the work, we could call this second option the path of great transparency. It means doing our work in the light. No, not every detail needs to be shared. But when we become something new, when we find and heal an old wound that’s been running our lives, when we access a new spiritual gift or dream a new dream, sharing our truth with our loved ones gives everyone the very best chance at a yes for tomorrow. Doing the work is not a guarantee and promises are not adequate fire prevention, but vulnerability gives us a chance for another day. It’s an investment in truth and tomorrow.
I desperately want that last paragraph to be the end of this conversation but there’s a third healing path we sometimes find ourselves on, one where we realize our partner feels it untrue to join us in doing the work. The success of the path of great transparency is profoundly limited for those who cannot or will not come along. Even still, we deserve a life that feels true for us. Relationships are worth fighting for but the health of togetherness cannot be carried alone.