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  • Vicki Sontheim

No Normal Seems to Be My New Normal (Spiritual Menopause?)

I’ve been guided of late, and for a while, to revisit people and situations from my past. I am finding all sorts of judgments I didn’t realize I was holding. Sometimes about people and situations I’d thought were long forgotten. Other times, and more predominantly, about myself. Either way, each is like a little whirlpool or cage holding part(s) of me captive.

I’ve been looking openly and honestly at my thoughts, judgments, beliefs, and feelings on an almost daily basis now for nearly 3 years. Much of that has been through my practice with A Course in Miracles. At first, I used the then current world situation to practice my daily lessons of love, joy, forgiveness, and to exercise my little drop of willingness to see things differently. My little drop of willingness has grown into a steady stream.

At that time, we were leading up to the 2020 elections and their drama. Covid entered the scene and further heightened our fear, polarization, and the fighting amongst ourselves. The events of January 6th took place, and so on. I got covid and long covid. You get the picture.

I was guided to find peace within myself about all of this, without completely sticking my head in the sand. And then, as is always the case, the peace I cultivated about “out there” began to weave its way more deeply into my inner world. At that time, even with the knowing we’re all one, I still perceived “out there” and “in here” as different – separate.

I was grateful for the degree to which I was able to see things from a broader perspective, let go of my need to control outcomes, and get less caught up in the frustration and fear of all my judgments about “out there.” Then my inner guidance spoke to me of bringing this newly cultivated peace to earth by directing it more inward. Bring Heaven to Earth.

The experience which pointed me in this direction was so meaningful I have no words for it. Soon, I was to find out what it meant. My daily explorations turned more inward. Presence. Meditation. Embodiment. Relationships. Healing my nervous system. Interacting more with “out there.” Exploring and getting in touch with my own needs, wants, desires.

“In here” has been harder for me than “out there” and I often questioned what I was doing wrong and found myself wondering if I should have embarked on this path at all. I’d felt so certain this would be the magic wand that made everything perfect, and instead I often felt worse. This is Heaven on Earth? I don’t think so. I trusted my inner guidance and stuck with it though.

This has all brought me to a place where it seems like every time I turn around, I see significant changes in my perspective which reach into everything I see and feel. I surprise myself constantly. Sometimes from one day to the next, or even one moment to the next. Each time I encounter a feeling, thought, person, nature, concept, etc., I tend to perceive them, and myself in relation to them, differently.

When I interact with people, especially those I haven’t seen in a while, some love and appreciate the changes and results of my work and others not so much. As I reflect on this statement, I’m realizing it happens with people I see regularly as well.

Someone I hadn’t seen in 3 years recently said “You’re different. You’ve changed. I know you’ve been working on yourself and growing, and I’m sure that’s been good for you. Now, how do I put this delicately? I don’t like …”

Those who are used to me going along to get along tend not to like it as much when I speak my mind more freely, without so carefully measuring each word, or use the word “no” as I am learning to do. Those to whom I used to hand my power, by speaking from the vantage point of victimhood, find me less “open” than I used to be as I’ve come to realize that I don’t need fixing and am beginning to feel more resourced from within. There are fewer “problems” to spill.

Or heaven forbid when recently someone made a request of me to which my response was no. When they asked me why not, my reply was simply “I don’t want to.” They kept pressing for why. I calmly stuck with my no, said I don’t need a why, and remained as calm as I could as they went into tilt.

My need to justify my existence is diminishing and with it my need to justify my needs and wants. I’m happy to share of myself deeply when it feels like something I want to do. In this instance, no was no. My nervous system got a bit activated during the experience, and I was able to keep my energy managed well enough until I was alone and could really be with and look more deeply at what was happening.

Then there are those precious friends who are growing with me, love that I’m evolving, and support me. I cherish them as we walk alongside and hold space for each other - sometimes holding the banks of the same stream, other times off on our own tributaries. Sometimes we’ve hit rough waters as we’ve bumped up against each other where boundaries didn’t used to be, and the connection is there guiding us through.

I was told recently by a dear sister that each time we get together I seem more comfortable in my skin. The beautiful things I used to talk about “out there” feel grounded and as if they’re coming from inside myself. She precisely described part of what I’ve been seeing in myself and it meant so much to feel seen.

I feel as if I’ve digressed a bit from my original point. I am so very good at that! I don’t know that it’s truly a digression though. Each time I bump into something or someone differently it gives me the opportunity to look at sometimes dozens of things with my steady stream of willingness to perceive things differently, and to apply the new perspectives I’ve been cultivating. To examine and be curious about what I now believe. How I feel now. Is this still true for me? Does it still serve me? Do I still need this? Do I want it? Am I ready to let some of these long-held beliefs and judgments about myself and others go?

As I do this, my steady stream of loving awareness flows through and loosens anything that is ready to leave. I often see the whirlpools and cages I wrote of above disappear before my sight and feel my energy reorganizing around newly found feelings of freedom and expanded horizons. It reaches in and touches every area of my life. Some I see clearly; others become more apparent later as I show up in the world and experience people and situations differently. Often now just seeing something loosens its grasp.

More and more my new normal seems to be there is no normal, and I realize normal is simply another form to hold onto rather than flowing with the current. As the whirlpools and cages release, time loosens its grasp. The past becomes more like a beautifully woven tapestry which holds space for a future with unlimited potential. There is no “this way” or “that way.” “In here” becomes one with “out there” and out there one with in here. There is no past or future, only one, here, now.

It’s not like my awareness remains in this place always. No. Rather it’s easier to find and I visit more frequently. When caught in one of my whirlpools, I remember much more quickly how to find my way out, and trust in my process. It’s easier for me to discern when I’m being pulled in and by what. I find more meaning and joy in my day-to-day life and, slowly, over time start to think maybe I’m glad I’m here. Maybe I matter. Maybe I can contribute to life and the world in meaningful ways. And then, miraculously, something happens in a way that shows me clearly that I do.

This may not sound like a lot for some. For me, having lived with depression and anxiety much of my life, it’s HUGE! It gives me hope where none used to exist. It opens and fills my heart where it was previously closed. It allows me to safely feel connection with others, at times. Those times happen more and more frequently.

When I was going through menopause it seemed as if I just got used to one way of cycling through my emotions, feelings, and hormones and it would change. After a while it all balanced out and I’ve remained fairly steady since. What I’m experiencing now reminds me of that, only in my spiritual growth and development and in the way I relate to myself, others, and the world. Much like its hormonal cousin, it can be exhausting and calls for plenty of rest.

I’ve never liked normal, really. What is it anyway? Most of the time, I’ve always felt as if I don’t fit in with much of what I see in the world - or wanted to for that matter. I’ve held back because I’ve seen what the world does to not normal and have often felt as if there must be something wrong with me. The more I rest with and explore this, the more I love the idea of no normal being my new normal and the sense of freedom it brings.

Yes, I believe I will call it spiritual menopause. For now.

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