I met my soul in my dreams as a young child. I awoke every morning with a burning feeling that I was on this planet for a purpose. Slowly, over the course of the day, I would forget my dreams and start to feel haunted by the sense of inner struggle I observed in the adults around me. They seemed to be fighting an inner battle. And losing.
The astute child in me saw through that bullsh*t and vowed to do differently. Unfortunately, my spongelike brain had already integrated the struggle into my nervous system. Fighting was something I was conditioned to do; maybe you were too.
The soul can withstand the inner battle. It will always come out as the victor, but maybe not in the way that we hoped it would.
I had moments of soul connection in my teen years, where I struggled with depression. My soul would say hello to me in the moments I was most surrendered. It would feel that larger than life presence when I drifted off to sleep, when I belly laughed with friends, when I watched the sunset, when I cried in deep, heaving sobs.
But most moments of most hours of most days for most of my life, I wasn’t so in tune — nor so brave. So perhaps my soul staged an event where my inner courage would take centerstage.
At the age of 33, I had an oops pregnancy. Unplanned. Unexpected. But not unwanted.
I wasn’t in love with the guy. I thought I was. I wanted desperately to be — but something didn’t feel right.
We didn’t quite fit, no matter how much I hoped and fantasized he would turn out to be the one. It was an I wish it were right kind of love. The day before I found out I was pregnant, we both agreed it was best if we parted ways.
I was single for a day.
I remember that one single day like it was happening now. The sunlight streaming in the windows as I made my morning tea, chatting with a friend about a possible cross country trip. I remember in my morning yoga practice, getting onto my belly into cobra pose felt awkward. My belly felt full — not the bloated kind of full — an energetic kind of full — a hard to explain, otherworldly kind of sensation.
I quickly rolled over and had an urge to call the guy who was my boyfriend yesterday. He answered. Somehow he ended up picking me up to run an errand with him. We talked. He went to the hardware store while I went grocery shopping.
I casually walked down the feminine products aisle and wrapped my fingers around a pregnancy test. The box felt flimsy and slippery in my slightly sweaty hands. I remember my heart skipping a beat when the cashier scanned the test. Beep. My heart leaped into my throat. I quickly looked away from the cashier, too fearful for our eyes to meet in that very uncomfortable moment. I’d taken pregnancy tests before, but this one felt different. It felt visceral. Every cell of my body was humming at me: We have something to tell you.
My ex called me just after I paid for my groceries, the test buried amongst organic veggies, hummus, and gluten-free tortilla chips. “I locked my keys in my car. I’m waiting for the locksmith. I don’t know how long it will be.”
I smiled as I hung up the phone. It was nice to be alone with my secret.
The delay was my goad to take the test. It felt awkward peeing on a stick in a public restroom with strangers feet on either side of me. Two minutes felt like an eternity. Seconds felt like hours. Suddenly it appeared. The plus sign. My eyes widened and blinked several times in disbelief. My face felt like it evaporated into the ethers. At that moment I was just a body with a baby in it. A teeny tiny fetus in my headless, suddenly very heavy mass of limbs and torso sitting on a public toilet seat.
My mind was empty for the first time in my life without yoga or meditation. The shock had emptied me and left a vacant, no occupancy sign up. Having no thoughts was deeply comforting. I found myself in the greeting card aisle picking up baby board books and flipping through them without really looking at them. My heart felt as if it was as large as my chest. Thump, thump, thump was all I heard. I rubbed my hands along plush stuffed toys, enjoying the softness, while my insides did the freakout dance.
It took him forever to come. I waited so long thoughts started to flood back in. Do I tell him? Do I hold it in? How will he respond? I’m having this baby with or without him. F*ck what he thinks. This is insane. How could this have happened so suddenly? Damn rhythm method; I knew we needed to be more scientific about it.
As soon as I got into his van, I blurted it out. I’m pregnant. His calm demeanor displayed shock in a subdued way. “Are you going to keep it?”
I suddenly turned mama bear on him. Fuck yes, I’m keeping it, whether you want to be in my life or not.
He didn’t hesitate. “I want to make this work. My parents divorced when I was 2-years-old. I don’t want to raise my child in separate households.”
And just like that, we were in a relationship again. I spent my pregnancy reading novels about arranged marriages — absorbing facts about love that comes over time. You could grow to love someone you didn’t think you could love. Arranged marriages have a lower divorce rate. Somehow my daughter arranged for us to be together.
The pregnancy was my soul screaming at me with a bull horn.
Getting pregnant pushed me to move through the insecurity that held me back professionally. Suddenly, I wasn’t just teaching yoga, barely getting by. I had been a Reiki teacher for many years but was too fearful to practice professionally. A spa that hired me as a yoga instructor invited me to start offering Reiki sessions. I was amazed when people started booking sessions. Clients would keep coming back. My repeat clients wanted to learn Reiki, so I arranged for my first training, and then my second — until I started to offer regular Usui Reiki trainings.
The life inside of me my motivating force, suddenly I felt more connected to my purpose to serve others. Perhaps the fact that I had to serve this little being in so many ways gave me the confidence I needed to serve on a greater scale.
But my soul wasn’t done harassing me.
My relationship ironically ended just before my daughter turned two. Did her father create a self-fulfilling prophecy? We tried hard to make it work. It was easy during the pregnancy, but the real work settled in after our daughter’s birth. My lack of sex drive after a difficult natural birth (she was 11lbs 7oz!) for my tiny frame — coupled with financial struggles and his tendency to overwork to avoid communicating did not make for an easy, supportive connection.
After devoting a few months to my baby girl, I craved offering yoga and Reiki again. I took a leap and left the spa, renovating an extra room in our house as a healing space. Clients followed me. It felt wonderful to share my gifts. It filled my cup. I felt more present for my daughter on the days I was able to see clients. I felt a deep sense of purpose outside of motherhood, which offered fulfillment to me as well but in a very different way.
When my relationship ended, I was working only a few hours a week. My ex was the breadwinner. It was, unfortunately, a dramatic ending that left me with a deep well of anxiety that would take over a year to heal completely. I remember having $30 in my bank account the night I moved in with my parents and their forever howling beagle.
It was a stressful time. I was broke, homeless, and had a child to care for.
When I look back now, I know it was my soul that saved me. There was no bull horn this time. A gentle, motherly voice wafted in like an angel, singing, I’ve got you, you can do this. The voice appeared in the form of other earth angels that gave me a chance. Small business owner friends that hired me to teach mommy and me yoga and corporate yoga classes in addition to my slowly growing private healing practice. I hustled wherever I could hustle. Doors opened for me in the most unexpected places. Even the building owner I rented from gave me an amazing deal on rent.
My hustle wherever I can hustle mentality hasn’t stopped. But now it’s more of a soul hustle. Every day of single parenthood has started with me dialing into that soul vibe. Somedays I get the I’ve got you, you can do this angel mama voice. Other days I get the Get the f*ck out there and stop whining bullhorn voice.
Some nights — like tonight, I can’t get to sleep because that voice is chattering at me in a garbled way — like a radio dial stuck between two stations. On those nights I must grab my laptop or my journal and start to write. Suddenly the voice gets clear.
The soul’s voice is that clear bellow that upstages the weak and whiny worrying mind, saying:
Those dreams you have are real — they just haven’t manifested in physical form yet. Start taking action. You’re all jittery and awake right now because you’ve been sitting on your worried ass all day fretting about not doing. Go do. Now. That whole right time nonsense is bullsh*t. Now is it. It’s all you’ve got.
Okay, soul, I hear you.
Sometimes I really feel like saying:
F*ck you soul. Why must you pull me out of my comfort zone so goddamn much?
The irony with the soul is that when you don’t listen it just gets louder. It sets a bonfire off in your mind. It pokes and prods at your body. It sears at your heart something fierce. It uses anything it can inside of you to get you to pay attention. It screams, Act! It goads, Do! It whispers, Trust!
The soul always wins. Sometimes it takes a long-ass amount of time for the whiny worrier to surrender, but it eventually will. For me, it’s sleepless nights that push me to write. To do. To act.
Maybe my soul won’t be talking to me through sleepless nights forever. But for now, this is all I’ve got. And my soul is telling me what I’ve got right now is enough.
This post was previously published on The Ascent and is republished here with permission from the author.
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