The Endless Birth of the Self


I sit with the struggle of another shift raging in my body, marveling at the endlessness of this becoming process. My mind cannot keep up or make sense much anymore, though it keeps trying, exhausting itself. The experience is familiar, but somehow just a little bit new. I can sense the promise of more freedom if I can just keep going, doing the impossible – relaxing into the tension and compression and slow progress.

It makes me think of what the intensity of birth must be like – the waiting, the wanting to and not wanting to pace the floors, with no idea how it will go but having formed the imaginings anyway, the impatient desire for release, the bustle of loved ones coming and going with concern and earnest attempts to help – and some are so helpful – but not always being able to fully feel them there. These are just more ideas…my mind keeps trying to make sense of what I’m experiencing.

I notice the energy rise that wants to move it, to force a conclusion to this pressured straining, trying to imagine what it will all look like after this shift. It is impossible. The images can’t be accessed. Only the whispered hint of “you’ll be no one”. Alarm bells! Who is that? And how do I know it will be ok? What if I don’t like this “no one” person? What if nobody else does, either?  The scramble ensues as I search my data banks, all the books, all the teachers and teachings, for some sense of how this is supposed to go, of some predictable, acceptable outcome aligned with the new version of myself. Am I doing it right?

The scramble continues…”what if I don’t care about anything anymore after this?”. I’m aware of the way the fear has grown in proportion to the imminence of this arrival. The familiar falling away of the things I thought I was so interested in, invested in has been happening for awhile. I’m wiser now, so knew not to take it too seriously, to just keep getting up each day and doing the next thing until it becomes clearer. Caring, and somehow also not caring, about the little, the big, and the in-between things, and trying not to be to concerned about it.

In the grasping there’s a flash of clarity as I realize and cringe at the depth of the addiction to the ways I know my self…how else could I feel so deeply fearful – almost convinced! as soon as I notice the possibility of being free of the suffering, the next second immediately judging, that this could somehow make me a dangerous/immoral/bad person? Aversion to my own ignorance and fear, and fear of the forward movement move in and out of awareness as the feeling of a hopeless deadlock. I am hesitant to spend much time there because either side of the conflict feels like it could swallow me whole.

I realize like a light suddenly coming on that the box of understanding I’m trying to use to define what the newness will be is too small to hold it. The thing I’m trying to set free is too big, too wild, too unknowable to fit in such a defined and small space. It doesn’t want to be tamed, labeled, or caged. I will have no choice but to let it go, to be whatever it intends to be. It feels difficult but possible to keep going a bit further. Bit by bit, is all that is possible.

The day intervenes with demands for eating and talking and working and cleaning up, and I check in periodically with the progress. It’s still moving along, and there seems to be a moment of relative ease – a bit of a breather. No telling how long it will last. I’ll rest for a bit until the next thing I have to do, and just do the best I can to get through it. I don’t know what else to do. Amazingly, I seem to keep being able to take another step, so I guess I’ll just keep doing that, trusting  this unknown, unknowable force that keeps pulling me toward yet another realization.

About Cynthia M Clingan

Cynthia Clingan is a licensed professional clinical counselor in Columbus, Ohio who offers somatic psychotherapy, spiritual coaching, and meditation and mindfulness instruction.
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