This week, I moved from California to Guatemala.
It’s been super easy. And that feels super good (or superootz, in Cakchiquel, the local indigenous language)! I made this video to express just how good it feels:
Many of my friends and family asked me how I was feeling during the weeks before my transition. At first, I told them that I was numb to it all. Nothing felt strange or scary to me when I sunk into the idea that I would soon be living in Guatemala. In fact, I felt nothing strange at all. Naturally, I told myself and my people that I was numb, because my reference point for this sensation is one of numbness.
The days started passing by, and I was making my rounds in California, saying hello and goodbye to many dear ones. I bought my plane ticket, and I started preparing my things for traveling (aka, I went on a clothes mending bender).
Still, nothing. No scary feelings, no panic attacks, no anxiety that I was about to step into a completely unknown world.
It gradually dawned on me why I felt so normal in the time right before I left, and now I’m sharing to crystalize my personal story through this transition.
You see, back in February 2015, I went through a massive transition emotionally. In the time it takes to read one FB post, I was completely cut from my spiritual lifeblood and day-to-day reality. My waking dream was ending as I knew it.
That’s my birth trauma in action.
Let me detail the moment for you: was in the LAX airport, fresh from a beautiful month exploring Baja California Sur. Expectant and joyful, I waited for my ride to pick me up and whisk me to my next adventure. Having internet access for the first time in weeks, I opened Facebook to see what my people were up to. The first post was inviting me to ‘like’ a new page, “HELP SAVE GRUB.”
And, that’s when my heart started to race, my eyes started to well with tears, and my gut sank into the concrete jungle floor. You’re kidding me, right? I thought. Not now…just when I’m settled in and enjoying my life.
This thing called “GRUB” was my home of 1 year—a land-based community founded on sustainability, connection, and freedom in Chico, California. It was my dream to live in a community like that. I felt blessed beyond belief to call it home. And, we were being asked to buy the place for a few million, or move out.** Thus, the “HELP SAVE GRUB” FB page was created to aid our fundraising efforts.
After my mini panic attack at the LAX airport, the spontaneous attacks of uncontrollable crying lasted about 2 weeks (oh, the joys of grieving…). I would curl up in a fetal position in my bed and cry and wail. Our dreams were being uprooted (literally, since we tended to a biodynamic farm, orchard, and gardens) and I fell straight into victim-mode.
So, what does this have to do with my smooth transition to Guatemala and my birth trauma?
Well, it was in-between those moments of complete despair and dismay back in February that I clarified my intention for my new dream. I had been given a chapter marker in the book of my life, and I realized that I held the pen to write the new chapter. So, I decided that I wanted to go south and work on a natural building project and speak Spanish. After more introspection into my intention, I realized that I wanted to explore what it means to hold space through natural building.
This new dream became my anchor and boat to smoothly sail through my rapidly shifting day-to-day reality. Every new gust from the winds of change helped me clarify and hold myself steady to what I wanted to write in the next chapter of my life.
I went from a beautiful, blissful bubble of reality living in community, to feeling that everything I identified with and loved was being taken away from me, to being grounded and in charge of myown life and direction.
Does this sound like an experience you’ve had before? I’m sure it does, because I’m describing what most people experience when they are being born (minus the community part, unless you happen to be a twin).
I, like most people born in a modern, western medicine hospital, had my umbilical cord clamped and cut moments after I landed on Earth. My nervous system retained a memory of the trauma I experienced, and, when I landed at LAX and read that fateful FB post that triggered my panic attack, I was simply feeling the residual waves of my birth trauma cut me off from my source of comfort.
This is what I learned about transition:
Birth canals are like transitions—we get squeezed and opened into new ways of connecting with the reality around us. It can be very painful, but the pain doesn’t have to hurt.
The moments before our transition test our abilities to receive what awaits us on the other side. As we approach our transition (such as the portal of the birth canal or the journey to move to a new country) we become highly activated, and we enter into a deeper state of feeling. This heightened state of connection to ourselves, the universe, and each other is like a wave. Sometimes we can ride it, and sometimes it crushes us. Sometimes it hurts, and sometimes it feels like we suddenly figured out what life is, and how to live it.
This is the key - when we feel the tides rising, and huge waves of emotion start to roll in, remember that transition a good and natural thing. This is the universe’s way of helping you get to where you ultimately want to be in life.
Although I loved living in the GRUB community, there were things missing from my life, and I allowed some of my deepest longings to go un-responded to, like a child crying behind closed doors. The universe created a situation for me where I could not ignore the wails of my soul any longer, and I actually needed to experience myself crying uncontrollably in order to release the old way of living. Only after my grieving process of coming to terms with I needed to adjust my life was I ready to start living the life of my dreams.
I could have continued to check-out from being aware of this degree of pain I had stored up inside. Living life unconsciously is the best pain killer out there — we can’t feel what we are numb to.
“And if you feel the pain, know that you are still awake.” - Jen Myzel, 'Healing the Body'
But instead I chose to feel it (as much as I could take) and the waves came and went, cleansing and clearing me. I was able to remember my path in this life, and re-connect with who I am on a deeper level because I cleared a piece of my birth trauma.
So, when all my friends and family asked me, “How do you feel about leaving and going to something entirely unknown?” and I said, “I think I’m numb.”, what I really meant was, “I am completely ready for this next step in my life, as I am now writing my own story and in charge of all my experiences. This is my new normal, which is similar to feeling numb, but instead of suddenly being slammed with pain, joy creeps up on me and attacks me with fits of laughing!”
Here’s to all of life’s transitions being easy and filled with laughter so intense, that it hurts us just a little bit. Of course, the kind that hurts so good. Super ootz!
Thanks for reading and with all my love,
**Note about the closing of the GRUB community: in the end, the land was not sold. The owners decided to move in to take care of the place and start an organic farm. Those living there, including myself, got to close our community together over the period of one month. Everyone who left is now planting the seeds of GRUB in new places, and the land is going to be very well cared for by the owners.
About Lily Rothrock: Lily founded Porpendorf in 2015 to blog about wholehearted living. She is a native Californian who loves to swim, sing, and travel, and teach Birth Into Being workshops. Read more about her and her blog here.
PS. You can follow my travels on here and on instagram with the tag #lilywiththewings.