Building faith is a trial I didn’t expect. I’ve been called for the past year or so to “have faith.” It’s been spelled out for me so clearly in divination, meditation, energy work, dreams . . . and is certainly not my strong suit. That may sound surprising coming from someone with such a devout practice and whose life is built around spirituality. But faith is not the same as spirituality.
Ishvara Pranidhana in yoga means “surrender to a higher power,” or: have FAITH. And as I’ve written before, it is my least favorite tenant of spirituality. It feels too uncertain. I’m all about communing with Higher Power – with Spirit, ancestors, gods and goddesses, and/or whatever else we want to call the Source energy and its various iterations. I practice divination daily. Divination means “communicating with the divine.”
Two years ago, I was tasked with trusting my heart, body, and intuition to lead me. I made the commitment to focus on those senses and follow them. And it has been a beautiful journey, in many ways. Transformation abounds. My life looks radically different than it did two years ago. So trust was not easy; but, it was a journey I embarked upon willingly – and, in almost constant contact with the Divine, as it were.
Then, about a year ago, things shifted again. I was asked to have courage and faith. And I thought, “Great! I’m ahead of the game. These are my best assets!”
Turns out, I had a lot of growing left to do.
Shadows a-fucking-bound in this journey. Building courage means facing fears, means feeling afraid and moving through it. So what does the Divine give us to build our courage? Opportunities to develop courage. AKA – shit to be afraid of.
I had an ego death, faced my biggest fears (the idea that I was “becoming my mother,” utter heartbreak, desperate loneliness, and a thousand other things big and small that I don’t care to list), and had to truly develop COURAGE to face myself. Courage to remain clear-headed, strong, and centered.
Then it was time to emphasize faith . . . and, as much as I’d like to say that means I’ve been given all sorts of “unbelievable” face-to-face moments with the Divine – that’s not how any of this works. Wouldn’t it be cool if building faith included, like, sitting down with the gods and discussing human affairs? How easy to believe in the Divine when it comes knocking on the door!
But that’s not what’s happening at ALL. It used to happen to me almost all the time. I have had hundreds of visions, prophetic dreams, conversations with Guides, Angels, Gods, other planetary and dimensional Beings . . . like, a lot. Which, I suppose, is how I built the foundation of faith and spirituality I needed to . . . evolve? Into the next level of “testing” or “realization” or whatever-the-fuck this is.
Because, now, my faith is being tested in silence.
I rely heavily on my practices. I have a clear head – I am not drinking alcohol, using marijuana or other . . . helpful herbs. I am getting plenty of sleep, I don’t watch TV or the news, I meditate and practice yoga for at least an hour a day, often more. I chant, I use crystals, I read cards and all the things I’ve learned and fallen in love with.
But I am met with deafening silence.
Unless, of course, I’m engaging in purely benevolent energy work. As in – I’m able to send reiki, even across great distances, even to people I hardly know, and get EERILY ACCURATE feedback. It’s palpable. I can still prophecy for other people, still read cards and minds and interpret dreams and feel/affect energetic fields. I can still inspire people and help them, even talk to THEIR guides, angels, patron divinities . . .
But none of this works on myself or for myself, anymore. I mean, maybe it does. I stopped reading cards for myself because they were so overwhelmingly in-sync and on-message about all my dreams coming true, a time of celebration being upon me, my destiny being realized, my heart being healed, everything I’ve been hoping for and working on coming to fruition beyond my wildest dreams – which IS NOT HAPPENING.
And I’m not complaining. Like, I get it. We’re all in this together. It’s a fucking pandemic. It’s the ascension. Lockdowns abound. People are dying, going crazy, etc. I’m not special in this regard.
But I AM frustrated. So I turn to silence, return to my practice, chant and meditate, do restorative yoga or high energy yoga, go outside for hours (even in the rain), stare at the moon and stars, sleep with a sphere of obsidian clutched in my hand, PRAY, and beg for clarity – for communication – for something to shift for ME.
And the only thing I hear or receive is “have faith. Trust. The Divine has this all in-hand.”
So I’m beginning to realize that building faith means being sorely tested to believe even when . . . that which one is supposed to believe is somewhat hidden or denied. Having faith means believing in something I cannot see or hear or touch – and if the Divine was in fact hanging out with me giving me all the answers and comfort I desire, it wouldn’t be any kind of exercise to believe in it, would it?
Which is kind of bullshit, to be honest.
I’m frustrated. I’m hurting. I feel abandoned and heartbroken in a different way.
So I played with the idea of “giving up the faith.” LOL. Because the moment I had that thought, I realized it was: a) a total bluff, b) impossible, and c) grossly undesirable. My entire life is a testament of faith. It always has been. I am – we all are – but a spark of the divine encased in a physical expression of the divine seeking to return to the source of the divine and understanding each day that in fact there is no separation from the divine at all, except in our perception.
What a mind-loop.
Perhaps it is myself letting myself down that is so frustrating.
Or perhaps I am indeed building faith, becoming unshakable, in this silence. Because I’ve been through this type of thing before – many times – and there IS a marked difference between open lines of “communication” and the “testing field.” I can feel it in my bones, and I am certain that I am being tested at this time.
Am I strong enough to make it back out the other side? Honestly, this time, I don’t know. But I also don’t know what else to do or how else to be.
I could attempt to “turn it off.” Right? I could turn to substances, allow depression and lethargy to take over, stop practicing, submit to fear and anger, watch the news and the TV and “believe” in “facts” or whatever narrative instead. But that nauseates me. Also, it breaks my heart to consider. It just feels wrong.
And I did promise to trust my body, heart, and intuition to guide me. That’s a lesson I’ve very nearly mastered – that trusting.
Is that faith?
The line between self-medication and addiction is terrifyingly thin, especially when what we’re trying to medicate is our trauma response. I know this intimately, from repeated personal experience; and, I’m only just now putting into action what I’ve come to understand about it through the years.
Let’s be honest: we’re all out here medicating. We call it “self-medicating” when we do it without the “supervision” of a doctor . . . but I’m not entirely sure doctors are doing our mental health many favors by medicating us, either. Sorry, doc. But it’s my experience I’m sharing here.
I’m here to say that medicating is a slippery slope. How easy it is to enter into it with the intention of easing symptoms only to backslide into trauma-induced addiction, eventually worsening the condition and building a difficult-to-escape cycle.
Let me illustrate:
I have historically been on the forefront of promoting the “safe” use of marijuana to medicate depression and anxiety. You can read about it plenty on this here blog. I’ve said that it is the only thing that turns the ~ S C R E A M I N G ~ inside my head from an onslaught to a static din. Which is true . . . at first.
Then, that static din becomes itself an object of addiction – not the substance itself (there are a thousand studies saying it’s chemically nonaddictive, we all know this), but what IS addicting is the static numbness in an otherwise stormy brain.
The ~ S C R E A M I N G ~ doesn’t go anywhere. And the more heavily I attempt to mask it, the more insistent it becomes – meaning more and more “medication” is needed to keep it quiet.
And, at some point, we have to ask ourselves what else are we quieting? For me, it’s intelligence, motivation, ambition, compassion, awareness, self-love, and the ability to connect with others. Yikes. Is that really a sacrifice I’m willing to make?
The ~ S C R E A M I N G ~ lies to me and says yes – yes, your brain is awful, turn it off, turn off your life, you need to look away, nothing good to see here, you worthless, hopeless, sad, angry disaster . . .
So it went, for me, for years. ~ S C R E A M I N G ~ followed by medicating until I realized I didn’t like myself that stoned, then cold-turkey waking up and putting into use some other coping technique. And so on and so forth.
But there’s another way. I started to discover it years ago, which is when I really limited my “medication” moments – I got to a place where I only used it if I absolutely couldn’t bring myself to an alternative.
The answer to medication is meditation. And we know that meditation can look like a lot of things.
Another way to say this is that the answer to NEEDING medication is self-regulation born of self-realization. Which, by the way, is a continual process. It takes a whole hell of a lot more work than walking into a dispensary, doctor’s office, or drug dealer’s living room.
But it works a whole hell of a lot better, too.
Because the ~ S C R E A M I N G ~ goes away. It self-resolves. No longer does it become a distorted, quiet, nondescript buzzing static only to return between doses, or in the middle of the night, or when we’re at our breaking point. It just . . . runs itself out. Becomes silence.
When we replace medication with meditation, we HEAL.
This is what it looks like for me:
Daily practice, to build resilience, so that when a trigger inevitably arrives, I am already in self-care mode. I eat healthful, plant-based foods and avoid nonsense shit things that have mind-and-mood-altering chemicals, drink TONS of water (about a gallon a day) and prioritize getting enough sleep. Every day, I move my body in ways that feel good, like taking long walks, hiking, running, and doing yoga. Every day, I meditate for at least 20 minutes – sometimes that means laying on my back with my legs up a wall listening to calm music; sometimes, it means sitting in silence with my back against a tree; sometimes, it looks like chanting angrily through my tears at the gods.
So, when a trigger arrives, and the ~ S C R E A M I N G ~ returns, I go into autopilot self-care mode. If I’m feeling anxious, or – as I have taken to calling it after a particularly tough year – adrenaline sick, I do something really strenuous like RUNNING a mountain. If I’m feeling low, I reach out to my support group and force myself to go outside, even if it means slowly walking with headphones in while I let tears stream down my face.
The difference, you see, between medicating (quieting) the ~ S C R E A M I N G ~ and meditating with it is that one allows it to process, to come up and out, while the other shoves it down – puts it under pressure – making it stronger and worse.
I don’t care how well you think your medication is working. If you don’t use your medication to get to a place of processing, you will never be free of it. “It” being the ~ S C R E A M I N G ~ and “it” being the need to medicate.
If you can use the temporary quietude induced by the medication to begin a daily practice of self-realization, however, you will be well on your way to healing. On your way to peaceful silence in place of ~ S C R E A M I N G ~ . . . on your way to wholeness.
And, like I always say, if I can do it – so can you. My ~ S C R E A M I N G ~ is loud AF, just like yours. But humans are resilient, strong, determined creatures. It’s in our nature to evolve. Developing new habits is well within our reach. I believe in you.
If you need or want any suggestions or help developing a plan, making a roadmap out of your cycle of medication, reach out to me. I’m not a doctor, but I am an expert in healing the trauma response. I’m not a doctor, but I am a human. I’m not here to tell you to quit anything cold-turkey, but I am here to tell you my story. And to listen to your story, too.
I’m not a doctor, but I’m done with medication.
“You do not have to be good. You do not have to crawl on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only need to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. … the world calls to you, like the wild geese, harsh and exciting – over and over – announcing your place in the family of things.” – Mary Oliver
Heading home is what they call it when we go back to where we lived, before. But, for me, the places of my past feel more nightmarish than homelike. I didn’t choose to live in Minnesota, didn’t choose the slushy gray snow and biting prairie winds.
Going to the place that nearly broke me, or maybe did in some ways, was not a homecoming.
Spending time with my sister is home in ways that nothing else is. And I realize that, for her, the place is home. She has chosen it and built a life there. I hoped to see it through her eyes, to find beauty and joyfulness in that space.
There were moments of that kind of expansion, that kind of joy. Like my massage-healing-energy work session with Rachel at The Future. The place was magical, her room a liquid oasis of air and ether, glowing with elemental energy.
But then I returned to the home in which I spent six miserably formative years – only briefly, for a quick visit with my dad – and that flood of cold dread closed around my chest like a vice. I thought I had broken that hold years ago, but the nightmares poured into my mind and body with sickening ease.
We drove past my best friend’s childhood home, the place I’d run to with tears streaming down my face – even though that house had its own demons, it was a solace from my own.
We drove past the bowling alley parking lot where I lost my virginity in a drunken nonconsensual car encounter.
The house smelled like smoke and I swear it was in my hair and clothes immediately, like a thundercloud of misery from which I could not hide.
I was in control. I drove myself and my child, I kept my boundaries up high, I did the benevolent “right thing” for a man whose days are wasting away in a cold basement – let him feel our light for as long as I could bear.
You do not have to be good. But I chose to be, and then I got up off of my knees and went to The Future and healed my body and soul. The water of the room cleared away the smoke, washed me clean of nightmares – and the ether of spirit took its place.
And now we are in the air, my little golden haired orb-child, my Starseed, my home embodied. Above the clouds we are flying, and something about the cold crisp too-bright winter sky this high up makes me feel like everything is home.
It’s harsh, and it’s exciting, and it’s calling to me “come home, take your place, the Family is waiting.”
What is it that I love? This. This freedom.
My place is in the sky, among the stars, in the too-bright light. And, though it travels with me, there are some places only freedom can go …. and I belong there as often and as joyfully as possible.
You are so loved. This year has been an evolution, like the dissolution of the caterpillar so she can become. And, like that courageous creature, you too have grown wings.
Last year, you were so afraid. You didn’t want to be “thirty-two.” You were triggered by ghosts of the past, so afraid of losing everything.
You had closed the doors of your studio, the place you had created that was really YOURS. And that was heartbreaking. You didn’t know what your career would bring, didn’t know how to move forward following your dreams. You felt like you had come to the end.
But that’s not what happened – you found a “job,” but it became a dream. You found your soul mate friend and partner, Dawn, and have grown immensely with her. You have been elevated to a leadership position for the GOOD of the community, and have brought yoga and meditation with you into the venture. You’re making a difference every day in ways you didn’t even imagine were possible.
You stumbled. A lot. You drank too much at times, made some poor self-care choices, and had a lot of negative self-talk to heal.
But you returned to your values again and again! You started running, hiked – by yourself – a thousand times, and stayed true to your yoga practice. You spent your entire summer sober, meditative, awake. You held fast to your health and your healing and it has made you strong from the inside out.
You were in love – so deeply – but so afraid of that feeling because you knew it would end in heartbreak. And it did. You crumbled into pieces, yes. You cried yourself to sleep … often … and have been utterly despairing. You doubted yourself, the gods, your practices – yet you held on, blindly, and stumbled forward through the pain until you finally made it out of that cave.
You brought your god(dess)-son for a long awaited trip to see you. The time you spent together was magic for the entire world, from the conversations you had to the silence you shared – you will never be the same for that sacred connection.
You made a trip back to your roots, back to the place you were born, to parts of yourself that were wrapped up in your mother and everything you didn’t want to touch – and it was beautiful. You healed even deeper, reconnected with your family and your SELF. Spent time with a woman who embodies “strong,” and took that courage home with you.
The growth you’ve experienced this year has been nurtured by the crumbled pieces of what you released. Your pain led you into the woods, your tears broke open the faith you had lost … you learned to believe even when you couldn’t see the path, couldn’t hear my voice through the static in your head.
Did you know, before, how much faith it takes to become? Did you know, before, what it means to dissolve, in the dark, hoping for wings but not knowing how to fly?
And it dawned on you at some point that you did not need permission to become, didn’t it? One day you awoke and said, “I will not wait – not for my lover, not for an agent or a publisher, not even for my Destiny. I create this life. I love myself. I am more than enough.” And you began.
You hired an editor, and rewrote your story again (and again). You began sharing it with the world, and – to your delight and amazement – the world is responding with love. Your work is being seen, heard, rewarded.
You decided to love yourself the way you deserve. You date yourself, spoil yourself, continue to prioritize self-care, health, meditation, and your loves of skiing, running, hiking – solo and blissful. You are the one you have been waiting for your whole life, and you’re glowing with the love you feel.
Yes, Brittany …. it is happening. I know there are answers you still crave, dreams on the cusp of manifesting, and sorrow steeped in hope for things you are yet unwilling to relinquish. And that’s okay – these things are part of the journey.
You are becoming fluid in the way of Destiny, and each step or stumble forward is perfect.
The thing about flying is … it’s in us all along. You don’t need to fear, dearest, because your heart knows the way.
You were always meant to become; I am so happy you have come to believe in it, as well.
Your Highest Self
How long did it take you to write? – most asked question about Finding Starlight
The honest answer is that it took my entire life, and a few days, and a few years. I knew from the time I was a child that I wanted to write, and that the first book would be the story of the life I’d lived. I have been putting pen to paper, creating stories, poetry, and philosophies since I was seven years old; since I was nine, I have been reading and speaking these words in front of crowds.
Some people spend their lives trying to figure out their Purpose. Living my life, and telling that story, is mine. I’ve always known it. Of course, there’s more to this than just . . . talking about myself. Every fire I have walked through, every time I almost died, every tear I ever cried – these were all allegories of human expansion.
I’ve experienced many traumas with an air of separation from them. This is not necessarily like the traumatic response of disassociation, but, rather, the meditative objectivity of witness consciousness. People have told me that I’m strong, resilient, wise, and even lucky. But I think it’s something else, something more Destined than that.
Nearly everything I’ve endured, I have simultaneously experienced and witnessed. I have been the “victim” while holding onto compassion for the aggressor/abuser. I have loved those who hated me the most – and I still do. I have written about things immediately after they happened with forgiveness dripping from my pen. There’s hardly a piece of prose I’ve created that didn’t end with hope; the very telling of it heals me.
I believe I came here to live through these things on Purpose, as my Purpose, to be able to relate to millions of others – to reach millions of people in their darkness. Why that matters is only just now becoming clear to me
“Not all of us are as brave as you are to share such private moments and memories with the world. You are a strength for those of us who are not strong enough to talk about their issues. Thank you.” – direct message on FaceBook from a person I’d never spoken to before in my life
… and so, so many more like this have come through. People saying to me, “I’ve been through this, too, and hearing your story helps. A lot.”
How long did it take me to get here? Many, many years. My first attempt to start the book was in 2008 when I moved to St. Croix USVI; however, I wasn’t finished living it. When I moved to New Hampshire in 2012, I met a woman named Katrina who would take me on a past-life journey to the center of my soul. The transcript of that session became the basis of Finding Starlight.
I wrote the first 35,000 words over the course of a couple days in a very Hunter S. Thompson style inspirational rage, with clove cigarettes and Caribbean rum on repeat while I sat on my sunny porch, fingers flying over the keys. Then, a few years passed and I shifted my focus to founding an international nonprofit, having a child, and becoming a yoga teacher, healer, and business owner.
Finally, in 2015, I returned to those original 35,000 words. Telling the rest of the story took me a couple months, into the next year, and then I sent it out to my first round of readers. Twelve dedicated, contracted-to-secrecy, cheerleader & critic readers poured over my sloppy first draft and gave thorough feedback, which I would then sit on for a few months and incorporate into the second draft, which a second, smaller focus group reviewed. Another rewrite and I began querying agents in 2017.
The first dozen agents I queried either rejected or ignored me. I sat with my sense of unworthiness for a while, then ran an indiegogo campaign to self-publish. Many people, over two-dozen of you, contributed. I raised enough money to hire a professional editor, and did so.
That edit took place over the summer, and came back much more promising than I’d anticipated. I sat with those edits, then simultaneously incorporated them and came up with this Rupi Kaur -inspired “shameless publicity stunt” idea to read the entire thing aloud here on the internet one chapter at a time, while I continue to query agents and hope to get discovered.
“I don’t know exactly what a prayer is,” Mary Oliver wrote, “I do know how to be idle and blessed . . . which is what I have been doing all day. Tell me, what else should I have done?”
I don’t know exactly what I’m doing or why. But I do know it’s moving people. I do know it’s healing my wounds even more deeply than ever before, and that when we heal ourselves, we heal the world.
Tell me . . . what else should I have done? What other story should I tell, than the one of my wild and precious life?