Chloe Kyle, a participant in my writing class, wrote this inspiring essay. I invite you to journey with her as she discovers what’s truly important in life.

In the dark of night, I find myself rigid with spinal pain once again, an experience that has dogged my life since an accident in my teens. My pelvis aches and a heaviness pervades my left side. My fingers tingle. My neck burns, while a muscle spasm engulfs and compresses my skull. My head feels starved of oxygen. I am trapped by my pain. I have allowed this affliction to define me and create disharmony in my relationships. I know I am yet to surrender it. I don’t sleep at night. My mind races with all the things I could have done differently to avoid the situation I’m now in. A rising panic fills my abdomen, stifling my breath as I frantically search my mind for a way out of this entrapment. I sense the reams of emotion, anguish and karma bound up in this issue. I reach out to my Beloved, asking Him to allow this to unravel, yearning yet again to be graced with His love and insight and to succeed in my journey towards self-realization.

My husband and I are renovating a house and are living on site, having moved from the other side of London. Tim works 24/7 leaving me to juggle the renovations while looking after our three-year-old son. We have moved into a building site. Doors and windows were lacking when we arrived, the floorboards dusty, builders hammering and banging day in, day out. I remind myself why we moved: To be able to afford a house in the catchment area of a good school, to be paying into a mortgage rather than renting, to be slightly closer to family, to finally own a house with a small garden. None of this seems important now.

The move has brought up a cacophony of feelings within me: Doubts about my marriage and ability to be a good mother, a sense of loss at giving up my job and means of supporting myself, helplessness at having left a neighborhood I loved with the support of friendships built up over years. As I lie awake in the night, I listen to my thoughts: The humdrum of fear, the “why me,” the anger, the frustration. During my days, I hear myself voice these fears and doubts to friends and family, and as I do they expand, becoming my reality.

Most of all is an overbearing sense of doubt in trusting myself, as I know I created this situation. I grapple with an unease over feeling so imbalanced as a spiritual student, so unloved despite knowing I have the greatest privilege of all time, the guidance of a living Master. How, after nine years under his tutelage am I still living this old reality?  My thoughts whir around continuously, an unrelenting Ferris wheel.

The multiple decisions I have to make for the renovation weigh heavily. I find myself impartial to which type of sink or taps we have, yet incapable making a decision. Weeks of insomnia make me feel like a zombie. My husband has persuaded me to take neural painkillers for my back and sleeping pills for my insomnia. Succumbing to pills feels like masking the issue. Taking them at my husband’s request seems like giving away my power, but I don’t feel strong enough to disagree. I no longer have the energy to interact with our builders or make friends in the neighborhood. Caring for our son is all I can stretch to, and even that I do listlessly, knowing that I am far from being the mother I wish to be.

Months ago I signed up to pursue a diploma in complementary medicine, thinking the renovations would be finished. I reasoned that while my son was at nursery school I would have time to study for this degree that could lead to a new career. My head is too clogged; I defer the course. The next day I re-enroll. Surely this is the escape route from my entrapment. I lose my nerve. I defer the course. Two weeks later I re-enroll again, and head to the college to catch up on the work.

Six Weeks Later 

I pull on my tracksuit and run into the park. I smell the rain in the trees as my new running shoes crunch through the bed of autumn leaves. Colorful parakeets streak across the azure sky, and I marvel at the sense of space the gaps of sky between the mature trees give, if only I look up. I breathe in the crisp air. Winter is on its way.  I stop as I come to a clearing. Jogging is a new activity for me, and I’m out of breath. I give thanks as I chant my word. I remind myself to take in the moment, to go slow.

I’ve given up my pursuit of a degree. On paper it seemed like studying was the right thing to do. By giving it up, I’ve lost the savings I invested in the course. I’ve also given up a means to start a new career in a field that has always interested me. I’ve given up a means of escape from the humdrum of home life. Yet somehow, I feel it was my mind that wanted this. My soul is indifferent to my occupation. Could it be that being a housewife and mother is perfect for me right now.

Is it possible that this move and the myriad of feelings it has brought up are perfect for this point in my journey? Each erg of unhappiness and dissatisfaction, each pang of regret, pain and anguish has urged me to go within. I am no longer on painkillers. I have been given a number of exercises to manage the pain. I now sleep well. As for my anguish and doubts over my marriage, undertaking the move etc.? They are still there but I recognize now that these thoughts and emotions are not me. They are just thoughts and emotions. The real me, my soul, is quite different. I recognize that it is not for me to fix these perceived problems my mind so loves to bring up. Rather, all I need do is say my mantra and imbibe the blessed love of my Beloved. So easy to state, so difficult to do, yet I know that this truly is the only escape route to the freedom I seek.

Over supper, my son, Theodore, bursts into song. “The bare necessities of life.” I marvel at the lyrics as I catch the joyful gleam in his eye and join in. I give thanks that I am where I am right now.

Chloe Kyle lives in London where she cares for her family. She derives inspiration from her spiritual practice and enjoys the natural world, wholesome cooking and child’s play.

The paintings by Joie Villenueve are, as she says, “inspired by an inner connection with my Beloved. They are visual love songs.”

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