Heroine’s Journey: Are you on one?
Perhaps your Heroine’s Journey starts as a event you note on the calendar.
A court date.
The anniversary of someone’s passing.
A retirement party.
Your son’s high school graduation.
A doctor’s appointment.
You anticipate it’s arrival. You dread it’s arrival. You don’t know what you feel about it’s arrival.
Life had been chugging along up to this point, with your well-defined role, responsibilities. Relationships felt secure. You felt immovable.
Your identity was secure. Mother. Employee. Daughter. Wife. Best friend. Healthy woman.
Then the event happens. You celebrate, mourn, weep, shout for joy, curse.
And days or weeks or years afterwards, you wake up and wonder who you are, or where you are. How did I get here? you ask.
And just like that….you’ve embarked on a Heroine’s Journey. You’ve caught your foot on the trip-wire of a major life transition and stumbled into deep, unfamiliar woods. There are no landmarks. The ground beneath your feet feels like quicksand. At night, dark tree branches slash your eyes. Rocks appear out of nowhere in front of your feet. You fall.
There is no path now. Neither are there guides, or a light, or breadcrumbs leading you home. Like Dorothy, you’re not in Kansas anymore.
In the morning, you haul yourself out of bed, or maybe you don’t. In the afternoon, you drive to the unemployment agency, or the local coffee shop, or you don’t. You make appointments with financial planners to review the future. You try to keep appointments with friends who are beginning to weary of your transition funk. They tell you to find that “stiff upper lip.” They want their old friend back. Now.
But the Heroine’s Journey isn’t like that.
There is no easy answer, attitude, or arrival to announce it’s complete, or even halfway over. There is just the journey itself.
Here’s what I know about the Heroine’s Journey from painful experience, transition writing training, and talking with my clients.
The Heroine’s Transition Journey is not for sissies. When a life-event whacks us off course, when all we want to do is scramble back on the same path that has vanished, the Journey pulls us elsewhere.
And so we have no choice but to follow the Journey’s lead.
Begin to let go what needs to be released. The heavy baggage you’ve been carrying for so long, lovingly set it aside. Gradually, leave these other things behind–his favorite jacket, your high-heeled power shoes, the box of art your son made in 7th grade. Carry with you what you must: memories, photos, a favorite quilt to keep you warm.
Next, enter the labyrinth of limbo with courage. Turn this way and that, toss back and forth at night like a ship without a compass. Be on the lookout for strangers and angels who offer sustenance. Chart a new course. Get lost. Try again. And again.
When you feel as if you couldn’t get more lost, remember this: you’ve been through transitions before. Graduations, marriages, divorces, loss of loved ones. Reflect on these and what supported you then.
Like what got you through that out-of-state move a decade ago? Who gave you support when the divorce was finalized in the past? Remember your values. What characteristics define you. If you don’t know them, go here to learn more about yourself. Don’t just believe them. Do them. Let them guide decisions and actions when life seems upside-down.
Find someway to express what you’re feeling. Dance. Write. Journal. Make art. Walk in the woods. Talk to a good friend.
How do you know the Heroine’s Journey has ended?
You’ll know by the new beginning. When you wake up one morning and feel more at ease with your world. When you find your lost pet’s first collar, shed a few tears, and make it through the day. When you look less back into the labyrinth and more forward about the possibilities ahead. You’ll know.
The Heroine’s Journey is tough, rocky, windy, and full of challenges. But, you’ve got this. Because you’ve gone through it before. Remember. And when you come to the end of the Heroine’s Transition Journey and see your new beginning, smile at it. Celebrate it. Do something kind for yourself.
Treasure the journey. You’ll want to remember it. Because a heroine’s life is full of transition journeys.
Ginny Taylor is a life transition mentor at Women of Wonder where she guides women in life-changing transitions 0n a heroine’s journey towards a new beginning. Journaling is one of the practices she helps women utilize on their transition journey.
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