Cultivating a New Way of Listening to Herself.
She stood peering out of the small rectangular window, recalling the day she collided with The Big Quiet.
As she peered around the garage, feeling the stillness of this fall morning, she revisited the haunting silence that swept her certitude. The cobwebs had collected a story of their own. Everywhere she gazed showed signs of the abandon, less important to her than the reality she had faced. A mere memory of what once was and may never be again.
The Big Quiet came upon her unexpectedly, with an agenda. Meant to disrupt the outward way once known to her. It’s purpose: to open the door to an inward reclamation. So much of her life was spent in the outer world. Distractions, obligations, expectations, deadlines, priorities.
The day she collided with what she affectionately calls The Big Quiet was an ordinary day. She was driving, when suddenly she became disoriented, short of breath, clammy, with a quickened heartbeat, unable to get her bearings. She pulled her car off of the highway, and sat holding the wheel. She felt like she was dying. Her heart was beating so hard and fast, she thought she was having a heart attack.
She didn’t want to die in her car, afraid no one would find her. She got out and lay down on the side of the highway, gasping for air, wondering if she would see her children again. The feeling of regret consumed her thoughts.
Had she said goodbye to each of her children? Did they know how much she loves them? There were many words left unspoken. Now she wasn’t sure she’d get a second chance.
The police and ambulance came, took her to the nearest ER, ran tests, and gave her a general exam. She was discharged on July 5, 2012, noted as having a panic attack.
After several more panic attacks, and many tests, she lost trust in her body, having little faith that anything would get better. The diagnosis was acute anxiety. The remedy: pills. That felt like a sad outcome. She’d chosen to live a lifestyle where few medications entered her system. Her trust in the medical system was also in question. How could she be here?
For years, she didn’t feel safe enough to admit her secret. To convey of her daily struggle to leave her home, and meet her necessities to live a normal life. Too ashamed to share that her husband felt partner-less, and her children neglected, while she still lived under the same roof. Maybe it wasn’t quite that dramatic, but her level of perception was clouded with guilt.
Was this the right time for her to dive into herself and heal? She had choices: quit, or fight. Knowing that she would have to dig deep, she began the fight. The Big Quiet had silenced her. It was a painful place to live, a constant unearthing of the pain, abuse, and neglect she experienced growing up.
Her ball of yarn became unraveled, and no matter which end she tried desperately to grab and stuff, there was no hope of it ever going back into place.
Perhaps people knew something was different. The family that was once active in the community and playful in the yard was now seldom seen. The weeds began to grow, paint started peeling, and the gardens wore an abandoned look. She stayed silent, and her unwillingness to share was a refusal of other people’s gifts as she sat in her suffering.
She bought books, took classes, followed gurus, buying into the idea that these other beings had more to offer her than she herself could. Everyone has a path laid out before them, with several roads to choose from. The exploration designed to go back to one’s center, to the innate wisdom held inside. What looked on the exterior as her falling apart — distant, withdrawn, unlike herself — was, in fact, her falling inward.
It’s human nature to want to rescue someone from this painful experience, show them a way out, sharing advice and inspirational articles. That’s not the principle of The Big Quiet. It is the job of the silenced to find the answers. It’s exclusive to the individual. There are certain familiar colors, but the golden nugget lies dormant to the pursuer.
Little did she know at the time that she was, in fact, starting over. Being a beginner, instead of learning to walk, she was learning how to feel, how to be present with herself. Leaving behind a life that looked good on the outside and checked the successful boxes, while her soul was yearning to be heard.
Years of therapy didn’t alleviate the intensity of anxiety, alternative methods of healing helped a little: mounds of journals, tears, seeking and clamoring for the familiar. Each day led her deeper inside, tirelessly excavating through the layers of external living that covered her authenticity.
Little by little, the loud, fearful voices began to simmer. Trust was starting to build in the relationship between her and The Big Quiet. A new way of listening to herself began to emerge, the way she responded was new. She was learning to build boundaries in her relationships. The day came when stillness enveloped her. A moment when the loudest thing she heard was her heartbeat.
She touched the wisp of inner quiet. What started as a time of dismay ended an intimate relationship with the woman who occupies her vessel.
Her absence in others’ lives was a time she took to cultivate a close relationship with herself. This relationship is an ongoing process, one she works at daily. As with all good relationships, it requires tending and presence. Her greatest teachings from The Big Quiet were listening to herself and trusting her intuition.
She was her own hope and miracle all along. The power of her trust is what brought her here today!
As an Epiphany Midwife, Brigid Hopkins greatly enjoys supporting her clients in finding clarity by reclaiming their power and listening to their souls. She intuitively accesses multiple healing modalities, including Shamanic and Practical Reiki, and Chakra Wisdom. Much of her healing journey has been informed by her quest to heal herself of her own childhood traumas and to put herself back together in the midst of a challenging divorce process. When she is not caring for her three free-range children, visiting with members of Cleveland’s homeless community, or supporting her clients, you may find her exploring the northeast Ohio shoreline, immersed in the deepest forest she can find, painting, writing or practicing contemplative photography.