‘But I have seen them too. In the pools when the candles were lit. They lie in all the pools, pale faces, deep deep under the dark water. I saw them: grim faces and evil, and noble faces and sad. Many faces proud and fair, and weeds in their silver hair. But all foul, all rotting, all dead. A fell light is in them.’ (J. R. R. Tolkien, The Two Towers) That’s right, the Dead Marshes, by far the creepiest of Tolkien’s creations in my mind. That’s where we are headed in this edition of the quest for our ‘impossible’ journeys, and folks, it’s not pretty.
There I was, happily setting off on my quest to become a man magnet, thinking it might be scary but still quite fun, when I found myself surrounded by foul, rotting, dead faces, just waiting to suck me down into the marsh and let me bust out my own little tea light. Ugh! This is NOT what I thought I signed up for! But here I am, and I suspect that something similar might be happening to you on your own quest. You set out to do something you’ve never done before, hopeful, and find yourself smack in the middle of all of the old patterns that kept you from doing your impossible journey in the past.
I’m inviting you to consider that instead of seeing it as some kind of horrific cosmic joke, seeing it as a chance to see how far you’ve come, and where else you need to grow. That’s what I’m doing with my own journey, and I want to share a bit of it here with you so you can see what I’m talking about. Let’s take a tour of my own personal creepy, infested swamp of old patterns:
Rotting, foul dead face #1: almost immediately upon declaring my journey to magnetism, I fell hopelessly in love with a completely unavailable and uninterested man, who told me outright he was emotionally unavailable. Despite this, I danced around hopefully, breathlessly, looking for signs that he and I were simply meant to be, and his emotional unavailability would be solved with my overwhelming love. (I cringe to even write it, but it’s true.)
Rotting, foul dead face #2: on a recent family trip, I abandoned all of my coaching tools, therapeutic growth, and became fully invested in being the rescuer, desperately trying to solve everyone else’s problems (without being asked!! Just jumping in there on my own, uninvited and unwelcome…again.)
Rotting, foul dead face #3: despite having a business to build, and many other life goals to pursue, I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time in the last couple of months scheming on how to get the aforementioned unavailable, uninterested man to love me and consulting my truth pendulum to see if he does and what steps I need to take with him. This entire time, I have not spoken to him basically at all, because he has no desire to see me. (Cringe x99)
Rotting, foul dead face #4: finally starting to see the truth, instead of facing it and grieving freely, I entered into major denial and returned to a (I thought) former, wildly codependent state, latching on to my visiting friend and becoming inordinately invested in her search for housing. I abandoned my own work, gave myself no space to grieve, and started mapping out available apartments and trying to convince her to live in the area I thought best for her. (all again, completely uninvited and unwelcome. Mercifully this friend knew what was happening with me and refrained from smacking me.)
Luckily I have several wise Gandalf-types in my life at this point, who lovingly, kindly, and with profound gentleness continued to ask me, “Liz, what in the flying hell are you doing??” throughout this two month period. Thank God for them! They’ve helped me in more ways than I can say, and I’m finally now in a place where I can look around and realize I’ve been strolling through the Dead Marshes for months. My first reaction to that? Shame. Wild, roiling, hideous waves of shame, so much so that I was ready to light my own little candle and sink into the murk, never to be seen again. This is me after ten years of therapy and untold personal growth workshops? Aren’t I supposed to be a life coach…someone who maybe has figured some of this crap out already?? Ugh! Just give me the damn candle and let me sink!
Messages from the Universe
The therapy and coach training did pay off in terms of moving forward – yes, I wanted to just die of shame, but I didn’t, and I didn’t let it stop me from talking about it. That seems to be the key thing for me – I remember so clearly from my pre-therapy days wanting desperately not to have any problems and wishing I didn’t need help. I came to the exact same conclusion post-swamp-reveal; I don’t want to have any issues and I don’t want to need help. This round, though, I’m talking about the issues and seeking help, and that is making it all so much easier to see that ‘the Universe’ has a really clear message for me if I choose to hear it.
I’m not done healing. (damn it!) I have not been a man magnet in the past, not because of my body, and not because of my limiting thoughts. Those are nice covers for the real reason: I have no idea how to do intimate partnership, and it scares the living hell out of me to even think of trying. I’m afraid I’ll lose myself completely, and my swamp trek has shown me that it’s a valid fear. I don’t yet have all the skills I need in order to have what I want.
I could (and, naturally, I did) rage and scream about this and make it mean all types of terrible things about me. In the past, I think I’ve gotten lost in my own drama about the situation and used that as an excuse to just remain stuck. But I’m not willing to stay there this time through. I want real partnership, and whatever the hell I have to do in order to be someone who is able to do it, I’ll do.
The High Points
Believe it or not, there are quite a few high points, and I’m sharing them here with you in hopes that you will do the same for yourself. It was challenging to find signs of growth in this swamp, but they are there, and I’m embracing all of them!
- The uninterested man, despite being unavailable, is easily the best guy I’ve ever known. Amazing, generous, kind, caring, thoughtful, protective, with an incredible amount of integrity and strength of character. Of course I fell in love with him! Is it a complete tragedy that he’s not able to go there emotionally? Hell yes, it is – for whoever he would have been with (for me!! for me!!), but mostly for him. I really wish I could have gotten the clue sooner and take back the months of pendulum consultation, but I don’t regret falling for him. It strikes me as a sign of my excellent, if still evolving, taste.
- I have managed to buy, barter, and befriend some incredible sources of loving, honest wisdom who give me clear and kind feedback, even when I don’t want to listen to it. This is invaluable. I expect I would just be in the murk without them, and I’m so grateful to have taken my swamp walk with people on the other side who can see it and help me find my way out of it. I also asked for advice from these sources and followed it whenever I felt able.
- Though the whole time felt like a little trip back into rampant codependency, I did manage to break out of the pattern in all of the cases I mentioned. Not enough to feel good, but enough to realize that there has been progress.
- I realized I needed help, asked for advice and guidance, and then took it. One of the things that I learned from this little swamp sojourn is that I have not processed and resolved all of my issues around codependency, and I need help with it. So…I’m seeking help, trying out CoDA meetings, and not festering in the wailing bitterness of having more healing to do.
- I am publishing this. I am not surrendering to that inner voice begging me to pretend I have no problems, remaining shamed and hidden.
It’s certainly not been a fun trek, but I’m grateful for ‘the Universe’ delivering the message that I did not want to hear, repeatedly and increasingly loudly so I would finally pay attention. It’s my sincere hope for you that you get to avoid the Dead Marshes altogether, but if you happen to find yourself in them, I have full faith that you can find your way out of them as well.
In the words of Gollum, ‘Very carefully! Or hobbits go down to join the Dead ones and light little candles.’ We sure as hell don’t want that. Step well, my friends.