Anxiousness, mixed with incredible enthusiasm and overwhelming velocity, propelled me towards what I thought would be my future: a project that would combine my business experience with my creativity, as well as my passion for food and sustainability. (I will speak of the project in abstract terms out of respect for the privacy of my collaborators). With financial obligations and business reputations on the line, the stakes were high. To say that I’m an idealist would be putting it mildly. However, I’ve always considered myself a grounded and practical idealist, and I believed I could make it work. The collaborating parties were very different from each other, with diverse backgrounds and specific personal intentions for the project—all admirable, but in many ways divergent. This created disharmony, leaving us wondering if our commitment to push forward would lead to great reward or an early grave. But, we had to find out because it was our destiny to journey together, at least for this moment. The magnitude of the project made sleep more challenging than usual, but I assumed loss of sleep was a necessary evil; a means to an end.
My body was the first to process the stress of the project. There was a humm or pulse of worry, often exaggerated in my dreams. I left meetings feeling drained and frustrated. My collaborators were triggering vulnerable aspects of myself that I had expected would be triggered from the onset, however, my premonition did little to ease the discomfort. In taking on this project, I entered into an agreement with myself: to engage with my fear of expressing my voice, of being rejected, being mocked. I chose to work on building resilience as an empath. Throughout the process, I was making peace with the feelings that were triggered when I did not feel seen, heard, or appreciated. I was in a process of finding appreciation and value in myself.
I HAD GROWN AND NURTURED THIS SEED, BUT UNLIKE MY PRIOR THREE PREGNANCIES, THIS SEED WAS NOT DESTINED TO GROW AS I HAD ENVISIONED IT.
Beyond interpersonal dynamics, there were hurdles with outside bureaucracies that ultimately made execution of the project infeasible. Before accepting that it wasn’t happening, I had to work through the process of questioning. If I can just push through, make it to the other side, the imbalances will even out. I felt that it was my responsibility to deliver what was expected of me at all costs, even my well-being. These are just a few of the unconscious ways I was operating, which I have to forgive myself for. We never did make it to the other side as I had dreamed it to be. I am actively integrating the impact of the redirection in my life and slowly unpacking the purposefulness in every aspect of how things unfolded.
I have given birth to three children and while breathing deeply in a healing session, it occurred to me that this project had been like a fourth pregnancy. I had grown and nurtured this seed, but unlike my prior three pregnancies, this seed was not destined to grow as I had envisioned it. This seed died in my womb and thus, a grieving process is natural. Creating space for grief has been primal to my healing. Allowing the pain to be expressed and felt in whatever way it presents, without judgement, has been liberating. Not rushing to the next thing, but sitting with the feelings.
Throughout the two year course of the project’s development, my emotions had ranged from anger, to exuberance fueled by creative inspiration and passion, flatlining in disappointment and sadness. These emotions presented themselves in exaggerated intensity, but they have also created an opportunity to break an old story of self-abandonment. In the wake of what appears to be a grave failure, I am choosing self-forgiveness, self-compassion, and self-care, in order to integrate the losses and the gains. This experience has been an exercise in death and rebirth which are cycles constantly at play in our human experience.
I recently had a comforting dream in which I encountered my partner on this project. I looked into her eyes and said only, “I am so sad.” When I woke up, I was surprised by my dream because in my waking hours, I had rationalized the dismantling of this project by convincing myself that it is for everyone’s best interest, and that is was not my fault—that I can let it go. And though this may be true, my dreams remind me of the little girl inside of myself who is sad and struggles to process the abrasive violence of change.
WHAT MY SLEEP PATTERNS WERE REVEALING, WAS THAT THIS PROJECT WAS FRAUGHT FROM INCEPTION BECAUSE IT WAS BORN FROM A DESIRE FOR PERSONAL VALIDATION.
In processing my loss, I have reflected deeply on the messages that were present on the journey, relayed by my sleep state. I had endured six months of restless and anxious sleep, feeling uncomfortable, concerned, and powerless. In fact, the ultimate clarity and directive to act with urgency came to me upon waking up drenched in sweat, fully confronted with the truth of what had led me to the project from the beginning.
What my sleep patterns were revealing, was that this project was fraught from inception because it was born from a desire for personal validation. There was a restlessness in me that wanted to say: “see, sustainable models can make money, you can run a business with profit and have fair and just employment standards, you can have female leadership in a male-dominated industry, do new things, break rules, have fun and invite the intersection of different disciplines to expand conversations... and still make money.” I wanted to see my values validated by commercial success. Although these outward goals are not bad, I was creating from a space of avoidance, ignoring the messages of my emotional body. I was clinging to the attachment of a desired outcome. I wanted to prove something, and that is not a vacant space to create from. I was unconsciously coming to the work with an energetic grasping for validation when none is needed.
Terminating the project has allowed me to integrate my ideals as reflective of my heart and who I am. I am now able to place more value on this, giving less focus on material outcomes. I learned that I am enough regardless of external validation or outward success. This understanding was hard earned, but life changing. Overall the experience propelled me into a deeper relationship with myself. From that deepened state of self-awareness and self-love, I am able to contribute my gifts to the collective in a way that is more grounded and has greater sustainability. I am grateful to all who knowingly or unknowingly helped me get here.
I LATER CAME TO UNDERSTAND THAT IN MY DREAM STATE MY COLLABORATORS WERE PERSONIFYING ANTAGONISTIC ASPECTS OF MY OWN SUBCONSCIOUS PERCEPTIONS OF MYSELF.
The triggers were the instigants posing the challenge and creating the opportunity for me to break through limiting thought and behavior patterns. The tension I was wrestling with was activated in my dreams. I later came to understand that in my dream state my collaborators were personifying antagonistic aspects of my own subconscious perceptions of myself.
In a most recent dream my partner invited me to her house for her birthday party. We went into her room and we jumped on her bed to chat like high school girlfriends. The scene was very eighties and lighthearted. She casually and vaguely acknowledged her own resolution that things happened in a way that she could see as right or good. She was grateful for all of it and happy. There was something very fun about the exchange. I haven’t spoken with this person since things deconstructed, and the likelihood of this dream having literal accuracy is slim to none. However, the dream revealed to me that I am ready to forgive myself and move forward. My partner was personifying my subconscious desire for closure. Working with the unique intelligence of dreams can be monumental in bypassing the limitation of the waking mind.