Women on the Edge of Evolution: Learning to See in the Dark
Everyone knows the territory of loss. And most of us will likely, at some point in our lives, experience a dramatic loss or a dark night of the soul. This is not just a good dose of grief, but a time when we cannot see. A time when we feel utterly disconnected from everything we knew before, from our certainty and from the order of life itself.
I know this dark force of loss. And I know now that it is possible to enter into it, be present with it, and transform through it. I did not know that when I heard the impossible words, “David is dead,” and the bottom fell out of my world. My beloved husband’s sudden and chosen death devastated me and all the outer structures of my life. It brought me to my knees in a way that I cannot imagine any other act doing. The fulfilling future that I had imagined ahead was cleaved away like a giant iceberg breaking free. And there I was—on the edge of a new and unimaginable chasm.
Only a nanosecond ago, David was with me cuddling in bed and I was his cherished wife and not this one left hanging over the broken ledge of desolation. The one staring into the void wondering what the f__ had happened. The sleepless, haggard one who had lost everything that mattered. My life had been completely shattered—there would be no putting back together again the pieces of that old me or that old life. There would be more falling apart and then, eventually, with time, a coming together again as I found the ground of my new life.
When I entered this dark period, I was at the culmination of 15+ years of research through my university women’s leadership programs, which had led to the discovery of a new pathway for awakening women’s Feminine and Masculine wholeness. My co-author and I were about to publish a groundbreaking book, The Way of the Mysterial Woman: Upgrading How You Live, Love and Lead, and were poised to take flight with our message for women. But this is not what life had in mind. Instead, I was plunged into the deepest, darkest descent of my life, literally overnight.
During this difficult time, the only thing that never wavered was that I knew I would walk The Way of the Mysterial Woman to determine if this way of being, and doing, would hold up in the most challenging circumstances that I could imagine. And it did. It did hold up, and I learned to see in the dark.
I can tell you that my Center held—held against the tempests of anger and betrayal, against the overwhelming weight of grief and despair, against the disorienting fogs of confusion, against the uncontrollable waves of fear that often left me trembling and spent. My Center held like the picture I once saw of the Virgin Mary statue in a graveyard that was left untouched after Hurricane Sandy, while everything else around her was battered down by the force of the winter storm.
Our award-winning book is now out in the world and providing a map and a pathway for the next phase of women’s development, and I have started writing my second book about how I moved through the alchemical fire of the last five years. What I know now for sure is that resilience is not innate—it is cultivated through how we respond to the circumstances of our lives.
There is a popular saying, “What doesn’t break us makes us stronger.” But my experience would say, “What breaks us open makes us stronger,” if we have the tools to navigate through the darkness. What if the tough circumstances of our lives are not the things we have to get over or get through to have a fulfilling life? What if they are the forging fire that could awaken profound new levels of our wisdom, love and power? This is an innate potentiality I call Mysterial.
I believe that women are currently in the midst of a profound rite of passage. We are being invited by the force of evolution itself to grow the consciousness and leadership capacity that will allow us to tackle the challenges that we created from our former consciousness—one that did not include all our ways of knowing. And this means that many of us are experiencing or will experience a shaking up of the inner and outer structures of our lives to make room for this emergence.
We are on the frothy edge of evolution, midwifing ourselves into the world as women who can shape a positive future for all beings. We are needed now. And we will need each other.
“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day I can hear her breathing.”—Arundhati Roy