It radiates from my heart and the space between my ribs - an innate energy so intense that it’s almost unbearable. I grapple to understand how I can feel both constricted and simultaneously propelled to move.
This feeling comes around like clockwork every September. Some people blame it on the days getting shorter, while others chime in with, “it’s Virgo Season and it is time to get your shit together.”
I always agree. As the sun rises later and sets earlier, I know that I subconsciously remember that my time here in this human existence is very short. I also tenaciously embody my Sun in Virgo. It makes sense why other people label the intense energy I feel within as a byproduct of the season.
It’s important to note that I make a big deal about my birthday every year. And, I make a big deal about it because I tried to kill myself when I was 15.
And, I lived. I’m alive - that’s a big deal.
I also lived through 4 extremely excruciating years of incomprehensible alcohol and drug abuse. It’s amazing I’m alive - I can still hear the voices of countless medical professionals and police officers telling me, “you’re not going to make it to celebrate your next birthday if you keep this up.”
Even with the odds stacked against me, I’m still here. I’m alive. It’s a miracle.
Revisiting and reflecting on my journal entries from Septembers’ past, I unearthed a truth that has helped me place that ‘innate energy so intense that it’s almost unbearable’. That energy comes from my soul’s desire to live in alignment with my most authentic Self (note Self versus self). For a very long time, I’ve lived out of alignment with my true Self. I know that statement sounds very lofty and new-agey, but it’s the truth.
As a teenager, I made decisions that placed me positions to be harmed. From the ages of 15 to 19, I consumed massive quantities of alcohol, street drugs, and prescription medicines - at the same time. I blacked out every single night.
Bad things happened to me in those black outs. Today, I know I would have avoided a lot of the trauma I experienced had I not abused drugs and alcohol in the way I did, but I did. And, I’ve suffered the consequences in the form of acute shame and fear.
When I stopped drinking at the age of 19, I loathed myself. It’s impossible to articulate what it felt like for me to live in my own body after I removed the substances that blotted out the severe emotional and psychic pain I experienced within my cells. I became completely physically disassociated.
After a year or so of rigorous therapy and a few years of a consistent yoga practice, I found myself at home in my body again. I also had a few brilliant college professors that gave me tools to discursively deconstruct what motivated me to objectify my physical body when I was younger.
As young as middle school, I craved attention from males. I had a gaping hole inside of me and I sought attention in an attempt to fill it.
My desire for attention, coupled with my substance abuse, severely backfired - it frequently placed me in terrifyingly sad situations. And, to add personal insult to injury, during the same time I experienced multiple sexual traumas, I worked at Hooters - not only once, but twice! It’s still hard for me to wrap my head around that sometimes. But, in hindsight it makes sense, I had incredibly low self-esteem and I felt completely unworthy and incapable of supporting myself.
As I gained understanding and confidence, feelings of safety and embodiment slowly restored. Even though I was not yet comfortable publicly sharing the details of my story that I openly express today, I no longer hated myself like I did when I was 19 years old.
During the Summer of 2010, I moved into my first apartment alone in Chicago. I will never forget how empowered and resilient I felt the first morning I woke up all by myself, in my own home. Those feelings lingered for a couple of months. Then, one afternoon, on warm Fall day, I was walking home, alone, wearing a flowy, flowery, mid-thigh length skirt and a thin tank top. I felt elegant and womanly. Three blocks from my home, a man approached me from behind and said something like, “thank you for wearing that for me.”
I tried to ignore him and walk faster, but he kept following me. As I neared my apartment, I knew better than to turn towards my street. Instead, I walked past Briar Place and took refuge in a 7-11 a block away.
Immense feelings of shame and self-loathing flooded back to me as I stood inside of that convenience store. Even though he didn’t touch me, I felt more violated than ever. I was literally nausea and shook on my walk home.
A switch flipped inside of me that day, I regressed. I began to consciously and subconsciously suppress the things that made me feel womanly and feminine.
As I contemplated this essay, I thought it was going to be a political piece about the burden women have to carry in order to protect themselves from men and how predatory males have driven me to overemphasize my masculine energy. And, I also postulated that the ‘innate energy so intense that it’s almost unbearable’ was there to motivate me to move towards my dharma of working with at-risk young women.
Nevertheless, the act of writing about this prompt - “Where is the innate energy so intense that it’s almost unbearable coming from?”- uncovered something else for me: that feeling is coming from the fact that I have lived the better part of my life completely misaligned, internally.
I truly believe that that energy is coming from my soul’s desire to nourish the soft, sensual, graceful, gentle, feminine qualities of myself and to explore how to hold those qualities in unison and in harmony with the masculine energy that feels more comfortable for me to embody as I am today.
In academia and throughout my career, living in the masculine has served me. Yet, over the last year, the Universe has gifted me with 3 healers - a breath-work facilitator, an art therapist, and a psychologist - all powerfully rooted in their feminine. Working with these women has showed me that it is possible to radiate power from a space of flow and interconnectedness - in comparison to the overpowering energy I once thought that I needed to omit to be safe and get ahead.
For a very long time, I have focused on curating the “right” external environment in order to achieve internal homeostasis. Through writing this essay, I recognized that I must first shift my internal landscape before I can appropriately magnetize and attract the ideal external opportunities and experiences. And, that is what the innate energy so intense that it’s almost unbearable is asking of me - it’s not asking me to “do” anything, it’s urging me to change my way of being.
That energy is asking me to be wild, to flow, to practice intimacy, to love, to be love(d). It’s asking me to receive, to move with ease, to radiate from the inside out. It wants me to seek beauty in all things, to spend time in nature, and to embrace my sensuality.
It’s asking me to wait to start something new or to embark on my next project until I can first come home to myself. It wants me to be grounded in my truth: the fact that I am 100% whole and complete exactly as I am and that my divine state is love, flow, and sacredness.
My Self knows that the almost unbearable, innate energy will dissipate when I stop trying to do everything; and, instead be in alignment with my true Self. Until then, you can find me basking in the sun and moon, moving barefoot outdoors, dancing in my living room, learning how to cook, receiving, creating, praying, meditating, and spending time with people who make me feel loved.
Adi Shakti, Namo Namo