IT’S ALWAYS A PROCESS by Barbara Brewster

Gilda Radner titled her book, “It’s Always Something.” I would say, “It’s Always a Process.” In this last year I’ve clambered up and down several rungs of the ladder. Living has been tricky, sometimes doubtful. Now though, the tide has turned, and I’m riding the crest of a wave whose momentum thrills, lifts, and is sweeping me into an exciting stage of the journey.

Since last March my husband and my relationship dance gathered intensity. We’ve twisted our guts with deep communication, sought help from wise friends and counselors, taken time apart, explored different approaches, read lots of books, and all the while have wished the best for one another.

It’s not a case of good and bad or not loving each other. My need to be fully me must be honored and I don’t yet know if that can happen in the context of a traditional marriage structure. I’ve read hosts of books that illustrate the dilemma of women, particularly creative women, and agree with Virginia Woolf that “a woman needs a room of her own.” In my case, it may be a house of my own. I certainly need some space of my own.

It’s been challenging to distinguish whether the need for space is to expand personally or to escape the relentless closeness. My husband and I have created a life where we are so much together that I can’t tell if I am seeking space from a constant nearby body or from HIM.  He saw my need for time away as rejection of him and felt hurt. I became guilty, feeling responsible for causing his pain.

Then the body kicked in with the message that I was in deep stress. Breast lump, candida, food allergies, having to restrict my diet, squeaking out of biopsies twice … and, finally, old “MS” symptoms like tingling, numbness, shaky legs, fatigue. Ironically, at the same time my body was throwing up problems I thought would never again occur, I was spending three weeks travelling presenting talks on wholeness. At each place, even as I was processing my physical breakdown and fears, I found myself feeling “at home” interacting with incredible people and expressing some of my clearest, best received talks to date.

I was forced to look at what I stand for. Could I talk sincerely about the “gifts of crises” when I was confronting what could possibly be a repeat of the crises of 10 years ago when the MS hit me? Was I truly living my message of having choice and choosing NOT to be a victim? Was my conviction that meditation is a key, a lie? I found that I had to talk about where I am in the moment with my body, my relationship, my choices. It was ironic—as people were coming out of the woodwork inviting me to come and speak or saying that it was the clearest presentation they’d heard ….

At the end of May when I returned to Portland, I knew what I had to do. The body was crying out for rest. My husband was away for three weeks, and I retreated, cancelled all interactions, rested, read, took care of myself, processed my fears. I’d done it before. Only this time, instead of resisting the process and yearning to be out participating in worldly things, I totally accepted and embraced the retreat. Even though the body felt yucky, and believe me, the memories of all that the crises had initiated 10 years ago were fearsome, I truly appreciated the time.

My husband and I constructed an agreement to spend two months apart and then live together for two months as the people we will, by then, have become. As we each explore and grow, we continually change so much that what we bring to the relationship in, for example, October is a far cry from what we brought in May.

Currently my husband is farm-sitting for friends in Australia and, like a starving woman, I’m feasting on freedom and solitude. This time for myself is long overdue and, doubtless, much insight will evolve from it. I can’t deny the creativity and personal recharge that living alone elicits. When he returns, we will experiment with ways to establish a balance of togetherness and solitude. I’m trusting the process.

Over the years, I’ve done major emotional work–particularly in an intense five-day seminar which popped me into a new level of understanding. The issue is always about me, not the other person. A core behavior for me has been keeping myself under wraps because I feared someone would disapprove, be disappointed, or damaged. Despite the growth I experienced in my Journey to Wholeness, I’ve remained a People Pleaser.

Even as I’ve expanded into the public life which I relish, underneath the outreach has been a subtle tempering of my ‘power’—trying to not appear too assertive, competent or expansive. Some might envy or compare. They might wonder, “Who does she think she is?” Or say, “She sure is full of herself.” I’ve been at war–as my body so aptly signaled. The capable and creative me loves being in front of groups speaking, singing, facilitating. But a part of me hid out, making sure not to look “too much” a leader, not wanting the others at, for example, my women’s gatherings, to think I was trying to play facilitator. I was constantly frustrated and never fulfilled. 

Correspondingly, when I was unselfconsciously sparkling or reaching out, much as my husband said he wanted me to be so, he felt abandoned. I saw that when I was “too much me”, focused away from him, he got disappointed. I so dreaded seeing his emotion and feeling “responsible” for his pain that I curbed my effervescence. How “perfect” that I picked a partner whose personality and insecurities counter-pointed mine. Together we are being nudged to address and root out our old poisons.

As of today, I’m committed to no more holding back. To being a free woman, free to express my own “magnificence”. To increasingly drop concerns about how others will interpret me. So, what if they envy, compare or disapprove?  I—finally–accept that somebody will likely always disagree with who I am and how I am. There would never be a leader in the world if people held back for fear somebody might not like them. This is not new information but bringing it into practice is. As the constraints drop away, I’m coming into ‘my own’ as the full and fulfilled person I am.

Not surprisingly, the body has improved, the tingling, etc, dissipated, and the person who two months ago retreated to rest is now bounding all over the state. This is an expansive and exciting time, and anyone who has walked this path will understand and appreciate the dedication involved in getting here. Look out, world! The genie is out of the bottle as I expand my energies and cease hiding out. AND I understand that the process which brought me to this point will continue. Growth–life—is an on-going process. 

Barbara’s commitment to explore personal change is chronicled in her deeply honest books:

(1) Journey to Wholeness: And the Day Came When the Risk to Remain Tight in a Bud Was More Painful Than the Risk It Took to Bloom.— Healing ‘MS’.

(2) Love Or Growth: Why Not Both—A Woman’s Dilemma — Striving to grow in her burgeoning spiritual & personal truth within the context of an established relationship.

Contact Barbara at Barbara@barbarabrewster.com re (1) upcoming events, (2) viewing or purchasing Barbara’s 3 acclaimed books, 3) inviting Barbara to present at your location, 4) checking into “Barbara Brewster Sower Of Seeds Facebook Page” to keep stimulating bringing forth your inherent truth and joy.

Barbara Brewster

Barbara is an author, adventurer, awareness addict, Patch Adams clown, “wounded healer,” “Joy Machine” entertainer & inspirational speaker, who LOVES supporting people to gain greater awareness, tools, skills and enthusiasm for exploring, embracing, and expressing the fullness of their TRUE selves in all areas of their lives.

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