– Tiffany Mandala

It started as a whisper, barely detectable in the summer air. A voice. But there was a veil to attach, flowers to arrange, a groom and best friend waiting. It was only a whisper, I remember noticing that. I was 20, with my only female role model a housewife. Doing what us westerners are suppose to do at 20…Marry.

Four years later, I heard it again-This time on a Four month trip around the country together. Hiking the trails of Glacier, the Canyons of Yellowstone, the coast of Maine. It sent me to my knees on the bathroom floor of the hotel room. I broke wildly open, shattered on that concrete, and then I heard my husband’s voice call from outside the door and I gathered my pieces together and stepped back in to my life.

Moons passed, and I fell in love briefly with a woman, or perhaps the idea of someone else. The tightness of the boundaries around me like a noose around my neck. The thought of leaving always there, like the flames of fire licking at my heels. But, instead, he was the one who strayed into the night and my trust was destroyed. Shattered again, I stayed, but this time I rolled the pieces around in my hands, noticing, loving, disgusted by all parts of me. I carried these bits of myself over a year, at first, very aware of what i needed to look at, but as the voices of change were calling ‘Leave your marriage, it is too small’, the louder shouts of security and fear, ‘You’ll never make it on your own. This is good enough. You expect too much from this life’, drowned out that small whisper again.

[…] the voices of change were calling ‘Leave your marriage, it is too small’, the louder shouts of security and fear, ‘You’ll never make it on your own. This is good enough. You expect too much from this life’, drowned out that small whisper again.

Two more babies later, now 20 years of marriage from that first whisper, the fits began. Sweating, heart racing, psychotic episodes in which I swore I was dying. I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t care for my kids or cook dinner. Daily chores or any kind of stress rendered me again a pile on the floor. Through this, I held my new baby, my fourth baby boy. “Haven”, we’d named him, all of our babes named for what was most resonant in our lives at the time. This one named, perhaps, for what I was now seeking.

I went to the wilderness for 5 days for my 40th birthday. The first night, the anxiety was terrible and the next morning I woke to bird song and flute. I lay looking at the sky, torn open again, sobbing at the beauty. Remembering and listening to my soul. Five days I cried, lamented, wrote feverishly, grieving and pouring my tears and snot into a hole in the earth, allowing layers of myself to be ripped or melted from my bones. The whispers on the winds surrounded me and roared this time, stoking the fire within for what lay ahead. A return to nature and my true nature.

I returned home and my heart resisted. “I will not settle here anymore!”, it shouted, “I am choking and short of breath”, it persisted. What was I to do? I knew. I could ignore a whisper but not a shout. I made a medicine pouch by instinct and a stone upon which i etched “Can’t go back” was placed in its depths. I spoke the words, the whisper Id heard 20 years ago, “This is not right, I have to go”. I spoke them to my husband as he was leaving for a week on one of his numerous business trips.

And, my world shattered, again, this time on the outside too.  My 4 young children, my home on the beach, my community of families, Fourth of July camp outs, potlucks, stay at home-homeschooling mama. All gone in a whisper.

I have finally listened to the whisper of my soul. I am working toward wholeness, letting the river smooth those jagged pieces.

Almost a year later. I am coming alive in a way I’ve not been before. I suddenly have become both songwriter and fierce dancer. I notice the beauty in every moment. My connection with my kids raw, vulnerable and real. No longer is my head at the helm. I have finally listened to the whisper of my soul. I am working toward wholeness, letting the river smooth those jagged pieces. I lay open in longing and allowing myself to hear everything my soul cries. Everything around me physically destroyed with no idea of the big picture anymore, just one knowing step at a time, and yet…I am not afraid. I am not holding on to that which doesn’t serve me anymore. All anxiety has faded as my body was just making known what my soul new. Change is hard, but soul death even harder.

I will not again attach that veil , which shielded me from the eyes of others, which veiled my truth, muffled my voice, and choked out my cries in the night. Instead, I stand, my feet deep in the earthen bed, hands raised to the sky, unveiled, bare, empty, with deep listening, waiting patiently for the next whisper. The whisper I will follow home.

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