Recover Your Joy: Come Alive!

By Louise Gallagher

Louise has two great blogs: Recover Your Joy and A Year of Making a Difference. Here she writes about her recent experience at Come Alive.

I spent a week in the magic and wonder of Gabriola Island, taking a course at The Haven. To the sounds of the waves lapping at the shore, the seagulls squawking and the sea lions barking, I dove into the depths of my psyche, pondering the questions of what drives me to do and be who I am in the world.

Having coached for almost six years in Choices, I wasn’t sure what I would find, or uncover in the Come Alive program. Isn’t there a finite point of ‘knowing’ about me, myself and I? Isn’t there a point of ‘enough about me, let’s get on with living’ in personal development? I didn’t know what to expect and entered the retreat open to expecting the unexpected.

I was not disappointed.

Driving out to the coast, crossing the Coquahalla Highway in snow and rain and sleet, I was almost side-swiped by a semi-trailer hauling a load of logs. It began to veer left and right, left and right just as I was passing it on an incline. Frightened by the combination of the sideways movement of its trailer load of logs and the icy road, I was hesitant to speed up. But, as its fishtailing became more and more exaggerated I pressed on the gas and sped in front of it. Looking back in my rear view mirror, I saw the trailer portion slip into the lane beside it. The lane I would have been in if I had not sped up.

I carried on, the image of the semi fishtailing imprinted on my mind.

Normally, ‘near misses’ are simply that to me — misses. They didn’t happen. Let it go.

But this one stuck around. I didn’t know why, but I could feel it eating away at my peace of mind.

At the Haven, during an exercise in breathing, the memory of that event swept over me and tears flowed from my eyes. “I must be relieved it didn’t happen. It must be the release of remembering,” I thought. But, as I dug into the feelings surrounding my tears, ‘the truth’ rose up.

For almost five years while in a relationship with a man who wanted to kill me, I yearned for death. Even after his arrest, tendrils of that yearning would appear luring me away from life. In seeing that semi swerve into my lane it wasn’t that I was grateful to be alive (which I am), it was that I feared those tendrils of wishing for death to release me from life still existed somewhere within me.

I breathed. Deeply.

“We can explore this deeper,” one of the facilitators invited me when I mentioned what I believed to be true of my fear.

And so I did. Explore it more deeply. And in my exploration I came face to face with death, and life. I came face to face with the lure of ‘no more’ pain, sorrow, fear, loneliness…. and embraced life — in all its uncertainty, all its beauty, all its life-giving force.

And in that embrace I chose to cut the threads of death’s cloying breath to free myself to live this one wild and precious life in the rapture of now.

Life is a choice. Always. And in every way. It is a choice to be present, to be aware, to be awake. Life is the choice I make when I step over the threshold of my fear I am not good enough, I am not enough, I am too small, too big, too young, too old, too less, too much, too anything other than who I am, in this moment right now. Fearlessly. Passionately. Completely Alive.

I spent a week at The Haven, exploring, delving in, opening up to Come Alive.

I am grateful. I am peaceful. I am Alive!

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