I'd like to tell you about the day I chose to die.
It was November. Downtown Houston was flooded with blustery gusts blowing up from the gulf, or down from Dallas, or sideways from somewhere else. The sky was a densely packed grey, blending with the reflecting faces of the skyscrapers hovering above me.
Jake, who I had loved in ways that transcended prior experiences of loving and being loved, was drifting. I could feel the imminence of his departure though he hadn’t said he was going yet. Something in the Texas gusts and in my female guts was telling me the winds were changing.
You just know when you know, right? Ours wasn’t just an ordinary love, by the way. It was more than that.
But this isn't a story about loving - it’s a story about dying.
You see, the rest of my life had already been crashing down around me for a year or so. Jake’s was just the heart I had been holding on to, as if his love could fix the bewildering pain of all the breakage.
It didn’t. And … it couldn’t.
Shellshocked by the events in my life, I was trying like wild to hold everything together: my company, my reputation, my income, my friends, and my colleagues.
It’s plain as day in hindsight: my life no longer wanted me the way I had been showing up. But, back then it was just a searing and topsy-turvy shitstorm.
So anyway. There I was. On the blustery day. Feeling the drumbeat of impending heartbreak.
And a voice reverberating with ancient wisdom bellowed through my guts:
‘It’s time to die.
Just let it all go. Stop the clinging.
Let it die.’
How can you argue with ancient wisdom? Especially when you are exhausted from trying to keep it all together, and the moon is full in Scorpio?
That’s what made the death inkling seem normal, in fact. I was born under a Scorpio moon - everyone knows that’s one hell of a time to be born, and one hell of a time to die.
I was certainly dressed for the occasion. Red lipstick. Black lace top, skin tight blue jeans, and high heels. And so, like any sensual creature stepping into her metaphorical death, I gazed at my reflection in the mirror, fluffed my hair, kicked off my shoes, curled up under a cozy blanket, and fell deeper into a space of imagining.
I give up.
Let’s get this show on the road.
I’m ready to die.
Everything that does not align with my deepest desires, my greatest possible trajectory ... I place in the wise hands of Death.
And, I offer myself to the spirit of Death so that I can be reborn.
And just like that I gave myself to my own dying in the sweetest surrender. It really was like Death himself was my lover, my dominant demander. Sweeping over and through me, penetrating my world with a certain kind of precision that Life herself does not have.
Swooning to receive such power, I felt zero resistance.
Take me. I’m yours.
In back-arching surrender, I was flooded with the tranquility that comes from deep arousal. Every bone in my body gave homage to the dying with tender weeping, and a palpable desire for MORE than Life had been sharing with me surged waves of ecstatic feeling through my body, as if a dam had broken in my marrow.
With it, an indescribable sensation of my everything crashing and breaking apart, while Death held me tightly in powerful arms ...
‘YOU will live’, he said.
‘But your pretend-life will die.
All the structures you have manufactured in order to play safe will break apart and disappear.
The crutches. Your masks. All of your fear-based endeavors, connections, and creations.
Watch them burn, and let the fires be your crucible.
What is dying does not truly belong to you.
What will burn is everything you are not’.
I can still hear the voice, like butter melting over the top of a cello as its bow bends dutifully across the strings.
‘Who you ARE is Life’, said Death.
‘Shimmering flesh, undulating like the aurora. Passionate. Engorged like a rushing river whose bed is swollen with alchemical gold.
Your passion seeks a place to thrive.
But first, you must empty yourself through Death.’
And then, Death was gone.
. . . . .
When I woke up a few hours had passed. My eyes were puffy and caked with dried mascara tears.
I’m not even joking, within hours Jake departed, too.
I laughed / ugly-cried with my friends for days. Well. The next time I decide it’s a good idea to do a death ritual on a Scorpio full moon, remind me to leave the love of my life out of it.
In a few days I would fly to him in Wichita, and we would say our goodbyes. If you have read my book ‘The In Between’, you know Jake and this part of our story quite well.
It would take many months for me to recover.
. . . . .
Here’s the thing about surrendering to the truth of who we are, finally, after years of slowly dying under the suffocating fabrications of our pretend-life, while fooling ourselves into thinking we are living.
It’s a process.
It can be lightning quick and it can come as a slow rolling boil. When both speeds occur at the same time, it’s like living inside a time warp of inexplicable immediacy while it grinds it’s heartbeat against the muscle-burning toil of rearranging universes.
To live like that is unbearable.
But, Death has a way of knowing what we need.
It was a long 16 months of dying.
Everything has gone away.
Explosion after explosion. Rubble everywhere. Choking on the ashes, I survived.
Even though I died, too.
Believe me, I fought it.
And I gave in to it.
Then I fought it again.
Mostly I cried a lot.
There were many days, long stretches in a row, when I couldn’t get out of bed. Brush my hair. Answer emails or my phone.
Sometimes I couldn’t see or breathe, the blackness was so thick. Up my nose, in my lungs, leaking out of my eyes.
Everywhere. Everything. Black.
I thought a lot about literal death. My literal LIFE was a slideshow playing on repeat ... flash click flash ... while I was being swallowed in the hellfires of a complete and total burn down.
Some might call it depression.
I chose to call it my metaphorical death.
Something about the way I framed it gave me the will to go on. Like I was Joseph Campbell’s character study for a Hero’s Journey. Or undergoing a great and mythological shedding, like an Ouroboros in high heels, eating my tail in an endless cycle of rebirth. Or Persephone lost in the Underworld, training to be a guide for other wanderlustish self-funeral types in great need of a helping hand and a tour guide into - and out of - the hell realms.
Holding myself in symbols and myths made me believe that somewhere on the horizon, somewhere … I would finally glimpse the shocking orb of the sun. Or hope. Happiness, maybe.
In the meantime, I was drowning in self-loathing and regret.
Every. Damn. Day.
In my blackest moments, I begged for the pain to stop.
Please. Make it stop. I’ll do anything. Please. Driving down the freeway. In my bed. Walking my dog. Smiling for selfies. Guiding classes of women in person and online. Tending to my daughter. Making art. Writing a book. Building a web site. Washing the dishes. Please. Make. It. Stop.
In the blackness, Death stayed close, with that butter baritone whisper:
‘You will live.
Because you ARE life.
Drink your darkness.
Digest your pain.
Peel apart your unconscious mind.
Deliberately. Slowly. With tenderness and churning compassion.
Let the embers of your suffering send chills up your spine.
Choose to drink your Own. Fucking. Poison.
And ... do this because you ARE Life.’
After all those months of dying, I am here to tell you that Death was right.
I really AM Life.
. . . . .
PS . Note to self:
The antidote to suffering isn’t in avoidance. It’s in calling forward your shadows so that you can join forces and die together.
It’s eating your fucking pain like it’s the mothertrucking pomegranate feast of Persephone.
It’s deliberately choosing to make fierce and uninhibited love to every single one of the saboteurs who roam the hallways of your memories and your mind.
It’s seducing them. Becoming so intertwined with them that they cannot own you.
It’s looking your own buried AF deathwish right in the eyes, and opening yourself fully to the sheer volume of power that gushes forth when you do.
It’s truly embodying the wisdom that a life without deep shadow consciousness is death, anyway.
Let your pretend-life die.
And RECEIVE LIFE as she rushes in to fill the vacuum of the pretend-life that was killing you anyway.
. . . . .
This is my story of one aspect / perspective of a period of transformational encounters with my own emotional and psychological world. This writing is not intended to take the place of clinical advice. It is my mythology, my story, and my chosen perspective on my own world.
. . . . .
These images in their entirety are the creation of Katariina Agnes Fagering, who conjured all the elements of this shoot from the abundant cauldron of her own creative genius. Their visual similarity to the story I share is entirely coincidental; for Katariina they carry a different symbolic lineage.