Growing into MySelf
by Thea Euryphaessa
Whenever I settle down to write, I look for a way in, a crack through which I can squeeze my hand, grab a hold of the underlying thread, and tease out the mystery to which I then tend and transform, as best I can, into a coherent article—maybe a book. Once I’m in, I’m in. But as the opening informs the direction the piece will take, it’s crucial that I’m patient, set my ear to the ground, and await the vibrations emanating from the Great Below.
This opening sees me hurtling down the motorway from Manchester to Liverpool en route to a women-only Tantra workshop, in the dark and in a rush—the lattermost part of which summed up my relationship to sex at the time and largely explains why I’d signed up for said workshop in the first place.
The car’s engine was screaming at my pedal to the metal insistence that it get a shift on, Coldplay’s album, Viva La Vida was playing on loop, and I was in a state of disarray which, even now, causes me to stop typing, sigh, and drop my head into my hands.
Contemplating the warm darkness of my palms I’m reminded of those things of which my life was devoid at the time and which I’d pretended didn’t matter but, deep down, did—very much indeed: pleasure, lust, affection, tenderness, intimacy, warmth, sensuousness, desire, romance, passion. Well, it’s not that I didn’t think they mattered; rather, I’d pretended I was immune from—what I perceived to be—the great disease that is vulnerability. From vulnerability, it was only a hop, skip, and a jump to weakness and its close cousin, neediness. Consequently, I was afraid of fully opening myself up to another, of completely surrendering, of losing control.
And so, in an attempt to protect myself, I’d walled myself off and retreated up into the lofty realm of my head where I’d decided it was safe. ‘Up there’ everything can be ordered, rationalised, and compartmentalised. But feelings, emotions, intuitions, and such like are messy, chaotic, and, for the most part, unpredictable.
In fact, have you ever noticed how all the trouble goes on ‘down there’ in the dark, moist depths? That’s the soul’s territory. It’s no wonder various spiritually inclined folk have been so keen to transcend the body, transcend this world, and rise above it all. If they had their way, I’m sure we’d be little more than floating disembodied heads attached, at most, to a piece of string—helium beings. It’s the body and its intrigues which gets us into one fine mess after another.
But I’d finally realised I wasn’t a helium being and so, after being in a dry, next-to-no-sex relationship with a partner who rarely held my hand, let alone pinned me against the wall in an unbridled moment of rip-your-knickers-off passion, the rest of my body—that wild, instinctual, feeling-led mass of wanton flesh—had decided enough was enough and signed me up, consciously/unconsciously, for a Tantra workshop.
Actually, before I continue, I’d better explain what I mean by ‘consciously/unconsciously,’ especially as it seems to be a recurring theme in my life—usually with life-changing consequences.
When I signed up for the New York City Marathon four years earlier and, immediately after, the Rome and Athens Marathons, it was done with little conscious forethought—absentmindedly, you might say. Because if I had sat down and thought through the potential consequences for more than a fraction of a second, I’d have never submitted that application form let alone made a trumpet-accompanied announcement to all my friends about my potential athletic endeavours.
But as I ran across the world, I gathered up lost fragments of my being that had long been scattered and, for the most part, forgotten. Unlike Humpty Dumpty—who fared rather less favourably—I gradually put my broken, mostly loathed self back together again. In New York I unearthed a quiet sense of self-belief; in Rome, I regained a sense of humility and began listening and surrendering to my body’s wisdom; and in Athens I realised ‘I’ wasn’t quite so alone in my little psychic house.
In the months following my marathon pilgrimage, I sat with those fragments, puzzled over them, and pieced them together into, what would eventually become, my first book. Thinking back to how I felt while writing that book causes another head-hands moment. My confusion is apparent for all the world to see. But some implacable force compelled me to write it, insisted itself through me, bore down on me with an unbearable pressure until I finally relented and tried, as best I could, to make sense of what was attempting to be realised through me. In fact, my decision to write a book was another conscious/unconscious moment.
For someone who doesn’t know when to stick a sock in it when it comes to talking or writing, I never aspired to be a writer, let alone an author. But writing is the only way I know how to make sense of my life—a life which compels me to make oddball decisions such as sign up for marathons for which I’m not prepared and write books with no prospect of being published and even less of an idea of what it is I’m trying to say.
But it’s these conscious/unconscious decisions which have proved life-changing and upon which my life has hinged. And I don’t mean to use the term ‘life-changing’ casually or in a trite, clichéd way. These have been genuinely pivotal experiences which have lifted me up out of my narrowly circumscribed idea of life, demanded that I grow, and stretched me to breaking point (and then some), before dropping me back down to earth in the brace position mumbling, There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home...
But no-one made me sign up for one marathon, never mind three. No-one forced me to write a book, either. I’ve naively galumphed into these experiences with all the grace of a lamb to the slaughter. So though I may have insisted, while doing them, that I couldn’t do it—that I’m not big enough, not fit enough, not clever enough, not talented enough (let me tell you, I can wail and flail with the best of them)—when it came down to it, I’ve secretly relished every minute of every challenge I’ve ever stumbled into. Whether I’ve met these challenges as adequately and as proficiently as I could have remains to be seen. But I stepped up to the moment and finished what I started with as much grace and grit as I could muster—and that’s all that matters to me.
And so, in January 2011, I fired off an email to an organisation called Shakti Tantra, consciously/unconsciously, enquiring about their Women’s Invitation workshop which was being held in Liverpool at the end of the following month—a workshop I was now hurtling towards with Death and All His Friends.
Copyright © Thea Euryphaessa, 2013
To buy a copy of Running into Myself, visit Amazon UK, Amazon US or, better still, order a limited edition signed copy direct from her publisher here (also ships worldwide). Also available to download on Kindle.
“Thea’s personal journey is utterly compelling. I couldn’t put her book down. Thea manages to make Greek mythology not only understandable, interesting, and relevant to our lives today, but shows how it can be utilised as a tool for self development. She introduces ideas and ways of thinking that broaden your mind, and lights the way for others to follow.”
“This is a story that truly reveals its author.You’ll discover her beliefs, her flaws, her loves, her fears, her mistakes, her drive and her compassion.
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