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  • Writer's pictureErica Sauer

The Year of the "3's"

Updated: Apr 1, 2020

As I sit here sipping my oat milk matcha latte, reflecting on the last year as a 33 year old woman, I can genuinely say I learned more about myself than I have in my entire life. Maybe it was because I went to India and lived at an Ashram. Or maybe it was because I was in the first genuinely conscious, romantic partnership of my life and I could see my patterns, attachments and fears so much clearer than I ever could before. Or maybe it's just because my intention for 33 was to go out into the world and learn as much as possible about myself, to release all the things that were holding me back, so I could genuinely start to live a life of service. The universe was like..."What was that? You want to be fit for service? Let's get you FIT FOR SERVICE!" I'm assuming it was a combination of all of the above, but it was a big one.

So, I have done quite a bit of work on myself since my ex-husband and I split nearly 5 years ago. I would say after that codependent and quite painful 8 year relationship, I had a bit of a spiritual awakening or I like to say, I woke the fuck up. I had hit my version of rock bottom, (it took a few of these) but this time I finally started seeking. It wasn't just a shriek to God for help. It was an "I'm ready to change!", "How do I do this?" "SHOW ME. USE ME. GUIDE ME" situation. I began meditating, praying and reading every single self-help book I could get my hands on. I no longer wanted to play the victim. I recognized I was the creator of my life, the attractor and the attract-ee of every situation, person, place and thing. That every thought, action and emotion had a reaction and if I could start to think differently, feel differently, act differently, then the reaction would be different. From that moment on, I looked to God to show me the purpose of every circumstance that showed up, why I was attracting what I was attracting and who I needed to be in order to change and get the results I so deeply desired.

Over those first 4 years, I had, had a lot of "ah-ha" moments but the spiritual journey is a lot like peeling back the layers of an onion. You think you've figured it out and the universe is like, "Oh yeah, here is your next lesson friend. Enjoy!" Last year was a year of massive growth and I'm feeling the need to share.

A) Because I think there is a misconception that when you've found spirituality, God, awareness... that things are easier. It doesn't always mean it's easier. In fact, sometimes it can be harder, but on the spiritual path, the perception is different. There is a faith in something bigger than yourself. A belief that everything is happening for the ultimate good and that the universe has your back. In this space, you can see all the beauty of life, all the connectedness and gratitude for what is. It brings in presence and opens up a path to what is next and you feel divinely guided. So no matter what happens and no matter how hard it gets, you genuinely believe there is a lesson to be learned and a reason. With this faith comes acceptance and compassion. And when you live in those truths, you begin to see solutions. You begin to see life as a game of the mind and something to enjoy and play effectively versus thinking there is nothing you can do. That's what makes it easier but along the path there will always be seasons. So if I can share my seasons with you and offer perspective, we can share in our humanity.

And B) because recently I realized that, a lot like Glennon Doyle (the writer and speaker) part of my service and part of my life path, is my shameless-ness about who I am and what I have been through. I am so accepting of the trials and tribulations in my life and willing to share them with the world, that I have noticed people feel very willing to share theirs with me too. Why do I find this to be a gift? Because when you're in full authenticity, when you can share your insides with someone, when you can let down your walls and take off your protective armor, you realize, we all have stories, we all have hardships, we all are human. If I can show you my insides, maybe I can make you feel more comfortable with yours. When I show you my human-ness then I hold space for yours. That is life, that is intimacy, that's genuine and healthy human connection.

I want to be a shameless story-teller. I want you to know about my ups and my downs, what I learn from them and how, so I can offer you some, again perspective, some peace, some intimacy, some courage and some shared humanity. I want you to know that if I can do it, you can do it too. We all can do it.

There were so many lessons this last year, I am not going to go through them all but I am going to give you 3 because it was the year of the "3's". So here were my major ah-ha moments of my 33rd year:

A Lesson in Sobriety

My sobriety process was more like a wean off. The first attachment I was able to crack was my food about 7 years ago, I stopped filling the void with food. The next was exercise, then shopping got the boot and last year was the alcohol. So while I had worked through a lot of my shit prior to full sobriety, when going full turkey coincided with a romantic partnership, I was able to see the roles I was still playing, the fears I had pushed down and the addiction to unhealthy love that were still present.

One thing I'll say about this is, even if I had gotten my alcohol "under control" in my 30s, and I wasn't drinking often the last couple years, it's still enough to push down the emotions. Hole filling, is hole filling, whether it is occasional or consistent. And when one is filling the hole with food, shopping, alcohol or whatever it is, one can not grasp the full depth of the hole. So when I had finally cleared out the last of my devices, it was a little bit like defrosting from frost bite (Glennon Doyle reference). It can be a little painful. I had been numbing on and off since my drinking career started at 17 years old. When you start to thaw out and the feeling starts to come back into your body, a strange tingling sets in. The tingling shortly turns to pain. Sadness, loss, fear, anxiety all come to the surface. All the things I had been pushing down over the years ready to be released, until the pain turns back to tingles and I could feel the warmth of my toes. That's what happens when you stop drinking entirely, you stop numbing entirely.

Full sobriety for me has been a game changer. When emotions come up, I'm able to see very clearly whether it's old or new stuff. When old patterns are replaying themselves, it's easier to take myself out of them. Sobriety has freed up quite a bit of time, because those few hours of cocktails at night a couple days a week or the extra hour of sleep needed to rest aren't necessary, which means I have room for new things to enter my life. More reading, writing, drawing, cooking, meditating, etc. Creativity has began to flow more easily. My emotions and my moods are more balanced. My days in general are more balanced. It's easier for me to see what is serving me and what is not. It's made me realize I am more of an introvert than I ever knew and I love a very quiet lifestyle. I feel like I'm actually getting to know myself. Sobriety has been a wonderful tool to go deep into my spirituality, connect to myself, heal and start to create more of the life I desire to be living.

Even if you feel like I did, like I had my drinking "under control", which looking back, is questionable whether I really ever had it "under control", especially since I was a problem drinker in my 20s... I think it's always a good idea to take a long sober period. 3-6 months. A year. Your stuff will come up real quick, especially if you're already on the spiritual path. It doesn't mean you can't go back to it, but maybe, like me, you'll decide you probably never needed it in your life in the first place and when you realize how great it is to be in your body all the time, you'll want to stay there.

A Lesson in Allowing

When I went to India for 3 months last year, I didn't have a plan. I went with the intention to release whatever was holding me back, so I could get fit to serve and allow India and the universe to guide me. As someone who is in recovery from a few things, control and perfectionism were also a part of that list, genuinely letting India "show me the way" was a lot like someone spilling coffee all over my white couch and letting it sit there, not doing anything about it, hoping the person would help clean it up. It meant having faith that the universe was guiding me, that I didn't need to do anything to make it happen, and God could help me clean my shit up without trying to fix it, clean it, plan it or figure out the perfect way to do it. Just like the white couch. So I booked a one way ticket to Mumbai and let the universe do the rest.

Here is what I learned... she will actually guide you if you let her. She will offer you little angels along the way, you just have to be willing to listen. You will know exactly where to go next, how long to stay and when to come home. These angels pointed me to friends in Mumbai, who showed me local life in India. They helped me experience Indian food and culture the way the locals do. They guided me to Osho, where I had epiphany after epiphany why I could never sit down and needed to travel and move excessively. I made friends at the meditation center, that brought me to the south of India, to a sustainable community where I spent 3 weeks and realized I wanted to life coach, write and speak. India then guided me to sight see, where I experienced the beaches of Goa, the Pink City, Jaipur and The Taj. I felt a calling to go back to Osho, where I realized the last day of my meditation discourse, called "No Mind" that it was time to come back to the states and build the safe space I desired.

I am now in the Hamptons, in a home I love and I feel grateful beyond measure. I do not make massive plans ever and each day I let the universe guide me towards what I am supposed to be doing. It's so freeing!

I do what I feel in the moment and I let the universe send me signs, instead of trying to force and predict what I should or shouldn't be doing. When you live in your own forced control, you're never allowing the universe to do her part. If I live in the same exact routine every day, trying to manage and control my life, I never experience anything new. I am basing my future entirely on my past, not knowing that there may be something else out there for me. Say one day, instead of forcing yourself out of bed, you sleep, because that's what your body so desperately needs. You decide instead of the 7am workout class you think you can't miss, you go to the coffee shop and journal because you want to people watch and enjoy a latte. And while you're sitting there, an older man sits next to you who you happen to spark up a conversation with. The conversation is liberating and joyful and he inspires you to write your book. That's letting life guide you. That's opening yourself up to possibility. That's allowing.

A Lesson in Boundaries and Self-Worth

This may have been one of the toughest lessons of the year. She had to kick my ass a little to get me to wake up to this one. So I met a boy, as the story always goes... I told the universe all the things I wanted, all the things I desired in my relationship and while he was the majority of those things he was some things I didn't want either.

When you do not set boundaries, you allow people, places and situations in your life that are not good for you. When you see the signs of the same old patterns and you "hope" they will change, you are right away saying this person's feelings matter more than my own. I am choosing to see if your love can fill me up instead of filling up my own cup. I am trading my authenticity for belonging. I am self-abandoning for belonging because I don't believe I deserve better and I don't think I am worthy of everything I desire. When someone yells at you the first time, when someone dismisses your feelings as real the first time, when someone tells you they want nothing to do with you the first time, believe them. Because when they come back, with all their promises, telling you everything has changed and they won't do it again, the likelihood of that happening can be slim. I'm not saying that it's not possible for people to change, I know that it's possible because I am an entirely different person than I was 5 years ago. But what I am saying is, when you allow someone to go there with you, it's easy for that person to fall back into that space quickly, especially if they haven't taken the time to heal whatever it is that makes them run from love or put you down in the first place. Healthy love does not exist in this way. People do not give it and take it away and then come back to do it some more. I was participating in an unhealthy situation. Allowing the behavior and accepting it as what I deserved. When we don't walk away from situations that are toxic for us, we are participating in the sickness, we are part of the problem. Sometimes, we self-abandon because we want something so badly but it isn't quite the time yet. We have lessons to learn and other things to fulfill.

You have to first tell the universe what you are willing and not willing to put up with and then believe you're worth it. That's what is magical about boundaries. They work in a symbiotic relationship. When you tell the universe what you want and say no to everything that isn't that, the people, places and situations that aren't meant for you start to disappear. You then show yourself the love, because you are choosing you over the other person, place or situation, which makes the little girl or boy inside of you start to feel safe and loved. You start to show yourself, you can be the safe haven you have been seeking and that little girl or boy inside of you begins to heal. You start to attract the people, places and situations that are meant for you.

We get in life what we believe we deserve. If you are in a career or relationship that isn't ultimately making you happy, offering you growth, and love and fulfillment, it's time to set some boundaries and honor the little girl or boy inside of you who deserves all the happiness in the world. That is stepping into your power. This year I was able to step into my power, release some toxic situations, set some boundaries and start to attract better for myself.

I hope this was inspiring or helped offer you some perspective. Much love and here's to 34.

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