[Editor's Note: This was originally written in June 2011]

I’ve had this obsession with death and rebirth over the past few years, but in the past few months especially. Ever since I received news of my friend Jo passing away on New Years 6 months ago, I’ve really struggled with this concept of death, and how it can be applied to life. To living. To living and breathing and yet…. changing… growing… shifting.

Always shifting.

Or so it seems anyway.

It’s been especially strong with the approaching summer solstice. This time of the most light, the longest days- the antithesis of death, of darkness, of the void. It’s more like- that time of rebirth. And all the events, all the little earthquakes I’ve been experiencing have really been little deaths along the way, leading up to-what I hope- is one big rebirth happening right now.

I’ve written of it all already, the death and breakup, the moving apartments and the moving on from people and work in my life that no longer served me. The almost constant shifting, aligning and refining that has been taking place for the past 3 years, but most accelerated over the past 6 months.

There have been days where it took all my will and force to get myself up, get started with my day, and know that I had support there to hold space for me- and that the support was coming from new sources, not the old ones that I had relied on in the past. No- those old support systems, those old friends, no longer cared, no longer even took notice. I guarantee most of them don’t even realize I have this blog. Yet they were my ‘friends’ for years. And they weren’t there when I needed them most. This silent death, the death of my friendships, may have been the toughest of them all.

But out of this, this death of the old ways of being, thinking, doing, something began to emerge. Something quite shocking and quite scary. Something I never thought I’d find, and never knew what it would look like.

This something. This something was… me.

The real me started to come through. I no longer was masking myself in the ideals of others, in the picture of how life should look, the rules that should be followed, how I fit into this group or that one. I started to see that in order to find the people who genuinely cared and genuinely wanted me in their lives, well, I had to let the real me come through and no longer hide under that mask of ‘should be’.

But to let that happen, the old me had to die. I had to give up those old ways of being. The drinking and partying- it was never my thing, though I forced it for a long time. The finance job- definitely wasn’t me, but that paycheck was nice. The idea of the boyfriend turning into the husband leading to the white picket fence- not me in the slightest, though don’t get me wrong I want a partner and love, no doubt, but I no longer think it has to look a certain way to make me happy. The list goes on.

And it’s been painful, this death of so much of how I defined myself, of so much that I was holding on to. But I have a big vision to fulfill, a quest I am on to fully step into my role as a healer, teacher, friend, and lover. And the only way these were going to come to life was to allow the other things to have their death.

I found this passage recently, and it rings so true:

One thing is certain, and this has been conveyed by all accounts of those who have ‘come back’: The journey to the realm of the dead is the ultimate step in all therapies, the source of health and healing power, the highest goal of all the old religions…

Or otherwise stated: those who have been there, have been at the edge of death, have all come back with a sense of rebirth. Of having gone to that edge, whatever that edge was, and coming back a new person, with a renewed sense of life and vigor. And that death, ironically, has turned out to be that ultimate healing. This edge of death, it doesn’t have to be physical or literal. It can mean being at the edge of what your psyche can handle, not just playing with the depths, with the darkness, but jumping full force in there to see if you will sink or swim- and then choosing to swim.

Choosing to not only be alive, but to fucking kick ass at doing it. And to no longer accept doing it on anyone else’s terms. Within anyone else’s vision. According to anyone else’s rules, but your own.

Most people go throughout life never going through this experience, and their lives I’m sure have been full and wonderful and marvelous. Hell, I thought my life was pretty kick ass before this path jumped out and grabbed me by the ankles to take me on this wild journey.

But then, something kept nagging at me that there was more. That there was a light at the end of the tunnel that held the promise of something greater, something more mysterious, something utterly earth shattering yet whole and complete at the same time. And you know what- I had to let myself go through the proverbial death to get there.

And it is beginning to feel like I’ve been reborn in a way. In a lot of ways. Even in the past six months, within all the choas and destruction, so many beautiful and wonderful things have started to grow. New friendships, new community, a new home, new grounding in a way I’ve never felt the earth before. Seeing people in a whole new way. Seeing what I want in a whole new way. Even viewing my relationship with Matt in a whole new way, and being excited at what seems to be a rebirth of that relationship as well.

I think this is what Jo was trying to do, when he died. He was on a similar path, and he saw that in order to live life fully in his own being, a part of him had to die. He was about to go study with a shaman for months, about to embark on that journey to death and rebirth. But drugs and alcohol got the best of him first on his quest to do it alone.

It saddens me that he didn’t get to see the other side in this lifetime. But it makes me more determined than ever to help others on that path, to guide others through these steps and show them that yes- it is possible to change. It is possible to survive what life throws at us. And it is possible to be reborn into a whole new way of being.