Notes From The Valley – I Am Not The Same Person

I decided to share some of the things I’ve learnt, some of the notes I took, during that recent journey through the valley. Not sure how many or even how frequently I will share them,  but I shall call them ‘Notes from the valley’ and hope they encourage or inspire some of you.
The poem below was inspired by reflections on snakes shedding skin (it’ll make sense when you read the poem) as well as reading Rilke’s ‘Letters to a young Poet’ (which I found very helpful during this last darkness – if you haven’t read it yet, you should! It’s full of life wisdom).
On page 52 + 53 Rilke writes to the young poet who seeks his advice on a regular basis and whom he grows very close to in spirit over the years of their correspondence. He says:
‘So you must not be frightened, dear Mr. Kappus, if a sadness rises up before you larger than any you have ever seen, if a restiveness, like light and cloud-shadows, passes over your hands and over all you do. You must think that something is happening with you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand; it will not let you fall. Why do you want to shut out of your life any agitation, any pain, any melancholy, since you really do not know what these states are working upon you? Why do you want to persecute yourself with the question whence all this may be coming and whither it is bound? Since you know that you are in the midst of transitions and wished for nothing so much as to change. If there is anything morbid in your processes, just remember that sickness is the means by which an organism frees itself of foreign matter; so one must just help it to be sick, to have its whole sickness and break out with it, for that is its progress. In you, dear Mr. Kappus, so much is now happening; you must be patient as a sick man and confident as a convalescent; for perhaps you are both. And more: you are the doctor too, who has to watch over himself. But there are in every illness many days when the doctor can do nothing but wait. And this it is that you, insofar as you are your own doctor, must now above all do.’

(emphasis mine)

This passage resonated with me in such a deep way. What if my valley, my darkness, was not only to be feared? What if the valleys were part of life and that all a valley is really is the pathway to a new mountain top? What if it was what I needed to change, to transition? Please don’t get me wrong, I by no means desire to enter into this darkness again if it can be helped, but I also know that – this last valley in particular – has left me changed. And from what I can tell so far, it’s good change.

Anyway. Here it is my first note from the valley.

I hope it encourages you too.

I Am Not The Same Person
I am not the same person,
not the one I once was.
The path through the valley
has moulded and changed me,

I am no longer who I used to be,
am not the same person.

I have shed the old skin,
the one that worked fine at a particular size,
but now seems ill-fitting and tight,
in light
of the growth that took place in the valley,

on the inside.

I am not the same person,

no longer who I used to be.

Once rubbed up and tossed
at the rock of depression,
the old skin started shedding
and I can never go back,
can no longer deny
that I

am not the same person.

New skin has emerged,
long grown underneath,
bolder and stronger,
more colour and patterns,
more light and more shade,

more space finally to fully and freely breathe.

I am not the same person,

no longer who I used to be.

I don’t know where it leads yet,
don’t know what it means,
but what I know is for certain:
I am not the same person!

No longer who I used to be.

So please don’t be offended
when the path I now choose, no longer fits –
Fits your expectation and opinion of me.

I am not the same person.

I am somewhat freer now
to be who I always knew I was,
I am not the same person
and yet, somehow,

I am finally more fully, deeply and truly me.

                                                                – Jess x