Approaching Life With an Open Heart, and Staying Strong Through Adversity by Mia Banducci
Hello fellow ascendants!
The vast breadth of knowledge in these pages is beyond impressive, but sometimes, because of what we’ve been told most of our lives, this wisdom can be hard to comprehend, or even to believe. A few years ago I either wouldn’t have passed the first paragraphs, or just scoffed in judgment. Ultimately we react to the unknown that way when we operate from fear – which was my MO for over a decade. To truly understand how infinitesimal yet infinite we are, simultaneously, is pretty terrifying at first – and still catches my breath when I contemplate it.
But it also makes me feel miraculous! Like what created me can only be “magic”, so that is how I live my life now.
At 16 a near fatal car accident almost left me an amputee. My left arm looks like snake-skin, scarred from elbow to knuckles. My hand has limited capabilities, (no more opposable thumb for me) and has atrophied dramatically, from months long periods where I wasn’t able to use it at all. I’ve had countless surgeries designed to give me more function. None of them did what was promised, but at least I have it, and can type with more than 6 fingers now, which is how I finished out high school and spent a many semesters of college. Not easy.
That kind of struggle, at 16, when you’re vulnerable and impressionable enough, is more than frustrating, it’s agonizing, maddening. I became so angry I could hardly function like a normal human being, let alone be spontaneous, confident, and courageous as I’d been before.
I stopped believing in the destiny I’d always known awaited me; to affect change, to lead, to have an impact. After my accident I was broken and fragile, I didn’t believe I was capable of any of that, or would be worth listening to by anyone. I felt hideously disfigured, it didn’t matter my face had been spared; all I could see was this enormous flaw inflicted upon me.
Sometimes ego gets in the way of asking for help, but I couldn’t zip up a sweater or button jeans on my own. I was weak and helpless. To make matters even more interesting, I’d signed up to attend boarding school for a real education, and escape small town drama after being tormented for growing out of my baby fat and becoming “pretty” over a summer. A year after becoming what society deemed attractive, the girls who’d been my friends the previous year when I was non-threatening and chubby, completely turned on me, and made my life miserable.
I moved a month after my accident, and not only was without my family for support, I didn’t know a single person, yet had to solicit everyone to assist me constantly. The gaping, bloody wound was still so swollen I’d get exhausted from the weight of it and have to carry it around resting on my head. Not a good look.
This made me bitter. I didn’t want to be different in this way. Now I was undesirable all over again, after a few short months of finally feeling good in my physical form. All these years later I understand why I was never able to see and accept beauty in myself. I was punished by the sudden appearance of good looks, it seemed like a horrible mistake.
Ten days after high school I had to escape yet again, and followed my childhood dreams of living in New York City. I was a wild Manhattan party girl for more years than I care to admit, and whenever people talked to me about so much as astrology I wrote them off on a basis of absurdity. I’d ventured so far from my hippy Humboldt Redwood roots, and I couldn’t face the wonder of life I’d once rejoiced in. I shed from my existence the beauty within to don a mask more acceptable for mean girls in high school, and the fast paced hustle of the big city.
Then I fell in love with someone who was physically my ideal, a “dream guy.” It was his life and job to be beautiful. I was blown away at how goofy and silly and sweet the hottest guy I’d ever seen could be. So it was easy to fall for him, he loved Disney and musical theatre as much as I did, and let me watch Harry Potter whenever I wanted.
I’d found the perfect shield. His physical form was my ultimate misdirection, an ideal distraction to create the illusion necessary to my survival. Don’t look at me! Look at him! Look how pretty! I sought to hide my “ugliness” from everyone behind his beauty – but even when you’re at the top of the modeling game, 80 percent of the job is rejection. No matter how gorgeous you are, that does not make you feel good. We looked like a power couple, beauty AND brains, but behind closed doors our insecurities ran rampant, and I withdrew farther from my true self, shutting the doors on empowerment, self-reliance, and possibility for happiness or fulfillment.
I had no capacity to acknowledge my purpose or why I was on the planet…but he did. His Christian faith was deeply ingrained in his will to succeed and how he views the world. He would have these conversations with God I couldn’t understand. Who is he talking to? Where are these responses coming from? What am I missing?
These are the kinds of questions I started asking everyone I knew a few years ago. One day, walking down 6th street past 1st Avenue, I decided to start talking to God. He felt so comfortable and protected, maybe I could find the same thing….so, I struck up a conversation. Hesitantly, and feeling like a complete lunatic, I just expressed what was going on in my life, and when I stopped to listen, instead of “hearing” a voice in my head, answers came from the way the light glistened through the trees, and how the wind rustled in the leaves. I KNEW, without a shadow of a doubt, I was actually receiving a response. I didn’t know how to put it or understand it then, but the presence was undeniable – God was EVERYWHERE.
It is at that moment things began to change. Though there would be many instances of me living precisely how I had before this epiphany, the dialogue had begun, and it continues to this day, though the structure has evolved.
I left NYC for his career. I was young, he was my first love, and when the options were to break up or follow him to LA, I knew I’d never forgive myself for not knowing what might have been if I stayed in the city that raised me and made me strong enough to grow into the woman I am today. So this New Yorker packed her bags and her attitude and headed with much fear and trepidation to a city I’d mostly disdained and would never in a million years have imagined myself moving to, especially for some guy (I’d always felt sorry for women who did things like that, then I became one). I had luggage filled with self-pity when I arrived in the city of Angels. The things we do for love.
When it didn’t work out a few months later after almost 3 years together, I fell apart. I had no friends, had blown through, what I thought was a pretty solid safety net because the job I’d lined up never came to fruition (in what I would find out is typical LA fashion), I had to buy a car (and not just any car, but one that would be acceptable showing up to valet with), get an apartment (which had to be in Brentwood near my man) and furnish this apartment (because he’d told me to throw away all my things from 7 years in one New York apartment to the next so he could “buy me new things for our new life,” which we didn’t create).
I was a mess. I’d gone against everything my independent hippy Berkeley mother had taught me about standing on your own, lost my best friend, my lover, and the life I’d been planning, envisioning, and unfortunately sort of depending on. Plus I spent an embarrassing amount of money, and had less to show for it than when I arrived. I was at a total loss. I didn’t know who I was. How had I become someone who just did what she was told, had no self respect or consideration for her own goals and dreams?
When I went home for Christmas that year I asked my mom what she thought God was, I asked a couple of my oldest friends, one of whom laughed so hard she fell out of her chair.
It made people so uncomfortable I was wondering about something most write off without much thought.
That made me feel even more alone than I did before. Why wasn’t anyone else concerned with how we got here?
I proceeded to ask anyone and everyone the deepest questions my fragile brain could handle, and was surprised and disappointed with my results respectively. Some people couldn’t have cared less, and others blew my mind with all the knowledge they kept hiding behind superficial facades.
I’d had no concept of what it meant to be part of this great mystery we call life, and even now after years of asking questions, meditation trainings, spiritual medicine ceremonies and deep introspection, I still don’t have all the answers – but that doesn’t mean I’ll stop seeking them. In fact the more I know the more interested and fascinated I become. That’s why I’ve joined the team at Evolve and Ascend. I wouldn’t have a clue how to even begin one of these articles, but I am always captivated and uplifted when I read them.
Now, after more than 3 years in LA, I have never been more in love with life. I have found a sport that makes me high, literally and figuratively. AcroYoga challenges my body, I am always adjusting and modifying to make up for my limitations but it lifts my spirits. It also tests my courage, my trust in others, and my mental focus, it is one of the things I am most grateful for, and I have never desired true greatness in any particular thing the way I do with acro. It is the greatest natural high I’ve ever felt, coursing happiness hormones through my veins like fire and makes me feel free.
I have absolutely one of the most powerful, challenging, accomplished, and divine community of people that walk this earth with authenticity, love, acceptance, and joy. They have shown me what it means to truly live, and I am grateful for their love and reflections every day. Without them I would never have been able to crawl out of the hole I dug myself down into.
So I am here to welcome, commiserate with, and nurturingly caress the beginner’s mind. The more you know, the better it gets.