Photo by Chaney Zimmerman on Unsplash
My Saturn Return Brought Me to Hell and Back
My Saturn return brought me to hell, but I found my way back.
Apr 21st, 2020 | 4 min read

First of all, what in the world is Saturn Return? 

It may sound a bit fluffy, but bare with me here. Saturn Return is when Saturn returns to where it was when you were born almost 29.5 years ago. The slow-moving planet completes one full orbit and brings with it a lot of difficult growth, movements, beginnings, and endings.

Here's a breakdown of my Saturn Return:

  • Career change

  • Moved to Bali

  • Lost my grandfather

  • Lost my job (and the only source of income I had while living in Bali)

  • Lost my father two months later

  • Lost my friend a week later

  • Lost myself

The dominos fell, and I felt every single one of them shift my core. Thanks, Saturn.


I did a 180 in my career and dropped everything to pursue becoming a freelance writer. It was risky, it was hard, and that itself presented a lot of opportunities for growth. I bought that one-way ticket in May 2018 with the very little savings I had managed to earn working two jobs, and left with a heart full of hope and perseverance. But the universe had other plans for me, which were to follow. 


One month into moving, I lost my grandfather. Since I was a baby, I have always been close to my grandparents in Japan and held a strong cultural identity to my Japanese lineage. I spent New Years visiting the Buddhist temples, had a full-blown coming of age ceremony called "shichi-go-san," and grew up watching Sailor Moon and Detective Conan (Tom and Jerry, who?).

As I sat at my grandfather's funeral watching the Buddhist monk read the scriptures, I couldn't help but wonder what would happen if my grandmother passed away. I wouldn't have a reason to visit Japan anymore. Would I lose the ability to speak the language? Would I still lose my knowledge of the cultural practices? As I attended my very first Japanese funeral, I felt like an alien observing a culture I didn't know as well as I thought I did.

How Japanese was I now?

Without them, how Japanese would I be?

I felt like I lost a part of my identity. 


Two months after my grandfather, I lost my dad. My dad was my superhero and my mentor. He taught me about the law of attraction, how to change a flat tire, and was my number one supporter when it came to following my path. 

"I'm moving to Bali," I told him one day.

"Awesome! When can I visit?" was his response.

After losing my dad, I feel like I lost the connection I had with my CHamoru identity. I was mamålao (shy) to attend functions, and felt disconnected with my family. The list didn't stop there. I spiraled downward thinking about the father-daughter dance I would never have at my wedding, the Marvel movies I would have to watch alone, and re-establishing a relationship with my mother I thought I had. Turns out that my dad played a huge role in how we communicated with one another.


Ironically on the day my dad passed, I got the news that my friend would be doing voluntary euthanasia. He was my first friend in college, we pledged together for the same co-ed fraternity, and he was the one who inspired me to move to Bali. He did everything by the book– went to college, studied hard, and got a great job. He realized that photography was his passion, and then spontaneously bought a ticket to Southeast Asia to travel. He followed his passion, and it scared me that I was doing the same. He passed away a week later.


I just turned 29.

It wasn't until recently that I felt the shedding of all the layers that I had used as protection. I wasn't the same person I was prior to my Saturn Return, then again I shouldn’t expect myself to be. But underneath all the layers I finally found it – genuine love and respect. For as long as I could remember, I associated my value and self worth with the way people treated me, the jobs I was able to attain, or accomplishments I felt were "OK" to feel proud about.

Through my losses, I got myself out of bed. Sure, there were days I would sleep all day because the depression would just hit hard but at the end of it all I got up, and I showed up. Through my losses, I pushed forward and found meaning in my work including launching two projects – Dear Gorgeous podcast and Collective Culture

I showed up for me, and that's the greatest love you can have for yourself. 

Saturn's Return is impactful. It's a rollercoaster of growth and shakes you in ways you can't even plan for. But I will tell you this – you're going to be OK.

The universe wouldn't give you losses if the gains weren't greater. 

This article was written by Akina Chargualaf.
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