My Saturn Return Brought Me to Hell

Photo by Shot by Cerqueira on Unsplash

My Saturn Return brought me to hell. But I found my way back.

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

It sounds a little fluffy or what my friend would call a “unicorn frappe,” but I think it’s very much real. 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
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 lost my narrative

I did a 180 in my career and dropped everything to pursue becoming a remote 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.

I lost my identity

One month into moving, I lost my grandfather. Since I was a baby, I have always been close to my Japanese grandparents 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” when I was seven-years-old, 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, and it wouldn’t be the same without the presence of my grandparents. 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.

I lost my mentor

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 car 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 culture. I was mamålao (shy) to attend functions, and felt a disconnect 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 that I thought I had. Turns out that my dad played a huge role in how we communicated with one another.

I lost my sense of youth

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.

But I gained love

I just turned 29.

Only recently did I feel myself shed all the layers that I used to wrap around the old me. 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 those layers I finally found it — genuine love and respect. For as long as I can 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 the day I got up, and I showed up. Through my losses, I pushed forward and found meaning in my work including launching the Dear Gorgeous podcast and Collective Culture.

I showed up for me, and that’s truly 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.

Originally published at on August 6, 2019.



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Akina Marie Chargualaf

Akina Marie Chargualaf


Human who likes to write about human things: mindfulness, connections, and five-line stories.