“Consider it a testimony to how much I love you that I spent so long pouring myself into that offer, trying to make it work.”
Eat, Pray, Love
I’ve always hated the saying about loving someone and letting them go. As if they ever come back, and if they do the work involved in re-establishing trust after a recess. Perhaps I’ve never truly loved anyone before, because the idea of letting them go for the exclusive benefit of the other party has always baffled me. I thought it was just something that we say so that we feel noble when someone doesn’t want us anymore. When a lover has told me that they are leaving me for my benefit, I’ve been infuriated. Until now.
As I said, maybe I never knew real love before. My selfishness has always prevailed. My fear of abandonment accompanied that to create a stubborn and frankly clingy approach to love. But as I think about the woman who is missing me, on the other side of the country right now, I know that what I have done is absolutely what’s best for her. I know that it breaks her heart, but I also know that in the end, whether she ends up with a healthier me in time, or a new healthy person she will be better off. My flaws have been torturing her and she’s far too beautiful to do that to.
“You’re just afraid to let go of the last bits of him because then you’ll really be alone, and you are scared to death of what will happen if you’re really alone.” Eat, Pray, Love
Alone. It’s something that as an only child, of a single parent I am extremely comfortable with. In fact sometimes I crave time alone in my core. The easiest way to make me irritable is to deprive me of adequate alone time. But thanks to technology and my co-dependent personality, alone is never really alone. A quiet bath, me with a yoga mat, or a walk in the park is always accompanied by the incessant checking of my cell phone. I used to blame my habit of checking my phone every ten minutes on my job. I was always on call. Missing a call was unacceptable and that was the truth. But I resigned from that job a year ago.
I set out to find myself after the collapse of my marriage. My ex didn’t steal anything that I didn’t give. I wasn’t stifled or confined by anything but my perception in that marriage. As humiliating as it is to admit, I wasn’t devastated by the loss of that relationship as much as I was devastated by the failure to adhere to a time-honored tradition. I didn’t do what I was supposed to do. That’s the reason why setting off to undo the patterns and reflexes I had developed for the half of my life that I have been in relationships felt mandatory at the time. I leapt from my marriage into a ridiculous affair, thankfully short-lived. I had my moment of messiness and it was profoundly clear that the only action from that moment forward was to engage in the only relationship I hadn’t spent all of my energy on. That was my relationship with myself.
So I quit my job and planned a sabbitcal that was meant to introduce me to the deepest parts of myself. I was to do the one thing that we are taught never to indulge in. I was going to be completely, utterly, self-absorbed. I was going to live simply, get by with as little as possible to afford myself as much time as I needed to achieve this task greatly.
I didn’t even make to the unemployed part, before I had added to my plate, a large helping of reconciliation with someone I have been trying and failing to launch with for nearly a decade. It was unexpected. When we came into contact again, I assumed that the door had been closed on the other end for so long and so bitterly, that friendship was frankly ambitious. It quickly swelled into the mutual, mature, fulfilling relationship that I had always hoped for. Afraid that the opportunity may never present itself again, I acted on my emotions and jumped, head first, all in. Everything went beautifully until I could no longer pretend that the work I had neglected, the sabbatical I used up flirting and pining wasn’t casting a dark shadow over me.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have this great revelation until I was half way through a cross-country move to be with her. I had done all of the typical sabotage. I asked for more time to get myself together, blamed my excessive handbag collection, and even told a horrendous lie about a sick family member to buy time when it was time to leave. All of my attempts (which were purely subconscious at the time) to frustrate her enough to tell me not to come, so that I didn’t have to be the bad guy failed. She was nothing but gracious, forgiving, and generous. The most upsetting part of this for me is knowing that she took each blow, fully aware of the red flags, and still chose to believe in me. She wanted me that much.
So why isn’t that enough…it is. As far as our relationship goes I couldn’t be happier or more blessed. If I had just taken a moment with myself I’d have realised that I although the circumstances were ideal, I was not in a place to accept them. Now I’ve told the truth. I am sitting in a hotel room, halfway between the coast I no longer have a home on and the coast I’m not ready to live on. I don’t have anywhere to go back to now.I’d made all the necessary preparations for a relocation. But if I don’t go back, I will still be running and I am exhausted from running. I have to turn around, and go back to face the things that are still there, haunting me….alone.
“Your treasure – your perfection – is within you already. But to claim it, you must leave the busy commotion of the mind and abandon the desires of the ego and enter into the silence of the heart.” Eat Pray Love
I asked myself recently, if I were to be reckless, to do exactly what I want to do, without giving preference to what anyone else might say, what would I do? I hounded myself for days, trying to coax an answer, but the question was as overwhelming enough. I shouldn’t be so surprised to find the answer in the stillness of my own mind. As soon as I slowed down enough to listen to it, the solution was not only clear, but vivid. It is also so largely based on what I don’t want to do, rather than what I want.
I don’t want to make any long term plans. I don’t want to please anyone. I don’t want to check in.
“I’m here. I love you. I don’t care if you need to stay up crying all night long, I will stay with you. There’s nothing you can ever do to lose my love. I will protect you until you die, and after your death I will still protect you. I am stronger than Depression and I am braver than Loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me.” Eat Pray Love
There are certain things that one partner can get away with in a relationship, that the other cannot. It works on both sides of the relationship, and one can spend the duration of said relationship, keeping score on this fact and dwelling on the unfairness. We never bother to give any thought to what the dynamic of our relationships would be like if we eliminated this supposed unfairness. Perhaps we shouldn’t look at this dynamic as a something that we must put up with, but instead something that we do for each other. Concession doesn’t seem like a sacrifice as much as a display of affection.
When you stand on the brink of losing everything, or worse from the center of actual loss, you see what you possess differently. Your sureness of that possession is wavered, and you become more careful about the possibility of losing again. The uncertainty can drive you to ruin if you take it too seriously, believing that everything you touch will soon go away. But clutching too tight, believing you can trap the light that you possess can cause you too make that light go out.
‘”Tell the truth, tell the truth, tell the truth” Sheryl Louise Moller ‘Eat Pray Love
My childhood was the sum of a bad Lifetime movie, sans the dramatic court room scene, because I chose to keep their secrets. That is until recently, when I was dragged into a civil suit between family members. Suddenly, the lid had been pulled off of my past, and I was left reeling from the idea of jumping back into the deep end of a nightmare I had closed the door on years ago. The problem with closing the door on a past like that however, is that there is always a pressure behind it, threatening to break it down anyway.
Begrudged, I told my story. In a lot of ways it was like being raped all over again. Except that when it was over I didn’t feel like a victim. As the days pass since I came forward, I realize that the secret caused me more damage than the abuse itself. The burden of holding all of that together for decades is what wore me down. Maybe I was afraid that if I started to talk about it, I would never be able to stop. Maybe I was worried about being an even bigger outcast in the small town I grew up in. Maybe I was worried that if I admitted to having a secret at all, I may in some way be responsible for the others who this had happened to.
It’s difficult to look back from the perspective that I exist in now, without acknowleding that the secrets I held have woven themselves into every fiber of my life. It will take some time to pull those threads and mend what needs it. I’m resentful of that fact, but I suppose it doesn’t alter the necessity of it. Avoiding this hasn’t served me.
“When I get lonely these days, I think: So BE lonely, Liz. Learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. Welcome to the human experience. But never again use another person’s body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilled yearnings.” Eat Pray Love
It’s good to exist in my own time zone again. For the better part of a decade, I’ve been trying to function in one time zone, and make appearances in another. Although the consolidation of times and dimensions hasn’t been entirely voluntary, I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t find relief and comfort in living where I live. I woke up at 4:45 am because I had enough sleep to wake up at that time. I hadn’t set an alarm. I had no plans. I just woke up, and I wasn’t exhausted. I got up and did some yoga without yawning. Then I watched my coffee brew, pouring it without having drips all over the bottom because I couldn’t wait until it had properly finished. I got ready for the day without having to decide whether to dry my hair completely or polish my toes. I got in the car and it didn’t matter about traffic, because I had plenty of time.
Life has been that way this week. I leave the office with a feeling of endless opportunity. There is no one to check in with, I don’t have to be back to anywhere in case the call comes through. I’m not dazed by the time I commute home, because I wasn’t able to get half a night’s sleep.
With everything that has gone on in the past couple of weeks, I find myself wondering often, who would I be if I didn’t try so hard to be so many things? If I weren’t the consummate professional, would half of the clothes in my closet exist? Would I really worry about my weight so much if my friends didn’t talk about exercise and diets incessantly? Am I really the black sheep of the family or do I say I am to make them feel better about their shortcomings? Do I really like that bright orange lampshade or am I tired of being told that I need more color in my life?
Who would I be if I could be anybody? More importantly, who would I be if I could be myself? And maybe even more important than that, who would I be if I no longer allowed people in my life to set those standards for me?
“Look. I understand that an unexamined life is not worth living, but do you think I could someday have an unexamined lunch?” Eat Pray Love
Just this once, I wish that the universe, like a lenient traffic cop issuing a warning, could smile at me and say “You know what changes you need to make. Here’s a pass. You may skip this life lesson and your life will remain in tact.” I know that it doesn’t work that way, not in traffic or in life. The epiphany is just the beginning of change. It doesn’t hold value until you put it into action. We all have driving records and reputations that effect the way that we are trusted. Unfortunately, life doesn’t offer a safe driver’s course that will remove the tarnish of prior offenses.
Logically, I know that there isn’t a cosmic trade-off for happiness. I know that sometimes all will be right with the world and other times everything falls apart all at once. Then one aspect may flourish, while the others flounder. It’s not that the positives don’t thrill me. I just wish that sometimes the universe would show priority where my heart does. I suppose the Creator hands us what we ultimately need. Sometimes it can’t be about what we want it to be about. I try to remind myself that the world is linked together like a large, spider web and we’re all connected. If my difficulty has a purpose in supporting someone else, even if I can’t see it, I suppose it’s less disappointing.