And I asked myself about the present: how wide it was, how deep it was, how much was mine to keep.
It’s early, before seven. An oyster gray sky, wringing rain out in a gauzy sheet. There is a luminous patch, palest yellow on grey, where the sun waits, patiently or teasingly. Bedroom windows cracked, the wind pushing warm air through the white frame. Tires whoosh through slushy streets. My desk strewn with scrawled paper; bulleted lists, scribbled thoughts stopped mid-sentence, research copied out in a neat hand, and my mind emptied out on pages and pages and pages with a smudgy blue pen, which generously gives a smidge more ink than it needs to. World redesigning, on foolscap paper.
For years I knew the essence of what I wanted but not how to articulate it, not how to flesh it out. Perhaps it’s truer to say that I was too scared to even begin exploring the unknown. There was safety and comfort in keeping my dreams on the back burner, where I could convince myself they were untouchable. That the pain of unfulfillment wasn’t self-imposed.
Now I’m on my own. Alone but not lonely. New.
What I had before is gone. What I imagined I would have, thought I once wanted, is gone before it began, leaving space. Wide and deep, uncharted, waiting.
Life feels very much like when I was nineteen or twenty. I float back in time, feeling the parallel sense of newness, possibility, of questioning what’s to come but having no idea. It’s unusual not to have a sense of how every day will be mapped out, of not knowing with surety what I’ll be doing on a Monday and a Tuesday, on a Saturday and a Sunday, which was the way before I gave up life as I knew it to focus on healing.
It’s fair to say that after two years laser-focused on healing after my diagnosis, and after my marriage ended earlier this year, which dissolved my/our plans for the future, and after the most intense grieving and processing has been done, I’m ready to create again.
This time I will embrace the space. Make it mine, and not fill it for the sake of filling it.
Be confident that what I want is what I want.Read More...
I thought you could love someone too much, as if loving with every single cell of your being were a bad thing. No clue that I’d been generously gifted a rare gem.
Once, I was sure that to fully let go into love would make me weak. That to make a constant offering to serve the heart of the people I chose to be in relationships with, family, friends and romantically, was to give away my power.
I used to believe that everyone close to me would – without a doubt – leave me and hurt me, so after I initially wooed them and let them in, I’d push and push and push them away, waiting to see how far I could go, how long it would take, in a test of their love (and to prove myself right).
I was very, very scared to love and be loved, sure that it – love – would destroy me, not nourish me, hold me, lift me, ground me, expand me, and the person I shared the love with.
Then, in one moment, everything I thought I knew about love – which was dangerously close to nothing – dissolved. Melting away the moment my marriage crumbled.
Now, how ridiculous my old ideas seem. Absurd! Naïve! Ludicrous!
And how sad that I couldn’t see the love I was given for the luminous power it was.
But it was the heartbreak that opened my heart. Oi, what a double-edged sword. The thing is, otherwise I’m sure I would have continued believing the vulnerable, courageous, balls-to-the-wall, heart-on-your-sleeve love I had been offered was for sissies.Read More...
We haven’t talked much about food lately, which is surprising given that I adore eating and cooking, and food is a key element of my healing path, and it’s become a way to deepen my relationship with my body by learning how to tune into its messages.
That said, my relationship with food was a confused one until recently, muddied by my research into diets and what thought I should eat vs. what my body was telling me it needed. But it’s become quite a beautiful exchange, a peaceful and pleasurable one. I’ve learned to stop second guessing my body’s messages, had to turn a few unnecessarily long-held, stubborn beliefs upside down, and started eating foods that I haven’t touched by choice since before I became vegetarian (which was in the early nineties as a kid, y’all).
The way we each choose to eat fascinates me. I don’t entirely know why, but it has something to do with how much it says about us, and I’m a sucker for people’s stories and the humanness they unearth. Let’s get deep, just for a second. Geneen Roth (author of a mind-blowing book called Women, Food and God) says:
Unless you really see what your core beliefs are… beliefs like “I’m damaged; I don’t deserve this; love is not for me; this will never work out; God is a ruse; goodness is not for me; I’ll always be separated from what I love”—and until you name those beliefs, they will shape your life willy-nilly. You’ll just keep on acting them out by punishing yourself with food. But if you can finally get to understanding the beliefs underneath, you can learn how to live.1
My old beliefs were founded in distrust for my body and a lack of love for myself, which naturally played out in my complicated (and not fully educated) relationship with what I ate. So the way we eat is a reflection of who we are at any given time… And can help cultivate a curious, loving and free relationship with ourselves.
Not necessarily easy though, which I know firsthand.
Now, let’s forget the many years before I realized how deeply what I ate could impact my wellness and fulfillment (because there’s nothing fulfilling about having a tortured relationship with food and, since it always follows suit, your body).
And let’s skip over the past few years, when I started soaking up information about food and diets and was quickly overwhelmed (apparently only paleo is best, or only vegan, or only raw, or only
(Because, what else can I do?) I ponder and explore the recent messy breakup of my marriage for the lessons and gems contained within the rubble, and I continue to be surprised by how there is as much lightness, gratitude and love as there is sadness, regret and loss.
It’s alien, scary and cool.
The best likeness to this place I’m in is, uh, Mars? No – Berlin around the year 2000, actually, when it was kind of a mess but, OH, what a beautiful mess. I’d never seen anything like it.
Destruction and creation lived together, everyone going about their lives in the middle of it. Centuries-old buildings, standing but splintered, were neighbors with Modernist boxes of just-poured concrete and slick glass. Empty lots, once containing buildings that were home to something (or someone), echoed with metallic clangs from building sites on every block and, everywhere, kaleidoscopic graffiti was scribbled on bombed out shells, broken walls, anywhere it would fit. Berlin was a city in rebirth, incorporating what was or what remained of it with a new vision and, at that time, it was a hot mess.
So that’s a bit like where I am now. Destruction + creation. Rubble + rebirth. I’m choosing to see the lessons (and my poor choices and ways of being) not because I’m an enlightened being but because, honestly, I’m tired of repeating these same old lessons, hurting others and myself in the process by not being able to fully receive or give love, or accept people as they are.
I’m so freaking over it that the pain of sticking with my old ways vastly outweighs the discomfort of changing.
But this is my point (and my experience): out beyond the painfully obvious, that there will always be Difficult Stuff, and eclipsing the ways that we grieve – because our Difficult Stuff is invariably just loss disguised – there lies uncharted territory: a dimension of (transformative, transcendental) possibility.
If we choose to go there.Read More...
It’s been a few weeks since this earth-shaker happened and I’ve been all over the emotional spectrum (grief, gratitude, confusion, excitement, sadness, trust, anxiety and peace), but mostly spellbound in deep reflection, surrounded by family and friends who’ve offered their love, support, time, inboxes, and ears.
It’s changed me. In a surprising way. Shockingly, although there have been moments and hours when the searing pressure of loss makes me feel I’m going to implode, this heartbreak has opened me. It has unsealed my heart in a way I didn’t believe was possible for me before, as someone who was unable to fully let go into love because it scared the bejeepers out of me (since, you know, people can leave you and hurt you). How ironic. And how fitting: my husband loved with his heart on his sleeve.
I’ve never felt more full of love
Or trusted more in life
Than I do now.
This is weird. And beautiful. It’s the core of living wholeheartedly: to be ALL here.
For the record, this has NOT been (and won’t be going forward) all rose petals and revelations. The awakening goes hand-in-hand with my sadness, grief and loss. They’re part of the same river.
You have lost something and you have sadness.
You have a gift, you learn and you are changed, expanded, fuller.
They are intertwined and intimate as one begat the other.
Endings aren’t one-note. What a discovery! They were for the old me, who solely focused on the loss and excruciating pain of, as a friend recently said, the internal rearranging of hopes and dreams and expectations.Read More...
I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I said the past week was filled with ease and joy. The momentous changes that have taken place have been challenging on every level… Earth shaking… Heart breaking. Life changing. I won’t go into details, but it’s not health-related. I’m comfortable saying it’s a matter of the heart. Of love and loss.
At first, deluges of tears arrived without warning. Silent screams erupted from my depths. Claustrophobia threatened to overwhelm me, feeling the desperate need to run to the furthest corners of the Universe. Yet even that wouldn’t be far enough to escape the inescapable. I’ve felt a profound sense of helplessness and hopelessness, because I know that no amount of action right now can untangle what’s done, so I must just sit with what is and let it be.
So I have sat with what is. My mantra has been allow it. When I’ve wanted to run from myself and the intensity of feeling so damn much, which was my old way of “dealing” with difficult stuff, instead I sat with it – emotions so powerful you wonder if they’re going to split you open – by turning off the stories my mind wants to tell, and allowing the physical sensations accompanying the emotions to wash through my body. Wave after wave after wave. Or tsunami after tsunami after tsunami.
Receiving the support and love my family and closest friends want to give has created a comforting cushion. A gentle undercurrent that’s helping propel me forwards. The old me, despite desperately wanting to on some level, would have resisted (with every fiber of my being) experiencing the vulnerability of sharing how I’m feeling, but now the words pour out easily. It feels good. Simpler. Truer.
Then, given a day or so, the waves of emotion became gentler and less frequent. The shock softened and the shaking subsided (it’s a good thing: the “survival” energy of trauma is released through visible shaking and trembling in all animals1). While the emotions will vary in intensity and come and go for however long they do, the trauma hasn’t been stored.Read More...
Life has felt fuller. Not necessarily easier, but there’s a growing sense of satiety that’s surprised me. There are still a multitude of moving parts – a country change; still, still trying to hone in on my calling and the work I love; continuing to listen to and be true to my deepest needs on my healing path, among other things – which is why I’m surprised.
I’ve always thought that life had to be squared away, all the pieces known and safely in their place, all missions accomplished, for fulfillment to be possible. That’s the control freak in me talking, who knows little about the magic and mystery of life.
The past few years since my diagnosis have been shattering and rewarding, sometimes at the same time. Until recently I was in retreat, comfortably ensconced in my small world of healing, which, frankly, felt like an alternate reality in a parallel universe most of the time. Everyone else seemed normal, doing normal-people things like having families and working and going on holidays, and I did not and was not, holed up trying to work through my old limiting stories, nine thousand miles from my husband, pounding veggie juices, and learning how to listen to and trust my body. Plus dealing with the aftermath of years of pushing and striving to achieve goals, which continued to elude me because of my tight grip; because of my constant fretting and fearing. It’s been exhausting. Enlightening.
Now I’m ready to come out of of hiding. I want to live but, like, really live. I’ve done infinite pondering over the hows of this, but now it’s time for doing. It’s a relief that I no longer need total perfection in every area of my life, but I do require – crave – fullness and depth, which only come from participating in a life solidly connected to my truest needs.
A smidge of anxiety lurks, because part of allowing fullness in means letting go. It’s scary. Allowing things to be a bit messy sometimes and feeling my way through them. Not wallowing, but sitting in the uncomfortable place and listening for the next step. Much like my yoga practice, it’s been a daily practice to build my “letting go” muscle. To convince myself that I wouldn’t spontaneously combust by resisting the urge to control and squeeze life and to fear and fret, and instead letting whatever be be and shimmer out there without my meddling.Read More...