I wrote this on a train on November 22, 2015. It’s about the Christmas after my first heartbreak. This captures a glimmer of the deep and dark sadness that I felt that holiday season. I found this on my phone today, and wanted to share.
After You Left Me
There was a space next to my chair at the table. My family loves me enough to remove a chair so I didn’t have to see it empty. But I could feel it there. The hole. I dressed up and wore lipstick and looked like I was getting through the holidays without you. But everyone knew better. No one brought up the missing chair.
I remember thinking that at least I didn’t have to wait for you this year and offer excuses upon your behalf. You were always late, and I was constantly defending you.
The meal was all joy and laughs but I could feel it building in my chest. The ache always started low in my lungs and choked my heart and climbed up my throat and began to drown my eyes. I let my tears fall heavy and my hands shook. My fork tinged and tanged against my plate but I didn’t have the energy to move it. My family hushed to a silence that was unlike all of them. And they let me cry. They knew why, they didn’t have to ask questions. There has never been a more vulnerable moment for me than that. I was completely broken open. I couldn’t even pretend that I was ok, I couldn’t even excuse myself. I had nothing left.
Before you left me I was so solid, I was strong, cold even. I didn’t show weakness. After you left I couldn’t show strength. I had none of it left. Tears fell without warning, mostly in the car. Mostly while giving massages to strangers in a dark quiet room. It really is a cruel profession to break up in. You have 6 hours a day to think quietly, to replay conversations, and obsess over details. You are required to pretend that you are fine-even if you can barely stand up. You are required to pretend you care about someone else’s needs,knots, and lives.
The holidays that first year, though. That was a tough one. So many tears. So many tears for years after that. Not until you left me. When you left me everything changed in my heart. I am a professional at keeping people at an arms length from my heart. I’m three years in, and I’m waiting for the pain to move away, or the fear to move aside, because despite the complete sadness and abandonment of the last three years I want to love again. I want to believe there is love after the first time. There was for him.
“I’m going to stop you right there. I want you to verbally list out three things that you have accomplished because you haven’t owned a couch.”
This is what you hear after you diminish yourself in front of your life coach.
I pause not knowing what to say. I pause realizing how much I use this metaphor. I pause because she just showed me a glimpse into how I see myself and it is a difficult reality.
I often resort to self-deprecating humor when I compare my life to other friends my age and it usually goes something like this, “So-and-so owns a house, a boat, and has two kids. I don’t even own a couch.”
“Verbally list three things that you have accomplished by not owning a couch.” She said it again.
“I moved to New York, I’ve travelled all over the place, and I have the freedom to move anywhere that I want because I don’t own a couch.” I blurted out. Not a sophisticated list, but all felt important.
“Not so easy to move across the country with a couch is it? Not owning a couch has meant freedom for you. That is a beautiful thing.”She said.
She has a way of spinning all of the countless ways I diminish myself from a negative to a positive.(See below, I could list a hundred more (I think we all could) The left is what I apologize for, the right is what she sees from her lens)
Finished my degree later in life=Wisdom and self awareness
Change my mind a lot=Growth and evolution in the rawest form
I had no idea how much I diminish, apologize, and tiptoe around things that I say and how I act. Now that I have the awareness I’m going to make an effort to pause and spin it into a positive. I over explain things all of the time when there isn’t a need to do so. We over explain our insecurities and I don’t want to anymore.
I’ve been seeing my life coach/mentor/listener since mid-November and it is amazing and uncomfortable, and emotional, and has given me a clarity and drive that I haven’t ever had before. I didn’t have any idea what I was getting myself into, and didn’t really know what a life coach did, but I’ll try nearly anything when something lands serendipitously on my lap.
The conversations are usually on the phone, and it’s incredibly intimidating when a stranger says, “Tell me about you. This is about you.” It’s not very often that we are given the opportunity to have a willing listener. (Something else I want to improve this year, be a better listening friend) The first conversation with her I started with a lot of “ums, and I don’t knows,” but then I started telling the story of how/why I moved to New York. After a few sentences of telling my story to her, she stopped me, “So you moved to New York without a job, without having gone to school here, and only “sort of “knowing one person? Can you just pause and recognize that that is inspiring to me and you should be really proud of yourself.” I blushed through the phone and a smile stretched across my face the first time I heard her say that. (She says inspiring things like that all of the time, and it really seeps in after a while)
“Yeah, that does feel good, and I’m proud of that.” I usually talk to her while fidgeting on the floor of my bedroom and smiling. And then my story begins to flow out of me, comfortably, confidently, and clearly. By speaking life to my thoughts, feelings, and struggles I have been able to take an internal inventory. This inventory has helped to figure out how far I have come, but most importantly where I want to go.
My list of goals I want to accomplish this year is short, but very precise.
I have a new energy around my goals and feel really motivated to accomplish them. I have four things on my list, and one of them is to buy a couch. It’s no longer a soft place to sit, it’s going to be an extremely symbolic and emotional day when I make the purchase.
When I buy a couch I am putting down roots.
Roots! Something I haven’t been ready for until now. I’m always seeking clarity and have felt very spiritual in this new year.
I cut out a bunch of pictures of couches and put them on my dream board this weekend. I have a sexy little grey number in mind with a chaise lounge on one end…but I’m not quite ready yet but I have a feeling 2017 is the year of the couch.
I want to talk about one night in Costa Rica. On this night I felt something change inside of me. The entire trip was incredible, and both instructors were gifted, and each and every woman that was on the trip touched my heart in some way. But one night, my heart healed, and I felt it happening…and I didn’t fight it, I let it heal.
Nosara, Costa Rica is this tiny little yoga/surf town that is so quaint you may miss it if you blink, even if you are on foot. Fruit stands selling watermelons and coconuts are freckled upon a bumpy dirt road and the sandy beach is nearly empty but the waves are dotted with surfers. Dread locks, man-buns, and beautiful tanned bikini clad surfers are too cool as they walk toward the beach with their boards under arm. The constant waves make this one of the best surf breaks in the world, and one of the best places to learn on. (I took two lessons and was able to get up the entire second day! So can I say I am a surfer now?)
On the second to last night of our five-day retreat we walked quietly through the jungle to the Nosara Yoga Institute to practice yoga in “the tree house.” This was an open-air two story wooden cathedralesque building perched on the top of a hill. The jungle stood thick around us, and the treetops were eye level we were so high in the sky. The sounds of monkeys and exotic birds were so loud that it almost seemed like someone was playing a secret record that spun at the cadence of an intermittent speed of a windshield wiper. Peace and quiet, to the instant and intense deep throaty chant of a howler monkey.
When I think about this night, I think about it as if it took place in a vat of honey or tree sap. It seemed that time slowed down and the entire world had a golden glow.
I was overwhelmed with the beauty of the location, and my body was sore from the constant yoga and surf lessons. Fourteen of us sat up on our mats cross-legged and faced our instructor, Emily as she began class telling us a story out of Paulo Coelho’s book, “Adultery.”
Emily is one of those people that make you feel like the sun shines on you when she is in front of you, wether she’s teaching, or having a conversation with her. She has a gift for teaching yoga, and for giving love like no one I have ever met.
It felt like we were in Emily’s church being perched up here on this hilltop. This was where she completed her yoga teacher training, and it was as if the Earth was showing off to honor her. The sunlight beamed through the trees and cast a dusty light that looked like an Instagram filter. The scene was perfection, and then she began to talk. Her words. Her inflection. Her timing. I don’t know what it was, but the story hit me so hard in the heart that I had a physical heart palpation. My chest fluttered as if my heart was trying to knock and get my attention. As if it was saying, “This is it. This is why you came here. Now listen up.”
I will paraphrase the story as best as I remember and it goes something like this, without Emily’s delivery it won’t sound remotely as powerful, so please look up this book yourself if you want to really read this anecdote.
A woman is hang gliding after committing adultery. While in the air she has a telepathic conversation with an eagle.
She said, “I want to stay up here forever.”
The eagle replied calmly, “But, you can’t.”
And the woman said, “How will I ever face what I have to face when I get back down there?”
And the eagle replied, “You’ll find a way.”
I realized in the moment that it was almost time to head back to New York, to face my normal life again, and I felt panic/fear/pain/sadness/loneliness all in one inhale. But the story she just told us. The story spoke to my heart, “You’ll find a way.”
The tears rolled hot and slow down my cheeks and I kept repeating to myself, “You’ll find a way.” I knew I would find a way to get through all of the hard times when I landed in New York again. Every woman here was facing so many of the same struggles that I was. I was not alone. Something else fluttered in my throat and chest and it said, “You are enough.”
As you are. Right now. For everyone. You. Are. Enough.
Between the two mantras that sang in perfect harmony, I listened. I listened! I even believed it.
We flowed through vinyasas and squeezed through eagle pose, and swayed through goddess pose and I cried the whole time. Tears fell onto my mat with a pat pat pat pat. And I let them. I let them fall because I was enough even while being vulnerable. I was enough showing my emotions, and my weakness, and my soreness. This class is seared into my memory forever. This classs is sticky in my heart, it tastes like fresh fruit, and smells like wildflowers. As we ended the class in a circle I could feel the energy and the love and the healing sealing the class, and the week, and the trip.
Afterwards we walked in a single file line on the skinny trail and the tears flowed from me the whole way to dinner. I felt my heart open that night. My heart had been closed and hidden behind a vault for so many years. I felt a peace about my last breakup, and I felt a hope that I would love again-that I deserved to love again.
That night a fellow retreater shared her heart-breaking story of a breakup that was very similar to mine. I felt empathy, I felt her deep sadness, but I didn’t feel like sharing my story. I realized then while I listened that mine is just that; a story. It doesn’t give me pain, or sadness, it is just my story. I know that I am so lucky/blessed/thestarsaligned for me to go to Costa Rica, and it is going to be a treasure in my life forever. I just had to share this light that is beaming from my heart. I feel renewed after this vacation. I am writing again. My heart is open.
We will all find a way. And we are all enough.