Five Months Post-Break-up

I’m having a hard time. It’s difficult for me to be alone right now. It’s been five months I’ve lived without you and for some reason, my heart still wants to travel to meet yours. I ache. I hurt. I’m tired.

I’m grieving the loss of you. There are a million and one reasons why it was “good” that we broke up and why it’s “better” now, and that I shouldn’t feel sad because now I’m happy and I don’t have an angry, oppressive, depressed person screaming at me every single day.

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Yeah, I get that. I’m grateful I’ve been able to move forward with my life and am pursuing my writing ambitions, doing my yoga thing, and living in a generally much more peaceful and happy state. It was a necessary step in my personal growth and healing. I have a lot of self-loving to do and a lot more healing to dive into.

But healing can hurt. Healing can be messy. Grief is an indescribable, all-consuming feeling that can pop up at any moment. I’m grateful I learned that it’s okay and normal to experience grief from the loss of a relationship and not just from a death. Losing a loved one to death is horrible and I’m not diminishing that loss.

But I’m grieving too. No matter how many times I’m told I “shouldn’t” because it’s “better” doesn’t fucking heal my pain from this loss.

It still hurts. It hurts every day. My heart, my body, and my soul ache in the absence of someone who has seen me at my worst, cheered me on through my best, and loved me through all of it. He was my friend, my lover, my confidante, a step-dad to my children. He helped me feel a little less alone in the world. There were problems, yes, and he has a lot of his own healing to do. Our break-up was mutual and it was necessary for both of us.

But after all the moving of boxes and furniture, separating of bills, decision making, and dividing up of stuff accumulated from over six years together, our lives may be separate, but feelings and memories still unite us. Stings of remembrance hit me every day in unexpected ways. However beneficial and necessary the separation, the emptiness and absence still leave an unattended void in my heart and in my life.

These intense feelings beg for answers – Will I be able to love someone again? Will I be able to share my life with someone so intimately again? How can I arrive at the place where my memories aren’t charged with emotion? What the fuck do I do with this grief?

But no answers come. Emotions flow like water. Most of the time, I feel okay. A lot of the time, I feel happy. Occasionally, I feel the heavy sadness cover me and I am not strong enough to lift it.

So I cry. And cry. And write. What else can I do?

 

 

 

 

Photo: Pexels

Synchronicity, a Waitress, and a Retiree

Hi, my name is Erin and I’m a waitress. [insert big fat sigh]

Yeah, it’s what I do to make a living. I’m making a enough to support myself and my kids since I’m a single mom again. I don’t have a significant other to help pay the bills anymore and I don’t have roommate. Sometimes I hate that I have to take time away from my real passions – writing, tarot, yoga, and Reiki – to wait tables so I can pay my rent and buy shampoo.

Other times, like today, I’m grateful to be able to witness a little synchronicity at my job, (yes, it’s where I work, but not who I am!).

Today, I was waiting on a regular customer, an older gentleman who usually sits at the same table and orders the same thing every day. He is always pleasant and polite, patient and understanding. I’ve had the pleasure of a few conversations with this wonderful man, but until today didn’t know much about him. I discovered that he retired from the Air Force in 1992, after 35 years of service as a fighter pilot. His last assignment was at Homestead as the Wing Commander of the entire base..

When he told me this, I said, “Will, how come you never told me you were such a big deal?” He smiled humbly, and replied, “You never asked me.”

He retired as a Colonel. After that, he was the city manager for Homestead during the five years after Hurricane Andrew devastated that part of Florida. He had to quit his job when his wife was diagnosed with a terminal illness. She has since passed and I can still see the love in his eyes when he speaks about her.

As a service member, Will was accustomed to working 14 hour days. When he became a civil servant, his hours were even longer. Sometimes he wouldn’t come home until after midnight. During his time as a city manager, his wife was working and going to school, so they rarely saw one another, but he remembers fondly their nightly dinners. She would wait for him to come home and they would eat dinner together, sometimes at 1 in the morning. “Then we would wake up 4 hours later and do it all again,” he said.

Will also served three tours in Vietnam. I asked him if he had any stories he might like to share with the world. He said he did. His unit from Vietnam has reunions every year, but he never went until the 48th year. He wants to get the stories of all his friends from that time. He said he’s already begun writing some of his own stories.

When Will speaks about his life – he’s 75 years old now – he has clarity and a reflective honesty that is so important in a storyteller, someone who recounts their human experience subjectively, but is also curious and full of wonder. When I ask him questions, he pauses and reflects instead of answering right away. He’s had plenty of time to contemplate his life. However, he doesn’t have any idea how to start a blog or to send his stories to the people who need to read them. Lucky for him, I do! We exchanged contact information and I hope to help him start a blog or find some outlet for all the stories inside of him.

So on a leisurely Sunday, in the middle of a mostly empty Greek restaurant, even though I wasn’t directly working on one of my passions, I felt moved by not only Will’s genuine character, but also by the timing of our conversation. I am here to tell my story, but I hope to help other people tell theirs too.

I’m here (on Earth, at this job, in this city, wherever I seem to find myself) to help, to heal, and lift others up. I don’t need to be at the head of a yoga class to do that. I carry this desire and ability to help others with me everywhere, even to my measly little waitress job.

 

 

 

Photo: Flickr

Staying Afloat in the Midst of Depression

Today I was depressed.

Right now, actually, as I type this, I feel pretty fucking terrible. I have told myself all the things a yoga teacher would say:

“It’ll get better tomorrow.”

“Meditate a little.”

“Do some breathing exercises. Get on your mat. Chant your mantras.”

“Do some Reiki on yourself. Use a mudra.”

In truth, I have done every single one of those things today and I still feel terrible. It doesn’t mean they don’t work. No, not at all. I’m human for fuck’s sake. I’m not a yoga robot that can flip a switch and a rainbow comes out my ass when I do downward-facing dog.

No.

I have feelings and I will feel them. I won’t wallow. I won’t allow them to drag me down to the depths never again to see the light. No, but I will, however, stop, pause, feel, and listen.

I’ll listen to my breathing. I’ll listen to the emotions that coming pouring out of me as I write. I’ll listen to the soft, still voice inside me that is barely audible saying, “I know you don’t feel the best right now, but you have a right to embrace yourself no matter how you feel. You deserve to be loved. You can cradle yourself without coddling yourself. Be gentle and kind. Tomorrow is another day.”

Doing my practices does not mean my life will be sunshine and butterflies every single day. Doing my practices means that I have a tangible way to get in touch with all the parts of me, including the human bits, the messiness, and the chaos. It allows me space to be not exactly okay. It gives me the tools I need to be able to sit with my pain.

I have never been the type to run from my pain. I don’t think this is a strength. It just is. I am the type to lean in and let consume me like a wildfire. It has burned me alive more than once. It is a hazy, lonely, unforgiving place to be. Running and escaping don’t do any good either. What if we could be in the middle, and just sit with it instead of leaning one way or the other?

This is where I am today. I feel utterly hopeless, depressed, and incredibly lonely, but I keep moving, keep feeling, keep writing. This is the cycle of human existence. Up and down, ebb and flow. And I, the singular leaf floating down the river of life, will continue to move with the currents.

 

 

 

Photo: Pexels

Self-love and Sex

It’s been 7 months since I’ve written a blog here. I’ve been writing lots of other things, but I figured it was time again. Although, I’m cheating because I’m going to share something I wrote several years ago. It’s as relevant a topic as any – self-love.

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From my journal, circa 2013:

I spent my entire youth developing a strong love for learning and in turn, it created urges within me to learn more and more. I was so sheltered, that when I left my parents’ house, I was so eager to learn about those things which I did not get taught, mostly about sex. It was not a wanton feeling held dormant, waiting to burst out, but a true human desire to understand myself, my own human nature. I desired these things which I did not understand, and no one had helped me understand them.

And so, at 18, I left the studies of literature and music, for the much more tangible studies of human interaction, which I knew nothing about. I discovered my seductive abilities and powers as a woman. I discovered my own desire to be touched, to be looked upon as a thing of beauty. In the process, I also discovered my human emotions (which could be considered flaws, by some): jealousy, guilt, shame, regret.

Despite all the pain and loss that comes with sex and love, the desire still burned. Why? Was it love? It was exactly the opposite. It came from an inability to do the thing that is most vital to every human being in the universe: to love one’s self genuinely. I burned with the desire to feel what it is we sometimes call love, to be lifted off the planes of this world and transcend above, a place where we believe there is something more powerful than our pain. In sex, I was a goddess, taken to flight by the highs of ecstasy. This feeling came from nothing more complex than union with another human body; most importantly, a human body that found me attractive and beautiful. If even for a brief moment, that other person did for me what I could not do for myself: love.

Or, at least, promote a feeling within me under the guise of love.

Why? Why was it so difficult to love myself? Why had I developed such a degrading way of talking to myself? Thought is a powerful, powerful thing. It can make us or break us. It sounds like such a simple task: to change one’s thoughts. One whisper to yourself can make all the difference. “You are disgusting. You are worthless. You are not worth loving.”

These thoughts inevitably spiral into deeper, more heart-wrenching accusations. Is this what we would do to someone we love? Would we speak this way to our significant other or our child? We would never even dream of speaking this way to a stranger (although, I suppose sometimes we would like to), and yet we talk to our own selves in this manner?

I learned so many things growing up. I consider myself smart, but why was I not taught the most fundamental human necessity (aside from the basics of physical survival): to love myself?

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In my journal, this question was left unanswered. It’s not important anymore. The Why is not nearly as important as the How, as the What Now? I have come to the place where I know a little better how to love myself and when I’m not, how to come back the place where I do. Self-love is an important topic now for those of us who want to help and heal others. We cannot truly love others unless we learn to love ourselves first. After all, it’s much harder to love oneself. As Pema Chödrön says: “It is unconditional compassion for ourselves that leads naturally to unconditional compassion for others.”

Photo: Pexels