Hmmm that worked pretty well for me for the first 37 or so years of my life. Hell I was convinced I didn't just piss one person off in a past life - I most likely offended an entire continent for the amount of 'wrong' in my life and to myself I said I too would stoically stand and swallow those bitter pills - until death did us part. (or madness took over - which ever came first).
Then I watched a movie and a year or so after that I picked up a book ... and with that a seed was sown - just an itty bitty tiny seed - but a seed none the less and as we all known even the mightiest Oaks started from just one tiny acorn.
Eat Pray Love.
If I could have just picked up and gone all you would have seen was my dust as I would have been out of here! However the realities of marriage, children, work and responsibility intruded on that that idea but my world had been rocked (or perhaps just gently nudged) and it gave me a glimmer of hope that things for me could and would improve. I just had to believe, in myself.
I stood at a fork in the road - the road of sameness or that road to transformation, I knew the road to transformation would have potholes to trip me up and cause damage, detours to distract me from my goals, bumps which were like mountains I had to clamber over. But I chose transformation regardless, knowing it was my start of hope. Before there had been no road, perhaps train tracks with a train hurtling full speed at me, but no road.
That hope required effort and boundaries. Effort which I had to dredge up from somewhere when even just opening my eyes in the morning could be too much. Healthy boundaries for myself which meant saying no to others and yes to myself, and to those who had enjoyed a boundless symphony of yeses took offense to this sudden stranger in their midst. I however had no choice but to be that stranger and watch people turn away knowing that although it hurt immeasurably in the long run I would come out stronger and healthier and ultimately that is who it was about - me. I only have one life and I need to live it the best way I can. Those who stayed wanted to, they knew they never had to.
We all draw on different sources of encouragement when we reach this crossroad in our life. For me the biggest source is Eat, Pray, Love and I will always look at it as a pivotal point in my life where I knew I had to stand up and be counted or sit down and die.
EPL isn't a story of a woman just swanning off into the sunset to live the ultimate life of seemingly endless travel and no responsibilities. It started with pain and misery - familiar territory for me as I've been there - in the dead of the night, all alone, wondering where to next, wondering how I could feel human and why the universe seemed hellbent on conspiring to keep me at rock bottom! I too have agonised over decisions made and choices followed through - never certain if they were right or wrong but understanding I had to trust my instincts if I was to break free of the ruins which kept tripping me up.
There are parts of Elizabeth Gilbert's story which read like mine and I think that is what we all seek - that connection with another human being which brings understanding that we are not alone in our troubles and angst. We often dumb down our feelings - saying there is always somebody worse off than ourselves. Yes there is but that doesn't mean we shouldn't give our own pain a voice. To us that pain is very real and we need to acknowledge it because nobody else can do it on our behalf and that in spite of all the tragedies in the world, as minute as ours may be it still matters. To ourselves it matters and we have to heal that pain to move forward.
My ruins were my gift from where I could start. They gave me insight into the person I wanted and needed to be. It has led me to a more authentic life, rich in friendships and passions which nurture my soul and encourage me to keep going and even if I fail or stumble I know it will be okay. Anyone of you who have been in that soul destroying place know what a precious gift that 'okay' is.
In the last 2 years I've done much soul searching. I spent 15 months in therapy where I was able to unpack a great deal of baggage and understand why some things were in fact not the biggest pieces even though I thought they were. I connected via Facebook to Brene Brown's TED Talk on Vulnerability which in turn led me to a course with Julia Cameron's The Artists Way and a connection with 9 women, across 3 continents, with whom I now share a unique bond of friendship, support and love. While I have lost some friends in my physical world, I have connected with others in a richer way than I ever before allowed myself, always being to afraid that connection would hurt. Now I understand that connection can hurt at times but it is part of life and I can be less anxious about the future and more focused on the present. Those in my life, both via invisible internet connections and real time interactions are treasured by me as they have witnessed my growth and understand without rejection from where I come.
I will have some kind of version of an Eat Pray Love life for myself. I do not know what form it will take but as Elizabeth Gilbert says you have to start somewhere and you have to start today. I have started planning and setting goals and it isn't necessarily to run off into the sunset. My immediate goal is to live the most authentic life I can and that takes dedication. It's an everyday job that demands I am present and without a plan I lack the structure to achieve it.
I have now gone back to Eat Pray Love and am re-reading it. I am looking at each section of the book with new eyes. The authenticity I seek will be found in my own Nourishment, Faith & Desires. I am seeking a deeper understanding of her message based on those themes and how they connect to my life. What do I need for nourishment? How will my faith develop? What are my desires are within the relationships I have? All questions to which I seek answers with the plan I have in place.
I look forward to the journey - it has already started.