life gets weird, and then it gets beautiful
One year ago this week, I left the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit at a hospital in Austin, Texas. It was the end of one of the worst weeks I’d experienced thus far. I spent seven days sitting in a chair, by myself. I had some wonderful people visit me and it felt like I really did have friends, I don’t want to leave that out. Most of the time though, I was/felt alone. It wasn’t a bad thing that I spent time alone. In fact, it was wonderful. It was a terrible week that ultimately changed my life in a good way. I was in a lot of emotional pain and I felt very isolated. The only thing I could do was feel it. So, I cried a lot. I couldn’t get out of my chair without a nurse present in case of a fall. I had to lose sleep and get really intense lights flashed at me. There was a lot of distress. We were trying to induce a seizure. It turns out I don’t have epilepsy. It was very impactful.
A very cool thing is that a friend came to visit me and gave me a pin of a roadrunner. It was a very meaningful gift. What is so cool about it is that now, in the past month, I have seen probably one hundred road runners as I traveled through the Southwest. That pin became more meaningful. Roadrunners remind me of how much my life has changed in the last year. A big pink lotus sprouted from the mud. What a fucked up and amazing journey that year was. Something I can only appreciate as I revisit and continue to heal. The universe brought that to me as a little symbol of what was to come (something I like to believe when I feel like it).
Being sick was terrible and so scary. Because I was giving so much of my attention to my relationship, I never really got to address my illness and heal from it independently of everything else. So, that’s what this month is really about. It’s about connecting to where I was on each day one year ago. I give myself the opportunity to feel the feelings I didn’t express at the time. I thought I was going to fall somewhere and I thought I was going to die from it, and there would never be an explanation.
Doctors didn’t know what was wrong, everyone was confused, I had weird symptoms one day and others the next, none of them related to each other. I was afraid I was going to die. It was not a fun thing. I had no idea what was wrong, and I tend to lean toward dress rehearsing for tragedy. All I could do was slow down. All I could do was keep breathing through the fear and imagine what type of floor pillows I would have in my meditation room.
(Sometimes when I’m really bummed out, I like to picture my dream meditation room. It makes me feel calm and optimistic about the future)
July of 2017 was the worst month of the worst year I’ve had since I began my healing journey six years ago. Jonny and I began talking about splitting up sometime right before or right at the beginning of July. I was falling/fainting/passing out/whatever about once a day. I got two or three concussions over the course of a month from losing consciousness and hitting my head on stuff. I fell down the stairs, I fell in the shower, I fell on our concrete floor. One of those falls turned half of my face black and blue. The emergency room staff got to know me very well in a short amount of time.
I started falling and it just got worse and worse as time went on without an answer. I spent about four months trying to figure out what was amiss. It was a lot of things. Primarily, anxiety. It knocked me off my feet. My body knew that there was a hole in my life before I did. My priorities were all over the place and praise had become something I was dependent on for motivation. I felt like I needed achievement in order to be worthy of love and attention. I needed to be irreplaceable.
I have since been reminded of something that my therapist told me when I was about sixteen-years-old. She said, “you are not disposable.” That phrase whispers in my ear when I feel shame or sadness about how things turned out. I ultimately left work.. I didn’t know what I was going to do. So, I figured it out. I worked really hard and I started freelancing. I took every job I could. I put myself out there. Now I’m a writer. (if you want to know more about this, I am happy to email you some tips).
The week I left my job, I turned 26, Jonny and I were sort of planning on not working out, and I had a 103-degree fever with a side of bronchitis. Ugh. What kept me moving forward was the understanding that my life would someday be more beautiful than I could imagine. The fear of death would come and I would remind myself that, as scary as the present moment was, all would be well. (All was already well, and I was not willing to believe that at the time). I thought, “yes, someday I will feel good. I feel horrible and out of control and heartbroken right now. And there will be another beautiful day, even though I don’t know when it will come.” Knowing that is how I never raised my voice at Jonny, and never gave him an ultimatum in the heat of the moment. I needed to have compassion for my best friend, and I did. He's always been my best friend.
What really started to turn things around was my desire to feel a stronger connection with my inner self. I decided to go out and try to build better connections with current and future friends. I went on Bumble Bff dates with really fun women who also wanted to make friends. I went to parties by myself and talked to strangers. I went to the women’s march by myself and chatted with people the whole time. I got a mandolin (I have potential!).
In September, after some serious therapy, both together and individually and some very long and serious conversations, Jonny and I decided to stay together. It felt like a bigger decision than when we decided to get married after a year and a half of dating, at 25-years-old. Now, we are stupid in love with each other. We realized how sacred our relationship is. He is who my soul started searching for thousands of years ago.
With our therapist, we started looking at our values and talking about what actions we could take to build the life we want. We learned how to argue (which we do when Jonny is hungry or when I am tired and haven’t had enough quiet time). We decided to move to California, and we wanted to take the long way.
We spent three weeks on the road on our move to California. Cool freelance things were happening and once we were nearing the end of our trip, we decided to keep going. We asked, “What else do our inner-seventeen-year-olds want to see?” And we made a list. And here we are. Today we’ll explore Yosemite National Park. Tomorrow we head to Tahoe. And then every park in the Pacific Northwest, a few in Canada, and even more on the way back to California. I got to pick any park to spend my birthday in, and I chose Zion National Park, where we were only able to spend one day when we went a few weeks ago.
I have been exploring my femininity and drawing in the masculine to see how they can co-exist together. I have been diving into feelings of loss, gratitude, anger, and silliness. Sometimes on long drives, I just start crying. Whatever comes up is allowed in any moment. The word, “namo” has been echoing in my head since I listened to “Radical Self-Acceptance” by Tara Brach. It means “I bow.” The idea is to bow to everything. I allow it to exist, and I allow it to pass through on a beautiful leaf down a stream. I bow to my fears and I bow to the beauty around me. Sit with me, have tea.
I am so grateful today because I knew everything would be beautiful and it totally is beautiful. It is absolutely validating that my life is more beautiful than I ever could have planned, and I knew that day would come. Even on the worst days, the most despairing of days, I had hope. I’m not sure I’ve ever been through something like that and not lost hope. It’s really cool that, though I was a total wreck, I was able to observe myself in the moment more than I have in the past.
This is an incredible journey, there is so much inspiration to learn everything about every tree and every mountain and every person we see. I am observing my life changing and allowing myself to be whatever I need to be in the moment. There are sad days, and I allow them. There is resistance and insecurity and weirdness, and I do my best to allow those days. They are far and few between. I allow the beauty and the connection with others. I make hilarious (it depends who you ask) jokes, I run around with the dogs and try my best to train them, I breathe with Jonny every time we stop to explore something new. Allow it.
I continue to be curious about what each day will bring. I am slowly piecing together what might be a good balance for my spiritual and professional life. What pace of life do I want? Where do I want to live? How can I incorporate mindfulness and kindness into my professional voice? How can I fulfill my desire to work with others and create and lead, while staying in a place of stillness and calm?
Today is more beautiful than I could have planned. The love of my life is next to me and we have our sweet dogs. We are engaging with this earth, and we are so grateful. I was right, once again, life got beautiful. It will always get beautiful. I will remember that for as long as I can. Life gets weird, and then it gets beautiful.