Tag Archives: eat pray love

In 2012 I Broke up With my Boyfriend, my Church and God.

eatpraylovebook

I give the book, Eat Pray Love, so much credit for so many things I’ve undertaken in the last few years.

During 2012, it became my solace, my confidant, my bible, my comfort—the secret sanctuary where I sobbed those deep, body-hiccupping, snot-flying, eyes-screwed-shut, mouth-skinned-back-into-the-ugly-crying-skull, sobs and alternately laughed in my new-found happiness.

I carried my well-loved-abused copy everywhere I went (even when I knew I’d be unable to stop and read it), a talisman against my own fear and doubt—a validation and sacrament for the necessary hurricane of changes I was offering up to myself.

That year I broke up with my boyfriend, my church, and my God. I rewrote and redirected my life, Eat Pray Love as my companion and witness, as my poetic Sherpa.

When the book was published, I quite sullenly and self-righteously read it, only because so many were raving about it. It pissed me off—all that raving. I’m so pig-headed that I won’t admit when someone else has written a great book with great ideas—simply because they aren’t my ideas, and it’s not my book.

I rolled my eyes at everyone asking, in that excited, insistent tone of voice, if I’d read it. When I admitted to not only having not read it, but also to having no plans to ever read it, I had to listen to them launch enthusiastically into their list of reasons why I should go immediately and get a copy and begin reading it while standing in the checkout line.

I am stubborn—and stupid in my stubbornness. If you tell me I should do something, I will avoid that very thing—avoid it with instant disregard to its possible benefits to me.

I was also fermenting, in my mind’s dark basement, some vague, sanctimonious plan to contradict them after reading it by insisting on how boring it had been, how their approval of such an inferior book only proved how poorly-read they were. I wanted to prove that it wasn’t as good as they imagined.

Superior much?

I read it quickly and dispassionately and thought, “Okay, that was a good book, but I don’t know what all the fuss is about.” Then I gave it away, because I only keep books I will reread. In those books, I always write the date I bought them. This one didn’t fall into my will-read-again-in-the-future category.

Then 2012 dawned, and the shite hit the proverbial fan. The year started normally enough, what with her usual refusal to make resolutions, but early on I noticed signs of her unrest—the unwillingness to make eye contact, refusal to tell me where she’d been all night.

You know, the usual early signs of doubt and dissatisfaction.

As the there’s-a-reason-for-everything (control-freak!) person I am, I’d like to assign an agent, a specific reason, for the upheaval. I find, however, that I cannot pinpoint an exact catalyst.

I could blame the church “prom.” At the 2012 prom, while dancing with my boyfriend, my lack of attraction to him swam up from somewhere inside me. Worse, I suddenly remembered the very same thing surfacing at the 2011 prom.

I suck at tracking time—always have. So it came as an incredible, depressing shock to discover a real-time calendar marker that proved I had been dissatisfied for over a year. I was horrified at myself that I had “wasted” a year of life. How could I have allowed that to happen?! What was wrong with me that I wasn’t paying attention?

I had become a sheep, unaware—a zombie! I tentatively—and with much dread—began to look at my life, only to discover that in no area of my life was I happy. And it was a surprise to me, asleep that I had been. It would have been easy to blame the boyfriend for my general unhappiness, but I kept digging—while I whined and cried—uncertain about what to do.

Finally, I quit crying and decided it was time for action. I had reached the conclusion that I was in charge of my life, and that if I wasn’t happy, then it was my own damned fault.

I started with the boyfriend. I broke up with him in April. Afterwards, I debated my sanity. After all, he was a good man. I talked it over with girlfriends on a regular basis to stay strong. I made myself keep away from him, afraid I’d weaken and ask him to return.

Next, I broke up with my church, resigned from the council. The church was going through a lot of transition, and I realized being involved with all that transition was too stressful for me. The come-to-Hay-soos meeting that finally got my attention was so tough that I think I had a heart attack. I am a veteran panic-attacker, so I knew it was not that—something that can be confused with a heart attack by panic attack novices.

While I was (outwardly) calmly arguing my stance, listening to people (not calmly!) verbally attack me, there was a sane but desperate voice in a deep, quiet part of me—monitoring the heavy pressure in my chest and the erratic, excruciatingly painful beating of my heart—praying, begging, “Please don’t let me die here. I don’t want to die in the middle of so much anger.”

I refused to show any signs of “weakness” to the verbal assailants (I’ve mentioned the stubborn thing, right?), even as I was experiencing all the painful, classic, heart attack symptoms.

Afterwards, I resigned from the council. When you’ve decided to take charge of your life and make it happier, you know very easily and quickly that life is too short to be having heart attacks—real or otherwise—at church meetings.

I could also blame the fact that I found it necessary, at some point that year, to break up with God. Yes, you read that right. I broke up with God. I was pissed off that I didn’t have the life I thought I wanted, so I officially broke up with God. I became an atheist—sort of—for a while.

It turns out we were just taking a break, but I didn’t know that at the time.

At some point early in that year, I started having a hankering for Eat Pray Love. It baffled me. I mentioned this longing to someone, and she said—in a condescending tone, “You mean you haven’t read that yet, Grace?!”

“Bloody hell,” I thought, “here we go again!”

She was one of the original ravers—one of the women who had thoroughly pissed me off years before with her snobbish attitude about the book. I explained, inwardly defensive but trying not to go there verbally, that I had already read it, but was feeling drawn to it again for some inexplicable, baffling reason. Her attitude at this vulnerable admission revealed condescension again.

As usual, my timing was off. Had I expressed this hankering those few years ago when it was in vogue to read the damned thing, I might have been accepted into their inter sanctum. I was failing again at fitting in. I was never accepted into the in-crowd in school either, much to my teenage chagrin.

My copy of Eat Pray Love is dated May 18, 2012. It is written in, beat up, squashed, tea stained, smeared; it is well loved. Its dog ears have dog ears.

I spent the summer alone, out on the deck meditating and reading—for hours at a stretch. Each time I finished, I turned immediately to the front and started over. I lost count of the re-readings. I began to skip the first, sad, part and would go meet Liz in Italy instead.

I read—moved to tears, laughter, chicken skin, longing, happiness, sadness, shame, joy…

I would stop reading and meditate over passages that caused some sort of shift in me—and would open my eyes hours later to discover the sun had set on the front side of my house, and I was sitting in darkness, a smile on my face.

With its support, I successfully changed my attitude and my entire life. I graduated off my deck and became social again. I started dancing again. I took tango lessons. I learned to salsa. I began exploring the masculine/feminine aspects of myself and began coaxing myself toward the feminine end of that spectrum.

A man that has become—second only to my daughter—the love of my life, taught me how to blues dance. And I fell in love—with him and with blues dancing. He and I are still dancing together, dancing through the most amazing and fulfilling relationship I have ever known, as well as on the dance floor. We teach blues dance now.

I didn’t stop there. I am still rereading Eat Pray Love, letting it have its way with me, letting it heal me by what it brings up in me to be examined.

It is still my comfort and solace and go-to propellant.

It continues to usher me up and into my own heart when I am wondering what to do (go back to bed, Grace), when I’m frightened about what’s next, when I know I need to crack through my own restrictive seed pod and send out some roots, some new growth into happiness, into sacred moments when I, just like Liz, sink down into that still, calm hub of my heart, happy and content.

A version published at elephant journal. Photo courtesy of the author.

Grace is a Certified Hypnotherapist and relationship coach in Ft. Collins, CO, USA. She gracethanx2013.3sees clients and facilitates Divine Feminine Hypnotherapy workshops for women. She’s a flaming, Earth-loving, tree-hugging, save-the-Planet, believes-in-faeries, bike-riding, card-carrying, spiritual but not religious, hippie cowgirl liberal photographer poet therapist—yep, they do exist. You can find her creations here. You can also connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

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living in an ashram

For the past few years, I have been living in an ashram. ashram Or I have kept that mindset anyway.

Let me explain.

A few years ago I decided I didn’t really like my life, and I decided to do something about that. I decided to create a life I really liked and felt good about/in. So I began experimenting with what felt right/good. It took a while, too, b/c it took a while to figure out what worked and what didn’t. From that starting point, nothing really felt right/good.

You know how we get entrenched into the old stuff and even when new, and maybe even better, stuff comes along, we resist change. And how if we dare to try something – anything – new, it just doesn’t feel goodmeditation until we give it some time, until we grow into it, until we feel comfy in that new thing. Well, that was me a few years ago: Determined to change something to feel better, but just not sure what that was or how that would look… or what to do…

After a while, though, I settled into a routine that I began to describe as “living in an ashram.” It went like this: I got up at 5am every morning to the gentle sound of monks chanting themonks chanting Eternal Om as my wake up call. Three days a week I would work out cardio-wise – usually on my rowing machine. It made me feel good – while I was exercising and afterwards too. Twice a week I did yoga. I loved the soft, meditative Hatha flow of the yoga on my mat those mornings. In the warmer months, I did all this on my back deck, taking in the morning splendor. I rode my bike everywhere, loving the freedom, the air, how healthy and ‘green’ it made me feel. I ate healthy foods, and a lot of 100% dark chocolate. I still worked my ‘real’ job, still saw clients. I meditated every day. I looked at it like this: In an ashram, you get up early, you meditate and do devotional prayers/etc., you also have to dark chocdo work to keep the ashram running – wash clothes, clean the floors, prepare food, weed the garden, etc. You also, in an ashram, sometimes have to go out into the ‘real’ world and interact with those not on your same path. All the things I was doing in my life.

It worked marvelously. I was happy. My life felt wonderful – maybe it was just all that chocolate, but life was good. For several years.

And then right around May – June 2013… it wasn’t.

I began to feel, again, that something was wrong. Nearly every morning, upon waking, I felt sad. Many mornings I cried in frustration as I woke up. Or I was angry – so angry that I cried and cursed. I did more of what I had been doing to makeashram2 myself feel better: I meditated to try and come up with why this was; I exercised; I did yoga; I ate healthy foods. I asked the Universe to tell me what this was and how to fix it.

I happen to believe that those first few seconds upon waking are some of the most vulnerable, truthful, Real moments we get about ourselves, our lives. We haven’t had time to put on our social face or our spiritual face or whatever ‘face’ that is gonna keep me from hating life and crying. I tend to respect those few seconds and pay a lot of attention to them – they tell me volumes about me and my life – about my subconscious.wake up

About the same time as things shifted, I began to explore the dfDivine Feminine (DF) energy I knew I had always had access to. I have been doing energy/light work for years. I always taught it the way I lived it – which is: The Divine is the Divine. It doesn’t matter if it’s Masculine or Feminine; it is pure. redhotandholyBut I found I really wanted the Divine Feminine energy; I wanted to explore that, and so I kept searching, kept researching. I read several excellent books on the subject, among them Red Hot and Holy by Sera Beak and Powerful and Feminine by Rachel Jayne Groover.

Everything I encountered about the DF told me the same thing: Your way of connecting powerfulandfemwith the Divine may shift. You may not want to sit quietly and meditate any more – a very masculine way of reaching for the Divine, by the way. I thought I was listening for that call, the call of the Goddess. I thought I was ready to shift as needed. But apparently not, b/c I did not recognize it as that until just today.

Last week I began to think about experimenting again – duh! What took me so long to figure that out?! Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not happy about this experimenting. I didn’t just skip along and laugh merrily and decide to play with my life, happy to be changing everything about me and my life again. No, remember I said this had been going on for months. Months of frustration, anger, depression, anxiety – feeling powerless to figure out what it was and how to fix it, even though I was constantly trying to figure it out.

I think maybe I got to the point of just giving up. The “Oh, fuck it – whatever,” stage – said without any energy behind it.

So last week I didn’t exercise every day. I let the monks begin their chanting every morning at 5am, but I didn’t necessarily get up and do anything. A couple of mornings I reset the monks and went back to sleep – and smiled while doing it. One morning I just stayed in bed, listening to the monks, smiling, wallowing under the lizblankets, talking to the weenie dogs, just spending time languishing.

This morning at my sunny bathroom sink, after, once again, not rising and ‘sticking to the schedule.’ I had an “ah-ha” moment, when I realized I’m tired of living in an ashram. Even Liz Gilbert didn’t do that for more than a few months, for fuck’s sake! And I realized I would much rather live at a spa now.

I am currently changing my mindset to “living in a spa” – you know, spa3the fancy, I-deserve-to-be-here-languishing-in-being-pampered type of spa. The one where you realize you want things to be really easy and fun. Where someone brings you things and you eat some ‘forbidden’ foods and might even gain some weight (gawd forbid!). I realized that I don’t want to be called out anymore by, what now feels like, my innerdrillsargent Drill Sergeant at 5am every morning to hit the road/rowing machine/yoga mat/etc.

I want to rest. I want to be pampered. I want to have fun. Don’t misunderstand: I loved “living in a ashram” for a few years. I was happy and had tons of fun doing that. It felt exactly right.

And I still love riding my bike everywhere – 7 miles a day, or more, on most days. I still work out, and I still love to meditate – to sit in the most excellent silence. But I’m not regimented about it any more. And if I need/want to skip something, I don’t freak out that I’m not adhering to the ashram’s schedule, somehow.

Fun is starting to look different than an ashram now. And for the first time in months, I feel hopeful and the beginning blush of happiness again.