My dear Soul..itude!
I take a lot of pride in my ability to enjoy my own company for long stretches of time. Solitude was an acquaintance of mine in my teenage years and journaling was my attempt to dive deep into my inner word but as soon as I started to date, "me" became "us" and my trips inwards started to become less frequent until they stopped all together.
The past few years have been key in the reconstruction of the communication with my inner world and I have often realized how protective I have become of it. People who know me describe me as a pretty extrovert person and in the past I would have agreed with that description of me but today I feel "introvert" is a more accurate word. Spending time alone is not just an option but a necessity and if situations don't allow me to create that space I will happily cut off all social commitments to recreate the balance and catch up with myself.
I spent so many years running away from myself only to find out that I am the person I love to hangout the most with.
Couple of days ago I decided to watch a very famous movie called Eat, Pray, Love.
I wasn't new to it, in fact I read the homonymous book many years ago and watched the movie the same year that it was released.
At that time I was still in college and while I found Liz's story intriguing, super funny (especially in the book) and moving, I didn't really understand the significance of her journey neither I appreciated the hardship involved in every step that she took. Watching the movie again made me realize how much I had skipped over and how much our lives had converged towards a similar condition over the span of 10 years.
The story begins with a glimpse at her married life and her feeling of being stuck in a relationship that seems to have reached a dead end. As her life moves forward her inner voice becomes louder and her discomfort bigger until one night she breaks down on the bathroom floor and reaches out to God for guidance. That cry for help is the first step out of denial and numbness and that's when her journey towards her rebirth starts.
Shortly after getting divorced she gets involved in a romance with a younger guy who introduces her to meditation. When one of her close friends makes a remark on her behavior pointing out how similar to her new boyfriend she had become, she realizes she had been the discolored copy of her partners for too many years. She had no identity, no individuality, no personality, no backbone or sense of self and mostly, no purpose in her life.
That's when Phase 2 starts and she decides to leave everything behind to travel to Italy first and then to India, to the Ashram of a famous local guru. There she learns to meditate, sit still, reacquaint with her inner voice, allow herself to feel her loneliness and develop appreciation for solitude, something I had to do for myself as well. (Excerpt from the book “When I get lonely these days, I think: So BE lonely, Liz. Learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. Welcome to the human experience. But never again use another person's body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilled yearnings.”).
It's not until she learns to sit with her feelings and to fill her voids through emotional healing that she moves on to Phase 3 of her life: A new love.
This was the part that made me reflect the most. After moving to Bali she meets someone who slowly finds his way to her heart and when her sabbatical finally gets to an end she finds herself in front of a bifurcation: on one side there is the choice to protect the "balance" that she has created with much effort and struggle in the last year of her life and on the other side there is the decision to face her fears, embrace vulnerability and open herself fully and unconditionally to this new love.
The first time I watched the movie I didn't understand the difficulty of making this choice for my heart was not broken. I believed in love and happy endings and, in a way, I took for granted the fact that she opened her heart to her soulmate and lived happily ever after with him on a peaceful Indonesian island.
The second time around though I connected with her fears and her pain. I knew exactly what it meant to have reached a balance and I also knew what was the price she had to pay to reach it. Looking at her pain was very cathartic and helped me understand mine. As I watched her choose love over balance I found myself whispering in my head "F*** that!" and in that instant it dawned on me that the solitude that I love and cherish so much is not only my healing space and my happy place. It's also my hiding place. It's my blessing and my curse.
Solitude has become a way for me to avoid the good and the bad, the desire and the grief, and once again I realized I am running away from myself and my feelings, this time in a more creative and sneaky way. Denial and self deception are our worst enemies, they cradle us in the arms of our fears, swinging us from an illusion to another and enchanting us with the sound of our lies until we fall into a slumber of unawareness and apathy.
I thought I had healed, if not all, at least most of the wounds created in the previous relationships but my reaction to that scene of the movie showed me how hard my heart has become and how unwilling I am to let someone in. I prefer to suppress my desire for my soulmate and find shelter in my solitude rather than open my heart again and feel the grief of a potential rejection or failure.
Fears once again..how much power we give to them without even realizing it. We think we are facing them and next thing we know we are living in them every day. I faced one fear only to fall into another.
All the work I did in the last few months now seems so insignificant. What I thought was a "longing" for my soulmate turned out to be a self delusional emotion. I lied to myself and created this convenient story that it's not my fault if my soulmate and I are not together. I told myself I am ready to welcome him in my life but the reality is that I do ONLY under one specific condition: that our love remains platonic. As soon as I picture myself being in a true relationship that voice comes back and shouts with all its strength "F*** that!". I don't want to lose myself again, I don't want to put a break on my personal development to adapt to the pace of my partner. I don't want to "compromise" or "sacrifice". I don't want to bear the weight of the demands and expectations that I fear will come once dating again. I don't want to be responsible for someone else's house chores in exchange for financial security and free plumbing. I want to take care of my damn finances and pipes. I don't want to satisfy someone else's selfish desires or addictions and put my own desires in the drawer. I want to keep expanding, growing and changing and my current belief is that my soulmate would be an obstacle to that. Of course, being the powerful creator that I am (and that we all are) I create what I truly desire, which is peaceful solitude and powerful self growth.
I so wanted to believe I was ready to love again but I am not and that is the harsh truth. The slumber is over and what I am left with is a painful hangover.
What a tough pill to swallow and Alas! Definitely a red one this time!
I'm not too bummed about this realization though, for I know truth is always beneficial and I've learned to welcome it in all its forms and nuances. Sometimes it feels like a slap in the face, other times like a breeze of fresh air. Sometimes it sounds like the innocent voice of the child who shouts to the crowd that the emperor is naked, me being the arrogant ruler who prefers to cling to the preposterous lie rather than accept the obvious truth. It embarrasses me, strips me naked and forces me to look at my real self. Truth is not always a pleasure to receive and is not always easy to accept but it's like a bright light pointed at us in a dark room: we can choose to stay humble, deal with our initial discomfort and use it as a guide to pave our way out of darkness or we can choose to get angry, turn away from it and turn it off.
Gloria Steinem once said "Truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off."
I hope you will always be brave enough to embrace truth regardless of its forms and nuances and allow it to change your life in ways that you never imagined possible.
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