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The past few weeks have been awful.
The end of an 18-year on again/off again relationship, the realities of raising three children and comforting them through the separation, financial struggles, and my biggest fears coming true right before my eyes, plus the normal everyday work and personal stress.
I worried that I was going to lose my mind. I feared I would go back to toxic coping mechanisms like smoking, eating, and drinking. I figured it would take a boat load of Xanax to get to sleep every night and then even more to get me through the day.
This time though, it is different. I am not rushing to stuff that void. I am letting myself—maybe for the first time in my life—sit through this discomfort.
I am letting the pain, shame, hatred, anger, and guilt exist.
The biggest surprise is that it hasn’t killed me. For so long I feared that these feelings, if left unchecked, would consume my life, and I would simply drown in my feelings of worthlessness and loneliness.
The truth is some days are excruciating.
Some days I force myself out of bed simply because I have three small children. Some days I want to run to the liquor store and drink every craft beer they have, then finish it off with some rum. Some days I want to devour everything in sight to make me not feel so empty. But I don’t.
I won’t say I haven’t had a beer (I have) or eaten too much pizza (it’s my weakness), but this isn’t defining me. I am not surviving by stuffing these giant holes with things or booze.
What I am doing is getting onto my mat every day, even when it’s 10 p.m. and I’ve had two beers. I write in my journal, even if it is f*ck you over and over again. I meditate for at least 10 minutes, clinging to mantras the way I once clung to cigarettes, and I’m reading sacred texts (plus Eat, Pray, Love, which, lets face it, is a sacred text for me).
This time, instead of turning to the outside world to derive pleasure, I have turned inside. I’ve turned into the void that once scared me so badly.
And in that void, I found the peace I’ve been looking for.
I still have moments of fear and doubt. I have times when I call my girlfriends and sob. I have moments where I question myself and everything I am doing.
But then that small voice from the void pipes up and reminds me that everything I need is inside. That doing the work and showing up for myself, allows me to show up for others. It’s not perfect, but it’s so much better than it used to be.
Last night I read this quote from the book Meditations From the Mat, “It is the aim of all spiritual seeking to bring us home, home to the understanding that we have everything we need.”
This time I found the void that I had been stuffing for years was actually home, and it’s where everything I have been searching for has been waiting for me.