I have become comfortable talking about my experience with divorce and separation and how I managed to move forward with my knees knocking together. I am even quite comfortable sharing about my silly home repairs and disposing of dead rodents (what I used to consider a man's job). I am proud of myself for so many little things; I boast about my recent victories, much like my kids used to race up the driveway with their test papers whenever they got a good grade. As I have said in previous blogs, in my first-year post-divorce, I was committed to breathing and making new friendships (mostly with people at the gym). That was the best gift I gave myself. By the end of that year, I was finally authentically me and feeling very comfortable in my new life. My shoes were comfortable, and I could run in them for miles.
I got some new incredibly uncomfortable shoes a few months ago, and I can't return them. They pinch my feet, but they are adorable; I love the style and the color. They got great reviews and have a lifetime warranty. I know that if I keep wearing them, they will stretch out and stop giving me blisters. I have always wanted a pair of shoes like this. I wasn't ready to purchase them, but there was a sale that I couldn't pass up, and I bought them. I love them, but they are so uncomfortable to break in. I have no choice but to wear them until they are all broken in. After all, there is this path I want to travel, and the only way to walk that path is in these shoes.
Okay, here goes nothing. (Take a deep breath, Jess, speak your truth)
*Below is an excerpt from my book.
"Last night, after washing the final dish and folding the last piece of laundry, I poured myself a generous glass of Sauvignon Blanc and ascended the stairs to my loft space, my little boho haven. Desperately needing to turn off my brain and unplug, I leaned on my long-time favorite movie, Eat Pray Love; it speaks to my soul. I identify strongly with the main character, Liz, a bold, beautiful, emotional tumbleweed who is venturing to explore herself and challenge her old ways of thinking. I was still married the first time I saw the movie; I was jealous. Fuck Liz, how irresponsible of her just to break her husband's heart and walk in the direction of her own. My feet were glued to the floor of the house I still live in, in a marriage that suffocated me. I wanted to leave it, all of it; I wanted to do what Liz was doing, to find me.
I sat there wrapped in my favorite ivory blanket, clutching the perfect throw pillow on my blue velvet freedom futon as I sipped my wine and watched Liz struggle with falling in love with her boyfriend, Phillipe. She feared disappearing as she had in her marriage before. On the other hand, Phillipe was leaning in hard; he had been divorced ten years, and she was newly separated, but in both cases, hearts were broken. I observed and identified as she started to pull back in terror. I suddenly stopped breathing. I was watching with new eyes and new experiences, and there I was, sitting on my futon exactly where Liz was as she stood on a beach crying and screaming and wanting to tear herself away from him and run full speed in the opposite direction. I felt like my limbs were being ripped off of my body on that day. My fear of attachment, losing myself, and loving overwhelmed me. I was hurting and struggling, living in my head, trying to calm myself down, yet unable to. Even when I leaned on Stephanie, I couldn't catch my breath; it was getting worse. As I sat there watching, I began sobbing. Her fear was my fear. If I admitted that I was falling in love, would I disappear? Could I put my feet down? Could I let my walls down? Could I trust that I am safe in his arms? in his heart? I had no idea. I couldn't take the pain of watching anymore, so I turned off the movie and went to bed and cried, as I prepared myself for the breakup that I was sure was happening. I told myself it would hurt for a few weeks, and then I would be okay; I let the tears fall until I grabbed a ring he bought me and threw it across the floor, feeling so stupid for getting swept up. Had I fabricated this whole relationship in my head? I wouldn't be the first. We aren't supposed to believe in love in 2023. We should keep our guard up, stay independent, and have no expectations of anyone.”
(That breakup never happened.)
The issue is this: I believe in love. I have secretly always wanted to fall in love, the kind like Liz and Phillipe had. I didn’t want to be hyper-independent. I wanted to walk the rose-colored path. I have always wanted to know what it would feel like to look into another person’s eyes and feel that feeling that I am still trying to find the right words for. My past taught me to be independent and self-sufficient and do it myself. I have been blessed with the best friends life offers, and trust them all. And yet, I want romantic love too. How good can life get? I don’t know, but I want to find out.
We are all afraid of love and getting stung. I fearlessly love all of my friends. I unconditionally love my children. I share about myself freely with anyone who reads my posts or blogs and listens to my podcasts. Yet, I struggle to share my thoughts with the man I apparently love (keep breathing, Jess). I don't share much of this with him, yet I am writing to you. I share my experiences when I write, hoping they will help someone; no risk there. Hmmmmmm...
I am an authority on fitness and nutrition, and I know a lot about meditation, but love? I don't know shit about it. Except for my own experience as I fall in kicking and screaming. At first, I wasn't sure why the falling was hurting. I now suspect I am walking around with all of my baggage and ghosts hanging onto my ankles, trying to tear me out of these fancy new shoes I got. I want to evolve, discover, and explore my life. The life I plummeted into as a kid was wretched. I didn't know a thing about love. We weren't a mushy or huggy family; we were more like a pack of rabid dogs. I knew hustle, responsibility, anger, and depression. (I can’t believe I am writing this; keep breathing, Jess).
In an effort to get through this without dumping all of my shit on the boyfriend, I have immersed myself in the studies of a yogi named Sadguru, which translates to uneducated guru. He says we run movies in our heads and can choose what type of movie is playing. He asks why so many of us decide to play horror movies when we could be playing comedies or love stories. I mostly play horror stories, or I did until recently. I am working diligently on evolving, getting healthier, letting go, and becoming love. Romantic love is a risk for all of us. My friends and family are easy for me. I love hard and fast, but there are no risks there. I dance in all of these relationships with my favorite shoes. So here is the mantra I am walking with these days: " I want all authentic life experiences, and I am strong enough to withstand any pain. I have survived 100% of the challenges I have faced". I can handle a little heartbreak if it happens, I am choosing to enjoy the love part. But clearly, falling in love has messed me up. Therefore, In true Jess fashion, refusing to get my ass kicked, I reflect daily. I have been digging in the dirt for months. I am like Carrie in Sex in the City as she writes blog after blog, beginning with the words "I couldn't help but wonder,” trying to figure out love and relationships and all of the silly shit we do. I have discovered that romantic love is a risky, twisty process. My head spins with what-ifs, and while I am pretty sure that's normal for all relationships, maybe more so for anyone who has been divorced, we have been scathed and likely developed some deep scars. I try to remember that the woman I am today is very different from the young girl I was when I entered my marriage.
Love is THE common thread. We all want to love and be loved. The risk is so significant that we may be distracting ourselves from the prospect of it and denying that we want it at all (guilty). I have been in my relationship for around seven months. In that time, I have grown exponentially. I am facing fears every step of the way. At the start, I would proclaim to my friends every other day that I was ending it for whatever my reason du jour was, and they kept kicking me back into play like a soccer ball. My friend Sahr explained to me at least weekly that I was on the path to being a single 90-year-old woman, while his wife Jackie took a much more gentle approach as she helped me introduce reality to every fear that was owning me at the moment. We risk a whole lot on this journey. Love makes us vulnerable as it holds the door open for joy. It’s a gamble. (I don't gamble)
The boyfriend says I am like a scared lioness peaking around corners, I sometimes come out and check shit out, and then I run back and hide in a corner and watch my surroundings. He’s not wrong. I am staying out a bit longer these days and don’t listen to my fears as much or as frequently. (that said, I was sure the relationship was over again this week. I am a work in progress, my friends)
So, am I writing about love? Fear? Risk? Health? Self-discovery? Growth? I am writing about all of it. This is the path to health I am walking in my very uncomfortable cute shoes.
Walking forward with my knees knocking together
Peace and Love,
* I thank you for taking the time to read. I look forward to sharing a bit more of my writing outside of the scope of fitness and nutrition.