I’m not a big believer in fate. Truth be told, I’m not a huge spiritual person to begin with. I don’t really believe in a higher power--or perhaps I’m just ambivalent about one. I’m a typical twenty something year old around these days. Not highly spiritual, open minded but pretty damn skeptical.
Unlike a lot of people my age, however, I tend to romanticize the idea.
I enjoy the practice, the set up, the symbols and rituals. However, this is all from a safe distance. I’d love to look to a higher power, to get a little help in times of needs, to believe completely in a divine. I don’t mind saying the five hail Marys, the lighting of candles, the prayer in the middle of the day.
Colour me curious, just not sold on the idea.
I have had friends who were religious in some senses and I know a lot of them grew out of it. I’ve always been happy that I grew up in a household that was mostly about choice. Sure, the vegetables were non-negotiable but church? God? Have at ‘er.
I just chose not to.
I say this, not to get deep into a philosophical discussion about religion--far from it. I’m too naive and not even half way educated enough to make a valid point in this respect, but more to explain the situation coming up.
I say I don’t believe in fate. I don’t believe in a higher being.... however, sometimes things just line up a little too perfectly. Enough to keep me curious and open, despite the deep cynic that’s inside of me.
I’ve had this happen a couple of times to me. That annoying song on the radio suddenly sounds perfect and you’re addicted to a new band. Yeah, that same band your boyfriend at the time had been trying to get you into for the past three months. That food you never would have brought yourself to eat is delicious and you can’t wait for more. That restaurant you tried once and are dragged to again turns out to not to be that bad.
Ted in How I Met Your Mother had a similar epiphany. I, however, will not be attempting to date my ex’s or wear a shirt that I use to hate two days in a row. Bonus points if you remember what I’m talking about.
Thursday evening found me by myself, freshly glowing (see: sweaty as a pig) from a session at the gym and desperately alone. I had a date cancel on me and to say that I tend to take things too personally is probably the understatement of the year.
As I tell a lot of people, to me dating is like looking for a job. You dress up, you go to “interviews”, you describe yourself. Generally you’re “selling” yourself with the good points of your personality (you tend to stay away from the dirty socks on the floor or that you’re consistently late and steal office supplies) in the hopes of getting that coveted position: the significant other.
The other reason dating and job hunting are similar? They both suck.
Rejection isn’t easy for anyone. To someone “sensitive” (or a big baby, depending on how nice/mean you want to be), it’s notched up to an 11. Simple things like chemistry not working or just that your schedules don’t match up suddenly become pathways into the darker recesses of the mind. Ways of finding out why -you- personally don’t work out. You nit pick, you hyper analyze, you feel like you’ll never find anyone.
Or wait? Normal people don’t do this? Just me?
Perfect. Yet another thing to add to the growing list.
So you can imagine my frame of mind on Thursday. The gym just couldn’t cut it. Distraction helps in the heat of the moment but the idea of going home, to an relatively empty room was just too depressing for words. Friends were busy, M and G were too involved in couple-y things to deal with the single third wheel, X was not answering texts and R has family issues to deal with. Any and all other comrades to call to arms had already been pushed away by the ever eager self destructive side.
Stalling for time I dropped into Chapters. Buying things always manages to cheer me up and while I have a stack of ‘to read’ books that seems to be getting bigger instead of smaller, I still cannot resist. Plus I hadn’t been browsing in what felt like forever. I deserved a treat.
If you hadn’t guessed by now, I’m also a firm believer in treating oneself to something special when you’re having a crappy day.
Unfortunately, given the state of mind, it did have me reach towards a self help book or two. Don’t worry, I did snap out of it after reading the back of ‘he’s just not that into you’ or something equally inane. I honestly don’t get how people read these things with any actual hope of getting anything out of them beyond a good laugh. However, desperation does funny things--so maybe it’s just a matter of time.
Now, in this search I came across (pretty inevitable if you think about it) Eat, Pray, Love. I had heard about the book about a year ago when a friend of mine was talking about picking it up. I didn’t give it much thought as her and I have very different outlooks on books (mine being fantasy and her being strict chick-lit and other works of fiction). However, upon seeing the trailer for the movie, R suggested we go see it. Yeah, give two girls who are going through heartbreak a movie about moving through that and you’ve pretty much just sold two tickets. Upon reading more about the book, I got interested and on a whim picked it up.
So, this whole post has pretty much been leading up to this moment but basically things just clicked. I stood in the middle of the entrance to Chapters, ipod in one hand (actually, tucked into my bra as I had no pockets) and for the first time in a long time, things fell into place. A song came onto my ipod as I was reading it and finally, finally, I found acceptance.
The last three months or so have been difficult. I won’t lie about it now. I put on a happy face but more often than not things are not completely alright. A happy smile, a goofy joke, a quick change of topics. It can be easy to hide things---especially to those who aren’t looking for it. I can put on a brave face (in theory) to those I need to. I can make my voice strong, I can discuss the logical points, I can concisely sum up my feelings. I push a lot of thoughts away, I tuck away the bad parts and I stuff it to the back of my mind.
Life is a series of checks and balances. In order to maintain that, to be reasonably functional, I simply deal with it on my own time. I hide it until it bubbles to the surface and total meltdown commences. There’s been more than just one these last few months.
Unfortunately there’s very few people I can share that with. I honestly feel like no one really noticed that I went through a break up. I don’t say this to rag on the friends who do make the time and effort to read this, but just because I can be in the same room with the ex does not make things okay. It doesn’t heal the wounds. It doesn’t change the fact that I lost something.
I lost a piece of me.
And with that, with everything, I am left to figuring out who I am. Unfortunately I’m so use to being identified by the titles that I am, the relationships I have with people that I often get lost and, well I guess my twenties are for figuring that out.
But to get back on track, I was standing in Chapters reading this book about a woman who is VERY much like myself.
I will go on record saying I’m not the Oprah type. I don’t watch her shows, I don’t buy into her book club or magazine or anything like that. I’m not a talk show type of person and I certainly wouldn’t be an Oprahite should that happen to me. So, it was surprising to find such a down to earth, real memoir in one of her recommendations. Before picking it up and actually reading some of it I was ready to write it off as one of -those- books. Those overly emotional to the point of melodramatic (thereby cheapening the story) books that I generally associate the brand with.
I guess even Oprah can get it right.
This woman, she is someone I can relate to on so many levels. She is what I’ve wanted to be. She embodies the life that I had wanted. Strong, indepedant career woman who doesn’t want babies. Who gives her entire being to a relationship. The woman who can capture such emotions and thoughts in an honest, unique and captivating way. I was immediately engrossed. From the first few pages when she discusses how, as a woman, she’s been expected to shoot out a baby the first chance she gets. The utterly raw way she captures the unraveling of her marriage. She doesn’t want to give up her life for children and yet is torn by society and traditional values that says that this is what she should want.
Despite the decade difference in age between us, I felt so much like her that I was immediately hooked. She was someone to look to, someone who felt like I did, who validated every selfish desire, who validated the pain and the hurt that happens after a relationship crumbles. Yes, she went through a lot more but yet I felt like I could finally feel like someone else could relate. I wasn’t a leper outcast in society. Here was someone who could tell me how I was feeling, who through her own ways of solving problems and finding her way could help me move through my own life. I’m currently less than a hundred pages in and yet I feel more with this book than most that I’ve read in the past few years.
On top of this, my ipod managed to flip onto just the right song. Florence and the Machine has become a new love of mine. One of her singles (Rabbit Heart) was a single that Starbucks had offered and being that it was free, I downloaded it. It wasn’t really until the last month or so that I actually found myself attracted to it. Downloading the album wasn’t hard but I never really got past the initial "this doesn't suck" stage. It was good, I just didn’t feel obsessed with it.
Yeah, that’s completely changed. I’ve pretty much been listening to this album for the past two days straight. That’s not to say that this translates perfectly with my life. It doesn’t always describe what I’m feeling, it doesn’t put my emotions into words. However, it makes me feel. It hits me in the gut with this feeling of... I can’t really explain it. It’s almost like a security blanket. It makes me feel, but not in a bad way. I feel like I can work out anything in this music. I can lose myself, I can cheer myself up, I can be melancholy, I can be bitter... I can be anything with this music. It fits everything in my spectrum. Truly unbelievable.
Add onto this feeling, this feeling of belonging to finding that perfect song and it just falls into place. No, this isn’t the feeling of being whole. I’m not completed. I’m not healed. I’m just learning that maybe it’s okay that I’m not complete, that I still have to work through things.
Maybe there is a higher power and this is just their way of nudging me in the right direction. Maybe it was just chance. Who knows? However, I'll still send out a little thank you to the universe---just in case.
In true form, Elizabeth Gilbert can describe what I’m going through much better than I can. So I give you two chunks from Eat, Pray, Love that really struck a cord with myself.
“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.”
“In response, somewhere from within me, rises a now familiar presence, offering me all the certainties I have always wished another person would say to me when I was troubled. This is what I find myself writing to myself on the page:
I’m here. I love you. I don’t care if you need to stay up crying all night long, I will stay with you. If you need the medication again, go ahead and take it--I will love you through that, as well. If you don’t need the medication, I will love you, too. There’s nothing you can ever do to lose my love. I will protect you until you die, and after your death I will still protect you. I am stronger than Depression and I’m braver than Loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me.”