This weekend I started writing a post about my recent relationship history. I outlined the nitty-gritty ten month trajectory of how I went from being with a partner to being single. I wasn't sure exactly why I was writing it all out and so I'm not surprised now that I accidentally deleted it while cleaning up my unsaved drafts. (Note, I was doing this in preparation for this blog to be transferred to my new beautiful WordPress website in this next month. Stay tuned for redirection to that site and lots of other fun changes).
For the sake of this entry, let's just start that right now - I do not have a partner for the first time in almost four years. At first this realization was a relief and then it was sadness and then it was exciting and then it was panicky and now it's mellowed to something like contentedness with a twist of possibility and the occasional venture into doubt. Overall, I feel great about my life -- better than ever. I've lived enough to know a few things about the healing process and I'm happy to report that I'm trusting life. Sometimes, when I am taking Poncho for our evening walk, I like to look up at the sky and laugh at how how utterly impossible it is to really be alone in our ecosystem of complete connection.
But sometimes it's more complicated especially when the unstructured days of the weekend roll around, this other nagging feeling sets in. My mind begins getting all worked out about any empty spaces in my schedule. Some like to call this "fomo", fear of missing out. With my fomo, the usual response is to start planning activities. Living in a city like Washington, DC the possibilities are really endless. There are so many great activities, often free, and beautiful public parks and incredible yoga classes and fun social things to do like eat delicious brunch or go see great music or just sit on someone's porch and take in the day.
My external thought on this: I'm only living this life once and I have to take advantage of as much as I can.
This is a nice and often-true thought but there's more to it than that.
There is also a behind-the-scenes whisper more like: If I pack it all in, then I won't have to deal with this lonely feeling residing at the back of my heart.
I wish I could say this was a totally new single-lady pattern but truthfully, there's always been a background lonely feeling. It's been there since I can remember, has disappeared when I'm falling in love and then reappeared once I've settled into a relationship. I've worked to cover it up with a variety of substances (some kind of peanut butter ice cream treat has always been a favorite method), but I've also worked hard to push it back by saying yes to as many things as I could. More times that I care to remember, I've crammed in way too much--sometimes even consciously double-booking myself. This has made me disappoint people by having to cancel last minute or show up late, given me anxious stomach aches, and many times made me not actually enjoy the activity I'm doing because I get worried about what has to happen for me to get to the next place.
But lately a funny thing has happened now. I've spent these past 10 months really cleaning up my daily routines, diet, home space and relationships. Obviously, it's really changed me. as a result, it's much easier for me to see my purpose for being on this earth as someone who uplifts. As I feel into this purpose, I see myself as truly valuable. This feels not so egoic because as I see my value, I see others more clearly too. We are all valuable, full of possibility as human beings, non-negotiable, period--can we agree on that?
So now, when the weekend comes and with it the fear and loneliness that I will miss something vital and defining, I'm reacting differently. Jjust like always, my loneliness start to whisper scream at me that I need to plan more, do more, spend more, eat more, or else!!! Why did I miss that amazing show!?! How have I not tried out that new restaurant yet?!?
I SHOULD BE ON AN LIFE-CHANGING HIKE THROUGH THE WILDERNESS RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE!
But now I'm braver. So when all that starts, I stare down the loneliness and ask--or else what? You know, it never have any kind of answer that makes sense. Actually after all that screaming, it usually tires itself out pretty quickly and leaves. Once it's quiet inside my head, I do whatever it is I need to or want and I enjoy it more, from a very different place in myself.
Crazy huh? Honestly, I would rather not share it out loud because it feels so revealing, but I sense I'm not alone on this one. Our culture teaches us that we can buy and eat and look a certain way so we can avoid having to feel these tricky feelings. Yet despite so much ridiculous consumption, we are an under-nourished people. We are under-nourished because we have become habitually, unconsciously disconnected from what really sustains us--which are knowledge and practices that prove our own worth. When we don't know our value, we lack the strength to stare down our own fear before it causes us to make decisions which harm ourselves, others or our ecosystem.
What I love about Ayurveda is that it doesn't claim to know what is best for each of us. I've been lecturing on it a bit lately (let me know if you want me to give a talk somewhere!), and people are surprised when I don't give them a list of should and shouldn't. Instead, I ask them to start paying attention to how they feel and notice when something doesn't make them feel good. From experience, I know that we may have to feel the negative side effects quite a few times before we make a decision to change, but I trust that will come for all of us if we stay with it. I really do. The secret is consciousness, the methodology is knowing that we each deserve to feel good in our lives and the practice is sticking with it, no matter how loud the fomo may be that day.