For the last few days, I’ve been in Bellingham, Washington visiting my future in-laws. Chris is back in Santa Barbara, fishing for lobster full force and I decided to come solo.
My future sis had a baby six weeks ago, and to show my love and support, I made the effort to spend some quality time.
So, I flew back to the place Chris and I once lived on a sailboat through the coldest winter the town had seen in ten years and the hardest eight months of my life. This time, I was actually looking forward to it.
Back then, a legit existential crisis came into play through failed plans to sail to Mexico that year, too much coffee, and a shit-ton of weed.
Plus, The seasonal affective disorder was like a giant tea-bag on my forehead (read: balls on my face), which reflected in my biweekly columns in the Santa Barbara Sentinel.
It took me a while to realize how depressed I was, and being totally “in it” with no direction, I wrote a few columns in real-time.
I normally don’t do this. Usually, I’ll give myself ample time to process what’s going on in my life before it goes to print.
But revealing raw feelings as they were happening were like smoke signals to readers, a call for help. Though I’m not sure what I hoped the outcome would be.
What I got were a few emails telling me I was in a “temporary relationship,” and that my feelings were warning signs to tell me to get out while I still could.
Obviously, that didn’t help.
The hole got bigger and I fell deeper.
Five months later, I left for California to produce a photo shoot. Then, I moved back East for the summer while Chris fished in Alaska, leaving those sad days in the dreary Pacific Northwest long behind me.
Now, back in Bellingham, the grey skies don’t bother me anymore. My outlook on life is clearer and more solid because I’m not the same person I was back then. I actually enjoy being here. I’m on a different playing field. Thank God.
The following story was written during that sad time, almost three years ago to the day. I wonder, has this feeling ever happened to you before? How did you get out of it?
First published in the Santa Barbara Sentinel in November 2016
(*Chris is known as “Jason” in the I Heart columns)
I had a breakdown.
Crying on the phone to my mom, I gasped for breath as tears streamed down my cheeks.
I wept for my relationship. Not because something was wrong but because everything was right.
It felt too good to be true and a twisted place in my mind told me I didn’t deserve it.
I am in a mature, committed, and loving relationship, and it was difficult for me to accept I was worthy of this kind of love.
I hate to admit it, but in a sense, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Self-sabotaging my own happiness.
What a terrible way to live.
Glass Half Empty
It was five years since I had a serious boyfriend before Jason and I got together.
The last long-term relationship revealed that I needed to be on my own for a while before committing to another.
Now, I’m with someone I’m inspired by, admire, respect, and love deeply and it scared the hell out of me.
I didn’t recognize myself, this woman full of hesitation and confusion.
Maybe it was the weed. My clouded and paranoid brain dissecting every conversation, fueling this fire of doubt.
But the feelings came from a deeper place.
Fear of heartbreak was the culprit.
As if the more you love another, the more susceptible you are to being hurt again.
If this relationship may end, why do it?
But what’s the alternative?
To never experience love?
I feel vulnerable knowing Jason will read this and think of me in a different light.
But he assures that he doesn’t see it this way.
He encourages to be open and honest in my writing, a gift to be with someone who supports me to be myself.
The bad stuff, once again, is all in my head.
Glass Half Full
In Michael Singer’s book, The Untethered Soul, he says the heart controls energy flow, opening and closing like a valve.
We either allow energy to pass through or we restrict it, both are reactions to past experiences.
“Of course it hurts when it comes up. It was stored with pain; it’s going to release with pain,” he says.
Reading those words made it easier to understand.
New love stirred up past heartbreak and the old feelings came to the surface.
As the book suggests, the trick is to identify the emotion as it happens, feel it, allow it to melt away and move forward to the next moment.
Where I fall short is I feel it, try to make sense of it by hashing it out with the voice in my head, then become hard on myself for the thoughts and emotions that arise into the old familiar sting.
When the mind comes in to play, it gets dangerous and I’m practicing over and over again to stop listening to that voice.
There it is again.
I’ve got to be on it. It takes practice to “flow” and I’ve begun to think of it as a game.
Each time it happens, I’m trying to see it as a breakthrough.
When the heart tightens, I try to relax and move forward so I don’t travel down that road again. Been there, done that.
Through the tears and despair on the phone to my mom, deep down I knew I was breaking through.
I was being pushed to the edge and forced to release what’s been locked inside and needed to “lose it” in order to let go.
I’ve found a person in my life worth fighting for.
A person whose contentment is my life’s mission, no matter how difficult it may be.
In order to be the most open person I can be to someone I love, I’ve realized the person I need to fight for is me.
The prelude to this piece (and why I got depressed in the first place) here: