THE BEACH-my turning point
Flames grew with each breath. Sparks were rising out through every opening and the fuel was coming from somewhere deep inside my soul. The fire that started when I picked up a pen and paper to draw was now raging…and I was ready to explore it.
I had been sleeping in a separate room from my second husband for a few months when I felt like I was going to burst. That stirring inside me kept calling and I needed to find out what it wanted me to know. I decided to pack up and spend the weekend by myself in a beach town a couple of hours up the highway. The music was blaring, the coffee was sweet and I was ready, although I had no idea what I was ready for. My backpack was loaded with everything I needed: books, art supplies, wine and a bathing suit. What more could a girl need on a soul searching weekend. I was on the verge of discovery, and I was happy.
I remember the first thing I did after I dropped my bag on the desk in the motel room. I went and purchased a whole barbecue chicken pizza at a beach side shop, for myself, and ate half of it. I was more than just hungry for food though, so I put on my sandals, grabbed a beach towel and headed to the water. The waves were HUGE! It was after dinner by this point and the beach was mostly deserted. After laying out my towel, bare feet against the cool sand, I headed for a much needed walk along the shore. The moon was almost full, the waves were crashing, and it was perfect. I walked for about 30 minutes when I decided to just sit myself down in the sand and be still. Being still had always been an issue for me. I was always busy, and if I wasn’t, my thoughts would take over and I would be busy mentally.
Under the full moon, my toes were being kissed by the last remnants of crashing waves and I could feel the magnetic force within me. Meditating had never been a strong point of mine but the serenity of it all had me hypnotized and absolutely peaceful. GROW. That’s what I heard. No I am not crazy. It wasn’t a distinct voice and I didn’t have to turn around to see where it came from. I just knew. I heard it from within me. I knew at that moment I was on the right path. Over the course of just a few years, I had met people that inspired me to explore things I never would have done on my own, I had rediscovered art and the joy it brought me, I learned through the dozens of books that I read that happiness was within my reach. I had discovered Buddhism (again I AM not a Buddhist) and how the teachings fit with who I was and the beliefs I had. I had STARTED to grow but what was stunting it?
I had come to the realization over the few months leading up to this get-away, that my husband did not like anything about me. He was not supportive of my art, did not share (nor was he happy about) any beliefs I had, was absolutely opposed to me exploring Buddhism, didn’t like how I dressed, and didn’t like my friends. I have a very large personality and I love to talk. Well I come to fine out I was an embarrassment to him! I stopped sharing the excitement I was feeling with all these new discoveries because I was so tired of seeing the look of disgust on his face. I refrained from going places with him because I couldn’t be authentically me without upsetting him. My friends never came over so he wouldn’t be made to have to stay in the garage because he didn’t want to be around us. You get it…I just stopped everything. There was nothing left to share. Either I continued to grow and things stayed the way they were, or I stopped. Ok…back to the beach…
GROW. I heard the message but wasn’t sure how this would develop. Classic Jacquie move would be to spent the rest of the weekend trying for the life of me to figure out how to make this work, but for the first time since reading about ‘being present’, I made a conscious decision to not worry about HOW I was going to make this happen. I was just going to be here, NOW. I meandered under the moonlight back to my now cold, damp beach towel and headed to my room. After cleaning up and pouring a lovely glass of wine, I turned on my iPod, picked up my pen and some drawing paper and sat down to create. Paul McCartney’s ‘Blackbird’ came on. I’ve always loved that song but tonight it resonated with me. I was the Blackbird. It was time for me to take my broken wings and fly, my sunken eyes and learn to see. I drew a blackbird (side note: 3 weeks later I had that drawing tattooed on the inside of my right wrist to remind me every time I see it that I AM capable of anything).
After spending the next morning exploring the town, I grabbed my stuff and headed out onto the now busy beach. I found a quiet spot, set myself up, went for a short swim in the frigid waters, and then laid out to soak up some vitamin D. I had recently found a book titled ‘642 Things to Write About’ and decided that whatever page it opened to would be my challenge for the next hour. The winner: Describe A Tree from the Point Of View of a Leaf. Challenge accepted. Except it wasn’t a challenge at all. It just poured out of me! This is what I wrote:
I dangle precariously on the edge. Not of extinction, but disconnectedness. I AM at the farthest point. She stands tall, firm, proud. Tho never moving forward, she reaches out indiscriminately. Receiving energy, giving life. My role is my own. I let go.
I actually wept on the beach. They were mixed tears. Angry tears because I had put off growing and spent my entire life not being me. I was half way through the functional years of my life and was exactly where I started, feeling not worthy and unfulfilled. Sad ones because I now had to make a choice, and it seemed that either decision I made, the man who was my husband would be hurt. Mostly though, they were tears of joy and absolute peace. I had, at that moment, decided that I was ready to be completely Jacquie. I was ready to explore who I was and grow as a human and I was not going to allow anyone to stand in my way. I was ready to embrace everything that was me. I was the tree, tall and proud, always giving. That’s who I am. I was also ready to be the leaf. I was a part of the tree, but separate at the same time. I was ready to let go of everything that was holding me back and see where the wind would take me to plant new roots.
After another peaceful evening enjoying the magnitude of the waves and the moon, a very restful sleep, and a morning of delicious coffee and fun in the water, I packed up and headed home. I thought I would dread going back, but it was quite the opposite. I was looking forward to BEGINNING AGAIN…for the 6th time.
The next 2 months had me continue growing and trying to somehow share my life with my husband without causing any stress. I can’t say it was going well, but this time I was not retreating back to my old ways. He either loved me for who I was, or he didn’t. That’s when something happened that made me realize this kind of life was not conducive to me being authentic Jacquie. My husband and I had to switch cars for the day. The next morning when I got into my car, I immediately noticed that the mala beads I had hanging from my rear view mirror were not there. Very strange. I thought maybe they had broken. I frantically searched the car floor for loose beads. I looked in the glove box, under the seats and then the console storage. That’s where I found them, wrapped up in a ball and forcibly shoved to the bottom, under everything else in there. I was confused to say the least. Did they somehow fall off the mirror? Did the thread break? Did they obstruct his view while he was driving? I got out of my car and went into the house to ask him. “How did my mala beads end up at the bottom of my console?” And there it was, that disgusted look and angry tone. “I don’t believe in that shit and I shouldn’t have to look at that crap when I’m driving your car.” WHAT??? I explained that I would never dream of taking down the beautiful rosary he has hanging in his car because that would just be disrespectful. He replied with “Don’t you dare think about touching my rosary!”
And there it was. I was done. I wore a mala. I loved how the beads rolled between my fingers when I was stressed or anxious. I realized that same disgust he felt looking at them hanging from my rear view mirror was how he felt when he looked at me.
Things fell into place for me at that point. I was ready to stop living a life of begging for love and acceptance, and The Universe, God, Source, whatever word you choose, provided me with the opportunities I needed to escape the life I had repeatedly created for myself and move forward to a life of self-love and growth. A good friend of mine was moving out of town and I easily took over her apartment. Friends supported me emotionally and with the essentials I needed to start my new life in a place of my own. It was time to have probably the most difficult conversation I had ever had. I told my husband it was time for us to talk, so we headed out to a local trail to walk and talk. I explained to him that I couldn’t do this anymore. We fought all the time, neither of us was happy and it was time for us to part ways. He cried, I cried. He said we should stay together and try to make it work. I reminded him that I had begged 7 years ago, and more recently, that we go to counselling and he always refused. That I had tried at every turn to have conversations with him about the state of our marriage and what we could do to improve it and he would not engage. He replied with “that’s not a reason to quit”. I think at that point I was probably considering giving us another chance when I said, hoping beyond all hope that he would disagree with my statement, “But you don’t like ANYTHING about me. There is not one thing about me that adds joy to your life.” I got confirmation in his reply. “Ya, but when you get married it’s for life whether things work or not”. I had no more tears.
A month later I was in my new apartment and I have not stopped growing. I AM happy. I continue to grow and learn and have made a choice to not believe what I was taught as a young girl. It’s a daily struggle, though it does get easier to recognize when I AM falling into those old patterns. I acknowledge that this is not what I believe of myself, and turn those thoughts around. I have come to understand that everything that has happened in my life has taught me a lesson and I have the choice, to wallow in self-pity and beat myself up for the things I have done, or accept that I AM not that person any longer. I AM NOT the decisions I have made. I AM a result of the lessons I have learned from those decisions. I have no desire to go back and change anything. Nor do I wish to spend my life trying to prove to the people, who unfortunately got hurt because of the false beliefs I had of myself, that I am not that person any more. I have acknowledged the errors I’ve made and apologized for my role in the events that had occurred. I wish them well, and they will be a part of my life because of the children we share, but I AM under no obligation to prove to them how I have changed or that I AM better than I was. I do not need that acceptance from them any longer. I accept me for who I AM and I finally understand what it means to love myself first.
This knowledge did not happen on the beach. It’s taken years of soul searching, educating myself, reaching out for help, research and commitment to get this point. The first step was acknowledging I wanted change. The second was committing, no matter how scary it was, or how much easier it is to retreat back to what I have known and am comfortable with, to consistently move forward. I learn from my past, but that is where it stops. It has no control over me today. I AM…HERE