“As I look back on my life, I realize that every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being re-directed to something better.” –Steve Maraboli
It’s 6 am in Ubud, Bali. I’m sitting by the pool of my gorgeous private villa in the rice fields, drinking coffee, and watching my umpteenth Bali sunrise (a view that will NEVER get old), and I find myself repeating the same questions over and over in my head – how did I get here?! How is this real life?! How am I on the other side of the world in Bali for the 3rd time in 18 months? And the simplest answer that keeps flashing in my head is also perhaps the most cliché – a broken heart. My marriage fell apart and I got divorced.
My marriage was emotionally abusive and unhealthy. I was married to a narcissist. I spent seven years of my life becoming the person I thought I needed to be in order to deserve love. And for seven years, I didn’t practice self-care or self-love because I was too busy trying to take care of someone else and make my partner happy. I was so emotionally abused I don’t even know if I knew what self-care really was, and I certainly didn’t know how to love myself. That’s the problem when you’re in a relationship with a narcissist – you get so beaten down, you don’t even know who you are or what you like, let alone how to practice it. Also, side note, I would’ve sworn to you that I am way too strong of a woman to EVER get into an abusive relationship. Newsflash – when you’re in it, you can’t see it! It’s different than physical abuse; there are no bruises you see on your face when you look in the mirror. The bruises are hidden. Narcissists are good like that. It’s a slow, drawn out process that makes you have no idea who you are without them by the end because they slowly and methodically have made you dull your shine and turn down your volume. At least that was my experience.
I’m not quite sure when exactly it happened. I think it was about four months into my divorce once papers were signed, but there was just a moment, a flash, that I made the firm decision to pack a backpack and travel to the two countries on the top of my bucket list by myself. I figured since my life had just been completely flipped upside down and the only true thing I knew for certain at that moment was that change is the only life certainty, I wanted/needed/deserved/had to go on a soul-searching trip to the other side of the world. By myself. So I packed a backpack, and I took off to Thailand and Bali. So cliché, I know, but I was taking my own Eat Pray Love trip. It was just something I HAD to do.
You learn a lot about yourself when you travel to a country you’ve never been to, where they speak a language you don’t understand and you are completely on your own. There is a lot of alone time where you’re left with nothing but your thoughts. I did a lot of thinking. I did a lot of journaling. I did a lot of meditating and yoga. One of my major realizations on that trip was that I actually hated my current career as a realtor, and I had only gotten into it because I had gotten married and needed to get a “real job” so I could support us. Don’t get me wrong, real estate was quite good to me and I was good at it, but it just wasn’t “me.” It felt empty and didn’t feed my soul. It didn’t get me out of bed in the morning. I came back home realizing I wanted to be in health and wellness. So after some research, I signed up for a 200-hour yoga teacher certification program, and I enrolled in a nutrition school to become a certified holistic health coach. I finished both of those programs four months ago.
In the months after my divorce, I also did a lot of work with an intuitive energy healer who also happens to be a friend of mine. It was through sessions with her and doing the readings and homework she gave me that I realized I had completely given my power away in my marriage. My ex completely controlled me and everything in our marriage. I don’t even recognize that woman who was married. Now, two years after my divorce, I am standing in my power and will never give it away again. And it is because of my work with this amazing energy healer that I’ve been able to go to Bali two more times as she’s taken me along on her spiritual awakening retreats that she does every June to serve as the in-house yoga instructor for her clients.
After my ex left, and after lots of soul searching and work on myself, I finally woke up one day and realized that any love that I would actually want, wouldn’t make me change anything about myself. No true, healthy, functional love would make me turn down my volume or dull my shine.
I wouldn’t have wished for it, but now looking back, I see that my divorce is the best thing that ever happened to me. It taught me the meaning of real love. It taught me I can endure more than I thought was possible. And it taught me that the most important love of all is self-love.
Who I am post-divorce is not the person who lied in bed and cried for weeks at the end of something that I thought would never end. But now I can see so clearly that my marriage had to end in order for me to be in this moment right now.
And right now, in this moment, I am a yoga teacher. I am a holistic health coach. I am an entrepreneur. I’ve been to Bali three times in 18 months and have taught yoga on a spiritual awakening trip. I’ve been to the Buddhist temples of Thailand and fed and bathed elephants in Chiang Mai. I’ve paddle-boarded in Hawaii with whales breaching behind me on the horizon. I’ve surfed the waves in Costa Rica. I’ve drunk tequila with a Shaman in San Miguel. I have unapologetically learned to live a life that I love. And I wouldn’t change a single thing.
Related: I Had An Abusive Boss. How I Finally Put Myself First & Left A Dream Job
Why Not Having Children Doesn’t Make Me Selfish
How Yoga Helped Me Reclaim My Body After Sexual Assault
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