Words are a private thing to me. When I write, I tear down every barrier between my brain, my soul and my hands. When I read, it’s like a private conversation between me and the author, who suddenly becomes my best friend, muse and spiritual guide. I think and meditate much more while I write and read than during any kind of conversation. Talking is more like venting, the magic happens when I’m quiet and thoughtful.

I have read “Eat, pray, love”. Read, because watching the movie wasn’t enough. I thought there was some serendipity in watching the movie, since that happened maybe just a couple of months ago and the reason was just that Renée had told me about Javier Bardem, who I had never seen before and I was curious. I was fascinated because it talks about divorce caused by not so practical reasons, just like my separation, but I didn’t see any other connection. I just hoped I could end up like her and find someone else to love.

Then came Hector with his yoga and his meditation and Sybil with her plan to change our summer destination from Mexico to Indonesia. Then it hit me. So I said to myself: ok fine, you win, I’ll read it.

Read is not the correct verb though, what I’m doing with this book resembles more what a religious person might do with Holy Scriptures: a mix of reading, studying, interiorising, comparing the contents to my own life, learning from it, exploiting it as a guide. Ms. Gilbert has become my teacher, as only someone who has “been there” can be.

I try to spot differences and similarities so that I can evaluate if I can adopt the same strategies or avoid the same mistakes. I don’t know if it’s a useless waste of time or if it may actually help me in the long run, but at least it’s keeping my mind occupied with a potential plan towards healing.

Divorce

It’s not the fact that she tells about her divorce, a divorce can happen for hundreds of reason, the interesting thing is that she wanted to leave her husband for personal reasons, for introspective reasons. He didn’t cheat on her, he didn’t mistreat her, they didn’t fight all the time, she just realised out of the blue that it wasn’t working anymore and she had the courage to step out of an otherwise functional relationship,  an average marriage which may have been completely satisfactory to most wives, basically on a hunch.

And I understand. It’s the exact same choice I’ve made and I understand the doubt, the conflict, the weight of being the one to splinter the glass castle out of what seems to be no reason at all, although we know, with every fiber of our body, that it’s the necessary step to take.

It might be too early to tell, but I am just grateful that he’s not making it so hard; I have no idea if she ever doubted what she was doing, if she ever had second thoughts, but I am led to believe that if she didn’t, it was also because she realised it wasn’t worth giving a second chance to someone who turned out to be an enemy. This door is still open to me, but I haven’t decided if I want to go through it yet. Leaving someone behind is easier once you see their real face is way uglier than you thought. When this doesn’t happen, there will always be the shadow of doubt in the back of your head that the choice you’ve made might be wrong. But you still know it’s not good enough either.

In my case, the problem is the opposite: he is not making it hard, he is making it too easy. He accepted everything passively not trying even once to say no. He is still never making his voice heard. Not only he doesn’t talk about what he thinks and feels, which is perfectly in line with his nature, he doesn’t even try to stop the process, to prevent us from growing apart. He is just not there. And in the back of my mind I can’t help but thinking about all the times I have wondered if he would have fought for me, given the necessity, and how scared I was at the idea that he wouldn’t have. Because somehow I knew he wouldn’t have.

David

The strange thing is that it looks like rebound, but it’s not. I haven’t found my David yet, and I wonder if I ever will, may he be an actual rebound or not. At first, I thought it would be Coach, but obviously it hasn’t turned out that way. Then came Hector, but it didm’t turn out that way either. And the list goes on and the title hasn’t been awarded yet.

She stated she was one of those girls who always had a boyfriend, practicing the famous Tarzan Move: grabbing the next liane right after if not even before dropping the previous one. So it’s perfectly in style that she found another partner right after the former. It’s never been like that to me. My partners were like islands in the Pacific, rari nantes in gurgite vasto. I’ve never had a rebound, or if I did, it was only in my imagination. Just like Coach.

She needed to break the spell and try to be alone because she had never been alone in her life. Do I actually need the same treatment? I realise I have to overcome this ancestral fear of being alone; as I know I do, do I necessarily need to be alone to make it? Of course, I mustn’t make the same mistakes again, I have already dwelled in a relationship too long for fear of being alone. This means, I shouldn’t and won’t move in with the next guy straight away, I am going to need months to think this over. But then again, who knows when the next guy will come…

Will the next guy be a rebound? I guess it depends on when he’s coming around in the first place, if it’s going to take 4 months, it couldn’t be. If it’s now, maybe. Or maybe not, considering all of the thoughts of my awakening. Maybe what I need to find is peace of mind more than peace of body; I need to learn to find balance, interest, enthusiasm and tranquillity even when my heart is completely empty, when I couldn’t name a single guy I am interested in. I need to find focus on projects which have nothing to do with love.

Depression

I am not the only one. I may venture a guess and say that all of this story is so meaningful to me just because my story just like hers was full of mental issues. I am not sure I can say I suffer from depression, I have actually never been clearly diagnosed or rather I have never cared to know the diagnosis, but concentrated much more on what I could do to get better. She had to resort to therapy and antidepressants because of the pain brought by the divorce and the tumultuous relationship with David, so after. I’ve done this before. And I’m still doing it.

I wonder, and deeply hope, that this is going to prevent me from hitting rock bottom. It’s the last thing I need. This is supposed to be the  beginning of a journey and I would very much like to treat it as such, not something I’ll need the next two years to recover from. This is supposed to be me all grown up and aware of myself choosing another path, it’s not supposed to be the monster which is going to eat away all of the progress done in the past 3 years. I wonder if it would be a good idea to consider drugs right now, because I can count on very limited resources and unloading some of the weight might be for the best. Cutting myself some slack, for a change.

Loneliness

Of course, when you’re single you are lonely, or rather, you tend to feel lonely, but in this she has a clear advantage over me. It looks like she has a way with people and everyone ends up liking her. She has friends in every corner of the world, she admits to having a keen proclivity towards making new friends everywhere; even this thing of always being in a relationship is astounding proof of her marvellous social skills (yes, I am severely envious).

Mine suck. Not only most of my anxiety comes from the very idea of being alone, I find it extremely hard to connect with new people, either for friendship or romance. If I were to leave for an unknown country, or rather three, for a whole year, I could well be institutionalised after a couple of weeks of mutism. The first time loneliness crushed me I was in Germany, alone, in a godforsaken village where I knew nobody and had nothing to do all day. Being alone to me is not just boring, it can turn into a nightmare. I’ve always made a point of doing things on my own, the truth is I hate it and end up doing it just because the alternative would be doing nothing alone, instead of at least doing something alone.

I can’t think of bouncing back from all of this if I don’t learn to connect to other people, but it’s against my nature and changing takes a really long time. I try, any way I can, I am thoughtful while conducting my relationships with anyone. I try to absorb from them and try to improve my behaviour, but I don’t suppose I am going to chat up a stranger queuing in front of me anytime soon.

But at the same time, I perfectly understand how the ultimate goal should be to learn how to be alone, instead of how to avoid loneliness. Connecting to others is fundamental, but it will never saw a patch where my own soul is torn.

Pleasure

The whole concept behind the Italy phase is learning to enjoy pleasure. She probably didn’t even know that herself before leaving, but in the end, that’s what emerges: you need to learn to indulge, to act for the mere sake of pleasure. That pleasure is mainly in food, being Italy not only the cradle of one of the best cuisines worldwide, but also because of the typical aggregation that the ritual of eating involves.

I thought of this very specifically a few weeks before I started reading the book. I need to learn to pamper myself, just like a boyfriend would. I obviously and unfortunately will never be able to give myself the sensations that a comforting body next to mine could bring, but much of the rest, I could. Buying myself gifts, cooking myself beautiful dinners, watching my favourite movies, going to the spa every now and then, cuddling my body and soul as best as I can.

Food has always been a very ecstatic experience for me, and I will probably have to come to terms with gaining a few pounds – hopefully just a few – where I haven’t lost any to begin with. In this plan, Cartier’s delicacies – no stones involved, that’s the nickname the local greengrocer won for his prices – should help, with peace of mind of the piggy bank. My fortune is I don’t need to fly to the other side of the world. I can do this at home.

And pampering myself includes gaining some self-realisation and personal satisfaction through the act of preparing food. Not only I am finally challenging myself with recipes for my own dinner, I have taken up baking cakes for anybody. I would have never thought it could be so easy and never thought of the pleasure of letting others enjoy your creations.

The sabbatical

I was actually thinking of doing most of it from home. Liz is lucky, she may have lost all of her possessions due to the divorce, but she also has a job which allows her to leave for a year-round journey and still have a job when she is back. More than that, a job that paid for said journey on a guess: that her book would be a hit.

We all have our personal journey through divorce or separation, close to nobody wrote a book about. Most definitely, none of us went on such a trip. We can’t. We don’t have the money, we don’t have the means, we aren’t allowed. But the journey can still be done without moving too far from home. It’s enough to have a project.

I am not a spiritual person. I don’t believe in God or any other divine entity, I never have, I’ve always been like St. Thomas: if I don’t have evidence – and I mean scientific and tangible evidence – I won’t believe in anything. So the whole idea of praying goes too far for me right now. But situations brought me to evaluate the concept of oriental philosophies and practices and all of a sudden, meditation seems to have a very valid point. It might help in calming me down, in detaching myself from situations, in learning a bit more optimism.
It has worked out for others, I don’t see why it shouldn’t finally help me too.

 

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