In July of 2016 I left my husband of 16 years. I had read Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia. But it never even crossed my mind that I might take a similar path as Elizabeth Gilbert.
After all it had been about 9 years since I read it, and I had a son so I was not able to go travel the world.
It never even crossed my mind that I had any commonalities with her. That maybe I should at a bare minimum re-read her book.
Instead I started my own journey to emotional healing.
Fast forward to July of 2018, I am on a plane to Ireland. Ireland had been at the top of my want to visit list for years. I was finally giving myself the gift of fulfilling some of my dreams that had been neglected.
During the eight-hour flight I was trying to find movies I had not seen before. Of course, the first one had to be comedy, so I watched Blockers. After that I found Eat, Pray, Love. While I had read the book, I never saw the movie.
It brought me to tears, laughter and more importantly – the realization that I had lived my own version of Eat, Pray, Love.
Mine looked different, but it touched on each of the three areas Elizabeth’s journey did.
While in Ireland, that stuck with me. As I wandered around Dublin, I began analyzing how any of us get through a major life transition.
It is all a journey to finding and loving ourselves.
What follows is my journey through Eat, pray, love – and an addition I made – Risk.
My first year I ate.
As soon as my food “allergies” from stress disappeared, I ate everything that I had denied myself for years. Pizza, ice cream, and so much more.
I suspended all requirements I had put on myself about what a healthy diet was. I indulged in all the things that used to cause me health issues. Stress and living an unauthentic life have a bigger impact on our health than we ever realize – till the stress is gone!
I gained weight, which at the time I did not like, but eventually allowed me to love my body like I never did before. I finally, two years later love my curves.
I have days where the old me slips in. I start to criticize my legs and hips – my least liked body parts. But then I remember to love every part of me.
I have gone back to a healthier and balanced diet. But now I splurge when I want without the guilt. Milkshake for lunch – why not! (Hot Fudge shake is my favorite.) I was using my body and habits to punish myself and to not let myself be real. My rigid diet and workout were to cover my pain and dissatisfaction with life.
Now I love me and am more balanced than ever.
While eating I learned to pray in a way that was right for me.
Organized religion never quite felt right. I was filled with guilt for not doing the right things in religion. That made me question more things than it answered. So I left.
Not God or Universe or whatever you want to call it – but the rules.
I prayed in my journal.
Learned to meditate in a way that worked for me. (Still a work in progress, but I can get through five minutes without looking at the time every 30 seconds.)
But more importantly I found what felt right to me – Toltec wisdom.
It gives me answers and peace. I am more confident in a God and life’s true meaning than ever before.
And more importantly it gives me more answers than questions.
More faith than doubt. Something I can turn to in order to make it through life.
It also came with more acceptance of others than I have ever had. Less judgement, more compassion and love.
That alone has given me the tools and ability to forgive and move pass all that has happened in my past.
Where I have finally found myself.
In love with me.
Strong enough to know my truth. To speak my truth and to stand up for it.
I no longer feel guilty or am pressured to do things the way everyone else wants me to, but instead do what I want.
I value my healthy mind. I choose to leave those that are negative behind. I protect my energy and my boundaries.
Because I love me.
And ironically now that I love me, I am finally ready to really love another.
Someone who loves themselves. Someone who is balanced and wants to grow together.
Here is the best part – because I love me I don’t need to find this person right away. And I am not willing to play the dating games. Either the guy is ready and wants to be in a healthy relationship or I am not interested.
I love me and am willing to wait for the guy that is on the same page. Only by loving me do I have the strength to not run right into a relationship just because.
Being alone is better than being in a bad relationship.
In order for Eat, Pray, Love to work you have to be willing to take risks.
Do you have to drop everything and travel the world? Nope, but risk is found in every day life. Doing nothing is a risk.
Risk is also:
You lose friends.
You lose your old way of life.
You doubt what the hell you are doing. Thinking maybe you just need to go back to your old ways.
You feel out of place, lost and frequently desperate for answers – that no one seems to be bringing you.
You wonder if you are the one losing your mind – having a mental break down.
Yet on the other side of risk, heartache and doubt is real happiness.
The happiness that comes from inner peace. Inner peace that only comes from knowing the real you.
The peace that is there when, even though you know you are not done, that all will keep getting better.
The personal growth is not done – it never is.
Life’s challenges are never done – they just get easier to manage.
Doubt, worry, heartache, curiosity, love, risk, growth will all still be there. But that is okay.
Because you have you.