When Your Soul Laughs At You

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Let yourself be shattered. This is not a great lesson to have to learn the hard way. But it is a great lesson. Because we’re not in control. And we never were. And also? We don’t want to be.

That’s right. Because true surrender doesn’t feel like defeat. It feels like grace. And when things shatter, their shining pieces have the potential to fly off in a million different directions. When things shatter they can be made into something new, something a little less perfect (with a lowercase p) and so much more interesting. All it takes is some inspiration and a whole lot of willingness to let yourself be shattered.

I opened up a few weeks ago about my little filthy one-night (okay, month) stand with panic. It wasn’t even that good looking or nice to me at all, but it made me feel important and it sometimes paid for dinner, so I stayed.

Before I walked barefoot into that shitstorm, though, I had this extraordinary moment of…well, something. I don’t know what it was, but it felt like a warm breeze and it smelled like coconuts. Something that would go nicely with an ice cold Corona and lime. It was perfect and it brought me to tears. I hadn’t realized I was really headed anywhere specific, but I had certainly arrived. I felt myself swell with this radiance that kind of made my husband want to take my temperature and ask if I was feeling alright. I emailed my mom and told her all about it. It was a feeling that was so pure and so right I just wanted to squeeze it tight and never ever ever let it go. That’s when the panic set in.

That was the last day of November. It is February and I’ve just now made that connection.

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love, explains it brilliantly when she shares how she felt herself in the palm of God. As it’s happening she’s thinking I want to keep this feeling forever. And, just like that, it disappears. She says it was like God was telling her that she could have it back once she realizes she already has it.

I’ve been chasing peace for as long as I can remember, probably before my earliest current memory from childhood. And I never once, in all my life, came close. What I have mistaken for serenity was really just things going my way and me enjoying that. As fantastic as it is when that happens, it’s fleeting and it’s not truly peace.

So it wasn’t until that moment, in my living room, on a Tuesday afternoon. (I don’t know if it was actually a Tuesday, but you don’t know that). I gave myself permission, for the first time, to feel my feelings. Not rationalize them. Not explain them away. Not act on them. Not seek relief from them, or use them for any purpose except to just feel them. Let them breathe a little. Sit with them. Listen. No, really listen.

This was something I did consciously, so I wasn’t surprised to feel something incredible. But I also kind of expected that I would do the damn thing, feel the feelings or whatever, relish in the wonderful realizations I’d come to about myself, and then be on my merry way. La-dee-da, dirt off the shoulder, thank you, and good-bye. Right?

Um, bahahahahaha. At least that’s what my soul said. It was like, no dude, you’re dead wrong, and since you wanna be such a smart-ass about it we’re gonna play a little game so you’ll finally wake your stupid self up and see just how wrong you are. Because you’ve been killing your spirit. And you’re better than that.

So that’s what happened. I felt more alive than any drug, infatuation, cup of coffee, lick of attention, good deed, medication-free childbirth, intellectual conversation, or orgasm has ever made me feel, and then I broke myself completely open, just like (dare I say?) an eggshell. Oh yes, it happened to me. And it can happen to you too.

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