Once you know you know. There’s no going back. You’ve opened your eyes and seen a certain kind of light. That’s it. Now you know it’s there. You can’t shield yourself even if you wear dark glasses. The light is there. You know it, the light knows it. The light is there.
It started after my Dad died. I was 25. His death pushed me out of LA, through England, Whales and Ireland and then to Santa Barbara.
It was during my time in Santa Barbara that I started doing personal growth work. It was more my Mother’s choice than mine. I’d journey to LA on weekends to sit with a group, cross legged, hearts open, minds open, ears open and we’d take the dive into ourselves. For seventeen years I sat in this group learning about myself, diving in, fishing and digging and pulling, prodding, tearing, expanding, shrinking and expanding again, all the while, breathing. I was cultivating a practice and I didn’t even know it. I mean I knew it intellectually, our facilitators told us, but I wasn’t integrating this practice into my life.
Instead, the practice was shadowing me. She kept her distance. She would follow me back to Santa Barbara, take a seat a few bar stools over and observe as smoke circled above us. My tequila kept me distant and warm.
I didn’t fight against her but I also didn’t turn completely toward her either. Instead I let her trail behind me.
At 28 I was straddling two worlds, a world that was being built in awareness and one that was anchored in too many men and too many late nights and too many white lines.
I remember the day when those two worlds collided.
I was sitting on the curb outside of his house. He, M, was sitting next to me. I was crying.
“You’re a big fat liar!” I said. I knew he wasn’t a liar, he always told me the truth. I knew about most all of the other women he dated, I knew that I wasn’t someone he brought out in public, I knew we were an on-again-off-again-not-really-a-relationship-at-all relationship. I was just pissed about it.
“No I’m not”, he said. He was laughing at me.
“I’m in love with you and you don’t even care!” I said.
It was a few hours later that something hit me. BOOM. We were lying in bed after sex. I was jerked upright and I grabbed the sheet, pulled it to my chest and smiled.
“Oh My God!” I said.
“What?” he said. He sat up, moved a pillow behind him and leaned back against the wall. He turned to look at me. “What is it?”
Whenever I was with him, it was as if time stood still. I could escape my life and rent his for a while. I would go over to his one bedroom apartment on the second floor of the Victorian house and disappear. I used to say, “I love how no one knows where I am right now except us.” We’d spend a day or two at most tripping around Santa Barbara, going from one bar to another. Once we even drove up to the top of Gibralter where he surprised me with a picnic of champagne, grapes, cheese and crackers. We made love, watched the sunset and drank our champagne. The light went on that afternoon, as the slid out of the room. I breathed in and inhaled the sensations, reactions, moods, and feelings of the women who had been there before me. I had absorbed a little bit of Lisa, Wendy, Beverly, Karen, Missy, the hairdresser we called ‘Squishy’, the cocktail waitress, the girl that owned that restaurant, the crazy girl that jumped off the booze cruise for no apparent reason and the girl that was afraid of wind.Even the women I didn’t know about, they were there too and I drew them in and expanded.
“Oh my God! I’m going to be so over you one day.” I said. I was giddy with excitement. “I can stop beating myself up. I don’t even have to worry about how or why or when. It’s just going to happen. So in the meantime, why beat up on myself?” I took a deep breath in. I exhaled. “Wow, I feel so good. Like a weight has been lifted.”
“Gee thanks,” he said.
“No, thank you.” I said. I reached over, kissed his cheek, got out of bed and went to the kitchen for a glass of water.
Now, looking back at that moment I realize it was about more than just us. That moment was about integration. That moment is the moment I turned toward my shadow.
Life unfolds. We don’t have to work so hard. All we have to do is believe. I didn’t try and get over him, I just did. I didn’t try and integrate a practice into my life, I just did. I didn’t try. I wanted, I desired, I believed, I received.
By the way, we are still great friends. He and his wife were at our wedding. To this day, I joke with him.
“You had your chance,” I say. And we laugh.