Travelling Inside

For almost six months I didn’t travel. I didn’t leave the Island I live on, and much of the time I was within walking distance of my bed.

Yet, I made some incredible journeys. I couldn’t go far, so I went deep.

No work, no travel, no projects, no distractions— matters and issues long suppressed finally came to the surface.

To my dismay— no, to my horror— I started thinking about my ex again. Obsessively, frequently, three in the morning, can’t sleep rumination. After almost two years, I’d thought I was over it. I told myself I was over it. I willed myself to be over it. But there was no avoiding it, so I finally dived in. If it wasn’t letting go, it meant there was something unfinished, unresolved.

Like the Russian dolls, when one was opened, there was another inside, and another, and another. Why was I so blind? Why did I stay in the relationship? Why did I choose this man to begin with?

I journaled. I meditated. I worked with an EFT (tapping) therapist. I did energy work. I consulted the psychologist whom I’d seen when I first fell apart, after my husband left. I had always embraced intellect, science, logic, but those were dead ends that weren’t leading to any progress. I traveled to the boundaries of current therapies. I went into strange corners.

And of course, it was about so much more than a marriage, a relationship. It was about long ago trauma that formed my worldview, about unexamined assumptions about myself and the world. It was about unexperienced experience, events too traumatic to process, PTSD. It was about the family I grew up in, about my relationships with my birth family and the children I gave birth to.

There were no repressed memories surfacing. I knew my traumas, but I finally processed them, as the person I am now instead of who I was at the time. For 10, 20, 40, 50 years, I had dismissed or minimized them, as just life. It was bad, but it wasn’t that bad, I’d told myself. Other people had it worse. I had been too busy, just living day by day, to really think about it.

During the process, I visited my past selves. I wrapped my arms around the 5 year old hiding under the stairs in the dark, and told her she was not responsible for making things better. I walked beside the young teen who cried, on her solitary hikes in the hills, to the aliens to come and get her, that she’d seen enough of this planet, and told her that it would pass, that she would travel far, and finally find her people.

I spent a lot of time face to face with the young mother who didn’t want her child to grow up in a broken family, as she had, who chose to give up independence for stability. I helped her see that she had power, had always had power, that she wasn’t weak, that she deserved to dance among the stars. I saw, to my surprise, that it was not just cowardice that kept her there, but love.

I went back, again and again, to what I thought was the best of my marriage. I discovered that my perfect life, my perfect relationship, came at the cost of suppressing anything that didn’t fit someone else’s idea of who I should be. And that I had done that, again and again, because I did not feel I had value— an opinion I had formed decades before, in the dark, under the stairs.

By the time I went to my week long silent mediation retreat, I had mostly dealt with my upbringing and my failed marriage. When I cried that week it was over my children. They always knew that they had my unconditional love, but I now realized that I had never been comfortable accepting love from them. I didn’t feel I was worthy. How hard that must have been for those pure, loving children.

I am sleeping now, again, at night. I have spoken with my children and my sisters, expressing my regrets, but expecting nothing from them.

I am no longer sorry that I was grounded, here in quarantine. I still had brave travels.

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