I wrote this post almost two months ago and I’ve revised it at least 15 times. It’s been difficult to find the right words to adequately share everything…where I’ve been, where I am now and how I’m feeling about all of it…and also difficult to decide whether or not to open up about it.
Three and a half years ago I went through a separation and divorce.
At the time I was paralyzed by fear, shame, guilt and anxiety. Going through that life event is horrible enough as it is, it’s even worse when you have a blog where you have a history of sharing personal information and teach in your community. I had no idea how to handle the balance between maintaining a “public” existence through my blog and teaching while going through so much personal pain and grief…so I made the choice to simply not talk about it. I wasn’t ready.
It’s taken years of internal work and therapy to get to a place where I even feel comfortable talking about being divorced at 30. It’s not exactly the path I imagined myself taking and for a long time, I treated it as a stigma. The word “divorce” made my stomach turn every time I said it. This is actually the first time I have ever typed it on my blog. Being vulnerable is one of the hardest things in the world. (A big thank you to Brene Brown for opening the door to vulnerability for me.)
I have a tendency towards introversion and privacy…despite my love for teaching (it’s weird, I know). One of the most consistent items of feedback I receive from those who know me both casually and closely is, “open up.” I have a history of being closed off and it’s a hard thing to change. This isn’t new to the blog.
For the majority of my life, I was laser focused on doing things right (for many reasons I am learning to understand and deal with in a more constructive way). I strove for perfection and it was both inauthentic and exhausting. Because seriously, what is perfection and what is the “right path”? Perfect does not exist and everyone’s path is different. There are no perfect jobs, perfect relationships, perfect lives…all that matters is the best you have to give and what you can live with. My right path might look a lot different than yours and I’m learning to be okay with that. I am the only one living my life and the only one who knows what that feels like. Read that sentence again. As much as you think you know, no one knows what it feels like to be in another person’s shoes.
Remember the post I just wrote in regards to fitness and nutrition about “you do you.” That applies to life in general.
One thing that I’ve embraced with giving up perfect is that life is messy. I give my yoga students an analogy that life is like a road map. Some people are on the interstate. They breeze down the road at 70 mph and they are sure of both their route and their destination…checking things off as they go. Others (including myself) are on a more scenic route. We take exits, turn around and sometimes even get a little lost. It’s not right or wrong either way, it’s your path and it’s 100% the right one for you.
The dots on my road map have been all over the place and I’m going to tell you a little more about them.
Going through the separation and divorce publicly was the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with emotionally and I wish that I could teleport to you what it felt like. On top of my own grief and shame, I was inundated with requests for information on what was going on with my life and overwhelmed by speculation. I promised myself that I would NEVER go through that again. This is why you’ve never seen me blog about relationships and dating.
But that’s not completely sustainable.
Because I’m human. And I want to feel love, give love and receive love. I also love helping other people feel better and stronger. It’s why I do what I do for work. I know that sharing my story and being open will ultimately do more good than harm. I will tell you one thing I have learned to be true. We all deal with heavy things behind closed doors, whether or not we talk about them is another story.
Today I get to share with you that I am happy and I am in love.
And I am engaged.
And it’s messy and beautiful all at the same time.
Last summer I went through a pretty awful breakup after being in a serious relationship. The flood of terrible emotions that I felt after my separation came rushing back. I felt how I hoped I would never feel again. Breakups are not easy but with all of that pain came a tremendous blessing. It ended up being the worst and best summer of my life all at the same time. I spent five months completely on my own and it was painfully perfect.
I closed the door on my relationship and I moved on. I started a new freelance job at The Charlotte Observer (a huge thanks to the universe for delivering that at just the right moment), I left the yoga studio that my ex owned and took on my dream role at another and I sat with my pain. I didn’t try to ignore it or distract myself from it. I focused on feeling it, healing myself and getting strong. I started running again and trained for a half marathon. I can’t even tell you what that did for my head and my heart. I strengthened my bonds with family and friends. I was open, broken and ready for true connection. I have never felt so loved or supported in my life. I can look back on the breakup now and feel gratitude for it. I know without a doubt that it’s an exit I was meant to take. I got back on the road stronger than I have ever felt in my entire life and with deeper relationships than I have ever had. (I greatly credit Gabby Bernstein’s book Spirit Junkie for helping me get there.)
And now you’re wondering how I went from broken up to engaged. Like I said, the map is messy.
Over the holiday season, my ex-boyfriend reached out to me and asked if we could talk. During our time apart he had also been on a path of self-discovery and self-work and arrived at “I can’t live without her and I want to share my life with her.”
Needless to say, it was a shock. I never in a million years entertained the idea we would end up back together. There was a lot of talking, processing and tears. I was terrified to open my heart but I also couldn’t deny love. I did so much work while we were apart on choosing love over fear, not letting fear run the show and understanding how and why I had chosen fear for so long (so, so long).
A big factor in never sharing our relationship on the blog previously was that I was only “half in” to protect myself. I repeatedly told myself and others that what we had was “fine for now but not a forever thing.” And he repeatedly claimed he was “never getting married.” We were two broken people putting up walls. Our new relationship is completely different than our previous way of being and more amazing than I ever dreamed it could be.
We are both choosing love. We are both jumping all in. We are ready to create a life we love together and to share adventures. And he says, “I want to be the most flexible old people ever.”
Where do we (meaning me + you…my readers) go from here?
For the most part, things will not change around here. This will not become a blog about my relationship. Read that sentence again. As I approach the five year mark of Peanut Butter Runner in April, I am in major evaluation mode in regards to what I even want for the future of this blog. I have watched too many of my peers put their entire lives out on the Internet…jobs, families, babies…and I know it’s not for me. I love teaching yoga, talking about fitness, sharing workouts, posting way too many golden retrievers pictures and cooking delicious food. I’m good at those things so that’s what I’ll stick to sharing for now.
One way this was presented to me by our couple’s therapist really resonated. It’s an idea of circles. He drew a graphic for us that made a lot of sense so I made a graphic for you. I have a very small inner circle. That circle includes myself, my fiance and one very close girlfriend. They get all the info and nothing is a secret. Then there’s a circle that includes family/children/other very close friends. Then there is a circle that includes friends, close co-workers, etc. The circle keeps expanding and as the circle expands, the amount of detail in regards to deep personal information decreases. The outer edges include groups like blog readers, students, people I chat with at the gym, people that read my book, etc. As much as I appreciate and value the outer circle, the outer circle doesn’t get the whole story.
Somehow this expectation has been created that if you blog, you must share every.single.last.detail about your life. I don’t share every single last detail about my life with a lot of my day-to-day acquaintances, why would I do that here? The only thing that I ask of you is that you respect that. This is my creative space and I want it to feel like a safe space.
So thank you for reading, especially those of you who have been around for the long haul. I know this is a complicated post but life is complicated. I am not perfect but I am happy.