Summer of Self Love

I had an epic summer. Sure, I traveled to new places and experienced some truly amazing things, but the real beauty of my summer was the epic healing journey that happened at the end. The following is the story of my summer that included a secret rendezvous with a man and… alcohol. My goal was to have a summer of self love and by the end I thought I had ruined all efforts of spending the summer loving on myself, when I found my time and energy being directed towards a man and my emotions taking me all over the spectrum on a daily basis. However, as I often am reminded, we get what we need to learn from and if you’re present and aware you can use these lessons and turn them into healing and growth. I did indeed find so much love this summer, just not in the way I ever expected.

The Trip

Having a blast in the BVI

Having a blast in the BVI

It all started with a 10-day catamaran trip to the British Virgin Islands. My plan was to use this trip to go deeper into my thoughts and emotions, to use the power of being out in ocean to heal and elevate my the personal and emotional growth that I had been cultivating since the beginning of the year. So after, purchasing my ticket I began to plan for the trip.

I had a few reservations going into the trip. First, I was going with an old friend that I had had successful vacations with in the past, but who was from my old life, the life I created while drinking. I was confident that I could get through the trip without alcohol but knew that there would be lots of drinking involved. Secondly, I decided to break a year long bout of celibacy with this friend, on this trip. I took the previous year off of dating and sex to get a closer look at how I tended to show up in dating scenarios and what I was looking for in a relationship moving forward.

As we boarded the boat I was so stoked for this experience and grateful for my friend who always knows how to bring the fun and the adventure. The first few days were loaded with lots of quiet time and settling into the rhythm of living on a boat. The group was vibing well and I felt so great. What happened next was something I never expected, I drank, ending a two and a half year period of no alcohol and shifting the gear of the trip towards enjoying the local cocktails. I drank Painkillers while floating in the ocean. I drank beers while chatting with locals. I drank while dancing during a full moon party next to a giant bonfire. I sipped rum for hours while watching shooting stars with my friend on top of the boat. I drank for 7 of the 10 day vacation.

I surprisingly didn’t find myself beating myself up about this decision. I decided to relax and recommit to my teetotaler ways once the trip was over. I did however notice a really big shift in how my body felt. I spent moments each day nurturing her and listening to her, witnessing exactly how my mind, body and emotions were reacting to the alcohol, something I never had the tools to do before.

There is one more piece to this puzzle that I need to share before going into what I learned. While stargazing with my friend we decided to give dating a try. We recognized how much fun we always had together and realized that we were both single, which was never the case before in our four year friendship, so we decided to give it a go. We briefly discussed what we were looking for in a relationship but some of those details my have been lost in the copious amount of rum we were consuming while finding shapes and words in the clouds that were shining so bright in the night sky thanks to a full moon.

The Results

Drunk Selfie

Drunk Selfie

Returning from the trip was definitely a challenge. My poor body felt like absolute trash and my emotions were back to rollercoaster status. I completely understood why drinking became such a constant before. More alcohol was the simplest way to quiet the discomfort, and so more was always consumed. When I originally quit drinking it was a slow drying out and I felt crappy for at least 6 months. I had never had the starkness of my healed mind, body and emotions experiencing alcohol again. It was an opportunity to really feel the effects of alcohol. It took two whole weeks to find myself again.

The relationship was also a challenge. Before the trip I was simply looking to spend time with my good friend and returning I suddenly had a committed partner, which I also hadn’t had in two and a half years. My schedule was compromised, self-care was slightly neglected and I found myself swimming in all sorts of old relationship patterns. This too was a chance to see where I had grown and where I still had old stuff mucking up my thoughts and emotions.

The Shift

Reflecting on my summer.

Reflecting on my summer.

After two months of dating, I was now back in my place of really paying attention to my thoughts and my words and noticing my emotions, and what I began to notice was this relationship, while so much fun (combined with really good sex) didn’t feel right. I found myself feeling more like a friend or even a mother figure instead of a partner. My partner and I have struggled with open communication in the past and in the relationship we found the same struggles. While I did see myself trying to be open and honest, I was still in it and didn’t quite know what was making me feel so off, but I knew that I needed to step away from the relationship to figure it out, especially since we were struggling to spend time together and to connect on a deeper level.

I sat quiet and set an intention for the discussion that needed to happen. I found myself feeling sick with worry and stress, so I took really big breaths while driving to his house and then upon entering said those dreaded words “we need to talk”. I began to explain what I could through streams of tears and then we hugged and I left. I immediately began to sob as I drove away. I knew it was the right decision but I couldn’t get a handle on the tears flowing so I just let them flow.

The Lessons

Post healing session on the beach.

Post healing session on the beach.

Break the Cycle

Shortly after ending the relationship, I was able to sit with my thoughts and emotions in meditation to uncover why I had such a strong emotional response to a 2 month relationship ending and what I found was such a relief. In the past I never stepped out of a relationship honestly. If I felt something wasn’t right I would self-sabotage the relationship until the other person decided to end it or until it just go too bad that it exploded. The reason I felt such a wave of emotion is I HAD BROKEN THIS CYLCE!! I used my emotions as a compass and had the challenging conversation to end our relationship before things went too far and I would lose him. He is such a special person that taught me so much and I hated the idea of losing him as a member of my team. I wanted to honor him and myself by stepping away. It is still too soon to know if I will have him as a friend moving forward, as he has yet to truly communicate with me about how he feels but I know that there is no ill will or bad blood between us and that is good enough for me right now.

Never Dim Your Light to Connect with Others

After reflection I was able to recognize that I drank on that trip to help he and I connect. I brought myself back to my old ways to comfort him and ensure the trip was “fun” for him. Because he has yet to do the work I have done, it was very hard for us to truly connect when he was drinking and I wasn't. Add in my empath qualities of feeling others emotions and before I knew it I was down in the energies of drinking. Moving forward, I will do my best to never dim my light in order to make others feel better. This does nothing but lower my frequencies and hinder my ability to spread love and light, which is what others need way more than me jumping into their low vibes with them. You cannot make yourself sick enough to heal someone else.

Alcohol is Such a Waste

While I would never recommend anyone in recovery jump off the wagon, I do value my experience with drinking this summer so much. Ever since I quit drinking I’ve had the stupid FOMO feelings of missing out by not being able to drink. After reflection I recognized that each time I drank there was a very short window in which I really felt great - vibing to music, soaking up the beauty of the setting, and laughing and connecting with all the others drinking - but ultimately, that window was maybe a few hours. The two weeks it took for me to get back to myself was way too much time and effort to be wasting on simply finding balance again. I’d rather spend that time and energy on creating my best life, on thriving instead of simply surviving.

Forgive Yourself for Past Mistakes

There is another juicy chapter to this story that led to me learning this lesson. One week after ending the relationship I went out with a friend for her birthday. We ended up at a bar downtown, a place I rarely find myself unless there’s live music or other activities involved. As I walked into this bar, I began taking in the scene and my eyes locked on a tall beautiful bald man walking towards me. This man was my ex. Not the recent short term ex, but the last real relationship from two and a half years ago, the man I originally quit drinking for. There was a short moment when time stopped and we hugged. Time began swirling back immediately when he asked if I wanted to meet his new girlfriend. He and I have remained friends and I have known about this new girl for a while. She and I have even communicated about our four legged loves so this was not a huge surprise but none the less, not what I was expecting to happen within minute of walking into this bar.

Everything went swimmingly. She was so sweet and we chatted for a few moments. Throughout the evening I would find myself casually glancing over to see if they were still there and I noticed strong emotions building when I saw his hand on her low back and her being the one leaning up against him. No tears were flowing, which was such a relief but I definitely felt something bubbling up.

I went to the beach two days later with the specific intention of working through these emotions. What emotions were they? Why was I feeling them? How could I move forward? What I discovered was so amazing and immediately released a sharp pain that had been living behind my right shoulder blade, a sensation that was there for most of the end of our relationship.

So what were the emotions? I felt upset that I had taken his love for granted and ashamed of how I treated him. I realized I was still holding onto anger at myself for not being able to love him with my whole self back then. I also realized that I was incapable of loving him that much because I didn’t know how to show up for love, how to receive it and how to fully express it.

So I laid back on the beach and began breathing into my heart until I felt the sensation of love buzzing strongly, and then I found my old self in meditation, the version that dated him, and began hugging and holding her. I told her I was grateful for all of her tenacity and her ability to do the work that was in front of her. I found gratitude for his love and his part in helping me to step away from alcohol. I thanked him for his role in shaping my soul and sent him and his new girl love. I reminded myself that soul mates come in all shapes and sizes and that his love was needed to find love for myself. This also reminded me that I can have deep love and that my next soul mate will get to see me as I am now and not that old version.

Recognize your growth!

The last lesson that unfolded on the beach for me was to find gratitude for all the hard work I had done over the summer. To find appreciation for all the tools I now had from all the hard work I’ve done over the past two and a half years and to celebrate the growth and beauty I have found in myself and in this work. I sat and shed more tears for showing up for myself and then enjoyed the beach for a few more hours in this love I had cultivated. I jammed to loving tunes, ate nourishing snacks, swam in the ocean and gave love to Mother Nature by collecting trash along her shores. The old me would have downed a six pack of corona and not witnessed any of that love.

The Process

I will share the exact process in another post, as this one has gotten a little lengthy but it all starts with listening to your thoughts and words, naming your emotions and getting curious about what they are creating. We have the power to heal ourselves and to create whatever we want.