to the mama who...
I recently had the opportunity to work on a piece with Justine over at the Adventure Mamas Initiative. It was a very cool experience, and I like the words that came of it. I'm gonna put them here too...
To the mama who is trying to turn heartbreak into healing... We find ourselves thrust down a path we didn’t choose and didn’t want. But deep down we know that if we work hard, feel all the feels, and stay open-hearted and mindful, we will discover something new and wonderful. This painful moment in our lives is actually an opportunity.
Here is my story of how I began to rediscover my inner badass, realize my true strength, and turn the end of a marriage into the beginning of a newer, freer me.
That weekend felt like such a fantastic victory in the midst of what had been a relatively fucked up year. Sometime during the week between my 11th wedding anniversary and my 37th birthday, I realized that my "wasbund" had no intention of figuring things out, but hadn't gotten around to telling me yet.
In the subsequent maelstrom of emotions, and the heartbreak, and the crying on the bathroom floor, it slipped my mind that I'd signed up for the 2-day, 16 mile, run-all-night Ragnar trail relay race. And in the midst of my despair as my world fell apart, I stopped taking time for myself. I had stopped running.
But as the weekend got closer, I decided I had to do it. I had to show up for my teammates, just like I was going to have to keep showing up to life. Plus I knew, deep down, that some insanely vigorous adventuring with other women was exactly what my soul needed.
So I did the thing that I never do, which felt especially risky during this time when nothing made sense. I let go of the reins and resolved to go with the flow. I surrendered, got out of the way, and decided to trust the universe to provide me with exactly what I needed.
When a couple of team members dropped out a few weeks before the big day, I started calling anyone I could think of that might fit the bill and be willing to commit to what some people might consider insane. The two friends who agreed didn’t know each other, couldn’t be more different, and yet couldn’t have been more perfect for a weekend of fun and sweat and even some tears.
When another teammate got sick the day of check-in, thoughts of adding her miles to our already lengthy legs could have caused panic! Instead, I said a little, ‘ok universe, let’s see what you’ve got in store for this one’ prayer and headed over to the check-in desk to start recruiting. Luckily for this fierce introvert, the first woman I approached willingly volunteered her son for our team. He turned out to be super fast.
As race day dawned, I was tempted to start stressing out and being judgemental of my less than optimum conditioning. But rather than panicking and comparing myself to all of the other faster, amazing athletes, I decided to commit to being present, enjoying the experience, and finishing-- however quickly I could. By now I had faith that the universe was taking care of things.
Until that weekend, I’d never been away from my boys for more than a day or two. A whole weekend to myself felt strange. I kept vacillating between excitement and guilt, enjoyment and confusion (why is it so quiet? where is everyone? what do I do with myself?). But every time I started doubting that this was where I needed to be, inevitably some stranger would say something kind or encouraging or supportive to me. And I know they were talking about the running (which sometimes was actually hiking), but it felt like little messages from the universe. Telling me that it was going to be ok. All of it.
Every human I came across was literally cheering me on. Encouraging me, a complete stranger, to keep doing hard things. Making me laugh in spite of the hard things. Engaging me in conversation about how cool those hard things were, and look at us doing them together on this dark and scary path.
I finally started crying at about mile 13 as I was walk-jogging my way down the mountain, trying not to roll an ankle in the dark after my good headlamp had broken, struggling with an unshakeable side-ache. A weathered ultra-runner grandpa angel breezed past me and said, 'you're doing great friend! Have a fantastic time and take care of yourself!'
Are you fucking kidding me universe? Thank you for making it obvious.
I walked away from that weekend feeling energized in a way I hadn’t in a very long time. I felt reconnected to a part of myself that had been lost over years of holding together a marriage that wasn’t right and a motherhood that sometimes bordered on martyrdom.
I walked away feeling committed to myself in a new way. I was ready to re-frame my divorce as an opportunity at a freer, truer life; to embrace the weekends apart from my boys as time to grow into the badass I was meant to be; to know that the longing I feel for them when I’m away highlights how important they are and reminds me to savor the times we are together. It helped me to accept that I’m not always in control and that sometimes that is a very good thing.
This experience cemented for me that care of mind, body, and spirit is the key to an amazing life and also one of the most important lessons I will ever teach my boys. It was also a glorious lesson for me in trusting the universe to provide, so long as I follow my intuition and continue to show up.
It was absolutely a turning point in my journey and I’m honored to share it with other Adventure Mamas.