Although I stayed at a beautiful Bed and Breakfast for my personal retreat, I did feel a bit like a traveling hobo for the majority of it. Checking in at 4pm and checking out at 11am the next day left me pretty much homeless for the majority of my two-day retreat. This wouldn’t have worked out well had Vancouver lived up to its standards of being cold and rainy, but luckily I snagged the two most gorgeous days we have yet to see this year! The Universe must have known, and I was taken care of!
At 10am on Sunday I started up the old VW to head for North Vancouver. I arrived at my destination just before 11am, which meant I had over five hours to enjoy the good old outdoors before checking into the B&B. That’s five hours of sunshine to wilt and spoil the chicken spinach salad that I packed with good intentions.
I enjoyed these hours outside in the sunshine, walking down to Lonsdale Quay and perching in a few different places to read. How relaxing it was to bask in the sunshine, listen to some live music, and watch families and birds hustle and bustle around while I lay on a bench with a captivating book and nowhere to be. I usually scoff at those lazy loiterers out of jealousy, and now I was one of them! I even had an seventy-something year old man pass by me and say, “Taking it easy, I see?” Wow, you know you are engaging in some hardcore relaxation when a retiree is jealous of YOUR lack of urgency!
I walked all 29 blocks back to the B&B when it was time to check in. After a homemade latte, a chocolate chip cookie, and a nice chat with the owner, I nestled nicely into my luxurious suite. I sat on the bed. No phone, no internet, no connection to anything or anyone but myself and the room. I stared at the walls for a few moments. Is that a Hanna Banana or a Golden Fields colour on the walls? I couldn’t decide. More staring. And then it sets in.
Heaviness. Emptiness. Loneliness. Ah, I knew you would show up. I anticipated this happening, and it was partly the reason I chose to retreat at the time I did. I started realizing just how uncomfortable I was being all by myself a few months ago just after my long-term relationship had ended and another one hadn’t begun. Now, I think of myself as a fairly independent woman, and I love to do things on my own, but I’ve always had a boyfriend that I knew was there for me when I was done being, well, independent. My patterns of jumping from long-term relationship to long-term relationship are clear, and I know now that what I need is exactly the opposite of a long-term relationship, which is extremely uncomfortable and scary for me, a girl who hasn’t really been on her own for more than 6 months at a time since she was 15. And guess what. I have now hit that 6 month mark, and instead of searching for my next beau, it’s time for me to change the typo in my mental coding and search deeper within myself.
Martha Beck talks about mental misprints and correcting the code of your imagination in her newest book “Finding Your Way in a Wild New World”. She says to let your suffering, or area of lowest satisfaction, point out the errors in the code of your imagination by noticing what you think and specifically feel about this problem that is causing you to suffer. After feeling the extreme heaviness and emptiness in my heart and chest, and noticing what thoughts were racing around in my brain in regards to this feeling of loneliness, I isolated the thought that made me feel the worst, and in doing that, I isolated the typo in the computer code of my imagination. The typo that reads something like, “I’ll be alone forever if I haven’t found him yet”, which I absolutely cannot know to be true, as I have not lived forever yet to prove this thought right.
If you are reading this and are instead experiencing some sort of chronic pain in your life, and you have the thought, “I’m going to be in pain forever”, that is YOUR typo in your computer code of imagination. I once had that thought in my mental code, and it wasn’t until I corrected that code and started thinking thoughts like “My body is just out of balance right now, and it will get better” and “This pain is just here to tell me something important” that I actually got better and started living without pain. And, you tell me, which of those thoughts sounds the truest? I hope you tell me the latter two, because we cannot know if we’ll be in pain next year, next month, or even tomorrow.
So if I’m walking around and entering relationships with the fearful thought of “I’ll be alone forever if I haven’t found him yet” or “I’ll be alone forever if this one is not the one”, how am I supposed to build a healthy relationship with that thought looming around? What might that look like? Here’s a little visualization for you. Picture a toddler grabbing at her mommy’s leg and holding on for dear life in fear that her mom will get sucked into some sort of grocery store vortex and never come back. Yep. That about sums it up.
So there are two things I know deep down that I need to do next. Correct that damn code, first of all, which will allow me to get completely comfortable being on my own. And second of all, instead of focusing on building a relationship with someone else, I am going to focus on building a deeper relationship with myself. Because, after all, if I’m not even willing to enjoy my own company, how can I expect someone else to?
And you, with the physical pain, maybe the good old hoo-ha kind, check out what that thought “I’m going to be in pain forever” is creating in your life. First and foremost, it’s definitely increasing the pain by throwing you in to the fight-or-flight response. And it’s most definitely causing you to live in a way that is not conducive to your essential, authentic self and to your healing. Instead of my graspy energy I put out into relationships, maybe this thought causes fear which stops you from doing the things you love to do because you’re scared that the pain will get worse if you do them. The funny thing is, when you STOP doing the things you love, the pain DOES get worse because you aren’t letting your body and soul sing like they want to.
So, for me, I’m going to work on my computer code and get comfortable with entering my next relationship; the one with myself. Because I know in my soul that that is the work that I am meant to do right now.
And for all you Sex and the City lovers out there, Carrie Bradshaw says, “The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself.” And I agree.