Last week was my fortieth birthday and eighth wedding anniversary, nothing like a double whammy for making you look at where you were that time last year and evaluating.
This time last year, I was doubled over in pain on EVERY possible level I can think of, agony and torture seeped through me on every level of my being, be it spiritual, mental, emotional or physical.
I was getting one almighty massive kick up the posterior, which began that April when I could have saved my cat's life, if I hadn't been too wrapped up in work. Yes, I was too wrapped up in work and the message that I was about to come undone at every level (so incredibly bad for work!) was banging hard on my door like The Ghost of Christmas Future, but I had stuck my fingers in my ears and that's where they were staying - it cost me my cat at first and then...
I went to India about a month after, when I came back something had shifted on such a deep level, so deep I wasn't even aware of it, but I could no longer live like I was, I no longer had the mental stamina.
This led to what I would call "an emotional breakdown". I could no longer repress the 38 years of codependency that was causing me so much ongoing pain (although I didn't know it was that at the time) and I did something a codependent finds the hardest thing to do. I left my home, my husband, my step-daughter, and my other still living cat. I bought an open ticket to California, and then down to Mexico where I spent this time last year - my birthday and my 7th wedding anniversary...
Doubled over in pain, not just because I actually had food poisoning from a birthday buffet in the heat, and not just because the humidity was making my arthritis flare up, but because sometimes the other layers of pain hurt so much, they hurt you physically - you can mostly feel them like chains squeezing your heart. Made even worse by hearing that my cat, Mystic was suffering from anxiety and cystitis as a repercussion of losing her cat counterpart Tom and me, her original family.
Yes this week last year was the peak of the pain. After the friends I had made travelling left, I was stuck in the flat whilst a tropical storm raged outside, mirroring my own rage within. I had no electric inside, in the dark I was bent double over the loo feeling more and more sorry for myself every time I needed to heave and flop next to a cockroach or two that made me look like an ant, I wanted to die. No home, no cat, no husband, no step-daughter, and the amount of pain I had caused my husband, step-daughter and cat, my work was on the way down too - just as finally my life was on the up, after years and years of hard hard work, business and personal wise, when things were looking up, I'd face planted at the last hurdle and I had gone and blown it. It was a real crushing low point, one where I felt that all the work I had done was pointless, what was the point? I felt broken, damaged, traumatised and like I would never be free of my past.
Now let's fast forward to now, a whole year later...
- I'm settled in a nice flat in Spain - no cockroaches in here! (Even though the ones outside are as big as those Mexican critters!) My work is taking a huge amount from me but in an incredibly creative manner, whereas last year everything was dissolving and I was so lost, this year I have a game plan - and it rocks! I have a fab team who are working with me on it and the power is vast, huge, awe-inspiring and I feel like I took two giant leaps back in order to take the most powerful and purposeful step forward - it's a monumental time in my career now, you know one of those pivotal times which feels so like one of the reasons you were born finally being activated. It feels like the last area to rectify itself - but then again it was the last one to break down too.
- I'm forgiven. My step-daughter started making moves to say she wants me in her life. This was one of the best presents I could have ever received, her compassion and understanding in a situation that has been fraught with trauma for both of us has felt like the past is healing after ten years of challenges, and is so incredibly heart warming. I feel intricately grateful and blessed, it could have so easily been such a different story.
- I'm in love - with my husband. I spent my birthday and 8th wedding anniversary with my husband, and this is more about HOW we spent it. We decided to make a go of it back in September last year, but the whole year has been so incredibly painful (like you wouldn't believe). We could no longer just cozy up and pretend the issues weren't there. They were between us like a big neon blow up doll! But something happened in me when the solstice passed this year, it was like a tidal wave came over me and washed away all the pain. All I can say is, I felt reborn, free of all of the pain of the past and completely open and present.
It was profound. Like a righting of a wrong: It was the solstice last year when everything blew up - and uncannily on the solstice this year I finished it again - but this time it only lasted six hours before I had processed what I needed to do to save our marriage - I will reveal what I did below but before I do here's how we spent it.
Our eighth wedding anniversary was spent together exploring the vast slopes of the Sierra Nevada, travelling up and down from Capileria, Spain's second highest village. To get to where we were staying we had to travel for 20 minutes along a bumpy, rocky, pitted dirt track on the side of a mountain in my little Fiat 500, this culminated in what could only be described as a "slide" to the retreat.
Richard (my husband) had to stop the car to get out and check the road before driving it as we couldn't see the road over the bonnet. After checking that there was indeed a road we went down it, (very slowly!). All the time wondering how on earth my little car would get back up it when it doesn't even cope with the hills in Bath.
There, the lovely Mayak from Poland and his wife and son welcomed us into the most incredible hideaway nestled in the mountains with the most incredible views. Rich and I stayed up until 3am just gazing at the stars, and the fog below us - we felt so close to heaven.
The next morning was the actual morning of our anniversary and we had to leave. Mayak said we were better off continuing going down the slope, even though the sign said 4x4 only, I said it was like putting a car on a slide, and Rich agreed and said "but going up is like a car with a 1.1 engine going up a slide!" I couldn't help but agree. There was no other way but down! Mayak was cheering us on from his rooftop as we left, saying "That's it! You are doing great! Don't worry if you slip, the slips happen just before or after the bends, not usually on them!!"
Our mascot Mayak faded fast with every tight turn we took, and with every turn we took we were faced with an even steeper incline on this bumpy sandy mountainside dirt track with no barrier and even tighter turns. Seriously, just as we couldn't believe it could possibly get worse, it did.
I wish I had filmed it so you could see exactly what I mean, but I was too busy hanging on for dear life, picking my jaw up off the floor with my other hand, hyper-ventilating and trying to support (not nag) my husband who was most definitely the one I had to hand the reins of control over to.
However, I have managed to source one picture off the internet (see below) this one is fairly forgiving in that it has tarmac and ridges and the corner is quite wide, we were blessed with that little break pretty much after every hair-raising dirty track hairpin slide.
Just think of a helter skelter without the barriers and remove the tower in the middle, so the slide is just a road width apart (rather than spiralling around the tower in the middle) so it's more like a concertina and you've got it.
We did it, obviously! We have lived to tell the tale (and the other tales that follow) but it sure as hell seemed a completely nuts thing to do, but then again, what choice did we have?
We were rewarded that evening in Capeleria, because little did we know, the town had decided that the night of 15th of August was the night that the power should be shut down in the whole village so everyone could see the stars.
At midnight, in complete darkness, we stumbled across a bench and laid on it, our heads on each others shoulders in the middle, looking up at the glorious dazzling light show of stars above, and all around us hanging over the mountains as a so close to heaven backdrop. I say to Rich...
"How special is this? That this should happen on our anniversary! What do you think of that?"
"That we are finally in tune with the universe."
It was like a scene from a film - I expected the credits to roll, and I guess I have been setting the scene with you, but what happened in the middle?
How did we manage to save our marriage and our family?
And moreover, what moves did I make that can help you to check your moves?
For we can't control anyone else's moves, but it's very true that life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond. The need to go down the mountain was the 10% that life gave us, how we navigated it depended on whether we would survive it - 90% was down to us.
So let's take the mountain drive we went down as an analogy for the way we saved our marriage...
The Four Step Process For Moving Mountains and
Receiving All That's For You In The Universe:
- Facing Reality
We gave up fighting with reality, we were in this situation together and we had to find a way to get through it - together. Even if there was a break between us.
- Assessing The Way
We had to face that the path ahead of us was going to be full of treacherous challenges without any guarantee that we would make it through. But it was the only way we were going to get out of where we were, so we had to make a commitment to going down it together.
- Relinquishing Control
I had to hand the reins over to him. I had been in inappropriate control for the length of our marriage (and the length of my life) it became blazingly clear to me after this years solstice that a huge amount of fear that I was not safe (from my childhood) was still running the show. I had a belief running, that I could not rely on anyone to get what I needed right, and that I had to fight for it and of course that always backfired!
But something happened since this solstice, which meant I could finally start to truly let go and handover the reins to my husband to take control and meet my needs - our marriage shifted almost overnight. And now here I was in a car literally having to hand over the reins and feeling so bloody grateful that he was doing the driving - as he was too! Ha! So to clarify? The biggest thing I did to save our marriage (and turn the rest of my life around) was to leave the past behind, start afresh everyday and practice relinquishing inappropriate control.
N.B: what is inappropriate control? It's anytime you try to control another, rather than your own actions.
We had to take it so incredibly slow down the mountain, the slower the better, one hasty move and we'd have gone over the edge. This is true of the past year and the huge amount of patience we have needed to have with ourselves and each other. Time really is the best healer, give everything OODLES of time. We overestimate what we can do in a year, and underestimate what we can do in ten - wow! What a long way we've come this past year, can't wait to see where we are in ten!