One of my favorite parts of any yoga class are the sun salutations right at the beginning. They feel repetitive at times, simply because I do them nearly every day, and yet I find their rhythm more comforting than just about anything. Inhale and reach up. Exhale, fold forward. Inhale, halfway lift. Exhale, plant your hands and flow to chatarunga. Inhale, lift your heart, upward facing dog before exhaling your hips up and back to downward facing dog. Set your eyes and breathe, strong and steady, in and out through your nose.
A few weeks ago in class, my teacher reminded us that it's these patterns and familiar routines in our life that give us comfort when everything else falls apart. These rituals remind us that even when life is going off the rails, we have our breath and our body, our morning coffee and favorite sweatpants.
Over the past few weeks, I've relied on these routines and tiny moments to help me navigate one of the most difficult decisions I've ever made.
I hesitated to even write anything here because there's no way to write a beautiful post about calling off the engagement you wanted so desperately to happen without feeling dramatic and hand wringy and sort of ridiculous. But one can only Vaguestagram photos of her new apartment and the glaring absence of someone who'd once permeated so much of her life without explaining it to people who've faithfully read here or followed me online for years, and who celebrated with me every step of the way in this relationship.
There's no great way to describe the ending of a relationship, and the way the idea that maybe it just isn't working creeps into your brain over and over again. In yoga, so many of my efforts have been focused towards listening to my gut, to what my teacher calls your "inner knowing" and acting from that place, as opposed to the place that feels safe and comfortable. I spent much of the summer pushing that little voice down, most especially after getting engaged to this person I loved and genuinely hoping that somehow, we could make a future work.
I refuse to say even one slightly negative thing about Andrew in this space (and, as much as I can help it, at any point). The reality is that all of those stupid relationship cliches we've all heard a million times really are why things didn't work out. We want different things. It didn't feel right. Andrew is one of the best people I've ever known. We shared some incredible experiences over our almost-six years together --- experiences I wouldn't change for anything. But at the end of the day, no trip to Paris or hike by the ocean is enough to sustain two people who are fundamentally very different, with different goals and plans for what they want in their life. I firmly believe that Andrew and I both loved one another to the best of our abilities; however, at the end of the day, there was something that I just wasn't finding, through no fault of his, or mine, for that matter. No beautiful ring or amount of hoping your way into something can silence that little voice inside. And so, several weeks ago, in the lovely apartment we shared, all of these thoughts came pouring out, and I told this wonderful man that as much as I wished it was right, it wasn't, and I couldn't do this any more, for my sake or his.
The end of something is so difficult, because it sucks, to put it plainly. There's no nice way to say that something is over, to confess that on a soul level, things aren't working. Watching someone you love in agony is the worst. And yet, as I've moved through this process, I haven't doubted myself. Considering that I doubt myself when I order a coffee, this is profound. Even in the most difficult moments, the inner voice I once ignored told me over and over again that I was doing the right thing. And the practical things fell into place, too: a new, sunny apartment with brand new hardwood floors and a sweet yellow kitchen, NINE of my favorite humans all showing up to love me and help me move in the world's easiest moving day, and assurance and love from so many of the people I hold dear. Things that had felt so stuck and murky felt clean again. There was movement and a lightness in my heart and life again.
I feel alive again.
When I met Andrew, I was 24 years old, and to put it nicely, a hot mess. He saw me through some rough times, and held my hand as I rebuilt my life to something stable and normal and good. Eventually, he cheered me on as I found my true self. I've become nearly unrecognizable in the past six years to the girl he met on a rainy December night. In some ways, it's rather tragic that he helped me find this confident version of myself who believes I am capable and that my inner voice is worth trusting; however, I am so grateful that he did. At 24, I never would have believed myself worthy of loving myself enough to remove myself from a situation that wasn't truly fulfilling to me. And while it's sad to offer a paltry thank you to someone who changed your life so profoundly, that's what comes to mind when I think about the past six years: thank you.
When I think about the future, I'm happy to say there is very little fear. There are pockets of sadness for what once was, but mostly, there is this belief that I am worthy of being deeply and radically loved, and of having the opportunity to do the same. But beyond those hopes and wishes, there is a new belief in my own possibility and ability to move beyond.
Mary Oliver's poem "The Journey" has been my comfort throughout just about every single change in my life, and once again, I've found myself reading and re-reading the end:
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.
And so, here I am. Listening to this new voice I've recognized as my own, saving the only life I can save. Trusting that everything is unfolding as it should, that everything is connected and that I'm right where I'm supposed to be.