I sat crying in the car in a parking spot of a suburban strip mall. It was dark and the hail and rain were pouring down hard.
“I can’t do this.” I thought to myself. “I don’t want to go.”
I lifted my palms to my eyes in hopes that would put an end to stop the water that was pouring out uncontrollably. I called my (now ex) husband and told him I think I am coming home. He had stayed back home with our two daughters, ages 7 months and 3.5 yrs at the time, to allow me to go on my first weekend yoga retreat. He never put up a fight and fully supported my trip.
And now in the middle of suburban Virginia I was facing enormous internal conflict. The unexpected hail storm had created horrendous traffic causing the first hour of my supposed 3-hour drive to take nearly 2.5 hours. I don’t want to drive another 4 or 5 hours in this weather, I thought to myself. I would arrive after 11pm. I would be tired. It’s not fair to leave my husband with my babies. I am a bad mother for leaving my children. I am being selfish.
That was my rational self doing the talking.
Because the truth is underneath all those excuses, I was afraid.
What was I going to do there all by myself? Being alone was not something I ever did. I have always surrounded myself with people. As an extrovert, people give me energy.
I sat there in the car struggling. Mad at myself for having thoughts of coming home. For years I had wanted to go on retreat and never could muster up the courage to go. I would try to get a friend to go with me because doing it alone terrified me. I remember one request to a friend was “I have wimped out the past two years – want to come with me?”
Why was I so afraid to be alone? I realize now I was afraid to face my truth. To go inside and uncover my deepest needs and desires. To directly take on my thoughts and emotions. To face my unhappiness. To admit that I was not feeling fulfilled. I was afraid to go inside because I did not know what I would find. Afraid I would not know what to do once I discovered my true self. Afraid that it would be too late to live the life I wanted. Afraid I might lose everything I had built up around me in order for me to live my truth.
Life is a lot easier when I can stay busy, socialize and not put up the mirror to myself.
That day in the parking lot I made a decision. I turned around and came home. I wimped out. I did not have the strength and confidence to face my truth.
A lot has changed since that day three years ago. Since my divorce I have been forced to be alone. I have spent countless hours writing in my journal. Sitting in meditation. Going on walks. And listening to myself. Asking myself the tough questions. What am I feeling?What do I want? What do I need? What makes me happy? Going inside to uncover my truth. To find and unleash my authentic self.
And it is hard. It has been an emotional roller coaster. It takes a lot of courage to go inward. To learn from my past. To honor where I am today.
I just recently returned home from a solo weekend yoga retreat. And here’s the thing I have realized. Going away on retreat is not a luxury vacation. It’s not a spa weekend. It’s not an escape from reality.
Going on retreat is about escaping from the external world to go inside and find out what is real.
And here’s the other thing I learned. I don’t always need a grand gesture of a weekend retreat to face my truth. I have the capacity and choice every day to retreat from the external world, take a pause and go inside myself. Bear witness to my thoughts, my emotions and my needs to face what is real.
I have the strength to step out of fear and escape TO reality.