There are messages everywhere. Have you noticed that? I am not referring to the never-ending barrage of emails and texts that most of us receive on a daily basis. Nor am I referring to social media. I am talking about real messages. The kind of messages that remind us just how vast the Universe is. Messages that reassure us that there is a bigger plan.
For years, friends encouraged me to watch the movie, Eat Pray Love. Let me rephrase that from “friends” to almost everyone I know. Old friends, like Paula, that I’d known for most of my life. New friends. Acquaintances from work. Even my college boyfriend, Jim. Yes, my college boyfriend went out of his way to find me on Facebook, friend me on FB, and message me about seeing this movie. For some reason, people who knew me thought I should see this movie. I initially dismissed it as a chick-flick, having no interest in watching Julia Roberts go a journey of self-discovery. The movie was released in 2010, and just last night (October 16, 2018) after seeing it in my “suggested movie” cue for the last two years, I finally watched it.
And within the first 15 minutes, I realized that the movie was a message to me.
Just like Liz, my marriage failed. In fact, for me two marriages failed. Just like her, I spent most of my life getting over one man, by getting under another one. I never took the time to heal. I never took the time to figure out who I am, without a “plus-one” by my side. I was lost. Outwardly, I seemed to have it together. But I didn’t. I still don’t . Watching the movie allowed me to realize that.
I am beginning to understand what I truly need is forgiveness. The movie was a blatant reminder that I need to forgive myself. I blame myself for not “making” my relationships work. I blame myself for putting the kids through the heartache of breaking up the family. I blame myself for not doing enough for my kids, not doing enough for my dying parents. I blame myself for not having the strength to cope with my grief when my parents died. I was so depressed that I could not bring myself to go through their home and clean it out properly. I feel terrible that things that were important to them, were left behind because I could not pull myself together long enough to get through it. Honestly, I blame myself for every single shortcoming or failure I’ve had in my life. I carry an immense amount of guilt for everything from the things I eat, to my lack of putting a note in the kids lunch every day, to not cleaning the bathroom.
Before the clinicians or psych majors who are reading this diagnose me, I already know. I carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. I have spent my life taking responsibility for everything…wanting everything to be perfect. On the flip side, I have blamed myself for each imperfection. And just last night, I had this epiphany. And you guessed it, it happened while watching the movie.
There is a scene where Liz is in India, on the roof with her friend Richard. He tells her she must first forgive herself to find the peace she seeks. And she re-imagines her wedding dance with her ex-husband, as it should have been, not as it was. She hears the song they were supposed to dance to, instead of his one-man dance show. The song is “Harvest Moon” by Neil Young, which is the song that I danced to with my second husband in June 2007. I don’t think it’s a very common wedding song, or at least I’ve never heard of anyone else using it for their first dance. During this scene she gives him closure and she finally forgives herself. The scene made me cry, not just well-up. It was an ugly, dirty cry. For years, I have blamed myself for not seeing the danger signs of our relationship. Or better yet, I blamed myself for seeing the signs and marrying him anyway. I blamed myself for knowing ahead of time that we were doomed for failure. And then I blamed him for being who he was and not who I thought he could be.
Hearing that song brought back a flood of memories. Some good. Some bad. Most of them painful to recollect. The song was its own message to me, an audible memo to let it go. Let it all go. The guilt. The blame. The anger I had towards my ex. The worry of what-if. The fear of failing again. It is a message to forgive myself and everyone else for all of the crap. I am not to blame for it all. No one is. Life happens. And while I am far from perfect, I am worthy. Each and every one of us is worthy of love and happiness. The movie is a reminder to me to be present in the moment. To savor the taste of my food, the sun on my face, the noise from my kids, the warmth of hugs from the people I love, and the simple joys of living. It is a reminder to embrace this imperfect, beautiful mess of a life and feel gratitude for everything that is right in my world. Things that went right in my past. Where I am now in my present. And the absolute hope and love for the future.
So this morning after taking the kids to school, I decided to take a drive. I stopped to pick up apples at the local farmer’s market. I am beginning to understand that I need to do little things like this to keep myself balanced. As I drove home I thought about Liz’s transformation. How she eventually learned to quiet her mind through meditation. How her spiritual journey taught her to love and trust again. And it was at that moment that “My Sweet Lord” came on the radio. Aha! I thought, as I took a bite of an apple. What a perfect song for what I was thinking. Thanks, George. I got the message loud and clear.
He was always my favorite Beatle.
Video credits: Youtube