Monday, June 8, 2009

"Eat Pray Love"

A few weeks ago, during my traveling extravaganza, I read the book "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gisbert on a couple of planes and in a few hotel rooms.  
My cousin sent this book to me a while ago but I did not read it right away.  
Time was one issue but I was afraid it would be too churchy but it is not at all.  
Spiritual, yes, but not churchy.  
And I adored how this book spoke to me.

The author is not a widow.
And it is not really a grief book per se.  
But similar themes apply.
Especially for me.  
At about thirty years old, this author wakes up and realizes that the life she has chosen (big house, nice husband, perfect little life) is not what she truly wants.
She is not the woman she wants to be.  
This is not the life she really needs.
So she divorces her husband.  
Which of course is not easy.  
It takes her a few years.
And in it, she goes through a grief process of finding herself and figuring herself out.

One theme I related to is I am a bit of a control freak.
[I can hear Roger laughing about the "a bit" part of that statement.]
One of the author's friends said this:
     "'re a powerful woman and you're used to getting what you want out of life, and you didn't get what you wanted... and it's got you all jammed up... Life didn't go your way for once. And nothing pisses off a control freak more than life not goin' her way."
Of course, I have been pretty lucky in most of my life.  
When I wanted a boyfriend, I got a boyfriend.  
When I wanted a job, I got the job.
When I wanted a particular house, I got that particular house.
But during my grief journey, one aspect that always haunts me is the absolute no way to control anything.
I could not control the accident.
I could not control Roger dying (except for the actual day).
I could not control the court system.
I could not control my emotions.
I could not control my thoughts.
I could not control my anxiety.
I had to let go of everything.
I had to learn the only thing I can really control is my breathing.  
And what I focus on.
This is what gets me through most of my days.  
Especially when I am particularly anxious or stressed.  
This line also stuck with me: "It all goes away.  Eventually, everything goes away."
Even now, the thought stops me in my track.
Nothing is permanent.
I know this!
I know friendships come and go.
I know jobs come and go.
I know technology comes and goes.  
But Roger was not suppose to go.
He was suppose to stay forever.
On the flip side, everything goes away.  
That includes pain and loss.  
Eventually, I will not feel the pain I feel today.
Eventually it will be a little less.
Eventually it will be a less frequent.  

The author presents a pretty cool theory on soul mates too.  
It slightly reminds me of Roger's theory on soul mates which I have also come to accept and love.  
The book's theory is this:
     "...a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that's holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you'll ever meet, because they can tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then they leave. And thank God for it... David's [one of the author's lovers] purpose was to shake you up... show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light could get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you had to transform your life..."
I reflect a lot on Roger's influence on me.
The lessons he taught me from learning how life is all about shades of grey to learning how to accept love and be loved.  
He fixed me in a lot of ways.  
Helped me during his life and after.  
And an added bonus of a great family.  
For all that, I am eternally grateful.  

Destiny is also a struggle for me.  
Was this really the plan for my life?
Did someone out there know I would go through this?  
In this book, she talks about destiny as a two part recipe.  
One part fate and one part will.  
     "Man is neither entirely a puppet of the gods, nor... the captain of his own destiny... We gallop through our lives like circus performers balancing on two speeding side-by-side horses- one foot is on the horse called 'fate', and the other on the horse called 'free will'.  And the question you have to ask yourself every day is- which horse is which? Which horse do I need to stop worrying about because it's not under my control, and which do I need to steer with concentrated effort... there is so much... I cannot control, but other things do fall under my jurisdiction... I can decide how I spend my time, whom I interact with, whom I share my body and life and money and energy with. I can select what I eat and read and study. I can choose how I'm going to regard unfortunate circumstances in my life..."  
Of course, this goes back to the control issues as well.  
But I love the analogy here of the horses.  

She also talks about happiness.  
How it is up to me to make myself happy.  
"Happiness is the consequence of personal effort.  You fight for it, you strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes travel around the world looking for it."
I must keep striving for whatever makes me happy.  
To keep me joyful.  
And let go of the things that do not make me happy.  
I am getting better at this.

This is striking home about now: "Let your conscience be your guide."
Like I have said before, this "situation" is different for all people.  
Some people take longer than others to start to move forward or move forward in the ways I have.
At my last counseling session, I talked to my therapist about a lot of the things I was started to do again.
I told her I felt no guilt.
It made me wonder if I was doing things the "right" way or if I was hiding from myself.  
She asked me if the things I am doing felt okay and felt good.
I responded yes.  She said my body language reflected I was not lying.  
She told me to follow what my body and mind and heart told me.  
To keep an open ear.  
And as long as I did not feel "bad" about anything, I was fine.  
My conscience would keep me safe.  
And as the book said "my heart said to my mind... 'I love you, I will never leave you, I will always take care of you.'"
I know that I am this way toward myself.  

So for all those control freaks who are also in the category of I-lost-my-spouse-to-death, I recommend this book highly.  Just have tissues ready and be ready to laugh out loud too.  
This is also a good read for most other people too.


Supa Dupa Fresh said...

I loved this book, too. Our minister used quotes from it in several sermons while Gavin was still alive. I read it while I was grieving/dating and it was such a great story about transformation.

Also, I have "miniature golf face" (opposite of poker face), which her husband coined for her.

The only problem is that I was a bit jealous... the book made me want a divorce. Sounded romantic compared to being widowed.

I'm glad you read and appreciated this book!



Mel said...

What a great post.

I loved the book, too. It made me want to travel to find myself. But I tried that when I was in my 20s, and it didn't really work.

So that means I'm stuck looking for myself in the only place I ever really am... right here.

Here being just down the street from where I grew up, where my parents still live. I thought I was such a big-shot to go far away and then I ended up only wanting to be right back here again.

Because all that matters is being with the ones you love.

Sometimes I wish that I could just get up and go again, wandering the earth. But then again I'm glad that I can't do that again, because this is the right place.

I'm rambling... but just to say thank you for writing!