Archive for the ‘spirituality’ Category

I Decided

A year ago this week, I experienced an awful loss. I’ve decided to chronicle it, and its recovery, in this series. This is part two of four. Read part 1 here.

At the beginning, I was confused and bewildered and at a loss as to why things had to end. He treated me well. We laughed a lot. We liked each other’s friends. We had all the “right” things in common. But he obviously had some flaws, the greatest of which was not yet obvious to me.

My mother says things happen “for a reason.” I’m not nearly as religious as she is, but I believe things happen for a reason, too. And if the reason for your trauma isn’t obvious, or if you’re not sure where God is, I believe you should give it a reason. Grief is a big thing, and this is how I got my mind around it.

Even though I couldn’t imagine it, I took the advice of my friends & family who, at that point, had a much better perspective than I, and repeatedly told me that this boyfriend was just a “preparation,” that this was all happening so I could be even more ready for the person I’ve been waiting for. It took me about two months to really believe this.

I also decided that I would be positive, surround myself with positive things, and listen to my intuition and ignore all those self-defeating voices I was used to.

Ceremony: Before he left, we’d been planning our first trip together. He left about a month before were to leave, and when that would-have-been weekend came, I planned my own trip. I got in my car, drove for a couple of hours, and found a beautiful spot to sit and think. Summer was beginning and there were kids running everywhere. I loved it and want to go back.

Travel: I had some money I’d put aside for the aforementioned trip, and immediately booked a three week trip to visit my mom and my best friend. Visiting my mom was tough (two whole weeks!) but it was GREAT to get out of the house.

Religion: I couldn’t yet muster up the energy to pray. My boyfriend had been an atheist, and in my warped “breakup-mind,” praying felt like betrayal. Still, I found a local church where the people were nice enough, and the sermons seemed made for me. I liked getting out of the house, also.

Journaling: Yes, extensive journaling, reflecting, reviewing, examining “patterns” and trying to cobble together an image of what a healthier relationship would look like. For this, I used the help of the aforementioned site.

Visualization: A friend told me that he had an incredibly strong feeling that this breakup was leading me to an even better relationship. On the plane trip home from seeing him, I visualized myself repeatedly running toward him, smiling, ring on my finger ready to show him. The vision sounds cheesy now, but it’s all I had to hold on to. Besides, it’s about to happen in real life. There are worse visualizations to have.


Book Review: Eat, Pray, Love

Ms. Gilbert & OprahI picked up Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love several months ago after Amazon’s computers recommended it to me. Makes sense; insightful single woman, recovering from tragedy, travels alone and finds herself.

But a disturbing finding troubled me. I started looking around, and everyone seemed to be reading it. It was on nightstands, in planes, in beauty shops. People everywhere seemed to know about this book. Because guess what, it was on Oprah!

The book’s Oprah-ization meant only one thing: the book was either (a) trite and over-commercialized or (b) a rare moment when the public at large actually pays attention to an intellectual literary achievement. I was hopeful.

It’s a book I was supposed to like, but couldn’t. Elizabeth’s half-assed meandering through the first half of her life was painful to read about. Her first major tragedy in life is, by all accounts, a horribly painful divorce, which I wouldn’t wish on anyone. But it appears to have been the result of her own lack of decision-making, something only the most privileged and coddled have to worry about. Who gets to say, “I destroyed lives around me because no one taught me how to make decisions!” and then quit work to take an all-expense paid trip to “deal” with it? I had great difficulty being sympathetic. And when she makes the decision, in the darkest point of her life, not to take her meds, I thought, “From exactly what type of place is this woman coming from? How lucid can she be?” I put the book down.

And so it went, I’d pick up the book, get exasperated, and put it right back down. For three months. I certainly admire Ms. Gilbert in her humility, her healing, her deep appreciation for non-Western cultures. No doubt the journey was integral to who Ms. Gilbert is today, and I congratulate her for that. But the trite writing and the less-than-insightful insights disappointed me.

Sure, maybe I’m just too cynical, too jaded, jealous, even. But I believe that a truly insightful book will involve you, move you beyond your prejudices and really teach you something. This one simply didn’t live up to its considerable hype.

It’s hard for me to find credit in a book that so perfectly ties in to Oprah’s peculiar brand of McSpirituality. On Oprah’s website, Ms. Gilbert’s book has earned its own dedicated section, where you can “tag along on Liz’s quest for happiness and fulfillment that has sparked an inspirational movement!”

Me, I’ll go on my own original journey, thanks.


Believe it or not, someone even more vapid than Liz read a press release describing the book, and decided to imitate the journey for herself. Unfortunately, she came away from it with more tragedies than epiphanies. In another of three blog entries dedicated to (as they call it) Eat, Pray, Loathe, they seem to agree with me about the absurdity of the plot.