The chapter that changed my way of seeing life

The next morning’s meditation is a disaster. Desperate, I beg my mind to please step aside and let me find God, but my mind stares at me with steely power and says, “I will never let you pass me by. ” That whole next day, in fact, I’m so hateful and angry that I fear for the life of anyone who crosses my path. I snap at this poor German woman because she doesn’t speak English well and she can’t understand when I tell her where the bookstore is. I’m so ashamed of my rage that I go hide in (yet another!) bathroom and cry, and then I’m so mad at myself for crying as I remember my Guru’s counsel not to fall apart all the time or else it becomes a habit . . . But what does she know about it? She’s enlightened. She can’t help me. She doesn’t understand me. I don’t want anyone to talk to me. I can’t tolerate anyone’s face right now. I even manage to dodge Richard from Texas for a while, but he eventually finds me at dinner and sits down–brave man–in my black smoke of self-loathing. “What’s got you all wadded up?” he drawls, toothpick in mouth, as usual. “Don’t ask, ” I say, but then I start talking and tell him every bit of it, concluding with, “And worst of all, I can’t stop obsessing over David. I thought I was over him, but it’s all coming up again. ” He says, “Give it another six months, you’ll feel better. ” “I’ve already given it twelve months, Richard. ” “Then give it six more. Just keep throwin’ six months at it till it goes away. Stuff like this takes time. ” I exhale hotly through my nose, bull-like.

“Groceries, ” Richard says, “listen to me. Someday you’re gonna look back on this moment of your life as such a sweet time of grieving. You’ll see that you were in mourning and your heart was broken, but your life was changing and you were in the best possible place in the world for it–in a beautiful place of worship, surrounded by grace. Take this time, every minute of it. Let things work themselves out here in India. ” “But I really loved him. ” “Big deal. So you fell in love with someone. Don’t you see what happened? This guy touched a place in your heart deeper than you thought you were capable of reaching, I mean you got zapped, kiddo. But that love you felt, that’s just the beginning. You just got a taste of love. That’s just limited little rinky-dink mortal love. Wait till you see how much more deeply you can love than that. Heck, Groceries–you have the capacity to someday love the whole world. It’s your destiny. Don’t laugh. ” “I’m not laughing. ” I was actually crying. “And please don’t laugh at me now, but I think the reason it’s so hard for me to get over this guy is because I seriously believed David was my soul mate. ” “He probably was. Your problem is you don’t understand what that word means.

People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But 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 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. Your problem is, you just can’t let this one go. It’s over, Groceries. David’s purpose was to shake you up, drive you out of that marriage that you needed to leave, tear apart your ego a little bit, 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, then introduce you to your spiritual master and beat it. That was his job, and he did great, but now it’s over.

Problem is, you can’t accept that this relationship had a real short shelf life. You’re like a dog at the dump, baby–you’re just lickin’ at an empty tin can, trying to get more nutrition out of it. And if you’re not careful, that can’s gonna get stuck on your snout forever and make your life miserable. So drop it. ” “But I love him. ” “So love him. ” “But I miss him. ” “So miss him. Send him some love and light every time you think about him, and then drop it. You’re just afraid to let go of the last bits of David because then you’ll really be alone, and Liz Gilbert is scared to death of what will happen if she’s really alone. But here’s what you gotta understand, Groceries. If you clear out all that space in your mind that you’re using right now to obsess about this guy, you’ll have a vacuum there, an open spot–a door-way. And guess what the universe will do with that doorway? It will rush in–God will rush in–and fill you with more love than you ever dreamed. So stop using David to block that door. Let it go. ” “But I wish me and David could–” He cuts me off.

“See, now that’s your problem. You’re wishin’ too much, baby. You gotta stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone oughtta be. ” This line gives me the first laugh of the day. Then I ask Richard, “So how long will it be before all this grieving passes?” “You want an exact date?” “Yes. ” “Somethin’ you can circle on your calendar?” “Yes. ” “Lemme tell you something, Groceries–you got some serious control issues. ” My rage at this statement consumes me like fire. Control issues? ME? I actually consider slapping Richard for this insult. And then, from right down inside the intensity of my offended outrage comes the truth. The immediate, obvious, laughable truth. He’s totally right. The fire passes out of me, fast as it came. “You’re totally right, ” I say. “I know I’m right, baby. Listen, you’re a powerful woman and you’re used to getting what you want out of life, and you didn’t get what you wanted in your last few relationships and it’s got you all jammed up. Your husband didn’t behave the way you wanted him to and David didn’t either. Life didn’t go your way for once. And nothing pisses off a control freak more than life not goin’ her way. ” “Don’t call me a control freak, please. ” “You have got control issues, Groceries. Come on. Nobody ever told you this before?” (Well . . . Yeah. But the thing about divorcing someone is that you kind of stop listening to all the mean stuff they say about you after a while. ) So I buck up and admit it. “OK, I think you’re probably right. Maybe I do have a problem with control. It’s just weird that you noticed. Because I don’t think it’s that obvious on the sur- face. I mean–I bet most people can’t see my control issues when they first look at me. ” Richard from Texas laughs so hard he almost loses his toothpick. “They can’t? Honey–Ray Charles could see your control issues!” “OK, I think I’m done with this conversation now, thank you. ” “You gotta learn how to let go, Groceries. Otherwise you’re gonna make yourself sick. Never gonna have a good night’s sleep again. You’ll just toss and turn forever, beatin’ on yourself for being such a fiasco in life. What’s wrong with me? How come I screw up all my re- lationships? Why am I such a failure? Lemme guess–that’s probably what you were up at all hours doin’ to yourself again last night. ” “All right, Richard, that’s enough, ” I say. “I don’t want you walking around inside my head anymore. ” “Shut the door, then, ” says my big Texas Yogi.

Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love : Chapter 48 pp. 148-15

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