Permission Slips

Years ago, on my 35th birthday, I was doing yoga on the beach at 6 am. The summer sunshine was warm, the sand was the perfect cooling temp and my body felt strong. The brand new tattoo I had just gotten was reminding me to stay open to change and move forward. Yet, the boulder of tears were pushing on the backs of my eyelids, threatening to spill, outing me to the class that I was a crazy lady crying in the middle of yoga class on her birthday. 

I felt utterly alone. 

At the end of class, I walked into the water, up to my knees, letting the small waves distract me from the pit in my stomach. The teacher, a woman in her 60’s, walked in and stood next to me. She sensed I was gripping the edge of okay. Out of nowhere, she quietly told me it was okay to change my mind. I was allowed to ask for things, get my needs met and change my mind. I was allowed to be happy. And then the tears spilled over and the silent heaving began.

You see. That day was the day I knew my marriage was over. He didn’t “do” anything. There was no violence, abuse or torrid affair. A marriage doesn’t need a ceremonial fuckup to crumble. Read that again. We crumbled under the weight of a hundred tiny hurts. For reasons that are not mine to disclose, he was not able or was never given the tools to know how to really love a partner, specifically me.

That brokenness, that inability to connect was always deemed my fault. I interpreted the stony silences, the one-sided connection to a deep malfunction on my end.  Was I too much? Not enough? Not worthy of love? Boring or dumb? 15 years. 15 long years of internalizing his hurt as my wound. God, if that is not the most perfect definition of codependency, I don’t know what is. Oh, be sure that I do have my own broken parts that played into the dissolution of our marriage. I am really painfully aware of my imperfections and triggers. But that is the thing. I am aware. I have done the work, sat in reflection, gone to years of therapy to better understand how my actions impact other people. The self-awareness cannot be one-sided in a two-person commitment. 

As Lake Michigan water numbed my feet that gorgeous summer morning in 2015, I finally received permission to change my mind. Permission from a woman who had no idea how badly I needed permission.

It took 18 more months for me to close that chapter. But it started with permission.

May you know, deep in your bones that you have permission to build the life you actually want to have. A life that is very different from the one you thought you were supposed to have, the one you may be living in now. You have permission to have a life that is flawed and full of juicy goodness, one that leaves you breathless from laughter and tears. This is your permission slip.

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