Don’t let that smile fool you, I’m totally exhausted and overwhelmed.
There was a time when I was in serious need of rescuing. Holy smokes, did I. Drowning in a sea of overwhelm from being a new business owner, I was collapsing from burnout and paralyzed with indecision. To say I felt crushed under the burden of responsibility and demands for my time and attention is an understatement. In the first few months of opening the cafe, I lost nearly one third of my body weight, falling below 100 pounds and going-going-going so fast and furious that my entire body was locked in pain from all the stress. I had zero appetite, even as I made some of the best organic food around for patrons. I remember sitting on the front porch with my business partner on our one year anniversary and recognizing it was the first time I had sat deliberately with the intention of savoring the moment in more than a year. In this moment, I recognized that I had never worked harder for anything in my entire life and could see no end in sight. Facing the second year of business, I knew I was on the precipice of totally and completely losing my shit.
And lose it, I did. The entire ethos of our cafe was to weave community and foster authentic relationships by inviting folks to slow down their lives and bring it into balance. Our business philosophy was underlined by Gandhi’s wisdom: “Be the change you wish to see.” I strongly believe in this sage advice, and as I took stock of the condition opening a business had rendered me, I knew this was NOT anything I would wish on another human being. Of course, I could see the massive amount of positive impact our little teahouse did have on our community and was grateful for the many people who supported me personally and the cafe itself in countless big and little ways. Our cafe stood for sustainability though and I realized how intimately my sanity and health were tied to the cafe’s long-term viability. I needed to PULL IT TOGETHER, but knew not how.
My magic wand was missing and I did not believe I could do it anymore. There were many successes, but those were hard to see through daily cash flow crises and I allowed the small failures inevitable in any endeavor to cast too much of a shadow on my confidence. Our staff watched me falter, hide my head in the computer, and make erratic decisions in efforts to do something, anything! to keep paying their paychecks while the economy tanked. My business partner didn’t have context for what I was going through and couldn’t know how to support me along with his own responsibilities at his own very busy job. There was more than a lot of static in our exchanges that served to exasperate us both.
The majority of my friendships skimmed the surface, and there was no space for going deeper beyond “business” related functions and strategy sessions. I dated several men, and my heart was broken open in the process. I realized there wasn’t enough of me to even be present for the authentic connection required for a healthy relationship. This was not okay. This is not the life I wanted for myself. If I had known the toll it would take, I don’t think I ever would have gone through with it. Thankfully, I was a fool because the impact the cafe has had on people’s lives is magical. My own included – the countless positive contributions to my life are well documented and deeply felt – the good parts shine as bright as the challenging parts were dark.
My broken heart and a mishandled termination of one of our staff were big time wakeup calls that significant changes had to be made. I started with chiropractic care at Simply Well to unlock my body and bartered organic food for massage and energy work on a regular basis. I started painting, something I was never trained in or imagined myself doing. There was a strange experience with the spirit world where my heart was worked on by ethereal hands and I started to have super interesting dreams that were direct communication from beyond. Many intuitive / psychic folk patronize the cafe and I was told by three of them (unsolicited) that I had a little baby spirit wanting to come in and join me. The series of paintings were all vaginas, eggs and womb like images, singing a song of babies to come.
And I dreamed of him. This future lover of mine, Maya’s father. With the spiritual awakening I was experiencing, I started to “just know” the future and something significant was about to happen. So when I walked into the cafe and ran right into the man in my dreams, I recognized him immediately. As I got his story, he was in the middle of moving to Pennsylvania when something made him switch mid-course and he decided to move to Orlando, even as all of his possessions were already en route to Pennsylvania. The timing of this switch lined up exactly with one of my declarations to the universe that I had enough of going it alone and demanded it send my husband, now, complete with a list of qualities and characteristics this guy should have. Ahh, well, be careful what you ask for…or what you leave off the list….
After a brief conversation, I left the cafe and called my best friend and told her, for the record, I just met my husband. I had dreamed of him multiple times and the story he told about growing food, intentional communities and wanting to live near his three children from a previous marriage sounded good to me. We exchanged numbers about him working on the garden for the cafe and not even a week later we were having an initial meeting about the garden. I took my glasses off for a minute and when I looked up at him, he looked like he was struck and exclaimed: “There you are! I’ve been looking for you my entire life! Get over here!” I wrote at the time: “It was like being reunited with you very bestest friend after millennia apart and we were both so excited to see each other again and we had so much to talk about and catch up on and all that excitement.” That was the first full moon, and the beginning of the craziest experience of my life.
If you’ve ever heard of a twin flame, he was mine, close as I can figure. Our spirits were madly in love with one another and we both were radiantly luminous. In photos, we are glowing in the shade. We both flung our hearts open wide and next thing you know faces were morphing, minds were being read, everything else in the universe just melted away as we discussed marriage and talked about the baby we knew we were meant to create together. On the second full moon we went into a spontaneous sacred ceremony without words and woke up knowing we had just been spiritual joined. Yet, that afternoon I was overcome with a knowing that I was going to raise our child alone and expressed my concern that he was going to die or leave me. Bothersome little things started to crop up in the course of getting to know the human being attached to this spirit I was in love with over the next month.
This is me on the second full moon. Smack in the middle of crazy.
On the third full moon, Maya was conceived. I felt something come from the stars and enter my body but woke forgetting that. Instead, I looked at this human being asleep next to me and wondered who the hell this guy was and what the hell I was doing. In retrospect, it was like I had been under a spell and as soon as Maya was created, it was lifted. It took a few weeks to untangle the relationship, as I could now clearly see that his integrity was off with regard to being responsible for his existing children, amongst other things. By the next full moon, I had broken it off a week before I discovered I was to be a mama, an occasion on which I giggled and felt nothing but joy, which made no rational sense.
The following month, I explored returning to a relationship with him, but every fiber of my being was saying hell no. A friend of mine who knew the situation well counseled me to follow my instincts and wisely said that he would prove himself as a man of integrity or not in short order. That’s where crazy ends and I started to rescue myself. Babies do that – they either make you rise to the occasion or send you running the other way. He ran, I rose. Everything came into such sharp focus after that…when you are pregnant, you are literally ONE with your child. What you do to yourself, you do to your baby. It’s cut and dry, as simple as it gets.
What followed was a pregnancy where I put myself back together. My cultural conditioning was revealed. I had met my other half – no one told me he was going to show up poorly in this lifetime, and I would chose not to be with him. Happily ever after? Not with him, thank you very much. In fact, I didn’t even need him to rescue me on a white horse like the fairy tales all told me I would need. Nope, the only person who could save me from all the drama and chaos was myself. On behalf of my child and the next seven generations, at least.
Strange to be telling this story now. I haven’t written about, or even spoken about that period to many people. It’s embarrassing, and I don’t get embarrassed. Plus, it’s more than a lot far out for most people. Faces morphing? Seriously? Yeah, I don’t get it either.
I got this. No damsel in distress here.
What I am realizing is that I am no longer a damsel in distress. I don’t need to be rescued. I cancelled that program and deleted it when I chose to be a single parent and take responsibility for the delightful human being that calls me mommy. I got this. It’s handled. It’s not always easy, and my community pitches in a great deal, but at the end of the day, it’s me making this life for us. I know what is best for me now, and I am much better at listening when my intuition speaks. That goes for business, romance, community and family.
There it is. The story I haven’t told.