We have been here five weeks today.
Five BIG weeks.
In some ways, it has been easier than I would have thought, and in some ways, a little trickier
As I share morsels of our days on FB and my blog, I receive questions, which I have been trying to answer as they come.
The main questions are:
Today, as I was traveling back to the village on the bus, I flashed back to almost a year ago, when I arrived on the same bus, after sundown. And as I remembered all that happened in that last year, I thought that telling that story could answer a lot of these questions.
I also thought that it might make for a long story, but here goes.
In two parts.
Part One. Setting The Stage.
The end of 2019 was rough, for me.
Now that I think about it, my heart had been doing spins since early January of the previous year.
Working with refugees in the land where my own family had sought refuge hundreds of years ago, broke a dam within me. I knew it had the power of affecting me, but I did not how deeply. I regret none of it.
I returned to the US in the Spring of 2018 and threw myself into a work craze. That summer we created our first big online course, I certified Essence Facilitators to teach my own work, and we visioned and delivered A Day in Happyville. I organized a couple of fundraisers for refugees, too.
The whole time, my sister my mom, and I were preparing for my mom's passing. On August 11, nineteen years to the day after my dad had passed away, the three of us got on a conference call with hospice. Very much the Lavigne Women way: getting s*** done. Hearing my mom's voice, a hundred percent clear-minded, orchestrating her last days, slayed me.
As soon as A Day in Happyville was over, I hopped on a plane to Florida to help my sister usher my mom into her last few weeks. I sang "Les Feuilles Mortes" to her as she crossed over and in some ways, it felt like a birth as much as a death. When the two men wearing ill-fitting suits closed the doors of the white van that took her body away on a stretcher a couple of hours later, I ran after the car like a kid left alone in kindergarten for the first time.
I came home numb and empty. The word "orphan" felt overly dramatic and age inappropriate and yet in my belly, it rang terribly true.
2019 began with a beautiful Retreat to the French Caribean, shortly followed by a tough blast to my romantic relationship. A mixture of betrayal and what I saw as dangerous craziness on the part of a reader created a canyon that would be hard to mend. A few weeks later, I found my then partner collapsed on the front steps of the house, gasping for air. His heart was damaged and the Spring was spent attending to it. When the doctors took him away on another stretcher towards the operating room, I could barely breathe.
He healed well.
In the Fall, I ended the relationship and the weeks that followed were brutal. While I am not ready to share these details, I will say that they shook the foundation of my work, of my semi-public life. So much was affected by it, so much was being questioned. Including, I felt, my safety.
With a mountain of support, I made it through another Retreat in Mexico in January. Some it felt like I was walking through fire. And at the same time, being held in a lot of love.
Back to the States at the end of January, I tried to re-group. My younger son invited me to join him in one of his night ocean swims. Feeling the strength of having walked through the fire, I found myself dipping my body in ice-cold water and screaming at the stars. I definitely did not swim, but I went in and immersed myself almost fully, and anyone who knows me will know that the combination of pitch dark, ice-cold, and wet is not my favorite. But there was a hot fire waiting for me as I emerged, both anesthetized by the icy water and yet fully alive, feeling as though my inside were roaring.
A couple of weeks later, I decided that I would go back to Mexico and gift myself 12 days of heartbreak-free Mexico. Twelve days for just me. Not having to take care of anyone, nor look over my shoulder. Somewhere that held no memories.
Twelve days to meditate, heal, and pick up the pieces of a newly fragile relationship with my work and my readers. I would decide how I wanted to handle all of it going forward. Decide IF I wanted to go forward.
My older son suggested a beach village he had loved during his 6-month stay on the other side of the border, and I booked a flight.
On February 29th, I sat on the same bus I rode on this morning, making its way from the city through the jungle as the sky got darker and stormier.
When the driver called the name of the village, I got out and followed a few surfers towards the center of town.
It felt so good to be there, somewhere new, somewhere where I could be alone and still soak up all the Mexico goodness that my cells love so much.
After a bit, I found my Airbnb, walked through the open door, emptied my backpack, took a shower, and let out a big breath. Twelve days. The first nine fully on my own and the last three with a girlfriend who would join me.
I laid down my Morning Pages notebook next to my bed, knowing I would write in its pages every day.
That's when my host showed up to introduce himself and make sure I had all I needed. He was very nice and before he left he let me know that there was a music festival happening just a few blocks away. "It only happens once a year and it is really good. You should check it out."
It had been a long day of travel, it was pitch dark and I was not completely sure where I was. Also, I was here to meditate and write. Not to party.
Of course, I went.
The air was warm, the stars were twinkling above it all, fringed by palm trees, and it was hard to believe I had left a frigid Washington just hours before. There was music everywhere. And people. And food. And dogs. And kids. And somehow... love. It's hard to explain but it was easy to sense.
I stood back and watched the musicians on the stage, the crowd, I felt it all, and I remember thinking that something was happening - and that I could decide whether I wanted it to or not.
Something was melting.
Two years of barely noticeable bracing, holding, of loss, of grieving. The sweet air, the sounds, the smells, the freedom, the anonymity somehow joined hands in inviting me to let go.
I walked back to my Airbnb an hour later, knowing that I had accepted the invitation.
Over the next few days, I fell in love.