In September of 2018, I set out on a long romantic weekend to Bolton Landing with the person I thought was the love of my life. We planned to cross some things off my bucket list.
We were going to go up in a hot air balloon and stay at the Sagamore right on Lake George. I knew he planned to propose, and we joked about it the whole trip up and the week preceding. I kept saying to him things like “When we are in the hot air balloon and you ask me to…(pause)….hand you a piece of gum" (or something else stupid,) and he was doing the same just reversed.
He borrowed his step-father's fancy little sports car, and the whole drive up, I remember feeling like I was radiating happiness.
We got to the Sagamore and our room was in one of the sub buildings near the main Sagamore building. It was beautiful and of course, we had full access to the gorgeous property there, but it didn’t quite check off my bucket list dream.
When we went to the hot air balloon festival, none of the balloons were going up due to the wind. It was still a cool experience, and I honestly didn’t even care. These things paled in comparison to finally getting engaged to the man I loved for the last 5 years.
It was an intimate proposal on a giant boulder overlooking Lake George on the Sagamore property. He had a cooler with some incredible tasting champagne to follow. The ring was gorgeous, and I couldn’t stop smiling. I felt like all my prayers the last five years had finally been answered.
Until yesterday, I had forgotten the date, even the month of this proposal. I think I had been trying to block out the memory.
However, the body has a memory that is way better than the conscious memory. It blows my freakin mind.
Last week, I had been feeling off. Slowing down for my morning Sadhana (time with God) had been a struggle. My mind kept racing with things I needed to get done. My thoughts had been swirling, and I hadn’t been as clear as usual.
I always know something is off with my body when I can’t stop working. When accomplishing things becomes an obsession, I know I need to reflect.
This week I cleaned out closets, cleared out Eli’s drawers, swapped out his crib/toddler bed for a big boy bed, organized the attic, sanded and prepped a dresser to be stained, drove poor Erik crazy until the project was finished, cooked fancier meals on top of my usual house cleaning, cooking, laundry etc. I definitely needed to reflect.
I started writing about this. I noted that although I felt off, I didn't feel emotionally tossed with the wind like I used to get. My self-care routines and focus on emotional regulation have been keeping my feet firmly planted.
I recognized that the fog would lift, and I would return to my equilibrium eventually. I stayed curious and just observed instead of stuffing the feelings down, shaming, or getting angry with myself for being a little off.
In my writing, I noted the phenomenon I’ve noticed for years now (since having Facebook memories to reflect on) that the body’s memory is much better than our actual memory. I was interested to know what was happening in my life years ago that may have some kind of stuck energy.
I turned to Facebook memories to spark my memory and sure enough, failed engagement weekend.
Apparently, I had some things to process through about it.
Just like that, I identified the problem and instantly felt a lot of the mental swirling lift as I consciously grasped what my body was freaking out about.
I decided to get cozy with the memory and see what it had to teach me. As I reflected on that weekend, I realized it was a weekend of "almost" that highlighted a relationship of almost. Almost checked things off my bucket list.
My favorite movie is Dirty Dancing. That year, my ex fiance and I dressed up as Johnny and Baby for Halloween. We tried and tried to do the infamous lift, but we didn’t even come close as I pitifully fell into him, on him, or one crazy drunken time flipped over him.... Almost.
We were supposed to get married that spring, but as most of you know, two months before our wedding, he told me he didn’t love me anymore. Almost got married.
It’s been about 4.5 years since the end of this relationship, but since that day, I had been at war with myself.
I couldn’t understand how I didn’t know better. It was a tumultuous on and off five years with him filled with discovering red flag after red flag, jumping from one false hope to another, and crying myself to sleep more times than I could even begin to count.
I was pissed at myself for letting it get that far in the first place and for not protecting myself. I am a sassy non-shit taking spit fire, but with him, I lost myself. All he had to do was look at me a certain way, and I melted like butter.
It’s like I went black and lost all common sense, logic, and reasoning. I felt that I should have expected what happened, and I should have known better. I was angry at myself that I couldn’t seem to control myself or protect myself when it came to him. If anyone knows me, you know this is not characteristic of me.
For years after the un-engagement, I kept thinking, “How the hell did I let that happen? How was I so friggin stupid? How could one person have had so much power over me?” "How was I shocked that this happened?"
I wanted to fight the experience, beat it into submission, and make sure nothing like that ever happened to me again. I just couldn’t put my finger on what exactly I was battling.
Several months ago, I was having another moment of cloudiness. This time it was like an angry cloud. I was angry and easily irritated, and I couldn’t figure out why. Erik took Eli for a couple hours, so I could just drive and think. Among other things in the present day bothering me, a song brought my thoughts to this rage at myself for not knowing better.
I was blasting In This Moment with the windows down and The Promise came on. Until then, that song always reminded me of my ex fiancé. On that drive, it hit me. It was never about him. It was always about me and my unhealed wounds.
This hold that you have over me
I grow so weak
I see you
And everything around you fades
And I can’t speak
You can never know what it is you do to me
I can’t take what you’re doin to me!
I can’t take it!"
(My Unhealed Wounds:)
"No matter what I say or what I do
I know how this will end
So I’m turning away now
Before we begin
And no matter that you say or what you do
I know how this will end
So I’m turning away now
I’m dangerous for you"
"You touch me
And I can barely make a move
And I can’t breathe
You can never know what it is you do to me"
He wasn’t my kryptonite. He wasn’t my Achilles heel. What I had stuffed below the surface and was not addressing, was. He just happened to find my sensitive spots in a way that no one else including myself had until that point. I felt like we had some insane connection, but now I think we just had similar wounds.
We are drawn to what we are familiar with and what we know. I battled abandonment issues and various other things since childhood. He made me feel intimately connected with those wounds. He understood, touched, and triggered them in ways no one else ever did, but again, that wasn’t about him, it was about me and the unhealed parts of me.
So many of us feel things like anger, fear, sadness, shame, unworthiness, etc., and instead of getting curious and digging in, we distract ourselves from it and ignore. With distractions literally just a click away, it’s far too easy to just not deal with things, but as Bessel Van Der Kolk's book says, the body keeps score, and remembers. What we are not dealing with will come out in some way or another. It’s no wonder that we are a nation riddled with anxiety, depression, substance abuse, lack of fulfillment and joy etc.
I went to see my wise healer friend Annette recently, and as I was telling her about how hard this type of emotional work was, she commented that we can do the work from a place of softness. It doesn’t have to be hard. Since remembering this, it’s felt a lot easier. I’ve been playful and curious with the emotions that arise in me.
Annette also told me that when I feel that frustrated and tied up in knots feeling that arises when parenting or whatever, to pay attention to those feelings because there lies my work. For example, maybe those moments when I am trying to be patient with Eli in his big feelings, the child in me who may not have always been sat with in big emotions is upset that no one sat with little Kelsea during something similar.
My parents and many others raising kids in my generation did an amazing job with the tools they had, but you don't know what you don't know. I am so thankful for the resources we have now including my parents, who are learning from mistakes and teaching us how to correct stuff that was missed back then.
My body remembered my failed engagement and the feelings of intense joy, hope, and happiness I initially felt followed by the feelings of intense sadness, abandonment, unworthiness, stupidity etc that I was left with when looking back on that weekend. The energy needs to be released in one way or another. If we don’t consciously look at it, it will come out another way.
From a recovering emotion stuffer, I’m here to say, facing our shadows is challenging, but it really isn’t that bad, in fact, it’s actually life changing in a good way. I can literally feel that my nervous system has shifted recently.
As I mentioned earlier, even in the midst of stressful or upsetting situations, I’ve been able to stay grounded and feel rooted despite. I haven’t been getting tossed around emotionally with every upsetting thing thrown my way.
“Sometimes, I thank God for unanswered prayers. Remember when you’re talking to the man upstairs. Just because He doesn’t answer, doesn’t mean He don’t care. Some of God’s greatest gifts, are unanswered prayers" (Garth Brooks).