Thursday, June 9, 2011

Kauai...a safe haven.

 Going to Kauai was the best thing for me.  I was alone. I was giving myself time and space to recover.  Yes, recover from burnout as a teacher, but also from all the patterns that had overtaken me.  I have co-dependent tendencies.  My first response is to think first of others and then myself.  I give too much, detrimentally to myself.  At this point in time, I had exhausted myself with my commitment to family, friends, and mostly to my work – my students.   I was slowing changing those patterns after years of support via counselors, twelve step groups and friends.

However, being in the same environment and with some relationships made it more challenging to change.  Others had become accustom to my role that I had taken on in childhood, with my habitual patterns of giving and doing for others.  So, when I started to change some years back, it was difficult for them, and for me since it required a lot of emotional energy to stay my course – to change and grow emotionally and spiritually no matter how it impacted others.  And, no matter how different it was from them and what they had known me to be or what their perceptions of me were.  I had to live authentically.

I was still learning that my life had just as much value, and what I wanted was important.  I know that in putting others first that my outgoing message was that my life didn’t have the same value as theirs and I was willing to compromise myself, my preferences and desires to meet theirs…this was wrong of me.  I would get upset when I didn’t receive the same consideration back.  In fact, I was perplexed at how people couldn’t do the same as I.   I have learned that I can’t blame others for this dynamic and for taking advantage of me.  I sent this message out through my actions and it was up to me to change this.  I had to, with every action and decision, claim my value.  I needed this for me.  A lesson learned, but remains challenged by some loved ones even in present day.

I was feeling quite numb when I arrived in Hawai’i, from my decision and actions to leave my comfort zone and to jump into the unknown.  I was fearful of the money concerns and how I was going to make this all work without a regular salary.  I basically was terrified about all of the possibilities.  Yet, I was thrilled about all of the possibilities.  So, I did do a dance in my head:  Surrender; I am okay and I will be taken care of; and all that I need will come to me.  Then, I would freak out when I had to dish out too much money for food or a hotel.  Back and forth.  A dance between living in fear and in trust.  Yet, I knew this would take me to my dream of living freely, lightly, being able to surrender and trust that all would work out as it should.

At a gut level I knew if I could expand my comfort zone, get into spontaneity and just trust, then I could live lightly and freely.  I could let go of the bonds that society had taught me were okay.  I no longer wanted to live in that paradigm.  I couldn’t ever imagine myself going back to a job that was suppose to be 8 hours a day, but in order to do the job it was 12 and 14 hours a day, plus commuting.   I no longer wanted a boss, or to function in a system that was dysfunctional at best, where my voice was not even heard, even if I was the one giving direct service.
On those white sandy beaches of Kauai, I could just be.  I could just let myself feel whatever I was feeling in the moment.  I let the heat of the days nurture me.  I let the water wash away the toxins.  I let the trade winds give me respite from the heat and from my thoughts.  I let things go.  And, most importantly, I focused on myself.  Kauai brought me days of not having to put anyone else first.  I escaped.  And for some reason being in Hawai’i for my family and friends meant that I was ‘off planet’ so I didn’t have any distractions or pressures from my old life.  I slept.  I read.  I walked the beach, day and night.   I swam.  I breathed.  I breathed in healing, love, and self-care.
I only talked to people if I wanted to do so.  And, when I did, I laughed.  I met this wonderful couple. They were kind and welcoming.  We explored the island together, without pressure.  But, mostly I stayed in my Adirondack chair, reading, resting and with walls around me that said, ‘This is my time, do not disturb, thanks.’.  Of all the Hawaiian Islands that I have been to, Kauai is the most dear to my heart.  It gave me respite when I was in desperate need.

I was then off…back to the Big Island to meet my challenges of living in community at a retreat.   Oh gosh…was my respite from society and people really over?  Was I ready?

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