‘Feel’ is not a 4 letter word.

I used to put on my shorts and tank top and walk across the street from my house to the beach in the evening. I would walk in the waves and see how far out I could go without getting pulled out to sea. I loved the feel of the waves on my legs and it would make me feel revived and energetic. But, a few weeks ago they closed the beaches down in Los Angeles due to the Corona virus. I understand why they did it. People were trapped in their homes, and when they thought of a place to go to feel better, they thought of the ocean. So people were coming from all over and hanging out at the beaches. So, for everyone’s safety, they had to shut them down. I felt really sad the first time I walked the esplanade and saw the barricades, and the police patrolling the area.

So, now I wear my face mask, gloves and I walk on the other side of the street. I can still see the ocean, but I can’t get to it. Yesterday on my walk I noticed how blue the water seemed. The waves seemed louder, and the sand seemed more golden. As I walked up the hill on my new walking route in the residential hills above the ocean I noticed some ripples in the water, and some seagulls going down to meet the ripples. I looked closer and it was dolphins. I have seen them in the ocean before, but they always seemed to be on a mission to get somewhere and would swim rapidly. But this time they were staying in one place and jumping in and out of the water. Were they playing?

It brought tears to my eyes, and made me so happy to see them. I stood and stared out at them. They looked joyful. I couldn’t even tell the people around me to watch them, because it’s hard to talk to people when you are 6 feet away. It was beautiful and I just watched by myself.

As I walked up the hill, I understood why the dolphins were joyful. There were no windsurfers, sailing boats, swimmers, or people like me walking in their water. They could relax and enjoy. There was no one pushing them to hurry up and swim, to get away from a loud engine or a camera in their face. They could just BE. I get it. These last few weeks, I have been given the gift of just ‘being’. I don’t think I have ever had time like this in my whole adult life.

Before this happened, I had been considering going on a retreat for a month. I have had a lot of changes in my life recently, and I felt like I needed to take a pause and have my emotions catch up with me. I moved to Los Angeles in November, I am in the process of getting divorced after 20 years of marriage, and I started a new job. Aren’t these the 3 most stressful pain points on the scale? I knew I had an underlying sadness that would come up at odd times during the day, and it especially came up when I started dating.

But I had been sad for the past 5 years before I moved to LA and I was tired of feeling sad. I wanted to run away from it once I got here. So, I was nonstop all day and I would flop into bed in exhaustion at night. That was the way I had learned to stop the sadness from creeping in and slowing me down. But it didn’t go away, it just waited there for me to acknowledge it.

This time has forced me feel the confusion and hurt of putting my heart out to someone I loved and trying to connect with them, only for it to be disregarded and turned into something negative. After all the mistreatment and years of being ignored, I was still trying to make ‘us’ work. Looking at these things makes me feel humiliated and used. These are not good feelings. But this time has allowed me to stop and let all of those feelings surface. As bad as it feels, I am seeing the positive side of letting them come out.

My family was everything to me. Everything I did in my life was for them from the moment my daughter was born. My happiest moments were when the 3 of us were together. I lived and planned for those moments. I am learning that is NOT a bad thing! That is nothing for me to be ashamed of, or feel stupid for. My feelings for my husband changed over the course of our marriage, I saw his flaws and I am sure he saw mine but I still wanted to put the energy in to make it work and for us to be together. He didn’t. It was and is as simple as that. There is nothing for me to feel bad or humiliated about. He wanted something different, and I finally got the message. I wanted something different too, I just wanted him to want what I wanted. I wanted us to want something different together.

Now I clearly see my actions. I see that I was a doormat and not a good example for my daughter. I see that I gave away the best parts of me for nothing in return. I see that I was misunderstood and disregarded by someone who I thought loved me. It hurts! It hurts more than anything has ever hurt in my life. But I can’t make myself feel bad because I loved. Being rejected is bad enough, but by beating myself up for even trying, I am making everything worse.

I am lucky that for 17 years I was completely in love with someone, and I think that he loved me. That I got to enjoy a complete physical connection with someone that some people will never experience. That I have a beautiful daughter that is truly the best of both of us. I am proud that I did not hold back to protect my heart, and I gave it my all. There is nothing for me to feel stupid about. I loved and I lost, it happens all the time.

In taking the time to feel the sadness, I also am seeing the worth of my love. As I watched the dolphins in the ocean jumping in and out of the water I felt their joy and I smiled to myself. Life is not a race to see who gets through it with the least amount of pain. Life is an experience. We are here to experience all aspects of it. And it is the hard parts that make the good parts that much more special.