I woke to the sound of the waves crashing as sunlight spilled into my thatched roof cabana. Tangled up in soft, clean white sheets I can see the morning surfers paddling into the ocean from my bed. And all I can do is smile.
Though it’s more than the view that soothes me this morning. It’s knowing that I’ve woken up on my honeymoon with the person I love more than anything in the world. It’s the feeling that after searching for most of my life, I’ve finally found my soul mate.
I walk down to the shoreline, and cradle myself in the shady nook of a giant boulder. Waves intermittently drown me with spray as they crash against the precipice of the rock. There’s nothing tranquil about this ocean, and yet, I feel entirely at peace. And why shouldn’t I? I’m on my honeymoon with my soul mate.
A song comes to my mind and I start to sing,
“How did I end up here?
How did IIIIII end up here?
How did I end up here?”
‘Cause really, on the outside, nothing has changed. I still stand five feet three inches tall and carry most of my weight in my bum. I still write a blog called This American Girl. I still call Costa Rica’s Caribbean my home. I still love yoga and reggae and green smoothies and ecstatic dance and talking about the moon and the stars. I still travel more than I sit still. I’m still single. I’m still traveling alone.
Only today, I happen to be in Zipolite, Oaxaca, Mexico.
And on the inside I do feel different. So different.
Despite traveling on my own for the past four years and learning to love spending time alone, there has always been a man in the background. Or at least a longing for one. Some of you know the story of my life before travel, how I was always in a committed relationship despite the unhappiness I felt within them.
As I began to travel intrepidly across the globe, I still found men to cling to, even if I physically said goodbye. They all carried the common thread of being emotionally (sometimes physically) unavailable. And I felt the same thing with each of them: insecure and inadequate.
Interestingly, most of them worked in the same industry as me. I considered each of them to be far more successful than me, which meant I not only felt insufficient as the woman society expects me to be, I felt insufficient as the man society expects me to be. My achievements dwarfed in comparison to theirs and what I often felt proud of seemed embarrassing when I was with them.
The more I traveled, the more I asked myself, why do I always seek out and attract this archetype?
Don’t get me wrong, there have been many times where I’ve felt content on my own. But deep down, a part of me always longed for a man, whether he was from my past or someone I hadn’t met yet.
And I think what lay at the heart of it was the belief that I would never be physically, emotionally, or financially safe without him. Which actually makes complete sense. Because that’s precisely what masculinity does: it protects us and provides stability. If we feel that masculinity is lacking in our lives, why wouldn’t we feel insecure?
After an adolescence and adulthood of being feminine in every sense of the word, I realized that if I wanted to feel secure on my own, I needed to discover my own masculinity. After an adolescence and adulthood of searching for “the one,” I needed to become the man of my dreams. I needed to become my own soul mate. I needed to become “the one.”
Admittedly, I didn’t really know what that meant. I grew up in a household with all women, never played sports, and I have always loved purple and crystals and unicorns. So I looked to the heart of masculinity to show me the way.
No, I didn’t start wearing a cup or killing animals.
I began to understand masculinity as the yang to the feminine yin. As the sun to the moon. As fire to water. As the force that ensures physical, emotional, and financial protection. As the ground that holds space for the flower to blossom.
I started by becoming the boss of my business. Taking myself seriously on paper. Getting financially stable. And once I made that decision, I did. At lightening speed. Just like a man.
After two years of living gig to gig out of my backpack on a shoestring, finally having money that I had earned through my own blood sweat and tears felt so damn good. I wasn’t relying on a corporation or a tourism board or a client or a sponsorship. I was relying completely on myself.
I could afford to live exactly how I wanted without sacrificing my happiness or integrity. I achieved what I once thought impossible by sharing more of my heart with others and accepting that I deserve abundance.
I felt strong and stable, but I still longed for a man.
So I gave myself the love that I thought only a man could give me. Sex. With the pace and rhythm and duration that only I wanted. And when I was done I held myself and told myself all of the things that I always wished a man would have said after.
Call me brash, but I’m sharing this with you because I feel it’s one of the most spectacularly healing practices I’ve ever done. As someone who had previously only masturbated a few times in her life, I was shocked that I had withheld physical love from myself for so long. Men are almost expected to pleasure themselves daily, so why couldn’t I?
Why feel shame or blame or embarrassment, when you can just feel good?
And I began to feel so good, that I was able to help others feel good too.
I started hosting women’s circles at my house, offering a safe space to share and explore femininity through songs, oracle cards, and general silliness. Eventually I became strong enough to hold space for seven women for seven days on my very first yoga retreat. I watched seven beautiful women blossom around me. Just like a big strong man.
The more connected I became with my own masculine energy, the safer my feminine side felt in showing herself too. My practice became not only being the man of my dreams, but loving my sweet soft woman the way that she has always wanted to be loved.
A huge source of inspiration for me was the psychic channel Matt Kahn who teaches what he calls “The Love Revolution.” Which is essentially telling yourself “I love you” as often as possible. Using the words “I love you,” as the remedy for any situation. And loving all of the parts of yourself and others that you’ve previously judged.
On my morning beach walks, I would place my hand on my heart and I would sing,
“Because I love you so much. Because I love you so much, so much, so much. Because I love you so much, with all of my heart. Hey a nah hey nay oh aye.”
I would cradle myself in fetal pose in bed at night and say, “I love you.” I would look at myself in the mirror and say, “I love you sweet angel.” I would have a bad mood or feel triggered or depressed and I would say, “That’s ok babe, I’m still here to love you. Thank you for showing me where I still need to love you.” I would feel the urge for a man from my past and I would giggle and say, “Aw, honey, you know you don’t really want that. But it’s ok, I’ll love you so that you can remember.”
I looked at my body that I’ve spent my life judging and even when I wanted to judge it I would say, “I love you. Thank you. You are beautiful.” Then one morning I finally had an intervention with my ego and said, “Look what an easy body I gave you! How can you not see how beautiful you are? Can you stop trying to be perfect and just see me and love me?”
Afterwards I looked into the mirror and I laughed. And laughed. And laughed. I laughed that someone so beautiful could judge herself for being ugly.
Every day I was falling in love with myself more and more.
But my soul doesn’t like to sit still. It likes to grow and it likes to evolve. It likes to press all of my buttons until I wake up in a newer, juicier, yummier, reality. So last week it decided to trigger me again. To remind me that I’ve still got more to love.
A few days after I landed in Mexico, I received an unexpected message. From someone who reflected back to me, through sarcasm and superiority, so many parts of myself that I still need to love. It’s been almost two years since I saw him and I still harbor feelings for him, despite how insecure I once felt in his presence.
So when he told me that he was coming to Mexico, I felt some anxiety brewing. I wanted to see him despite knowing that it wouldn’t be good for me. I knew that it was an opportunity to simply remember to love myself more, but I really just wanted for him to love me more.
The feelings of inadequacy crept in again. Thinking that he was better than me. Thinking that my life and work is futile. My inner male felt emasculated. And as a woman I felt like I wasn’t beautiful or lovable.
But then these words came to soothe me,
“You are here to love yourself like no one ever has, and everyone, whether they love you or hurt you, is simply here to remind you.”
So I offered pure kindness without shame or blame to that lovely (which he is) asshole (which he can be). I loved him through his cynicism with compliments. I chose to be love instead of superior. Who knows if it touched him, but I liberated myself in the process.
Then I took his sweet bee-sting reminder to heart. I loved myself like he, and all of the other men over the years, never did.
I splurged on a two hour deep tissue massage and I took myself out for a romantic candlelit dinner on the beach. With my sandy feet propped on the table I watched the stars overhead shine bright like fireflies. I looked around at my reality. One that I had worked for, paid for, and had the bravery to pursue, all on my own.
And then, I took myself to bed, in a beautiful romantic cabana right on the beach.
In a state of absolute bliss and relaxation, I had a thought…
The more you love yourself and others with all of your being, and the more you share your joy with the world, the more beautiful everything around you becomes. Until one day, you wake up in paradise with the love of your life.
This morning, sitting on the beach gazing out at the ocean, in paradise, the same song comes to me again. But this time, I remember the second part.
So I sing,
“This is how, you got here.
This is how, you got here.
This is how, you got here.”
Listen to the whole song here.