Two months ago I returned to Puerto Viejo riding on a rainbow.
I was so high from all of the synchronicities and heart openings during my travels in Guatemala and the Mexican states of Oaxaca, Chiapas, and the Yucatan, that everything around me seemed to sparkle.
The sun shone that much brighter.
The flowers smelled that much sweeter.
The sloths looked that much cuter.
I felt so full of happiness and gratitude to be home in paradise, after possibly the most amazing trip I had ever been on, that at times I wondered if my heart would explode into a glitter bomb. I was so in love with myself and my life that it was easy to love everything and everyone. Plus I had felt so safe, free, and loved in Mexico and Guatemala that I carried that feeling back home to Costa Rica.
As I rode up and down the main road to the beach or to yoga or to the farmer’s market, I did ecstatic dance on my bicycle. I sang at the top of my lungs and pointed an imaginary microphone at people on the street. I smiled to every person I passed and shouted “BUENOS DIAS AMIGOS!” then I’d giggle and wave.
In the past I avoided the crowded beaches, this time I gravitated towards them. At sunset I’d go there and hula hoop or skip while singing to myself. I had conversations on a deep level with people I never used to give the time of day. I talked about spirit animals and star seeds and getting high without drugs to anybody.
Where I once used to barricade myself in, I let everything hang out.
And people started treating me differently. Very differently.
While in the past I’d get cat called at least ten times in ten minutes, this time I’d pass entire construction crews who simply greeted me with smiles. People laughed and gave air high fives when they saw me dance on my bicycle. Even the women who used to glare at me showed their pearly whites. In this community where it’s so easy to feel like a perpetual outsider among locals, I felt like maybe I was breaking down the wall.
I dreamed up ideas for connecting locals and travelers and foreigners in experiences so much deeper than nights out at the bars. I planned conscious beach parties with Acro yoga and bonfires and hula hooping and drum circles. I invited friends over for cacao and cuddle puddles. I snuggled with and saw the beauty in so many people I used to shut out. I got more and more high off my own happiness.
Most radically of all, I sought to see the divinity in the man here who had hurt me so badly in the past. I spoke to him with an open heart, told him how special he is, and genuinely thanked him for helping me. I fantasized about having a truly pure platonic friendship with him that would heal not only our karma, but the karma that made so many women in this town hate men. And honestly, it felt really good.
My friends thought I was delusional.
I thought I was pretty awesome.
But there was still that little voice of insecurity that wondered, “Am I more than just happy, am I actually fucking crazy?”
Disconcerted by my possible naïveté, I decided to take a trip back in time. To understand where all of my walls came from to begin with. To remember why it’s so much easier for me to be open when I travel than it has been to be open here in Puerto Viejo. I went back to relive the past so I wouldn’t make the same mistakes in my present.
I did it as a full on ceremony, because what else do you do on a Sunday night when you live alone in the jungle?
In meditation I called in the past, all of the times over the years that I’ve lived here in this Caribbean beach town and all of the experiences that transpired. Though what was strange, was that I kept getting distracted by visions of an ex boyfriend from back when I lived in the states.
I kept thinking of him and how connected I had once felt to him. I felt the intimate moments we once shared. It was the first time in years that I remembered what deep, physical intimacy felt like.
I felt this pull from him that was so strong, I actually asked him to let me go. Then something in my consciousness told me that I needed to check my email correspondence with him. It was strange, because I’ve never had that feeling before, but I very strongly felt that I needed to dig into the email archives.
So, in the middle of my ceremony, I pulled out my iPhone. I scrolled through emails from more than four years ago, and there was nothing remotely significant. I nearly turned off the phone and that’s when I saw it. An email I had written to my ex while I was living here in Puerto Viejo, the very night that the walls came up.
I had completely forgotten that I had emailed him that night. It was 4am and I was totally drunk when I wrote it, and perhaps my babbling was so embarrassing I blocked it from my memory. It was the night that I found out about the deception of the man I loved in Puerto Viejo. The memory of that night stung me less than the words that I read in that email.
“I don’t think that any man has ever loved me, and I don’t think that any man ever will.”
Those words hit me like a ton of bricks. It felt impossible to believe that the same woman who always smiles and dances for hours without alcohol, sings “I love you” songs to herself and others, travels the world and makes friends wherever she goes, and has been told again and again that she must be the happiest person in the world, is the same woman who once wrote that. It humbled me to my knees.
I watched memories from all of the moments between then and now like they were compiled in a flip animation book. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so blessed in my life, and it was simply for my own dedication towards self-growth. I sobbed and held myself and said “Thank you,” over and over and over again. I said thank you for having the time and the space to transform in this way and I said thank you for seizing the opportunity. I turned to my spirit and I bowed down in reverence for its incredible devotion to becoming a more and more conscious loving human being.
“I don’t think that any man has ever loved me, and I don’t think that any man ever will.”
I had grown so much, but a piece of that wounded belief was still there. So I let myself feel all of the pain that I had felt over the years. Every bit of heartbreak that I soldered together to eventually create an entire suit of armor. It had been there all along, I just hadn’t been ready to excavate it until now.
I laid on my bed with my arms splayed open and my heart lifted towards the sky. “I’m ready to receive all of the love and blessings that you have for me,” I said. “I’m ready to heal this. I will do whatever it takes to heal this.”
The next morning I felt like a different person. And not in a yummy way. I felt like a little girl who had lost her innocence.
I didn’t want to smile at people in the streets. I didn’t want to go to the busy beach and socialize. I didn’t believe that my vision of creating conscious gatherings here for people of all walks of life was remotely realistic. I watched blame and judgment creep in. And more than anything I didn’t want to see or speak to that man here from my past. Before the ceremony he was a shining example of God’s divinity. After the ceremony he was the most despicable human being on Earth. A shift in perspective is actually that powerful.
For the days that followed I suffered a lot. It was funny because nothing had actually happened. On the outside nothing had changed at all. Yet I felt as raw as if everything had just happened. I felt like all of the walls I tore down over the years came right back up. And it didn’t feel good.
My mind struggled with reconciling it all. With understanding how a human could have an open heart in such a fucked up world where people did such fucked up things. With understanding how a sweet girl could regain her innocence in a place where past experience told her that she wasn’t safe to let people in. Most of all, my mind struggled because what I thought made logical sense didn’t FEEL good. I wondered how it was possible for me to love and act freely, which felt so yummy, without getting hurt, which felt so devastating.
And yet, the hurt that I felt was old hurt. It was the illusion of hurt. Because nothing hurtful actually happened since I got back to Puerto Viejo and decided to act with an open heart.
I knew that now was not the time to shut down. Not when I had just been so open. Maybe being on high on rainbows seems idealistic to others, but it feels really good for me. Maybe I’m crazy to imagine myself as a fairy goddess or an enlightened being or a magical unicorn, but doesn’t my happiness only arouse more happiness in others? No matter how delusional it might seem? I knew all of this, but opening back up wasn’t easy.
I struggled to be open when I now felt full of fear. Then, interestingly, I did find myself getting hurt again. No matter how scared I was of getting hurt, I got hurt again in exactly the way that made me fearful to begin with. The pain that I called in during my ceremony, the memories of all of the past pain, came to greet me in the flesh in exactly the same pattern. I watched myself re-enter a cycle that I had done so much work to break free of.
To be fair, I was making tremendous strides. It felt like I had taken a step backwards because I wasn’t flying in the ether, but I was working through my barriers with conscious awareness this time. I wasn’t simply caught in the wheel of my past, I was living it out and growing in the process. It really hurt, but I was growing.
Through these challenges I also remembered all of the practices that got me into my rainbow to begin with. I remembered to tell myself “I love you,” as much as possible. I remembered to thank everyone and every situation for helping me. I remembered to turn inward despite the tempting desire to look outward for love, validation, really anything. I remembered to make choices that felt deeply nourishing.
I saw that so much of my energy was being drained by trying to heal different relationships from my past, that I forgot to give my attention to the most important relationship of all. My relationship with myself.
So a few nights ago, I removed all of the external sources of validation and rejection. I went completely inward. I did my Yin Yoga practice naked on my deck under the stars. I kissed my knees and my arms and my legs with the passion and affection that I would offer a lover. I repeated again and again the kindest most sincere compliments to myself that I could muster. And when I went to bed, I held myself and felt so blessed to be going to bed with me. Cause I’m a pretty freaking special being.
In the morning what amazed me, was that I felt so full of love, that I was no longer drawn to the situation that had triggered my suffering. Oh, right, I realized, because love attracts more love. Align yourself with the vibration of love and you become drawn only to those experiences that match that vibration. The more you fill up with love, the more you release anything that isn’t love. The longing I held that hurt me so much faded, because it wasn’t rooted in love.
I grabbed my hula hoop and started dancing to this song:
“Some think that love is a method for the meek. You have to surrender, you walk the path and get weak. No, if you look for love and love is all you seek, you will see that everything that’s not love has got to leave. It’s a strong current of love holding love and light making light. More of the same: love attracts more of what it likes. Making love is a conscious choice. In the face of your own fear, it’s a courageous voice. Keeping the energy of molecules in motion, don’t deny yourself a faster vibration. Find your communion: sacred emotion. Light is love at rest, love is light in motion.”
‘Cause the thing about the suffering, is that it didn’t come when I was open. It came the moment that I let myself shut down. It came the moment that I stopped trusting and started fearing. I was reminded of the seeming paradox that walls don’t actually keep you safe, only an open heart does.
Only when you have walls do the wrecking balls need to come in. Only when you’ve built barricades do you need the explosives. Only when you’re judging something does it keep coming back to trigger you until you surrender. If your heart is already open, you don’t need devastation or confusion to come and crack you open. A heart open doesn’t need to be broken.
We’re so afraid of the vulnerability of an open heart, but no danger lies there. The danger lies in the walls. Fill yourself up with light and love and nothing else can touch you. Fill yourself up with light and love and you will attract more and more light and love.
Not to say that more challenges won’t come your way. They will. But when you see them as playful trickers here to remind you to open, rather than dangerous demons that you have to guard yourself against, that’s when the game changes.
Still, with all of this awareness, at times I find myself falling into the same funk of sadness, unworthiness, and lack of trust. Falling into the same longing and desire for validation outside of me. Falling into the same tendency to shut down and close up.
I guess it’s a process that we’re going through together. We’re all here on this Earth, whether in New York City or small town America or bustling Bangkok or beaches in Bali or villages in the Himalayas or jungles in Africa or in the tiny Caribbean town of Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica, to break down our walls and remember how to love. We are all just here to remember how to love.
And honestly, I wish I had all of the answers. I wish I could tell myself and all of you how to return to pure ecstatic love. But for me, the journey is still unfolding. It’s still revealing itself. So for now, I’m working on simply staying open. Staying open to receiving all of the lessons, the healing, and the love that awaits me. Staying open to receiving love in all forms, to remember that I am love in all forms. Just as you are. Just as we all are.
When you want to shut down
that’s your moment to open up.
When you feel like giving up
that’s your time to give in.
When you think that you’re without
that’s your call to go within.
When you start to judge yourself
that’s your reminder to love yourself.
When you feel like your heart is broken
that’s your chance to crack it open.
May you open to the magnificence of who you are, so that you may open to the magnificence of all that is.
I love you.