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Musings

Say what you mean and mean what you say…

Megan Harrod

…because that’s all that matters at the end of the day.

I'm sitting here at a quaint cafe in Engelberg, Switzerland called Kafikaufbar. It's next to the train station and it's adorable. It's grey outside, but I don't mind. I'm filled with sunshine and I have a smile on my face. I hit the pause button and left the White Circus madness for a few days to rest and restore for the Olympics. That's right, you read that right - I'm a first time Olympian! Kind of funny to type that, but nevertheless - I'm beyond excited to be heading to South Korea to support our 22 alpine athletes and represent Team USA. 

When I walked into this cafe, I was greeted by a group of intoxicated Swedish bros. As I surveyed the space, one of them said, "Right here!" Nope. Thanks though, guys. Not interested. Put on my new wireless Bluetooth headphones to block out the noise. Thank the good Lord.

------

Oops, I got distracted. Mostly by the ultra-rare super blue blood moon last night. Normal scenario. This rare celestial convergence occurs when a supermoon, a blue moon and a total lunar eclipse occur simultaneously. After downing a glass of red wine at Kafikaufbar, I ventured over to Ski Lodge Engelberg. I’ve been told by many that it’s the ‘hip place to hang…lots of Swedes.’  Yeah, I’m in. Don’t have to think twice about that. Two beers and a fish taco – and a lot of people watching – later, I walked outside. “Skiing is believing,” said the awning outside. I smiled.

Then I looked up.

A full moon in the mountains is a sight for sore eyes. With clouds swirling around the super blue blood moon, the lighting over the Mt. Titlis (yep, you better believe I giggle every time I hear/read it) was something magical. My iPhone photos couldn’t do it justice. Some – most – things are better left as visuals burned into our minds. Stunning.

My wolf pack lady friends, being the pseudo-hippies we are (minus the dank smell of patchouli), looked up the meaning of this moon. Ready for this?

LUNAR ECLIPSE in LEO | Leo is creative fire, self-expression, the willingness to shine bright. Eclipses bring change, calling us forward. Venus is involved here, indicating growth and opportunity in financial and relationship self-worth. As women, how we view ourselves, how we relate to ourselves matters. We reveal ourselves energetically before we even speak. Think back to last August. What occurred then? What awarenesses? This is the next chapter of that unfolding. We often fear change, but it’s change that propels us forward. Courage opens our heart, strengthens it. This eclipse asks: how much are we willing to love? How much are we willing to share of ourselves? I’ve been thinking about love, how humbling it is, but also how it enriches us, inspires us to grow, to take risks and how, without the tending to it, we risk folding into ourselves. To feel, really feel our hearts is to be vitally, deeply, brilliantly alive. It reminds me of that quote from Meet Joe Black, which can relate, not only to romantic love, but to co-creation in all realms ‘To take the journey and not fall deeply in love, well you haven’t lived a life at all. But you have to try, because if you haven’t tried, you haven’t lived... Stay open. Lightning could strike.’ Stay open. Lightning could strike.
— Danielle Beinstein

Yes, I remember what happened in August. And it was brutal. The sadness lasted for months. I’m not used to that. For those of you who know me well, you know my story well. And yes, I shared it freely and openly. I probably made one individual pretty bummed about that, but it helped me to heal. At that point, it didn’t really matter what that person felt or thought about it…for me, that period of time was all about healing.

Lightning could strike. 

It did. 

(Btw, my most recent tattoo is a lightning bolt on my right ring finger - "love like lightning")

Love like lightning. 💛⚡

Love like lightning. 💛⚡

 

I move quickly through life, which is – in fact – the very reason I had “move slowly” tattooed on my left wrist. I don’t often move slowly, but I’ve found that when I do, the best and most beautiful things fall into place. I’m still learning patience…it doesn’t seem to get easier with each passing year. It’s hard for me to put myself back in the place I was a few months ago, but I’m so thankful I have transformed my thoughts into words so I can remember how far I’ve come. That was the advice from one of my very patient best friend’s (Lindsay Love), and it worked wonders.

Now that I that I have some space from those feelings, I feel like I can share a bit of what I was going through. Days and days passed where sad became the norm; I woke up sad, went to bed sad and couldn’t sleep soundly in between. I was a mess of emotions – angry, empty, lost, sad, frustrated, betrayed, in love – and ultimately these emotions had a negative effect on not only my mind but my body too. I took baths, meditated, hiked, talked to my therapist, talked to all of my friends and family members. Nothing was working. Another dear friend of mine, whom I spoke to frequently, asked me one day if I had thought about taking medication. “Absolutely not. I don’t need medication.” Those were the first thoughts that ran through my mind, which is funny, considering I don’t judge friends who take medication and I realize its benefits for our chemical imbalances.

I thought about it.

I cried.

I talked to my mother, a nurse midwife for many years, about it.

I cried some more.

Then I decided I’d try it for a period of time and see if the sadness lifted at all. As a result of the way our society views mental illness, this decision was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. I was angry with myself. So now, I wasn’t only angry at myself for allowing myself to get lost in someone else, but I was also angry at myself for needing to turn to medication for help. I struggled a lot with that. I started taking a low dose anxiety medication that turned into a normal dose two weeks later after I found myself sitting in my annual appointment with my midwife sobbing to her about my feelings.

H-E-L-P.

I needed it.

In the span of two months, I lost about 15 lbs...that I didn’t need to lose. I had little to no appetite. Sure, I was busy with the start of the Olympic season preparation, but there were other factors at play. Everyone and I mean every single person I talked to, commented on my weight. I didn’t realize how much I had lost. Too much, for me. I never keep track of my weight, I don’t count calories, and I love being strong and substantial. But, my clothes were baggy. My breasts were disappearing. I hadn’t been that skinny since I was maybe a 14-year-old freshman in high school.

I went to a fabulous talk about the stigma around mental illness that my great friend Sara Gibbs of Alta Community Enrichment (A.C.E.) hosted, and though it was scary to open up in front of 70 strangers, I shared my feelings. My voice was shaky and I almost started crying, but it felt good. And it was good to talk about not being OK, and sharing that with others. We're all mentally ill in some way, shape or form...that is, if you feel at all. If you have emotions of any kind, then you experience mental illness. It's not a bad thing. It's normal. And if we continue to look at it this way, maybe the stigma will dissipate.  

And then, around mid-November, the cloud of sadness seemed to magically start lifting, and I felt better. My skin was clearer. More importantly, my mind was clearer. I stopped saying his name in my head over and over. I stopped wondering and just started being. My strength was back. I was laughing again. A lot. Everything was just lighter. I felt like me again. Fast forward three months, and I still feel good. In fact, I feel fucking awesome. I’m even friends with the man who broke my heart. I can laugh with him. I can hang out with him. I’m thankful for that.

And, I’m having so, so much fun exploring my newfound sexual freedom (I'm safe, of course.). I dance. Boy, do I dance. I flirt. I kiss. It’s light and it’s fun. And, most important of all, I’m honest…brutally honest, even. That feels good. No games. No wondering. Just pure truth and kindness and good vibes these days. If I feel myself going down the path of the past, I have the awareness to stop and redirect myself on the path of truth. And I unapologetically demand that from everyone who surrounds me. I figure if I’m going to take this precious time from my life – which is indeed the greatest gift you can give someone – then I better spend it living in the truth. And I realize that, when I don’t, that’s when I feel heavy and sad.

Writing is an art. Like visual art – a painting, for instance – it can take many twists and turns before it lands at its destination. And these digressions are purposeful. Sounds like life, right? Well, guess what – life is art too – and each of us can create something beautiful from nothing. A blank canvas to fill up. I started somewhere, and now I’ve gone on a tangent, but today I’m going to let it happen. Sometimes I wish more of us shared the entire process, unedited. This is me, today, unedited.

So, where was I? Back to where I started…

Age of Jesus + 1 Woman Wisdom:
After dating (if that’s even what you call it), a few dance floor make outs and a lot of flirting, I wanted to share advice for men...or boys, more like it:

1.     If you don’t want to hang out with a woman, tell her. It might be harder in the beginning, but it doesn’t sting as much in the end. And you’ll both feel lighter and better about yourselves.

2.     Don’t be a dick, douche, or coward. Ain’t nobody got time for that shit. ‘Nuff said. Moving on.

3.     Don’t pretend that texting is an actual conversation. It should never replace actual spoken words, rather it should supplement them. In this digital age, it seems we've lost our ability to authentically communicate with each other and we almost live a different life on our mobile phones. If you base an entire relationship on text messages, it’s a fantasy not reality. Textual frustration. I have it. 

4.     Always ask her how she is doing and if she made it safely to her next destination. It shows you care. And don’t just talk to her about yourself. That’s selfish. Similarly, no small talk. That’s basic. And it’s an effective way of turning her off…unless that’s what you’re going for. And if you are, then tell her. Easy.

5.     If a woman asks you out on a date and you say “maybe” when you really mean “no”, then please refer to no. 2 on this list. Again, stop being a dick, douche, or coward. Don't ever string her along for the sex. That makes you suck. And a shitty human being. And, come on - you're not a shitty human being. 

6.     Acknowledgement of the woman you’re with as a human being is absolutely a non-negotiable. That means, say “hello” and “goodbye” even if you’re trying to hide your relationship in a work environment or small bubble. It’ll look more suspicious and feel worse for both of you if you don’t treat each other like humans. And, stop being a dick, douche, or coward.  

7.     Never, I repeat NEVER tell a woman you love or have any feelings for or respect for in any way, shape or form, “That was fun” after you have sex – or make love, whatever you call it. Tell her she’s beautiful. Tell her it felt amazing. Touch her. Spoon her. Kiss the nape of her neck. But do NOT make her feel like it was a transaction. Unless, of course, you both are on the same page, and it was a transaction. Then, you do you. And you do each other. Hee. 

8.     This may be a bit repetitive, but NO MORE GAMES. "Yes" means yes and "No" means no. I’m fucking sick and tired of anything in between. Don’t have time for that. Peace, brotha. Or, “dude”? Which brings me to no. 9…

9.     Similarly, please do not ever ghost a woman you’re having sex with, then greet her with a fist bump and a “hey dude…” If you’d like to have any sort of relationship with her in the future, just don’t do this. Please. I beg you. Be a gentleman. 

10.  Treat her with respect and she’ll treat you with respect. Period.  

11.  Don’t pleasure her solely because it makes you feel like more of a man. Do it selflessly and you'll both enjoy it more. (stop being a dick)

12.  Expanding on no. 1 a little bit…say what you mean, and mean what you say. If you love her, tell her. Why is it so easy to tell someone you love them when you’re not together? It’s almost laughable to me. I think it’s so odd. Think about this: if you’re consistently putting your penis inside of her, especially for a significant period (say, months or years), then you probably love her in some way. If you don’t, then something is wrong. Again, maybe not for some women, but for me. So, goodbye, nice to know you, “that was fun”… but time to move on.

Yes, we’re not simple creatures and men are. I get that. Just trying to give you a little insight into how our brains work. Also, read The Female Brain (Bryce Bennett did before he got sixth at Val Gardena, Italy two years ago). I have it if you'd like to borrow it. Yep, I can be crazy. And guess what?! You can be an idiot. The world would be a better place if we were all just a bit more vulnerable, honest and aware.

I hate small talk. I wanna talk about atoms, death, aliens, sex, magic, intellect, the meaning of life, faraway galaxies, music that makes you feel different, memories, the lies you’ve told, your flaws, your favorite scents, your childhood, what keeps you up at night, your insecurities and fears. I like people with depth, who speak with emotion from a twisted mind. I don’t want to know ‘what’s up’

…and I don’t want you to call me “dude” if you’ve slept with me.

Right now, it’s super fun to be me. I’m free of expectations from others and I feel good for the first time in a while. Yes, I’ve learned through meditation to control my rollercoaster emotions and find simplicity, but I’ve also simply returned to myself…and that feels really good. I don’t really give a fuck what people think, either. I mean, I love humans and I want to treat humans with respect, love, and kindness…but I keep reminding myself that we each perceive the world differently, and I can only control my actions and how I react to yours.

I found this Khalil statement, and I both love it and hate it. I love it because I believe it to be true. People ruin beautiful things because we allow them to have influence in our lives when they have no business having influence over us. I hate it because I wish we were all more open and vulnerable. 

Travel and tell no one. Live a true love story and tell no one. Live happily and tell no one. People ruin beautiful things.
— Khalil Gibran

I often go through my days witnessing other couples and cringe, thinking I may never have a partner again. That's kind of weird, but it's the space I'm in right now. It's kind of simple. All I want is a man with a beard who loves to ski and take hot baths and gives really good back rubs and is smart and kind and honest...but also lets me be me, doesn't take himself too seriously and likes to have fun. Is this too hard?!

Hey you…yeah, you – I love you. And always will. Even if that means I’ll never be with you. The thing is, I’ll always have been with you. Moments make life magic.

Thank you.

P.S. I'll write something a lot lighter next time, don't worry - I already have it planned. The topic will be strange massage stories from around the world. I'm taking submissions, so feel free to share them. 

Sunday Stillness

Megan Harrod

In the winter, Sunday afternoons are for sleeping and Mondays are for traveling. I spend a lot of time in solitary and these moments seem to serve my soul well. When I first started this job, I found it challenging to find comfort in stillness on Sundays. I wanted to be everywhere, at every moment, doing everything. That's kind of my personality. Some say it's "too much"...tell me about it, I've lived with myself for the last 34 years. 

Recently, I've had conversations with friends about dating and relationships and all of the complexities, the joys, the bullshit and beyond. We reflected that we wished dating were more like it once was...like when our parents and grandparents were younger. Less noise. No internet. Fewer options. Simple. No need to get anxious about unanswered text messages, worry about what that emoji meant, or game-playing. We even schedule calls now to fit into our busy lives. When you really think about it, we kind of lived in a fucked up world right now. It's not easy. 

Sure, there's good along with the not-so-good...but there's a lot of weird shit. I've written about it before. This isn't the first time. I came across this quote the other day and it resonated with me. 

Dear Woman,
Sometimes you’ll just be too much woman.
Too smart,
Too beautiful,
Too strong.
Too much of something that makes a man feel like less of a man,
Which will make you feel like you have to be less of a woman.
The biggest mistake you can make
Is removing jewels from your crown
To make it easier for a man to carry.
When this happens, I need you to understand
You do not need a smaller crown —
You need a man with bigger hands.
— Michael Reid

That's the truth. In the past, I've apologized for being "too much"—made myself smaller to meet the needs of someone smaller. That's not fun and it's not acceptable. A friend sent this recent New Yorker article and I laughed and cringed at the same time, while I drove through the Swiss Alps last Sunday. Mostly, I listened to it and I thought, "This is life. This is our reality." Wow. Give it a listen. It's definitely indicative of modern day dating. 

I thought about it. Sat in stillness and silence. With myself. On a Sunday. And just reflected. 

Life moves at a fast pace on the road in the winter months. Weekends are nonstop and overstimulating and adrenaline and excitement keep me up at night. Sundays are quiet and lonely. But they're equally relaxing and necessary. 

Here's what my reflection entailed...I travel through some of the most lovely, romantic places all winter long—most of them solo. And though that's nice, it's also strange. Life is beautiful beyond measure, at the same time, odd beyond measure. And that's what makes it so special, and worth living. Fully and wholly. Not half-assed and scared.

After weeks of not crying—a practice uncommon for me—I was talking to my mental coach the other day and I just broke down. It felt so good to cry. Relieving...like a burden unloaded. I was reflecting on my last relationship thinking about—now months later and with a clear head (Lehké hlavě in Czech)—how happy I am to be in the place I am now and realizing how fucked up the state of my being was for far longer than I should have allowed. And this is what I realized...

I forgot what it was like to feel someone's hand connect with mine in public. 

I forgot what it's like to communicate honestly and openly with another human—not just with myself. 

I forgot what it was like to actually be seen and understood. 

I forgot what it was like to be someone's last thought before bed and first thought in the morning. 

I forgot what it was like to be fluid with another soul. Moving together like poetry. 

And all of those forgotten moments flooded my soul like a thousand gallons of water. For a moment, I drowned in those moments and then they spilled out in the form of teardrops. And for the first time in weeks, I cried. But I didn't cry for me. I cried for humanity. What a pity that humans aren't able to express themselves or their emotions. How sad that humans aren't willing to allow themselves to feel vulnerable. 

And here I am. Expressing myself. Feeling. Living. Finding gratitude for the ability to dream in color and shine brightly.

And that's the best and most I can do. 

Those tears?

They weren't tears of sadness. 

They were tears of joy. 

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Megan Harrod

This was my journal entry on 8 August, 2017. I was sitting up at Guardsman's Pass on the top of a mountain with a yellow and black-spotted butterfly companion, fluttering around my head, reminding me that transformation is beautiful and not to be feared. 


We are not very different.

We share the same fears. A fear of losing freedom. A fear of settling down. A fear of reaching the end of the run. 

But we share the same dreams, too. Dreams to cover new ground, explore spaces and places most only can imagine but not actually ever experience. Dreams to learn and create endlessly. Dreams to witness the sun rise over the mountains. Feel the crisp, fresh air on our faces. Notice the sparkle of the sun hitting a body of water. 

We are not very different. 

We worry that we'll lose who we are in someone else. We love, but we're afraid to be vulnerable. We wonder. We wonder about what tomorrow will bring. And we wander. Boy, do we ever wander. We roam into the woods and over mountaintops and through alpine lakes...and sometimes, aimlessly. 

We live in the moment and, at times, we get stuck there. Too comfortable. Afraid to move forward. It's not really about growing up...it's about growing at all. We're afraid of growth. Because sometimes it's easier to live life small, where no one bothers us and there's little accountability. In this space, we can live our lives perpetually surprising people, which is a nice way to live. Always on the move without anyone to answer to or check in with. 

But the thing is, it's not about that. It's not about checking in or asking for permission. It shouldn't be, anyway. It's about being an individual and meeting another individual who can positively challenge you to be an even better human—a brighter, sparklier light on this big spinning ball we call "home". 

We are not very different. 

We both value connection. We both have big hearts. We both care. We both are individuals. Individuals who hope, dream and fear.

No, honey, we really aren't very different. 

I'm not OK, and that's OK.

Megan Harrod

The rawness of a broken heart is a blessing that when accepted fully can be shared with all.
— Pema Chödrön

I’d like to preface this by acknowledging that the world is blanketed with suffering right now, from fires to earthquakes and acts of terror...and part of me feels insanely guilty for sharing my suffering when it seems so insignificant compared to the suffering of others. But this suffering is my own, and my sorrow is not insignificant. I am not writing this for attention. Really, I'm not. I am not writing this for your affirmation. I'm writing because I just want to heal. I just want to feel whole again. I'm writing this to get it off my heart and off my mind. And I think that maybe, just maybe, sharing my suffering will resonate with someone else who is going through it too. Bleeding on paper – or on the computer – helps me to move forward. I want to feel that my worth is not attached to anyone but myself…that solo does not equal weak, and that two are not better than one when two are not complete on their own. I want to love myself again. Believe in myself. Find freedom. Fly.

I started writing this a couple of weeks ago and I haven’t had the energy to sit down and write...not even in my own journal. I can't sleep. I can't think clearly. I even catch myself forgetting to breathe. Love has a strange way of doing that to you...of breaking you. Right now, I don't even recognize myself. 


Guys, I'm sitting here in a hotel room, currently considered my home. I want to drink a bottle of wine, but I'm too exhausted to get out of bed, so instead I'm eating an apple. Turns out it's a Gala apple and I realize that Fiji are my favorite. But alas, this is a healthier option anyway.

One month ago today I went to Chile. On that same day, I suffered from a broken heart. One week ago I returned from Chile. The next day I flew to Montana for a wedding. A beautiful celebration of love, though any kind of celebration of love when you're suffering from a broken heart feels...well, just off. After the wedding celebration, I returned to Utah. Lost my car in the economy lot. Phone dead. Walked around for 20 minutes before retreating to the B pick-up zone to plug my phone into my computer for a charge. FML. Thirty minutes later I found myself still sitting in the B pick-up zone with an uncharged phone, in a zombie-like physical state. Heartbreak will do to you...turn your brain to mush and make you go a little crazy.

So I called the guy (yes, on an actual real telephone on the wall) for help and we drove up and down the A, B and C zone aisles as I pressed the panic button on my key fob. PANIC BUTTON. Couldn't be more timely or poetic. Voila! Like magic, we found it. I drove straight to the hotel to check in for an Olympic media summit. And that's where I've been since, from 5:30am until 9pm the last two days. And being busy is good for me. I thrive on that frantic pace of life. But that pace just fills a void. It's temporary. I do not live for myself. I'm better when I'm taking care of others. And, right now, I live for the dreams of others. But if I live for the dreams of others, how can I find freedom myself? 

The first question most people ask me these days is, "Are you OK?" The answer is no. I'm not OK, guys. I really am not. I promise you I am not being overdramatic right now. I am being honest. Open. Because that's the only way I know how to be, and it's the only way I'll be able to heal. But it's OK that I'm not OK. Because I know I'll be OK someday. 

What social media or passing, surface-level chats often do not show you is the darker side of life. 

The dark side. 💀

Like the fact that two days ago I cried so much my eyes were swollen, I couldn’t breathe, and I felt like I might vomit. Like the fact that I love to travel but I'm terrified as fuck I'll never be able to slow down and allow someone to meet me where I need to be met. That I thrive on a nomadic lifestyle and am thankful for what I do, but at the same time I'm so insanely lonely in the winter - especially while driving across Europe/in my hotel room. That I am so sad at this very moment that my heart literally hurts...and feels like it has been blown up into a million little pieces that I fear may never be put back together again. And that I have nightmares that keep me up in the early morning and make me feel like I was hit by a semi truck full of sorrow. Makes getting out of bed a challenge. 

Scared. Angry. Sad. Sick. Thankful. Lonely. I feel all of it. I move from one emotion to the next in the matter of seconds. And sometimes I feel it all at the same time. Through it all, I'm struggling to find acceptance. I understand impermanence, but letting go is easier said than done. The thing is, before now, I never really understood heartbreak. I vaguely recall conversations with friends who had told me about their own experiences with love lost and I just never could grasp it. I'd think, "Really?! It's just a boy/girl. Can't you just move on and get over it?" What a cold, heartless bitch, right? Karma. I was clueless. 

It's impossible to understand the weight of heartbreak until you've lived it. And when you do, it's unlike anything you've experienced. You go to sleep at night thinking about that person. Awakened by the voices in your head. The nightmares at 3am. And when you finally peel yourself out of bed, you feel heavy. Extreme sadness. The waves of emotion are overwhelming. It seems impossible to choose which wave you want to ride. You may not be able to choose your emotions, but you can choose how your react to them. 

It isn’t that the waves stop coming; it’s that because you train in holding the rawness of vulnerability in your heart, the waves just appear to keep getting smaller and smaller, until they don’t knock you over anymore.
— Pema Chödrön

 

I have cried every single day - albeit less with each passing day - for the last 30 days. If you count all of the days I cried due to wonder and emptiness before that, it'd be a lot more. I am tired of crying. I am impatient as hell. I try to tell myself that I need to feel it to move through it, and that the only way out is through...but it doesn't make this any easier. It doesn't make this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach go away faster. It doesn't make the dull aching pain in my chest go away. I mean, fuck. My heart literally aches. Instead, it all sits with me. And so I must sit with it. Be  present with it. Meet it where it needs to be met. 

You must go on. I can’t go on. I’ll go on.
— Samuel Beckett, The Unnamable

But I don't want to sit. Everything inside of me wants to get up and run as fast as I can, as far away as I can. Away from all of the pain. Away from the sadness. Away from my feelings. But running is actually what I've been doing the last 2.5 years...running from you...running from me. The absolute worst place for my soul to suffer is in a city, and the worst way to suffer is alone. I sat there, staring at the off-white ceiling of a room called "Sugar" in the Hostel Voyage in Valparaiso on "Cerro Alegre", which translates to "happy hill", crying. And I cried, and I cried, and I cried some more. I cried so much my eyes were swollen. I am almost certain I've never cried so many tears in all of my life than I cried in those six brutal hours. Horizontally focused for six seemingly neverending hours (note: not in the good way), I studied that ceiling. Captured the moment with my mind. I memorized it all. A single brass hanging lamp above my head with an askew thick beet red, forest green and marigold yellow stripe design to my right.

Finally, I peeled myself out of bed, put my favorite Head pink and white striped beanie on, and walked outside. I looked homeless. Legitimately. I'm really not joking. Head hanging and shoulders slumped, I wandered past a little shop with a sign that read "Beer as cold as your ex girlfriend' heart" (yep - missing the "s"). My frown turned to a corner-mouth smile. The irony. I made my down to the port, where I sat for a while...thankful I had nothing to do and nowhere to be but right there at that moment. Free to be my teary-eyed, unwashed, weary, smelly self. Free to be human. To feel, to hurt deeply, and to know no one and give zero fucks. Which, doesn't feel like the case often. Most often, I try to wear a happy mask. The sound of car tires hitting cobblestone soothed my soul; reminded me of another place I once called home.

That night, I vowed to find a spot with a medium rare steak and red wine and treat myself to a heartbreak feast. One new thing each day, for myself, was my goal; whether it be a massage, talking about my feelings to a stranger in the kitchen of the hostel I was staying in, etc. I sat down without any awareness of my surroundings - for once in my life - and stared down at the blank pages of my journal. Then it happened. A somewhat homely, bearded, balding British bloke started sat across from me started talking to me. Seriously?

- Insert face palm emoji -

The last thing I wanted to do was talk to anyone, let alone a drunk British man wearing a Skull Candy beanie. I avoided eye contact. His stare was relentless, noting I was obviously emotionally affected. "Are you OK," he sputtered. I might have thrown an eye roll in his direction. "Yeah," I said. He went on. Casual, small talk. For those of you who really know me, you know that I am typically a kind human in social interactions such as this one. But honestly, not that day. After about five minutes of meaningless conversation - if you could even call it that since he was basically talking to himself -  I looked at him and said, "You know what? Honestly, I'm going through a break-up and I'm not doing so hot, so if you could just back the fuck off and leave me alone, that would be great." Wow, Megan. Sweet. I've never done that before in my life. It kind of felt good. He replied, "Oh my god, are you OK?!" Seriously?! Thank you for confirming the fact in my mind that men are complete and utter idiots. Finally, he left me alone. Until, that is, the moment he had one pisco sour too many and started talking at me again.

"What's your name?" he said.

"Megan" I replied.

Then, I dove in. "Do you have a girlfriend?" I said. To which he replied, "Yes."

Me: How old are you?

Him: 38

Me: Does she want to get married? 

Him: Yes, and she wants kids. But I'm not sure.

Me: Then WHAT THE FUCK, dude. Stop being a pussy and make it happen. 

Him: I think I might be sterile, Megan. 

Yep. That happened. And so the conversation went on. At numerous points he said, "Megan, you're mean, but I like it. Will we keep in touch?" No, sir. We won't keep in touch. "Like on Facebook," he said. Absolutely not, buddy. One new thing a day. Be a bitch to a stranger. Check. For the record, I am not a callous human. Being sterile is a horrible, unfortunate thing and I wouldn't wish it upon anyone. But, he didn't even know if he was sterile for certain...it was just an excuse he concocted in his mind. A fear. He told me he was afraid to go to the doctor to find out if it was the truth or not. 

The truth. Most people are afraid of it. That's the thing. Not honest with themselves or others. 

Fast forward thirty days and this feeling has lessened, though has yet to lift. 

I am not OK, and that's OK. 

The biggest coward of a man is to awaken the love of a woman without the intention of loving her.
— Bob Marley

The human condition is a peculiar, complex thing. If you allow yourself to feel, to be real, to connect and to live an awoken life...matters of the heart are heavy. Sometimes we forget that we're all human. We're all traveling down this crazy, messy, beautiful path alongside one another, carrying all the pain and joy and feeling all the same feelings at one point or another. We all hurt. We have all felt lonely. Anxious. Envious. Sadness. Happiness. Emptiness. Love. Lust. Anger. Rejection. Confusion. Loss. Heartbreak. Fucking heartbreak. No matter where you come from and what your story is, we all feel. Some more deeply than others. But we all feel nonetheless. So the next time you feel alone, remember there are hundreds of thousands...millions...of humans out there feeling the exact same thing at the exact same moment. Your feelings may be unique to you - but the human condition is a real, fragile thing for us all. That's reality. 

I am not OK, and that's OK. 

Chile did not feel like a trip that was my own. My typically curious, gypsy soul didn't feel like exploring an unknown land. Most days, I felt like I was dragging myself around, one foot in front of the other, to get fresh air and seek a fresh perspective. It's strange what kind of visceral reaction our bodies will have to heartbreak. It was actually quite surprising, to be honest. Every day I have learned something. Every day my emotions have surprised me. But still, I have yet to move through it. I think you get to a certain point where your friends stop knowing what to say. Guess what?! Remember that song that goes, "You say it best when you say nothing at all?!" Yeah. That one. Just listen. That's all. Because once in a while, we all just need to be heard. You might not understand. And that's OK too.

But, please, just listen. 

I can't appropriately convey what it has felt like the last two and a half years to drift in and out of love. I guess the best way would be like a yo-yo...drop it to feel the distance and pull it back into your hand to safety. That was my heart. And, whether intentional by him or not, the affect that has on one's heart is indescribable. I feel empty. I feel like I gave of myself and I received nothing in return. I felt like a burden. An obligation. A chore. It's not just his fault...it's my own too. I let myself go there. As a result, I don't know what I believe anymore. I don't know if I believe in love. I don't know if I believe in relationships. I don't know if I believe in marriage. Everything is unknown. And I struggle with the unknown.

It is an art of the most exquisite kind to touch someone’s soul before touching their skin.

I felt a connection to this person I had never felt to anyone before in my life. It was always like I knew him from a different time or place. I loved him unlike anyone I've loved. It was deep and pure and with all of my heart and soul. It's a strange place to be - deeply connected, but so extremely disconnected at the same time. My words right now do not even do this feeling justice. It's actually frustrating that I can't adequately capture what is going on in my heart and mind right now. But it's extremely heavy. And I am a living ball of juxtapositions. Happy and sad. Love and hate. Confusion and clarity.

ALL OF IT. ALL AT ONCE. 

I love you more than North Koreans are forced to love Kim Jung Un.
— Sorry, had to. It's too damn funny and really non-PC, but I had to include and lighten the mood a bit.

To feel as if you know someone so well but then to realize that you actually don't know them at all is a bizarre thing. Just when you think you're in a good place, life knocks you down and reminds you that you have lessons to learn. This weight feels even heavier than my divorce. It's soul-crushing. I once believed that nothing was impossible, and I am generally an optimistic, strong, resilient human, but not today. Today I am broken. My heart seems to grow softer and softer with each passing year, and I find myself wondering if I'll ever be able to love again. If I'll ever not be "too much" for someone. 

"You are beautiful" he'd say. "You are rad" he told me. "I have never met anyone quite like you." he uttered. But never "I miss you," or "I love you". Beauty is not enough. It doesn't matter how awesome or rad you are...that doesn't necessarily make you a good match for another awesome or rad human. Fear is strong, but I always believed hope was stronger. I never wanted to change him, but I believed that he had the capacity for something more within his being. In his gaze, I saw something deeper. And I allowed myself to travel there and explore what that space had to offer. But it was always an illusion. Nothing more. And I lost myself in that space. An uninvited guest, it was a space that was not mine to explore. 

She was beautiful, but not like those girls in the magazines. She was beautiful, for the way she thought. She was beautiful, for that sparkle in her eyes when she talked about something she loved. She was beautiful, for her ability to make other people smile even if she was sad. No, she wasn’t beautiful for something as temporary as her looks. She was beautiful, deep down to her soul.
— F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Beautiful and Damned

My friends tell me,

"You'll find someone better."
"You'll look back someday in the not-so-distant future and laugh at the situation."
"He wasn't emotionally intelligent or mature enough for you."
"You put him up on a pedestal that he didn't deserve to be on."
"He's not as amazing as you think."

My therapist tells me, 

"It wasn't pure love."
"You met him for a reason. He was the opposite of your ex. That's a good thing. He was meant to show you what simplicity is like. But you're meant to feel loved and considered."
"You're a caretaker by nature, but you can't fix him if he's broken...no matter how much you love him." 

To my friends: Right now I don't want anyone else. Strangely, I don't want anyone but him, even though I know that's not what's best for me right now and I know I won't go there right now. But, he's not a malicious person. Unaware, empty and broken, maybe. Malicious, no. And is he special? Yes. He is. He is, in fact, one of the softest, most kind-hearted humans I have ever met. He held his hand out to my heart to feel its radiant warmth, but he did not hold my heart in his hands. Instead, he admired it from a distance. He connected with me when he could, to the capacity he was able...which didn't match my capacity. And, whether he felt inadequate or incapable or scared or confused or whatever, I'll probably never know. And I can't control that. 

To my therapist: Yeah, I know. I know everything you're about to tell me, and I'm paying you $120 an hour to tell me everything I already know. I don't make enough money for that to be sustainable. 

The thing is, none of them really know. The only two people that know are the two people involved in a situation. Am I/was I angry at him for letting me love him seemingly without any intention of loving me back? FUCK YES I was and still am deeply hurt. Am I angry at myself for letting myself fall back into the pattern I had already experienced twice and experienced pain over both times? The April-September cycle? Yes. I am. In fact, I am more angry at myself than anyone else. As much as I want to be gentle with myself, I'm struggling. I am mad because I know I'm better than that. I know that I am stronger than that. I know that if I had information then that I know now, I wouldn't have gotten back into it. I think, maybe I would be healed and I would have been able to move past it by now. Maybe. But who knows?!

So here I am. Broken. I've felt anger and hatred and now I'm mostly just sad and confused. I can't control this situation. It's frustrating and disappointing and I feel like I'm stuck in a black hole that's swallowing me up. I can barely breathe. I want him to feel what I feel. I want him to understand my sadness. Because I feel so incredibly sad. But I know I won't feel this way forever. And knowing that I'm here for a reason is at least somewhat comforting.

So what have I learned? 

Recently, I hit the pause button and exited my Park City and U.S. Ski Team life and hopped on a plane to Virginia to spend time with some old friends. Friends to the Dalai Lama, they have a deep understanding of Buddhist practices and schools of thought. When I left, Beatrix told me "All the happiness resides in you. Just some circumstance is outside." She reminded me that I have everything I need within me, that I'm young and that was merely a chapter of my life, and that my life is just beginning now. Her son Fabian told me a grand love story of his own...after a 13 year failed marriage and two beautiful children later, he reconnected with his former high school sweetheart flame and is now marrying her. Through this story, he reminded me of the beauty of life and the fact that an unknown path is a beautiful thing. That's the magic of life. I had lost sight of it for a minute.

  • I've learned that I'm deserving of a real, pure love. 
  • I've learned that time really is the best medicine. 
  • I've learned to time is also a gift and meant to be shared with those who want to share it with you. 
  • I've learned that even strongest, smartest, most beautiful women can lose sight of themselves and their value in the name of love. 
  • I've learned that no matter how much love I have to give - and it is A LOT - it won't compensate for someone's lack thereof. 
  • I've learned that history repeats itself if you aren't willing to do the work and move forward. 
  • I've learned that sadness, to some degree, is comforting. 
  • I've learned that if you sit with anger long enough you can feel it pass. And that pain awakens the soul. 
  • I've learned it's important to talk. To write. To take care of yourself and treat yourself. 
  • I've learned that things like moving my body and listening to Taylor Swift's "I Knew You Were Trouble" on repeat helps. Belt out the chorus. 
  • I've learned that everyone is going through something, and friends (like my brave friend Keely Herron) can help to offer perspective. 
  • I'm learning that I am enough. 

My journey began in West Virginia. West Virginia is "wild and wonderful." Its colors and character touched and lifted my spirit. Spending time with my friend Elizabeth and her two sweet, independent, creative kiddos was inspiring. When I crossed the border through the beautiful Shenandoah Valley into Virginia I stopped at the "Welcome" sign. It said, "Virginia is for Lovers." HA! I took it all in. The rolling hills, the small town charm, the southern culture and vibes of Charlottesville. I even slept in a shack in the middle of nowhere. I felt more complete when I ventured back to Park City, with more purpose and a strong sense of self worth. Since two friends told me to watch Gaga's "Five Foot Two," I did. I understood her plight. Constantly moving, surrounded by people, endless creativity and passion, yet utter loneliness. "I'm not a receptacle," she said, "I'm not just somewhere for you to put it." Strong women are appealing to men, but the reality is that we are often too much for them.

A minuscule part of me is relieved to not have to wonder anymore. All of that time and energy wondering what he thought or felt. But another part of me - a much bigger part of me - deeply misses him and the connection we had, even though I am fully aware that it wasn't a connection that served my soul. It might be a stretch to say that heartbreak is worse than death, but in a way I think it is because you have to live with all of that pain and all of that questioning. In my case, I have to live with it sitting across from me at a team meeting. Or on the chairlift. Or at a coaching position on the mountain. And, actually, heartbreak IS death. All of those "what ifs" and questions swirling through your unsettled mind. Lovers-turned-strangers. That shift is alarming.

Some goodbyes are never said and those are the ones that last a lifetime.

 

In the beginning, I probably wasn't ready to meet him and he wasn't ready to meet me. I didn't want to meet him. He didn't want to meet me. We happened. Two people colliding in a sea of chaos, never quite finding our stride...like ships passing in the night, never at the right time or in the right place. Fueled by the chaos and adrenaline of a life lived on the road without any roots. 

You shouldn’t beg people to stay and you shouldn’t beg for their attention either. Because most people are like boomerangs. You could toss them as far as you can and if the moment is right, they’ll always come back to where they started. So it’s okay to be alone, at least for now. I guess, what I’m trying to say is, it’s okay to give people space, to give them time, soon enough they’ll find their way back home, all you have to do is wait, and make sure you’re there when you hear a familiar knock coming from the door.
— R.M. Drake

Three times he came and three times he left. Each time, it hurt more deeply. Each time, I lost more confidence in myself. Each time I felt a little smaller. To have someone in your life that you care so much about not reciprocate or stand up for you and provide closure to past situations, making it impossible to move forward, feels degrading. To only have felt real connection through intimacy feels empty. Stuck in a pattern. I want nothing to do with him and everything to do with him. I keep thinking he's going to come around the corner and give me a big hug, kiss the nape of my neck and hold me. Maybe it's timing. It's likely just never meant to be. But who the hell knows? I do not. Like fire needs air to burn, humans need space to grow. 

I was watching a goddamn romantic comedy on the flight the other day and it dawned on me...society teaches us to approach life like a love story. I feel like I'm stuck in a bad romantic comedy. Fall in love, get married, live happily ever after. But what if society was told a different kind of story? What if we were told Fabian's love story. Fall in love, get married, have two beautiful children, fall out of love, get divorced, get reacquainted with your high school sweetheart, fall in love and get engaged. What if? Would we be able to work through loss differently if we truly understood and appreciated impermanence? I know I'll be OK in the future. I trust that we do not encounter any more than we can handle. Only if we know the depths of pain and suffering can we truly understand and appreciate joy. I've always felt the extreme highs and lows. I have always been willing to feel and risk what may happen as a result. This time was no exception. It just seems to hurt my softened heart more.

Then a woman said, Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow.
And he answered:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.
Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the reassure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.
— The Prophet by Khalil Gibran

It can take seconds to break something and forever to heal it. None of us know how our story will end. I've spent the last couple of years trying to make sense of my world based on an incomplete picture. I may never have that picture. I likely won't ever understand. And that's OK too. 

I still don't know why I kept going back, but I believe it was because I had something more to learn. This has been the deepest pain I have felt. It has exposed to me a part of me that I didn't want to face. Maybe his brokenness taught me to face my own. Maybe this is an opportunity to rewrite my story. To take control of my life. Relocate my power and my spirit. An opportunity to redefine. Reprocess. Recreate. That is what I can control. I can't control my emotions, I can't control the actions of others, but I can control how I react to my emotions and the actions of others. 

Acceptance and forgiveness have never been so challenging. But I choose not to hate. I choose not to be angry. Every moment I feel anger come to me I let it pass through me. I stop, and I breathe. Breathe in love. Breathe out forgiveness. Because if I don't, it will cripple my capacity to love again. It will dampen my spirit. But even though I forgive him, I can still feel these feelings. I will just continue to feel what I'm meant to feel until it moves through me, and I move through it. Because if I don't work and move through it I'll never actually be OK. I won't be OK for me and I certainly won't be OK for someone else. 

Soon I'll be dancing to the tune of Freedom rather than hanging on to TSwift's words. 

But for now...I am not OK, and that's OK. 

What lies ahead I have no way of knowin’, but under my feet baby, grass is growin’.

It’s time to move on...it’s time to get goin’.
— Tom Petty, Time to Move On