Stop Two: Northern India
One year ago to the day I woke up for the first time in Kingston, Jamaica. It was the first stop in a predicted string of places I’d hoped to travel to over the next 12 months. I was inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love and her self-love tour.
I’ve just returned from my second of three major stops: India. I acknowledge that there have been other mini-trips along the way this year (Toronto, New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Vancouver) which were all valuable, however, India impact-wise was incredibly substantive. Similar to how Jamaica was.
The third and final destination (and somewhat more permanent relocation) will be my move to Ontario next month as I begin my doctorate in social work. This is truly the start of a new chapter in a completely different setting.
This past year, amongst the travelling and movement, I’ve been through rehab. Heart rehab. Cardiac rehab, no. But heart as in a broken one. While in rehab, I’ve withdrawn from relationships and focused solely on my own happily ever after as a single woman. The definition of rehabilitation is as follows: To enable the patient to cease substance abuse, in order to avoid the psychological, legal, financial, social, and physical consequences that can be caused, especially by extreme abuse.
What was my substance of choice? Attachment. Ever since 2001 I have been emotionally attached to a man, more or less. Talk about an addiction.
I have successfully avoided all of the potentially damaging consequences that were previously caused by my extreme abuse of attachment for one whole year. This withdrawal has been extremely beneficial and had I not taken this time out to voluntarily enter rehabilitation, I may have repeated the same patterns of abuse which ultimately led me to continuous heartbreak and disappointment.
Like any other rehabilitation program, there were steps. These 12 have helped me get over my addiction of male attachment and created a sense of freedom I’ve never felt before.
1. Invite others in. Share your pain. You will be pleasantly surprised to hear how many people have felt the same loss as you, and how many people care about your well-being. Start with, “Hi. My name is (______) and I’m an addict of (male/female) attachment. I thought it would make me feel good, but in the end, I’ve only become wounded.” Admit you are powerless and need help.
2. Build a community of support. My friend/family network was always there hovering nearby, and this year I really dove in head-first. My circle has widened and deepened because I let it.
3. Cut off all communication with your ex-harmer(s). It may seem very difficult to do at first, but trust me, it is beneficial. Having him/her in your life is a constant reminder of what you don’t have (but want). This perpetuates the addiction you want to escape from. (PS-If they really want to be in your life, they will return and try to communicate with you on your terms of non-attachment. And if they don’t, well, I guess you weren’t that important to them. Sorry.)
4. Go somewhere you’ve never been before by yourself. Create powerful memories in a new place that is meant for only you, where there are no triggers or reminders of the substance. Going alone also ensures you will be more open to meeting new, transient people who happen to cross your path. (And you won’t be pressured to attach to them. Glorious!)
5. Cry. Cry. Cry. Let it out. The substance will be removed through this cleansing. Tears heal you and the Earth. Feel it all. No judgement.
6. Surrender. And expect to relapse. ‘nough said.
7. Seek solace in something greater than you. You can define what this is for yourself. It could be Mother Nature, a specific Deity or God, or simply the Universe. Ask for help and let it guide and carry you when you feel hopelessly attached to something that is no longer yours.
8. Forgive. This is probably the hardest of all the steps. Not only do you need to forgive the harmers you were attached to, but ultimately you need to forgive yourself for the excessive abuse. (I’m still working on this one.)
9. Play. With wild abandon. Go high to mountain tops. Jump into cool water. Dance your socks off. Run. Skip. Stretch. Bike. Bowl. Climb. Hit softballs. Let fresh air fill your lungs and then breathe out the substance. Fill your days up so that not a moment is put to waste. Time will pass and before you know it, you’ll feel light again. (Lightness=non-attachment.)
10. Visit your karmic home. I believe we all have a place that feels most like home, even though we may not have been brought up there. For me, this is India. Visiting ‘home’ brings you back to centre, to square one. It can help you re-align and clear any remaining tugs of the addiction.
11. Find simple pleasures and live with less. Eliminating a substance from your life means you have more space for enjoyment. For me, this was a call to simplicity and creating less attachment to ‘things’ overall as well as people.
12. Take a personal inventory of your life. I now do this daily. Without clinging to anyone, I take stock of what it means to be me. Personally, there is so much already there that the need for attachment becomes less and less prevalent. This also prepares you for love whenever it arrives as you are completely clear and solid on your own base, without the need for attachment/attention.
I leave this program with the openness to be love, seek love, and welcome love. Attachment and I are over.