The following post was written anonymously by a guest blogger who is in the process of healing after the recent breakup of a long-term relationship. If you are similarly interested in guest blogging, please email Stacey Freeman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Literary credit will be given if desired.
When my friend and I arrived at a nearby spa for a weekend of pampering, exercise, and mental health, I was still stalking my ex-boyfriend’s Facebook page and endlessly analyzing possible paths to reconciliation.
It had been about three weeks since our breakup, but he had continued to relentlessly pursue me, promising changes that I was uncertain would come to fruition. We agreed to 30 days of no contact to sort out the knotted emotions and disparate visions we each hold and decide whether to try one more time or not.
Our relationship had been meandering through breakups and reunions for five years, but the problems were becoming harder to ignore. Since the breakup I had been on a rollercoaster of emotion ranging from relief to having that burning pit in my stomach as if I had lost the most precious thing in the universe. There was no predicting when I would feel which.
The lady checking us in told us about the labyrinth. My friend immediately responded, “I can’t do a labyrinth, I’ll get lost and never come out.” Neither of us understood that a labyrinth is completely different from a maze.
According to Veriditas, an organization dedicated to promoting the labyrinth experience explains on its website the difference: “There are no tricks to it and no dead ends. It has a single circuitous path that winds its way into the center. The path is in full view, which is intended to allow a person to be calm and focus internally.”
Despite the 50-degree temperature, I decided to get up early and attend an open labyrinth walk session at 8 am. As I approached the labyrinth, which turned out to be a flat pattern of colored pavers forming a circuitous path to the center of a circle, I saw there was only one woman standing there, the trainer. She explained the process. I noticed in the center of the circle there was a collection of rocks. She told me that if there is something I am dealing with I could pick up a rock and place it in the center or hang on to it. It was up to me.
I picked up a rock and I thought about my ex. I started walking on the path and as I walked I thought about our relationship, but differently. I viewed our relationship through a window, seeing it from the outside as a whole story, one with a beginning, middle, and end.
I felt self-conscious because as I walked I knew the trainer must be watching me, watching the tears roll my down my cheeks. And then my mind would wander a bit and I would stop crying.
I noticed that the path was like a metaphor; just when I thought I was close to the center the path turned and I was back at the beginning.
Eventually, I got to the center. I paused and squeezed the rock in my hand, fully believing that this cold, hard, lifeless symbol represented “him.” I placed it on top of another rock. I stared at it. I reminded myself how much I want to let go and how much I need to move forward, away from this rollercoaster of pain. And then I walked on, without the rock, out through the other side of the center and finished my journey to the other side of the circle.
I felt lighter. I moved quicker. I thought about how my world is different now and how I am changed, changed by the experience of the relationship and changed by its end. I am realizing that life is an evolution along a circuitous path, with fits and starts, setbacks and progress. Just like the path in the labyrinth.
What steps have you taken to heal after your relationship ended?
Image courtesy of The Lodge at Woodloch.