Broken Open

Things don’t get easier right away. Rainui is livid and hunting me. He leaves crazy, threatening messages on my phone. He wants money and surfboards. I’m only one island away and worry terribly that he might find out where I am and come looking for me. And then, I wake up to find that half of my face has gone limp. Aymeric rushes me to the hospital, and I’m treated for Bells palsy, brought on by the last few months of high stress. I realize how far I have pushed myself, and the toll it’s taken on me.

I need a place to heal. Fortunately, Monique, Aymeric’s recently widowed mother, insists I stay in their guest bungalow and eat with them until I’m better, which the doctor says will take about three weeks. I have the local police listen to Rainui’s threatening phone messages. They warn him to stop, and that I can press charges. On top of the temporary facial paralysis, I develop a case of shingles that the doctors attribute to my severely weakened immune system.

Broken Open Photo Gallery

I stare at my limp face in the mirror; I can’t believe I’ve let myself reach this state. I loved Rainui with all my heart, but I should have been loving my own self just as avidly.

I start doing small, nice things for myself every day. I sleep in, lie in the sun or soak in the shallows near the bungalow, not leaving their large, lush property. Feeling safe makes simply waking up a wonderful thing. I eat beautiful meals with my new adoptive family, take naps, meditate, reflect, and read. My face gradually returns to normal and the painful shingles dissipate.

After being forced to hide my body and my beauty, I want to cherish my feminine side like never before. Back on the boat, I cut my T-shirts into crop-tops, fringe the edges, and wear what I feel accentuates my body. I enjoy taking an extra five minutes to braid my hair or choose my outfit. I start surfing again, walking barefoot, and dancing.

I was naive and self-righteous to think that I could get Rainui to evolve faster than he was ready for because of my advice. Every soul is undergoing its own unique journey at its own pace. I resolve that the only expectation I will have of a future relationship is that both of us feel happy, free, and fulfilled. Love means supporting each other to grow into the best versions of ourselves. What Rainui hated about me my openness and compassion are parts of me that I love, and I’m thrilled to feel them reawakening.

As I heal over the next few months, I begin to feel outrageously liberated and stronger in mind than ever before as if my heart is no longer broken, but broken completely open. Two fun-loving Spanish girls, Paula and Lucia, arrive to stay with Monique and Aymeric, and just being near them helps revive my playful spirit. As I remember what it’s like to be me again, I indulge in that me-ness like never before. I’m like a coiled spring that was pushed down flat, and I now shoot skyward in my freedom bursting with inspiration and ready to completely love myself.

The deeper healing will take time, though. I’m still fragile. Gradually, I piece myself and Swell back together. I even begin to bless this dark experience, as hard as it was. I know I would not appreciate this heightened feeling of safety and freedom without the fear and oppression that I went through. In polarity, there is perspective. I have gained valuable compassion for women (and men) in similar situations. And lifted a few of the subconscious veils I was seeing life through. Maybe I also needed to know the depths of Rainui’s darkness in order to totally free myself from my hopes for his transformation.

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