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.
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.
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?
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.