Chapter 3 Part 1
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About my first day in Bali..
Yesterday was my first full day in Bali. It was a roller coaster of emotions. I did what Eleanor suggested and I dared myself to do something I wouldn’t usually do— I tried to be less afraid of geckos, and I think I did fine. A gecko was right there, next to me, as I did Yoga— and of course I thought of Allen— and perhaps because I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of the (very good looking) Yoga instructor, I stood still. Incentives are always good. But, to be fair to myself, even before that, the night before, I forced myself to go to sleep anyway– knowing there was a gecko, or two, in my room.
I’ve been thinking of what I should dare myself to do today, and I’m still not sure. Lisa put me in touch with Eric (ahh!!) I don’t know if this is good or bad. I really don’t know. I hope there’s no awkwardness, but I do plan on seeing him. Tired of being afraid. I wish being tired of being afraid actually stopped the fear. But it doesn’t. It just makes us try to do the things we wouldn’t do, pretending we’re fine, shaking on the inside.
I can’t stop thinking of him— and her. I’m trying not to count the amount of times I’ve asked “Why?” in my head. But really, why? What was so bad about us? Yes, we argued sometimes. At one point I could tell he seemed unhappy, but that was when he wasn’t too happy at work. I didn’t think it was me. Or, was it?
I’m afraid of being alone. It makes me mad that I just wrote that, that I’m not the woman who says that I’m fine being alone. I’m embarrassed to say this, even to my journal. But that’s what journals are for. But if someone asks me, are you sad because you’re afraid of being alone? I’ll say no. It’s not about being alone– it’s about how unfair, how humiliating this whole thing has been. But in my heart, I also know it’s about being alone. It’s been so long since I’ve been alone.
But even when we were living together in the same house, it already felt at times like he was gone. Does that count as being alone? The time spent at my parents’ house for a while after discovering the affair— does that count as being alone? I guess I have been alone. But this alone is different. This ‘alone’ is divorce. This ‘alone’ is decisive. This ‘alone’ is – he’s left me for another woman, and I am no longer his woman (not even officially).
This ‘alone’ is me starting all over again.
This ‘alone’ is … my life.
Bali: Day 2
It wasn’t much easier to get up the next morning, but Lara felt something different. She felt more at home in her surroundings. She was actually looking forward to her raspberry smoothie, her time by the pool, her conversations with Eleanor. She was still not excited enough about life to bother to fix her hair or to even attempt to wear any makeup if she went out later with Eric. (Luckily she was in Bali, where everyone seemed very laid back). But she was ok in the sense that she was moving faster this morning. Slightly faster. She had noticed how her pace had changed since the affair. It was the pace of a heartbroken woman. Her heart was trudging along, her legs merely following the rhythm of her heart. Today, the step was just a little bit faster. And just that ‘little bit’ was worth being acknowledged.
As she sat with Eleanor on the yoga platform for her class, she took a deep breath and thought I dare you Lara, I dare you to be present, just for a little while today. I dare you to let your heart acknowledge that you are moving a little faster. I dare you to live one moment today— to just live it without thinking of anything else. Just one, Lara. Then you can go back…
“Have you thought of your dare today?” Eleanor asked as she stretched her legs.
“I think….I think it should be about trying to be present. I want to feel like I’m here. I didn’t feel I was here yesterday. I know it’s silly to call it a dare, right?”
“You know what’s silly,” Eleanor said, “is to assume that a dare has to be something that scares everybody. With what you are going through, it takes a lot of courage to be present. That’s daring, Lara.”
“I’ll try,” Lara seemed doubtful that she could.
But she did try. Today’s yoga class wasn’t going to be about the handsome yoga instructor (well maybe a little bit), or Allen and her. Today was going to be about her body. She was going to take deep breaths, and immerse herself as much as possible in every motion. Today she was going to be just a little kinder to herself than she was yesterday.
Lara struggled at first to relax. The thoughts were still there. As the class went on, things got slightly easier. But it wasn’t until the end, after the class was over, and everyone, including Eleanor, left the platform, that Lara had a moment for herself. She lay on her back, stretched out her arms, and looked up at the roof of the platform. There was a slight breeze and she could hear the sounds of creatures from a distance, and some very close by. She closed her eyes and whispered “Lara, please be kinder to yourself today. Please.” She let the tears roll down, as she took deeper breaths.
When she finally got up, she still felt like a broken woman— but a broken woman — walking a little faster.
She received a message a while after from Eric. He asked her if she wanted to join him and his friends for drinks at a beach café later in the evening. She agreed and he said he would pass by and pick her up with his scooter. She wasn’t a big fan of scooters, and wasn’t particularly comfortable with riding one with Eric when she hadn’t seen him for so long. She asked the hotel reception and they told her the best way to get to the beach would be by taking a scooter. It was too dangerous to walk, as the paths were too narrow between the hotel and the café and quite crowded with cars and scooters in the evening. She messaged Eric and said, “Thanks! I’ll meet you just outside at 9pm. ”
She told Eleanor that she would be going out with Eric and his friends and Eleanor said she was proud of her.
“Will you tell me your story, Eleanor? Your ex-husband? Your divorce?” Lara asked as they lay down on the loungers by the pool.
“I will, before we leave. I promise.”
“Alright,” Lara said as she sipped her Raspberry smoothie.
Lara figured Emilio would be around the pool soon for his morning swim. She was right. He approached them a while after, “Hi Lara … Eleanor. Good to see you again in class today.”
“Thanks. Love your classes,” Eleanor smiled and went back to reading her book.
Before Lara could think of something to say, a woman walked over to Emilio, looked at Lara, and said “Good morning.”
“Lara, this is my girlfriend, Tia.”
“Oh, hello,” Lara said quickly.
“Emilio told me you’re here from Chicago,” Tia said, “I love that city.”
Tia’s short blond hair was tied back in a ponytail, and with her green eyes, perfect nose and jaw-line, she looked striking, even as she stood there in her yoga pants and a cotton
t-shirt. Lara wasn’t surprised. She had expected Emilio’s girlfriend (if he had one – now she knew he did for sure) would be beautiful.
“So glad you enjoyed your time there,” Lara smiled, “I love that city too.”
“Do you have any specific plans here?” Tia asked.
“Some sightseeing. We’ll go to the beach too. And it turns out a friend of mine is here and I’ll be seeing him this evening.”
“Oh, great,” Tia said.
“I read online that there are some stalls where they sell dresses and accessories. They looked really pretty. I’d like to find those.”
“Yes! Actually, there’s one not too far away. And I’ll be going there to get a few things to send to my sister. Probably the day after tomorrow. Would you like to come with me? And maybe Eleanor too?”
Eleanor looked up and said, “sure, that would be lovely.”
Lara was surprised at how friendly Tia was. Not only was she friendly, she seemed genuine.
“I’d love that. Thank you so much,” Lara said.
They exchanged numbers and Tia said she would send Lara a message the next day.
After Emilia and Tia left, Lara realized why she had felt uneasy the minute she saw Tia. It was the resemblance. She looked a lot like ….her, the woman Allen was seeing…
Don’t slow down, Lara. Please don’t slow down. You’ve been doing so much better today.
“She looks a lot like her,” Lara said.
“Yes, at least from the pictures I saw. They look very similar. They’re both very beautiful.”
“Tia seems nice.”
Lara wanted to say no. She’s not nice. She couldn’t believe she was doubting whether or not Tia was nice simply because she resembled the other woman so much. Clearly Tia was friendly. Why did it make her angry that Eleanor called her nice?
“Yea..” Lara said softly, “she seems nice.”
The pace of a heartbroken woman. It’s slowing down again. Lara, don’t slow down again, please.
The waiter came back to ask Lara and Eleanor if they needed anything else, and to see if they were interested in joining a short mindfulness session that the resort was offering for free. The session would start in a few minutes. The coach would talk to them about what she was offering and answer questions.
“I think it’s a great idea,” Eleanor said, “Lara you should go.”
“I’m not sure. It’s just an introductory session. Probably an introduction to the coaching services or something, and I’m not here for long. Although, I do have a question I would like to ask her.”
“Then just go Lara.”
The session took place on the same yoga platform where they had their morning class. A group of six people were already sitting in a circle when Lara joined them.
“Sorry if I’m late,” Lara said as she sat down.
“No worries. Welcome! We’re just about to start. I’m the coach, Karen.”
“Hi, I’m Lara.”
Karen seemed like a sweet lady. Lara guessed she was probably in her fifties and was probably American too. Karen gave an introduction on mindfulness and spoke about the sessions she was offering at the resort. It was a short session, followed by some questions from the group. Lara wanted to ask her a question, but thought she would wait till the end and ask Karen privately on their way out.
As Karen left the platform, Lara went up to her, “Karen, can I ask you a question, please?”
“Sure, Lara. Go ahead.”
“I’m trying to be more ‘present’. I tried today, while doing yoga, and while I was by the pool. I’m getting frustrated because I feel like I can’t just be in the moment. Am I doing something wrong? Does it take a lot of practice? I know this sounds silly, but I’m daring myself to be ‘present’ even for a moment today, but ….”
“I understand. It’s difficult sometimes, especially if you are new to the practice of mindfulness and if maybe you’re going through something..”
Karen nodded, “Lara…go easy on yourself. Presence can vary. Yes, mindfulness takes practice, but first you need to stop worrying too much about not doing it right. Try not to think about not thinking….it won’t work. Try not to push yourself too hard. Even if you manage a few seconds today of really living a moment, even if there are other thoughts going on in your head, that’s fine. Just try to come back to the moment. Don’t consider it a failure if your mind goes back somewhere you don’t want it to be. But try to keep bringing it back…to the moment you’re in.”
“Thank you, Karen. I’ll try to keep bringing it back to the moment.”
“Good … and Lara, you’re going to be fine.”
“Thank you.” Thank you.
As Lara got ready to go out later that evening, Eleanor knocked on her door.
“I’m going to bed now. Do you need anything?”
“That’s so nice of you, Eleanor. Thank you so much for asking. I’m fine. Not really sure what to wear. Not that it matters. I was thinking these shorts, sandals…and this top,” Lara said pointing to an outfit on her bed. She had picked a pair of pleated black shorts and a white satin strappy top.
“It looks great,” Eleanor said approvingly.
“Sleep well, Eleanor. And thanks for everything.”
“Take care young lady,” Eleanor said as she walked out of the room and closed the door.
Lara suddenly felt nervous. She felt she had made a mistake to have agreed to go out with Eric. She had enough drama in her life. She quickly reminded herself that although she was going out with Eric, they wouldn’t be alone. She only dated him for a few months. He was a nice guy. She reassured herself as she got ready.
She tied her hair back in a loose ponytail and was about to walk out when she thought she would put some blusher on and some gloss. She was walking just a little faster again. She was thinking of makeup. That was a good sign.
As she stood outside waiting for Eric, Lara had this nagging feeling to go through Allen’s Facebook pictures. She had told him so many times to change the privacy settings for some of his albums and pictures, but he had never changed them to ‘friends only’. She was still able to see pictures he was tagged in. She clicked on his profile. Her heart was beating fast. She almost didn’t want to look at her phone as it loaded his page.
There was nothing new there. Lara sighed in relief. At least she could try to have a good evening out. It was the same profile picture of him – alone, and no new pictures.
Ok Lara, see, it’s ok. Now put that phone away and focus on tonight.
Just as she was about to lock her screen, she went back to Allen’s Facebook page. She thought of something as she quickly looked through posts he was tagged in – in August of 2013. Pictures from New York. She suddenly remembered that he was tagged in a dinner he went to. There were a couple of pictures.
Don’t look back, Lara. Just forget it.
Her mind was telling her to stop going back, but her fingers kept searching. She found the picture, a picture he was tagged in— August 18, 2013. Allen sitting with a group of people she didn’t recognize at a restaurant. Allen smiling. Allen wearing the shirt Lara bought him for his 35th birthday. And there, smiling nearby, was another face she knew. A face that she would now recognize for the rest of her life. A face that took the place of hers.
The face of the woman he left her for.
End of Chapter 3 Part 1.