Entry #6: Burning Love
In my headphones: Little Big Town “Lost In California”
Depending on the type of person you are, forgiveness is one of those things that you’re either a born natural and really good at or you’re on the polar opposite end of the spectrum and it’s the last thing in hell you’re chopping up. There hasn't been much middle ground in my experience. I’ve encountered both types of people over the years, but I, myself, am ridiculously good at forgiving. Whenever I need to forgive someone, for the most part, I just need to have an open, honest conversation to move past the conflict. As I love to say, I don’t care how ugly the truth is, I just want to know what it is so I can make my own decision on how to proceed. Simply put, it comes down to respect in my book. However, as we all know, nothing is ever this simple. The dilemma I found myself in at the top of this year was that the person I needed to forgive the most was a ghost that vanished some 8 months ago. The question I kept coming back to was, what do you do when forgiveness is required for you to move on from someone or something but the responsibility falls solely on you? In the past, I have classically found closure in writing long letters, text messages, or e-mails breaking down my feelings, the injustice of the other party’s behavior, how wrong they were, and so on and so forth. The unlucky recipients always responded, and from their responses I could piece together the closure I needed. This time, though, there was no event that brought on a World War 7, just the universal injustice of someone I loved vanishing without a trace. It may just be an emotional crime, but it’s a crime nonetheless. So, since the beginning of the new year, I’ve tried a few things out in the name of forgiveness and closure. I will testify, though, that closing the chapter on your own is no easy task. After much reading, exploration, meditation, and even manifestation rituals, I’ve come to learn that forgiveness itself is a form of closure and until you can find it, and embody it, there will always be some type of block between you and your next beginning. I have known these types of blocks before, but I can admittedly be oblivious to what it takes to dismantle them. I’ve learned that, in order to invite the new in, you have to create space by releasing the old. Try asking yourself, “what am I holding onto that’s holding me back from achieving the vision I have for myself and my life?” The answer to that question will come to you as soon as you ask it. It’s your responsibility to listen.
Although I have successfully cleared out a lot of my material belongings in the name of living as a minimalist nomad, the work of emotional clearing is still a challenge. Do we ever master it? As we all welcomed 2018, I was feeling the burden of forgiveness heavy on my shoulders, demanding my attention every day, but I was unsure of what to do or how to proceed because, this time, I had to find it on my own. With my Labrador-like heart and my famously overactive mind, I could not figure out how to let go of that last vestige of last year’s leading heartbreaker, MPD. He did me wrong, but just like the loyal Labrador, I would have crawled back to the warm spot next to him with a simple apology. I’m not necessarily proud that that’s my truth, but alas that’s what it was. I wasn’t losing sleep anymore, and the days of thinking of him every hour were long gone, but there was still one final plug to pull from the heart socket. How, was the question. I was willing to try anything so I started with the obvious and worked my way up to the more obscure. Step 1: I blocked him on all social media platforms a couple of days before New Year’s Eve. Even though he wouldn’t return a phone call or a text message, he would randomly like pictures on my Instagram and, each time he did, it left me frustrated and confused. I didn’t want to allow him to invoke those feelings in me anymore, especially not at the top of a new year where the focus is all on new beginnings. I didn’t block him from a place of anger or pettiness, instead I claimed, “I will no longer give you access to my life as an outsider when I granted you access to the inside and you chose to step out.” I will admit, though, that even though his trolling confused me, I did like the confirmation that he was thinking of me. At the same token, it felt really good knowing that I would no longer have to wonder if he was going to show up in my likes with that default picture I could pick out of a sea of hundreds.
Little Big Town:
There's a long stretch of desert through the canyon
And colors painted we ain't ever seen, yeah
I wanna take up runnin' barefoot, wild, abandoned
Just you and me
As each day of the new year passed by, I was more motivated than ever to better myself, my business, my relationships, really every aspect of my life. Leading up to finishing the last leg of the Joanne World Tour, I was working out every day, spending time with my family, and even updated all of my technology so it would no longer take 20 minutes to simply turn my computer on. I was beginning to feel lighter, but once I landed in Barcelona, the tour's first European city, and got back into work mode, the loneliness and overthinking crept back in. Being on tour is such a unique experience because even though I’m surrounded by great friends, if just one area of life is off (in this case: a failed relationship), it becomes the only thing I can focus on. I was still having fun and genuinely enjoyed being in Europe again, but I could not stop wondering what I could do to completely remove MPD from my mind. Blocking him was a step in the right direction, but I knew I needed to do more. Leave it to my beloved astrology to show me exactly what I needed to do.
On January 16th we had a New Moon in the sign of Capricorn, the sign of stability but, for Virgos like me, Capricorn rules the house of passion, commitment, and relationships. A New Moon initiates a new 2.5 year cycle so they are the ideal time to do a ritual to manifest whatever you'd like to invite in. In this case, my ritual was centered around what I wanted to bring into my love relationships. I’d never done a ritual before, but all the astrologers I listen to have talked about them so I figured why not try one out myself? I'll try anything at this point. One late night in Milan, after a full day of shopping at some of my favorite stores in the world, I lit a candle, burned sage to cleanse the energy of my hotel room, and held on tightly to two stones: one representing clarity in communication, the other a symbol of love. I repeated a love mantra that I discovered in Dallas last year, and then began to speak out loud the type of love I wanted to manifest in my life. I caught myself smiling while I imagined that kind of fierce love, even had a moment where my body was covered in goosebumps. I also took some space during the ritual to acknowledge the love that MPD introduced me to and also took the opportunity to offer my forgiveness as well as genuine well wishes and happiness for him. Surprisingly, it wasn’t difficult to acknowledge his great qualities or even to forgive him in that moment; it was actually the first time since August of last year that I began to feel that love with someone else would be possible again.
Little Big Town:
Let's chase the waves and let 'em take us under
On some deserted piece of virgin sand, yeah
And hold on to the freedom and the wonder
While we can
As has happened in the past when I’ve been on the brink of a serious energy shift, I had a complete meltdown just a few days after my manifestation ritual, this time mid Netflix binge of Grace and Frankie. Although dramatic, the universe shined a bright spotlight exactly where I needed to look: the end of this particular episode was the birth of Frankie’s grandchild. It was a beautiful scene, but as the credits began to roll, I collapsed into a flood of tears. I hadn’t realized that having my own family was so important to me until that moment. Last year, MPD and I had discussed a five year plan of having children and I just hadn’t realized how much that really meant to me and how close it was to being a reality. It was a pivotal turning point for me. I vowed to raise the criteria for any new man coming into my life: a family will have to be an option for any of my potential partners. Now, this game changing, relationship enlightenment was not the only thing this New Moon did--it also launched the beginning of eclipse season. Eclipses are a time when the universe steps in and course corrects those of us who maybe need a little push in the right direction. Each year, we have anywhere between 4-6 eclipses and they are often sudden, dramatic events that leave you stuck in "wow" face. We had two big eclipses at the top of this year: one on January 31st in the sign of Leo and another on February 15th in the sign of Aquarius. The area of my chart stimulated by the Leo eclipse was, imagine this, in the house of forgiveness, spirituality, and closure! The Aquarius eclipse fell in the health sector of my chart. Guess that explains the two viruses that I fought simultaneously, one being the retched flu and the other brought on by mold and mildew from my hotel room in London. See what I mean by eclipses being dramatic?
As for the Leo eclipse, I began receiving serendipitous signs associated to various exes from my past. I believe in serendipity, I never take it lightly, so I decided that, because I was in this heavy time of closure and forgiveness, each sign meant that there were others, in addition to MPD, that needed to be "closed out." In some cases, I even needed to forgive myself for how I acted or for the things I said the last time they were in my life.
First, America's Ladies Man: the over-confident actor I've known since 2006, who walked a red carpet one week after we spent the night together in 2014 and when asked what he looks for in a woman, mentioned every attribute he praised of mine and quoted one of the last things I ever said to him. Several months after that I proposed giving "us" an official shot rather than continuing our sporadic reunions. He replied that he wanted to talk face to face, but when I followed up with him several times, I never received one single response. I was angry for a time, but I can't say that I was all that surprised. I haven't really thought of him since, but while the universe was serving closure for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I received a sponsored post from him on my Instagram and I realized I needed to let any residual resentment go. That one was easy.
Next, there was the Underwear Expert who was the first unfortunate casualty after MPD. He's a great man, but I wasn't ready to receive all that he had to offer at the time. It was when I saw a picture of him and his new boyfriend looking happier than ever on Facebook that I knew I needed to not only forgive myself for hurting him, but to be proud of myself for telling him the brutal truth--that I wasn't over MPD. I never wanted to block him from finding something great so I was genuinely happy that, following my nonsense, he found someone that made him happy. A few weeks after I saw the post, we ended up even working a job together. It was the first time we'd seen each other since he flew out to Philly to hang out with me on tour last year. He didn't know it, but I took that time to forgive myself for what I had done to him in the past in order to move towards a brighter future.
Then, there was 2015's Weredog, the nickname I gave him because he was like half werewolf and half lap dog. My time with Weredog basically consisted of two long, intense weekends, but damn my feelings for him were incredibly deep and very real. We went to concerts together, bad partner danced on the concrete floor of my apartment, laid on top of one another while we shared our rawest truths, and connected on every level you can imagine. It was the first time in a long time that I felt like I had found the perfect match, a true soul mate. He shared horrible things about his childhood and even expressed the awful truth that he'd never come out to his island family because they violently oppose homosexuality. Everything he shared with me shook me to my core; I could actually feel his pain as if it was my own (#LifeOfAnEmpath). Everything crashed down because when each weekend came to an end, it was like nothing ever happened. He'd never call, would maybe respond to a text, and when we eventually talked about it, his go-to line was "I just feel like you want something that I don't think I'm ready for." Fast forward several months, after e-mails full of "I love you's" and "I f*cking hate you's" and a lot of other words that left their mark, I found out through one of my best friends that the very next month after Weredog and I were no longer "a thing," he was already in a committed relationship with some Latino hulk-a-maniac. What's worse, the two had even been dating during both of our long, seemingly special, weekends. So, the part he seemed to have left out of that go-to line was, "something I don't think I'm ready for WITH YOU." By the time I learned of his relationship, it was the last thing I needed to detach from him completely. I had lost all respect for him. I felt like the moments of "I've never told another soul this..." amounted to nothing and that what I thought was soul-wrenching sincerity was just fabricated and inauthentic.
To say that I needed to forgive Weredog was an understatement. So Serendipity, in all her glory, showed up one late night in Europe. My Air Pods were in, Apple Music was on shuffle, and suddenly this infectious song I'd never heard before was roaring between my ears. I looked to see the title--"LOST BOY" by Troye Sivan. Son of a bitch. Lost Boy was the nickname Weredog had given me, after the 1987 vampire movie with Kiefer Sutherland. It was impossible to see that moment as coincidence so I decided to text the song to him and acknowledge the craziness of it all. Why not? We hadn't talked in years, I had nothing to lose. He actually seemed to appreciate the gesture; we even sent a couple nice texts back and forth and just like that the moment was over! Weeks later, and only because I was back in LA after the Joanne World Tour ended prematurely, we were at the same event and came face to face for the first time in years. He was with his hunky, Latino lover, but it was still really nice being in his presence again, sans personal baggage. That charming ass smile and quirky-suave demeanor really are his winning combo. As I walked to my car at the end of the night, I re-visited all of our interactions, I smiled, and felt that last bit of resentment melt off my shoulders and whisk away into a San Fernando Valley windstorm. Serendipity + Forgiveness = Closure.
The main event, though? Operation: RELEASE MPD. The other men were ghosts from my past that I had already emotionally moved on from but, thanks to some universal help, discovered that I was still holding onto baggage from the time they were each in my life. MPD was recent, the emotional bruises still fresh, the wounds still trying to scab. I think I was actually scared to forgive him, though, unsure of what might come out of me during the process, but also because it meant that "us" would no longer be a possibility. I knew my issues surrounding my mom's death were woven into my inability to let him go, but there was also the fact that I loved and trusted him and it didn't work out. Our connection felt special and rare and it was hard to grasp that something that real could just disappear. One day I was listening to some of my favorite astrologer's, The Astro Twins, and they offered up a golden nugget of wisdom for Virgo's searching for closure during the January 31 eclipse: write a letter to yourself from the point of view of the person who you need to forgive. And when you've finished...burn it. Basically, write the letter he would never write and release it into the universe. It's not about false reality or fooling yourself, it's more about pinpointing what is at the core of your issues. I had never thought to do something like that before, but the second I heard it, I knew that's what I needed to do. I took it one step further, though. I wrote two letters: one from MPD to me followed by a response letter.
It was a foggy, cold night in London, about a week before the January 31 eclipse. I sat in my hotel room and wrote the first letter, the one from MPD to me. I didn't think about anything, I just put pen to paper and let the words flow out of me until there was nothing else to write. When I finished, I read it back to myself one time and then vowed to never look at it again. What I remember most was, in addition to all the tears, that I really just needed him to acknowledge that he had violated my trust. That was all I needed to forgive him and move forward. The rest was just smoke and mirrors. It all goes back to what I said in the beginning, I don't care how ugly the truth is, just tell me what it is so I know what it is. I let a few days pass before I wrote my response letter and, again, I put pen to paper and let my stream of consciousness flow until there was nothing left in my emotional tank. Upon reading it back to myself, I came to see that I wasn't angry anymore and I no longer felt disappointment's punch to the gut. Instead, I realized that my love for him was as genuine as it could have been and it felt good to just recall the good times and appreciate everything he taught me during his chapter in my life.
I stacked the letters and placed the two stones from my meditation ritual on top of them until the day of the eclipse. I can't exactly say why that felt like the right thing to do, but I felt like all the energy I put into each individual piece should be gathered together for one last party of energetic proportions. The eclipse took place the same day as our first show in Birmingham, UK. The next day would become the last show of the Joanne World Tour. How fitting for a burning ritual centered around closure, huh? I grabbed both letters and walked outside the Barclaycard Arena and found a spot behind two dumpsters that looked secluded enough that no one would interrupt or try to arrest me for setting paper on fire in the private parking lot of a major arena. I set two corners ablaze and watched as all my words, my tears, and my love burned before my eyes. I sat in silence as the wind picked up momentum, dissolved my love to ash, and blew away all that I had suppressed for so many months. The flames got closer and closer to my hands and, as they threatened to burn my fingertips, I opened my hand and watched as the final ashes swirled away in a mini parking lot tornado. Eyes wet, I whispered "so long, MPD." It was the most freedom I'd felt since last summer.
If reflecting back on all of this has taught me anything it's that it would do all of us a lot of good to acknowledge the signals the universe sends us. Serendipitous moments are not mere coincidences! Whatever you believe in, the Cosmos/God/etc., it's always here to guide you and to push you towards your greatest potential, but it's up to each one us to decide what we're going to do with what's provided. Ask questions, live curious, and always move in the direction of your vision. Immediately following the letter burning ceremony, one of my best friends bought a ticket to join me at this year's Coachella, another friend gave us her hotel room for the weekend of the festival, and I was invited by another great friend to attend this year's Essence Music Festival. I say that to say, once I did the necessary work on myself, there was immediately space for exciting new things to come in. You can't make this stuff up! So, what obstacles are pressing you in this very moment? Is there someone you need to forgive? Are you holding onto something that you know, in your heart of hearts, has run its course? I urge you to not be a passive observer of life, the one who merely lets life happen to them. Take the wheel and do the work. The journey of your life rests solely in your hands. And when you do decide to do the work, the end result is an immense sense of freedom, accomplishment, happiness, and confidence that, whatever you do, you are always moving in the direction of your vision. And, finally, on the other side of all this deep, emotional work, sometimes someone new shows up and reminds you what it feels like to be respected, appreciated, and adored. The work is worth it. Promise.
Until next time...
Little Big Town:
I just wanna burn, I just wanna for you baby
Wanna get caught, get caught up in your summertime
Whisper in my ear, dream and disappear,
Say you'll take me
Where the world unwinds
Lost in California