I cried my heart out in Laos. I don’t think I ever really grasped the full meaning of this expression until I was perched on the edge of the bed in my tiny room, clutching my heart and quite literally feeling the aching hurt drain away with each sob that wracked my body.
It sounds a lot worse than it actually was; in a way, I had known this day was coming. I had felt it build up, this clenching in my chest that got tighter every day and stole away my breath, leaving me feeling sickened and exhausted. Ah yes, anxiety, my newfound enemy…this dark creature that had inexplicably wormed its way into my body without my permission. At least that’s what I kept telling myself was the culprit, while I secretly feared I was dying. This whole thing again; the fatalistic thoughts I couldn’t quite quash.
Don’t get me wrong, I had shed a few tears throughout this journey: tears of awe and wonder at beautiful sites, tears of frustration when travel plans fell through, tears of loneliness when I had no one to talk to and I just wanted a hug…but none would I consider a full-on breakdown, the one I felt looming somewhere in front of me, just out of reach.
And I had known to expect it as well. “I cried every single night in my hotel room,” my stepmom told me after she completed the Camino de Santiago last spring. The way I was feeling when I left, I was pretty sure I’d do the same…but staying in hostels and then Airbnb rooms never afforded me the privacy to have my much-needed meltdown.
And even now, a few days later, I couldn’t tell you what triggered it…only that isn’t exactly true. I have an inkling of what it could be. A few events occurring both simultaneously and in quick succession that led to me to this cathartic release.
A few days before, I had emailed my principal and made plans for next school year. This was an odd decision, as just two days prior I had been certain I wasn’t returning. But sudden signs from the universe were telling me to go back, just for one more year, and I felt I had to honor them (*sidenote: when you ask for a sign, don’t be surprised when it appears to be telling you the exact opposite of what you expected to hear). And with that decision, the anxiety I had decidedly released on a hiking path in New Zealand a few months earlier came back with a vengeance.
At the same time, I had begun a slow journey back to yoga. A devoted yogini for the past seven years, my practice had been on hiatus since last summer, but recently I had felt a calling back to the mat. With 40 days left before I return home, I started my own personal challenge to practice an hour every evening. It didn’t matter to me how active or restorative this practice was, as long as I committed myself to mindfully moving and breathing. I wanted to mend that connection that had been broken months before.
It’s almost comical the way the cry-fest began. I had just finished another dramatic journal entry (“please help me feel better”, etc.) and had turned on the tv to find a dubbed Laotian version of the movie Crazy Stupid Love. I sat there watching, because I love the movie and know it nearly by heart. It is by no means a tearjerker, but as the credits began rolling, the tears began to fall. And from there, the sobs.
Honestly, it felt so good. Like my body was saying, Finally. And while the tears stemmed from a place of nearly unbearable anguish, I could somehow feel the bittersweet side as well.
I’m not sure how long I cried; I don’t think it was more than fifteen or twenty minutes. But I relished each and every tear, knowing they were stepping stones on my path to heal. And when I felt tapped out for the night, I climbed down onto the floor and began my newfound nightly yoga session, finally forgiving myself (for what? I don’t know. For everything, I suppose. I don’t think it matters what for). And when I was finished, I felt nearly whole again. I felt like me again. I don’t mean to say that I’m completely “cured”…but it’s a start. I’m on the road to loving myself once more.