Last updated on April 25th, 2018 at 06:18 pm
When my friend, Reggie, gave me a copy of the book Eat, Pray, Love, I was thirty-five years old, going through a painful divorce, terrified, depressed, and thinking that what I really wanted was to travel the world…
Just like Elizabeth Gilbert. Oh, my God, I thought. This is my life!
Elizabeth Gilbert was funny, neurotic, ambitious, adventurous, a spiritual seeker on a confused quest.
She, like me, loved Italian food, words, and men. The way she described their liquid chocolate eyes that melt her — Oooooooh. I get it, I thought. Italian men = hot.
She, like me, was learning to meditate and had a guru in India that she felt called to follow–mine was Sathya Sai Baba, the “unconditional love guru” with the giant afro, but a guru’s a guru, right?
She, like me, fell head over heels in love with someone else soon after her marriage ended. She dove. I plunged into love, headfirst–no just “dipping in the toes” for me.
She, like me, met a medicine man in Bali who predicted she would return there someday … OK, so maybe that isn’t quite true and this is where our similarities end. I haven’t been to Bali, yet.
My Eat, Pray, Love journey took me around the Middle East and Mediterranean Europe instead, seeking joy, love, peace, serenity.
✔ Seeking something.
✔ Seeking happiness.
✔ Seeking myself.
The Book I Wish I’d Written!
I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought this after reading Eat, Pray, Love. But I thought, “My God I wish I’d written this book. This is my story too. I am this woman!” Reading the book gave me the courage to take the journey I’d been dreaming of taking — two months traveling by myself in Jordan, the U.A.E., Turkey, Greece, Italy, and Spain.
What recently divorced woman wouldn’t want to be chased around piazzas (and yes, that’s piazzas, not pizzas) in Roma by handsome Italian men with olive skin, chiseled features, and those liquid eyes. Sigh…
I too ate a whole pizza. I too marveled at the language.
I too meditated.
Now, I didn’t have a Brazilian lover show up at the end of my trip to whisk me away to a remote island on a boat. If that is what constitutes a happy ending, I’m still waiting for mine.
Committing to Writing My Own Journey Story
What I did decide is that I would write my own Eat, Pray, Love story, a redemption story of a woman who moved from suicidal depression in my early 20s to joy and peace in my late 30s. My story is not the same as Liz Gilbert’s at the beginning of the book. I was raped, I was stalked, and someone I loved dearly died, long before I ever got married. I plummeted into the black hole of despair in my early 20s, climbed out, shut the manhole cover and vowed never to go there again. And I didn’t.
Yet life is more complicated and richer than I was ready to admit. I thought I could “bury” my past, just forget about it.
But I had panic attacks. Night Sweats. Reliving the terror of the nights when I thought my life would end. I had to find my own way to peace, and for me, this involved some travels, some teachers, and some just pure being.
Doing nothing. Letting myself learn to let go for once of all my worldly ambitions.
And Slowly The World Turns
Slowly, slowly, slowly I went from barely being able to sit still without twitching to working my way up to an hour of meditation a day (I now do a half an hour a day).
Slowly, slowly, slowly I learned to treat myself as a friend and not an enemy, talking to myself like I would talk to a loved one, versus viciously excoriating myself for my lack of perfection. I used to be so mean to myself!
Slowly, slowly, slowly I learned to embrace silence as much as chatter. Slowly I learned to turn my attention to the things that matter most to me.
Slowly, slowly, slowly I started to speak the truth out loud. In October 2009, I spoke out at a Take Back the Night rally, telling my story of surviving the rape and the stalking. In the same month, I committed to writing my book. I hired a writing coach. And I stumbled onto, applied to and was accepted to write here on 8womendream.
Now that I have written more than 250 pages in my book, with a draft manuscript due to my writing coach on 10/10/10, this adventure of writing a book, making it happen, really doing it — seems real. It is real. It has been a beautiful adventure and challenging as hell. I love writing and I have been a freelance writer since college.
But writing a book is bigger than writing an article. About 90,000 words bigger, in fact. It’s downright daunting. Somehow, a page at a time, a week at a time, one meeting with my writing coach at a time, it’s happening. And it feels like things are somehow aligning as they should. I wouldn’t have been ready to write this book five years ago, and certainly not ten years ago. The experiences were still too raw. I was still too raw.
I was raw material, untransformed. Let’s just say I was the chrysalis, becoming the butterfly.
For me, the “Eat” part was becoming a vegetarian and altering my diet. The “Pray” part was embracing Buddhism, yoga, and a daily meditation practice. The “Love” part for me, so far, was simply learning to love myself. The great love story of my life will grow out of that.
This is how I Lived my Eat, Pray, Love Journey:
1. I discovered that love matters by working to become the person I am today and helping others through activism.
Through the love of self, love of friends, love of the world, bigger than romantic love, love of all. This is why I’m alive.
2. I discovered that being authentically me is my one real job.
As Liz Gilbert says in the movie version of Eat, Pray, Love, “God dwells within me, as me.”
3. I discovered that speaking the truth is healing.
Elizabeth Gilbert starts her book with the following quote: “Tell the truth, tell the truth, tell the truth.”
I hope that telling the truth can help other women (and men) transform their lives and find more peace and joy.
And I am still on my Eat, Pray, Love journey.
This story is part of a series of articles I asked each dreamer on 8WomenDream to write about Eat, Pray, Love that caught the attention of ABC News when the anniversary edition of Eat, Pray, Love was released. They called the women of 8WomenDream to ask about our Eat, Pray Love stories.
Here’s the article: How to Eat, Pray, Love … From Home by ABCNews/Good Morning America.
If you like reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert:
Lisa Graham is an inspirational writer, life coach, motivational speaker, and globe-trotter whose passion is to help others to find happiness and meaning their daily lives. A political activist at heart, Lisa would like to empower more women to run for political office as a way to create positive change in the world. You can find her on the Madam President Project or watch her TEDx speech on YouTube.
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