Chasing Waterfalls (and the lessons learned)

I had the best intentions before setting off on a 2 month journey to Costa Rica. I wanted to explore a new place, meet new people, hone in on my yoga practice, maybe learn to surf, get a smoking hot body (from all the yoga and surfing) and play with my boyfriend in the jungle. But sometimes our intentions go by the wayside and instead we learn the lessons we’re supposed to learn.

In fact, 5 months later… and I’m still trying to figure out what those lessons actually were. See, as it turned out- my time in Costa wasn’t at all what I had hoped and dreamed it would be.

The first few weeks of the trip were quite amazing. Me and my travel companion- my boyfriend of only 3 months at the time- enjoyed peaceful mornings drinking coffee, hearing the sounds of howler monkeys and parrots chatting away. We laughed, played, kissed (a lot),and listened to Jack Johnson and Ray LaMontagne as we cruised down the Panamamerican Highway. We swam in the ocean, getting carried off by serious rip tides (scary!), and watched some of the most stellar sunsets I’ve ever seen.

He got to surf fun breaks, while I took surfing lessons with a local instructor. We prayed together, did yoga together and genuinely felt a deep love for one another. We met up with friends in another town and took off on an adventure in search of a hidden waterfall. And took cute selfies, of course.

We must have settled quite nicely to our surroundings, because everywhere we went, people assumed we were husband and wife and would ask how long we had lived in Costa. We definitely looked like we had been living in the jungle for some time, and considering we didn’t have hot water in the place we were staying, we probably smelled like it too!

But as our extended time in the jungle went on, things began to change. More and more often, I was left behind at our rural cabin, while he took our rental car and was at the beach working as a water photographer or surfing with his buddies. I also began noticing how much time he was spending on social media. And how he was flirting with young women/girls. Every time I’d see him liking a photo of some 20-year-old girl on Instagram in a bikini, I became more and more insecure. I don’t think of myself as unattractive or undesirable, but when my lover is continually lusting after girls half my age- it does have a way of making me feel like I’m not enough. After all, we did travel to another country together for two months- that seemed somewhat like a committed relationship. But it wasn’t. Not for him anyway at the time.

And then there was the yelling and fighting. On almost a daily basis. Usually instigated by me bringing up a new person I noticed he was flirting with and how I felt it was disrespectful towards me. Especially for the whole world to see. He insisted that I was just insecure and jealous and that I “needed to get over it”.

So for a while, at least, I did. Get over it, that is. Not too far from where we were staying there was a quaint little yoga retreat center. I had tried stopping by several times in hopes of taking a yoga class. But the timing was never right. Until the day I decided to look them up online. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect that day. Starting the very next day, they were holding a week-long Detox Retreat. I sent an email, signed up, and the next thing I knew, I was driving up to Peace Retreat, a calming property nestled in the jungle. I knew as soon as I met the retreat leaders, Serena and Kevin, that I was in the right place at the right time.

That week was exactly what I needed in the midst of all the chaos I was experiencing. For the week I was there, I was finally eating a healthy, Ayurvedic diet. Practicing yoga twice a day. And perhaps the most beneficial part of the retreat was the emotional healing.

Kevin, the owner of the retreat property, was committed to digging and getting to heart of every yogi there. He asked the tough questions, had us journal about it, and then share it as a group. Somehow, Serena, the retreat co-leader, managed to beautifully coordinate these emotional exercises with her themed yoga classes. The whole retreat sorta weaved together in that way. Foods to detox the body, combined with asana poses to also detox and release emotional blockages in the body, and finally journaling to inspire self reflection. There were several classes in which I had to walk out because the tears wouldn’t stop flowing. Breakthroughs were happening.

But after the peaceful week at the retreat center, and back “home” with my boyfriend, it was back to the daily fighting. We ended our trip a week short and by the time we landed back in the states, he had broke up with me. Well for 24 hours anyway. We decided we should stay together, because we do in fact love each other very much. He agreed that he would stop flirting with girls on social media and I agreed I would stop playing the victim. I also would try to stop watching his social media activity.

So here it goes, 5 months later, I’m reflecting on the 5 lessons I learned in Costa Rica:

1. Be careful not to give your power to others. The entire time, I was allowing my boyfriends actions to control how I felt. If he didn’t find me attractive, or spent his time giving attention to other women (girls), that’s on him- not me. Just because someone doesn’t see my value- doesn’t mean I’m not valuable! And because of this relinquishment of power, I felt depleted, insecure and not enough. I allowed this to take over. Therefore, I didn’t enjoy my time there like I should have.
2. There are always people around to lift you up when you need it, you just need to be willing to look around. Here I was in the middle of the jungle, not knowing a soul there. But I got desperate and looked for people I knew. My people. My yogi tribe. And I found them!
3. Love doesn’t hurt, expectations do. I can look back now, and see a lot of my discomfort and pain came from simply having expectations that were not met. And going back to #1, I was putting all of that control into someone else’s hands. It’s okay to have some kind of expectation, we all do it. But we can’t let it all rest on one person. I am responsible for my own happiness, after all.
4. When all else fails- yoga yourself back together. Okay, this is a given. I’m pretty sure things wouldn’t have gotten as bad as they did if I had stayed with a disciplined yoga practice and yogi diet. But I allowed myself to get so far off balance that I temporarily forgot who I was- a beautiful, powerful, beam of light. Yoga has a way of reminding me of who I am. Once I got reconnected, I remembered I didn’t have to feel insecure and not enough. And I let it go.
5. And a very important lesson… I need to go back to Costa! I want to go back and enjoy all the goodness I didn’t see because I was too busy feeling sorry for myself. And although I can look back and see a lot of happy times in Costa with my travel companion, I think the next adventure needs to be experienced solo.

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