the story of my ex-boyfriend


lisa fabrega

Young woman hair blowing in face, close-up
Young woman hair blowing in face, close-up

I arrived in Maui last night, just in time to ring in the New Year
and start my official vacation.  As I breathed in the salty Maui air
when the clock struck 12, I thought about you and what would be
the most powerful thing to share with you for the start of 2013.

The story of my ex-boyfriend immediately popped up in my mind.

This year, I want to play more with vulnerability and take even greater
risks, so in the spirit of that, I want to share that story (which I’ve only ever
told one other person before) with you today.  Something in my heart
tells me this is the right time to tell it.

About 9 years ago, I had a 3 year relationship with a very wounded
man.  At first, the attraction was on his side only–I just didn’t see him that way.
But slowly as I got to know him more, my feelings began to grow
and to my surprise, I fell in love.

It was a very passionate affair in the beginning and very tumultuous.  
We were both very impassioned people with strong personalities
and that created both fireworks and a lot of turmoil.
And it was the first time that I truly completely gave myself over
to someone and trusted them 100% with my heart, a very big leap for my
Cancerian self who likes to keep a little bit of a shell on the outside because
my insides are super sensitive.

When I came into the relationship, I was who I’ve always been,
a woman who feels things deeply, loves wholeheartedly,
intensely passionate about life and all of the things that there are
to discover and experience.  And a person who, whenever I have
a beautiful experience, I want to share it with others, so that they
can also feel the beauty and magic of this life that we have all been given.

Unfortunately, this was a huge problem for my ex-boyfriend.
He was an abuse survivor and suffered from Post-traumatic stress syndrome.
My natural expressiveness and passion for life felt unsafe to him.
For him, it felt unpredictable and unstructured.
And the parts of him that had been wounded long ago, when he had
been a naturally expressive boy, were terrified by my total openness
and willingness to plunge all of myself into an experience.
In order to survive, he had to shut down all these naturally open parts
of himself as a child, because in his mind, he erroneously believed that
these beautiful parts of him had attracted the abuse he experienced,
therefore these aspects of himself had to be “bad” and punishable.
And therefore, these aspects in others, were also bad.

The relationship became emotionally manipulative, then emotionally abusive.
Because profound devotion to the ones I love is kind of my thing and I was young,
I stayed and kept hoping that love would be enough to help him heal.
It wasn’t.

One day I was at lunch at a restaurant with him and his best friend
and a really great salsa song came on the speakers.  
Now, I grew up in Panama, so salsa music is in my blood!  
And dancing is too–I was trained as a dancer from age 6-15.
So when a good salsa song comes on I can’t help but dance to it.  
I don’t really care where I am or who is watching!

Out of pure excitement and in total innocence, I jumped up and joyfully began
to dance right by our table at the restaurant to the song.

“Sit down!  You’re acting like a total child.
Stop showing off, making this all about you and trying to get
everyone to look at you, you’re embarrassing me”,

came the sharp and loud command from my ex.

I was mortified.
Shame filled my whole body like hot molten lava as people in
the restaurant who overheard him began to look at me.
I sat down.

And for the next 9 years, I stopped dancing.

Even after our relationship ended, I unconsciously suppressed
my natural need to move my body and express emotions through dance.

I stopped dancing at weddings and parties. 
I stopped having my nighttime dance parties in my apartment with the lights off.

It wasn’t a conscious decision.
In fact, I was completely unaware that I had simply stopped dancing until recently.
I just somehow unconsciously bought into the story, the illusion that my natural
impulse to want to get up and dance, express my feelings through movement,

was somehow egotistical and “show-off-y”.

And that’s why I’m sharing this incredibly personal story with you today.
We all, at some time or other, have believed a story
about ourselves that is simply not true.

Sometimes it’s a story that someone else told us about ourselves,
that we believe and buy into before checking in with ourselves and seeing
if that story is actually true for us.

“You can’t sing”
“You’re selfish for wanting to do what you love”
“If you leave me I’ll die”

We are surrounded by stories that other people project onto us
based on their own unhealed wounds.
 I don’t think they do it to be mean
or to purposely hurt us.  I don’t think that my ex told me to sit down to hurt me,
or to purposely squelch my light.  He was just scared because he was
uncomfortable with the parts of himself that he had had to shut down long ago
for self-protection, which I was just unknowingly reflecting back to him when
I joyously got up to dance.

Other people’s stories about us, don’t have to become OUR stories.
They don’t have to become the beliefs we form about ourselves,
that hide our light and our truth from the world.

So as we start the New Year, with new goals, new hopes and new visions,
I want to encourage you to try a journaling exercise.

1.  Ask yourself–what are the stories and beliefs I have about myself that are
holding me back from expressing my truth, living my purpose and making the
impact in the world that I know I was put here to make?

2.  Write them down and see if you can track down the origin of that story.
Who told you that story about yourself?

3.  Then ask yourself–is this story REALLY true?

4.  Thank those who told you the old stories for teaching you the valuable lesson
of not believing in stories.

5.  Write your new story next to the old one and say it out loud.

Most likely all of the stories you will write down are not true.
If there’s one thing I know about you,
it’s that you are devastatingly magnificent.

As for me, I’ve been dancing my heart out with wild abandon since early last year.
I close my eyes in my dance class and let everything go,
I don’t care what I look like and I don’t care how crazy I look.
I’m now creating and choreographing a dance performance
that I am hoping to perform for other people by the end of 2013
as a ritual for full self-expression.

And you want to know something funny?
When I started dancing again in my dance class, the complete opposite
of what I feared would happen, happened.
Instead of more shaming (which the old story would have me believe)
I’ve had women come up to me after the class (including my instructor)
to tell me that my ecstatic dancing has inspired them to express more
of themselves too.

And the same thing will happen for you too, when you release the old
stories that keep you small and embrace the absolute truth of your magnificence.

I guarantee it.

When we release everything that strangles our power and shine our light
we inspire to do the same, too.

Happy New Year my love!

With profound devotion and love, 
Lisa Fabrega
Life Detox for women on the edge of liberation

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