It’s the 5th of February, a Wednesday morning. I’m holding a warm cup of coffee to heat up my palms, wrapped in a thin bed sheet, sitting beside three Germans and a Spaniard. None of us are talking, but the silence between us sits comfortably as we watch the orange and pink hues of the sun rise. The sun has not yet peeked but its glow has already cast shadows off the turtle sanctuary that lies ahead of us. A soft breeze carries the scent of the ocean, past my face and I struggle to think that just 4 weeks ago, I discovered some messages on my husband’s phone that would change the course of my life drastically. During the 4 short weeks, I have been pushed down a roller-coaster ride, over and over again, against my will. I had never been more enslaved to my emotions, and yet I have never had such clarity in my reflections as well. Life is funny this way, it often brings lessons to us, in directly contrasting ways. It brings you to the deepest depths of pain, and then it throws you up in sensational euphoria. So the harder you fall, the stronger you become. When you face any situation, pray that you go down deeper, and not lesser, for a bigger lesson waits for those who appreciate the intense difficulties that await us.
After 20 minutes, Gwenn spotted two men along the coast, pouring out what looked like sand into the beach, close to the water. We ran to the beach and saw that they were baby turtles being released into the sea. There must have been a few hundred of them. We watched patiently as they crawled towards the water. I wondered about the instinct they had in them. That basic animal instinct to go towards a vast unknown and face innumerable factors of risk. Some say few out of thousands survive past the first few days of being out at sea, and yet on this beach right now, every single turtle we were watching, had a fighting chance.
A flashback hit me while we were walking back to the hostel. I’ve realized, it is in moments of familiarity, when your mind lets down its guard and toxic thoughts squeeze their way into your consciousness. A picture on Instagram of the two of them celebrating Christmas together in Mountain home, in the apartment that I helped him set up. Another picture of them in our house in Singapore, probably in our marital bed, where hours were poured into building up a home. A picture of her posing with her engagement ring……….the memory of my dad crying in my study room because his heart is breaking….
I demanded my thoughts to hit pause and looked up at my surroundings. ” I see the ocean, a porch with hammocks, I see my friends ahead of me, I am 10 steps behind of them, we are about to start our day.” I used my vision to replace the toxic memories, and reminded myself that things are out of my control and that the only things I can influence is how I allow them to affect me. Do I give in to the anger and the betrayal that my heart sorely feels? Or do I remember the big picture and hold on to what my authentic self would want me to do, which is eventually to forgive and embrace D for his actions. Both. I give myself 5 minutes to feel nasty and let the anger grow in my chest, and it starts feeling so uncomfortable that less than 2 minutes later, my mind becomes bored of the anger and chooses to think of preparing for breakfast instead.
This is how we control our thoughts instead of letting them control us.
But really it’s also about letting go of control.
If you were caught in an undercurrent, and you try your best to paddle towards the shore, that is when you will drown. But if you start to relax, and allow the waves to naturally move you towards it, while guiding yourself there, that’s when you survive.
Letting go of control is difficult. So we do what we know, which is to try and try and try again.
Just like any new skill that takes a good amount of practice to become second nature, letting go is a skill we need to master over time.