“We are as sick as our secrets”. –AA
It’s in every yoga studio, in every eyelash extension salon, 6:30pm at the liquor store, and tucked away in the phrase, “Let’s have a girls night.” Cities like Los Angeles, Austin, Dallas, Denver, and New York all house these beautiful women who are holding onto a secret. Some of these women have some things in common and proudly belong to the division known as “Boss-ass Babes”. A group of them are top executives and a few are artists turned savvy business women who, on the surface, seem to “have it all”.
She has an Instagram account full of pictures of tropical vacations, afternoon rose wine, curated meals that some hipster dreamed up, and fashion. There’s a lot of networking and late nights that show up on her Instagram stories. And, it’s just that, it’s a story.
The door closes on the yoga studio and the heat is turned up to 109 degrees. “Andrea” has on her lululemon hot yoga shorts and a bondage inspired sports bra. Her 5’4 frame looks elongated as she stands tall in tree pose. She convinced her friend “Vanessa” to join her for this early morning class, “To burn off last night and because the teacher–Keegan–is so hot.” “It will be great and then we can get a green detox drink after!” she promises her sluggish friend.
Vanessa doesn’t make nearly as much money as Andrea does and she has had to fall back on her parents several times since her breakup had such an impact on her online clothing business. Andrea came up from the middle, got a scholarship to an Ivy-league school, and landed a top tech firm job that flies her all across the world. These two women met through mutual friends who were into fashion and they became “besties”.
As sweat runs down Vanessa’s back, she is quietly questioning her life choices while simultaneously trying to keep her focus on when to transition from one pose to another. Half way through the class, she gives up and walks out. “Fuck this!” Andrea feels embarrassed but finishes the class, and then after she puts herself together for work, texts “Megan”: Vanessa is such a train-wreck! I can’t believe she bailed on yoga this morning!
Megan is in the middle of a meeting and shoots back a poop emoji and a LOL face. If there were a pack leader, Megan would be it. She was engaged, running a seven-figure fitness business, lives in Los Angeles but has a condo in New York that had been in the family for generations, and she defers big decisions to her spiritual guru shaman. She is sleek with perfect hair (extensions), a designer wardrobe, and a beautiful Mercedes.
These women and those like them drive commerce in the Western World. Their hearts are in a pretty good place, and despite knowing about the Law of Attraction, their minds are in turmoil. What Andrea doesn’t know about Vanessa is that Vanessa is on antidepressants she washes down with a bottle of Malbec, most nights of the week. On the nights she’s not chasing her pills with booze, she is on a date with another “rando”. And she’s chasing her booze with cheep sex. But, this isn’t the big secret because when all the girls are together–the tigers and the ringleader–they laugh and joke about dating, sex, butt-plugs, and do their best to one-up each other’s ability to be salacious.
Megan feels like she has dirt on both Andrea and Vanessa since they both complain to her about the other one. She also feels better than them because she is engaged. For Megan, life is going “according to plan”. But, she didn’t plan on her sex-life being so dry and flat. She didn’t plan on feeling envious of Vanessa’s ability to hook up and move on.
Both Megan and Vanessa think Andrea is totally put together. But, what Andrea doesn’t share is that she spends way to much money on Amazon.com around 3am in the morning because she can’t sleep; her anxiety keeps her up.
Hints of these secrets show up when they get together and “get four bottles deep”. It’s not that they are bad. It’s not that therapy hasn’t worked. It’s that in yoga class, in the eyelash salon, in the liquor store, and after “girls night”; the ache of living with broken hearts, guilt, shame and emptiness is there.
Love is packaged and sold as a drug in these circles. We binge watch shows like The Bachelor and Say Yes to the Dress. No one is keeping up with the Kardashians; although some of us are still trying to emulate them. None of us feel really great about our bodies. We all have had a version of childhood that left holes in our psychology. A handful of us drifted into the “plant medicine” world. And using catch phrases like, “I’m enough” is just enough to get us to the next day.
But, the medicine isn’t in the stack of self-help books we buy but don’t actually read. It’s circulating through podcasts but only as information. The medicine isn’t in a “mindset” coaching formula, singular church service, or twelve-step gatherings. Broken hearts and empty spaces are healed through the conversations that happen in Breakup Rehab.
It doesn’t matter what her name is–she is lost. I’ve been her. I am her. And what I know to be true is that rehabilitation brings us back home again.
Allen Ginsberg elucidates this by saying, “And while I’m here, I’ll do the work. And what is the work? To ease the pain of living–everything else is a drunken dumbshow.”
We are fallible humans that pass down the lineage of guilt to one another like it was an explanation for existence. It’s not. Life cannot be explained nor can it be lived fully with misunderstanding. Access to unconditional love and the peace that coincides with it requires a commitment few can integrate but in retrospect. Love is nothing and everything.
And it’s there, in the quiet moments, in our prayers, at all hours of the day, in our asking and in Breakup Rehab.