Get Physical

I Found the Love of My Life Through a Painful Journey of Self-Discovery—and I Wouldn’t Change a Thing

by Alison Beckner

After decades of monogamous relationships with men, 10 years in New York and 15 years in Paris, I met a woman, my true love, in a pueblo magico in the heart of the Yucatan Peninsula.  

I had no idea that my new life was beginning when one September, Friday night in Paris, I attended, at the last minute, a cacao ceremony with a New York-based culinary healer. The past six-plus months of my marriage had been turbulent and I was in need of healing. The gathering itself was interesting, but even more impactful and foreshadowing was my conversation with the guide from the ceremony the following day. “You may feel you are with your soul mate,” she said in reference to my current relationship challenges, “but I am certain that you are not with your twin flame.” I left both inspired and confused. Such occult subject matter tended to elude me. When I got back home, I cried.

My marriage was a farce. In appearance, my spouse of seven years and I were an exemplary couple: well dressed and personable with great hair and a cute dog. Behind the scenes, though, he was increasingly unavailable, his attitude towards me unpredictably vacillating between critical, dismissive and apologetic. I had tried to connect with him for ages, attempting to understand what he was feeling, why he had become so withdrawn. None of my methods — from talking to screaming to crying — worked. In July, he had finally acquiesced to feeling down and “dark,” possibly depressed. Despite being extremely unfulfilled, I didn’t want to abandon him. Abandon felt like failure. Rather, I wanted to fix him, fix us. That is until it suddenly came into focus that his darkness was reserved for me alone. Navigating the world, he continued to parade around like a peacock, exuding confidence and charm. I realized that he was only miserable — and increasingly degrading, both verbally and sexually — around me and to me. What I perceived as depression was in fact cowardice. He was unavailable to access and process his feelings and I saw that there was no room for growth. I had recently asked him if he was in or out. He said he didn’t know. He said he needed time. This was far from the life I accepted for my future—so I rushed into an exit plan.

On a Tuesday morning following the cacao ceremony, I prepared an Instagrammable breakfast, put on my “The Future is Female” T-shirt and a cheerful red lip. The Inside/Out team, the startup for women’s empowerment through sports and wellness that I had co-founded earlier that year, was coming over to do the lifestyle shoot for my profile on the platform. Sitting in our bright and comfortable Paris apartment, I smiled cheerfully. In the pictures, I look strong, approachable and happy. That evening, with only two suitcases and my dog, I ordered an Uber and decided to leave my sweet home.  

The next couple of months, I stayed (overstayed TBH) with a friend in her one-bedroom apartment, functioning in a sort of survival mode. By day, I focused on business development punctuated by cycling classes, vinyasa yoga, Kundalini kriyas, plus my twice-daily meditation practice (all activities for which I had often been criticized by my soon-to-be ex-husband). After hours, I morphed into a sort of woo-woo Bridget Jones, drinking copious amounts of rosé, tearily binge-watching Gabrielle Bernstein videos, or a combo of the two. During this time, my husband continued to contact me on an almost daily basis. Even though I told him I was not available, he would stop by because he “just happened to be in the neighborhood” and occasionally called me in tears. He said he was confused and sad. I was increasingly angry. Why these mixed signals? Why couldn’t he just come out and ask for a divorce?

I had often joked that my next husband would be a wife. I wasn’t ready to move on in any direction at the time, but I already couldn’t imagine being in love with a man again. More than bitter or disappointed, I felt disrespected, misunderstood, defeated and just so done.

After Thanksgiving, I went on a business trip to Los Angeles, where I met someone charismatic, strong, and talented. The connection was tangible, but the timing wasn’t right. And most importantly, I simply wasn’t ready. However, the reality of this person’s existence was proof enough to me that I was on the right path, from bitterness to faith and freedom. While I was still incredibly anxious, as well as professionally and geographically insecure, nevertheless, I gradually started to fall in love again. But this time, in love with myself. This continued through the coming month in New York City, as I explored new movement practices and experienced the most physically cathartic workouts of my life. I got back into my body. I started to release anger and to experience a softness in my strength that I had never been able to access before.

Around the same time, my then still-husband was in NYC on business. We had been communicating sporadically – he had even hired me to collaborate on executing a project for his client. Then late one night, I discovered an entire chapter of “lost episodes” of deceit, lies, and manipulation. He had been having an affair when we were together. It started at the exact time when I felt things begin to shift between us. My intuition had knocked, but I had ignored it. There were naked pictures, messages in which he referred to his new lover — and other women, in fact — as “bitch.” In these texts, I found out that he had gotten her pregnant and had a miscarriage. However, they were now trying again to have a child. So many of our mutual friends were in the loop. In one exchange he wrote: “I just needed to finish my laundry,” in reference to ending things with me. As painful as the information was, it allowed me to begin to process the demise of our relationship. His physical proximity felt toxic. I avoided the neighborhood in which he was working. I defaulted to fear, insecurity and flight mode.

That’s when I decided to take things into my own hands. I attended a double-header of breathwork sessions with some dudes that were from LA. At the first workshop, I ugly cried so hard that I couldn’t breathe. My heartfelt cracked open and my throat was on fire. At the second, I felt joy and space. My hands were tingling and I could literally feel energy moving through my body. I was slated to interview the crew guys after the event but instead, I told one of them, “I can’t stay. I have to go divorce my husband before he leaves for Paris.” A shot of tequila and two margaritas later, that conversation was crossed off the to-do list. For the first time in months, I slept through the night.

The following week, through connections in Europe, I was offered a consulting mission in the Yucatan. Ten days later I moved to Mexico. I landed in a quiet Colonial town and became the sole inhabitant of a former private mansion located a block away from a beautiful monastery. In boho-aristo ashram mode, I practiced yoga, committed to my hybrid exercise regime and focused intensely on my work. I now had three jobs: consulting, writing and the start-up. Within two months I had gotten into the habit of working 18-hour days. It was totally incompatible with the Estilo Mexicano that had attracted me to the place, to begin with—I was about to burn out again, but this time with only myself to blame. In an attempt to recalibrate, I started journaling. In a matter of days, things began to change: my sleep became wild. I had dreams with dense milky-blue waters where I was coming to the surface but barely breaking through, gasping for air; it felt like I was being reborn. These episodes continued. I asked for guidance from the Universe.

Then a friend, accidentally, (are there really any accidents?) sent me the details for a plant ceremony happening on a ranch next to town. It was hosted by two women and a male shaman from Brazil. I signed up immediately for both the bodywork and ceremony the following night. It was my first for both. The physical Terapia happened on the night of the full moon in Scorpio. Mystic Mamma called it “the moon of ‘Who am I now?’ I was fully naked for the 3-hour session involved copal, herbs, and compresses of varying temperatures. I felt my body open up and experienced what I can only describe as the union of the masculine and feminine sides of my body and soul. This first experience provided a roadmap for the ceremonia the following night. I talked to the divine with a clear and expressive voice; I conversed with the cosmos and connected so many of my dots. It was challenging on many levels, but the takeaway was worth it. The ceremony had provided me with a map to the stars. Through this experience, I learned that the space I had been working to create was so hard earned because it is incredibly sacred. I knew that I must continue to listen to the call of my own life, showing up in the right place and doing the work again and again.

Speaking of space and place and as a self-proclaimed serendipiter, a believer in the conscious pursuit of happenstance, one week later I was invited to a dinner at an acquaintance’s house. One of the guests was an American woman and my neighbor. We had never met, although we had exchanged a few messages previously, regarding a mission to save some dogs and also about yoga. When she came to my room to pick me up at my guesthouse, I blushed to realize that she was the first person to enter my personal space since I had been there. It felt both awkward and strangely intimate. That night we comfortably chatted and tag-teamed on a tasty meal at the dinner. A few hours later, we were dancing together at the local mezcaleria; like dirty dancing. She said, “We can leave this on the dance floor if you want…” I pulled her in closer.

Waking up the next morning together, as we were looking into each other’s eyes, my heartfelt seen and my mind at peace. I was finally home. We have come to understand this moment as a simultaneous realization that this encounter had been a cosmic date. She says that “soul mates are overrated.” Had I truly found my twin flame?

I am now over a year into my 1st same-sex relationship, and the most profound, fulfilling and inspiring connection I have ever experienced. Is this because we are both women? I cannot say. At any rate, this is one woman with whom every day feels like the first day of the rest of my life. Our passion combines with a shared dynamic vision in a flow that I always craved but never truly thought I would find.

Of course, passion is one powerful emotion, fiery and hard to control. The intensity that we feel for each other is matched by our strong personalities, past traumas, and general Piscean independence. In our watery depths, we are capable of accessing both heaven and hell. There is nowhere to hide in this clear reflection. I am able to be my best and worst self in this relationship and to experience, at the end of the day, acceptance, transformation and a love that embraces my self in entirety.  

For as long as I can remember, I adhered to Saint-Exupéry’s belief that an ideal romantic relationship consisted of two people looking outward in the same direction. But despite my conviction, this belief has failed to serve me time and time again.

What if, in fact, true love were more about a sweet spot? That magic space and place where two souls, bodies and minds overlap. With a respectful acknowledgment of the everything else, the past and “the other(s).” Bolstered by an empowering and celebratory communion.

And loads of phenomenal sex.

All images via Alison Beckner 

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