Jul 10 • 7M

How I Found Peace

Life can really fuck you up...this is how I stay steady.

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Here’s what I CAN’T make peace with: This dress choice at the 2005 Met Ball. What. The. Fuck. And we’ve discussed this before: Why can’t I let this gooooooooo? Because it’s just that awful, I know. I agree.


Today’s Substack is going to feel like a Letter from the Field because my last kiddo is going to sleepaway camp and she’s giving me all of one hour to connect with you, my beloved reader. This child has a long bucket list of things to do before she goes into the wild for the rest of summer.

Speaking of which, one of my other children has been extremely homesick at sleepaway camp. I can write about it now because I just got off the phone with her and she’s finally turned a corner: She met a new friend and they got busted stealing candy from the Canteen. All is well in the world…this is exactly how sleepaway camp should be going. But before “Bonnie” met her “Clyde,” every letter (and call) was filled with intense sobbing and “Mommy, I miss you!” as a mantra over and over again. I would ask her about the fabulous activities I’d seen her doing in photos (with a big smile plastered on her face, I might add!). But she just couldn’t get past, “Mommy, I miss you!” and according to the counselors would cry herself to sleep every night. (I know, kill me now. It was awful.) It was a tough week for her. But then in a moment of inspiration during our scheduled phone call, I told her, “You can really miss Mommy and still love camp! Both things can be true.”

She paused. You know that feeling when something you’ve said lands? Yeah…that.

This week’s phone call was very different. Listen, maybe she just needed time. But maybe she needed permission to flow through paradoxical feelings. Life is always complicated, isn’t it? The question is, can we be okay with that? Can we flow through the feelings without gripping tight to any one of them.

Like I’m getting divorced. There are days and situations where I want to press an eject button and send him to the moon, so I never have to see or speak to him again. (And that’s putting it kindly.) But he is also my brother. We loved each other so much and for so long: Longer than I’ll likely ever love another. Both things are true. I think most narratives work in the binary. Like to say He is the most awful blah blah blah. Or the reverse: We are a peaceful consciously uncoupling family. But the truth is all of the above and it’s a moving target.

Bam! A moving target.

We want to freeze things in time, don’t we? Like my daughter at camp was having a hard time with her changing reality. She equates feeling good, happy and safe with being home with Mommy because of course, that’s all she’s ever known. So, if Mommy isn’t there, there is this sense of something is wrong. But nothing is wrong. Being with Mommy is great. And being at camp is great in other ways. Grownups struggle with the same thing. When a relationship is good, we want to keep it forever. If my ex-husband is done taking my shit and cow-towing to me, the common narrative is that this is bad, right? Oh no, it’s ending. Instead, I would offer How lucky I was to have someone cow-towing to me for 26 years? Ha! Sorry, that was a joke-not-a-joke because who really wants someone cow-towing-to-them but then again who doesn’t, right? You see what I’m saying: IT’S COMPLICATED.

Divorce is such an incredible teacher! She’s tough as nails but amazing if you open up to the lessons and not get beat down by her! What I’ve learned in the past year, particularly through the practice of daily meditation, is to be like water: Just flow through it all. Observe the hard moments but don’t become them. When we observe and don’t merge, they keep flowing right on by. Like floating on a raft, you can get bumped by a rock but if we allow the water to work its magic, it might be jarring but we keep moving forward. If we get jammed up and grab the rock? We’re stuck.

The rock I kept rubbing up against in my life was the “Good Girl” stereotype. I really wanted to be that good girl for my parents because like most parents their love felt very conditional to my being that. So I just kept grabbing that good girl rock in life over and over again. I married the guy my mom liked and had a very good girl chaste relationship with him. Like a good girl I became very successful. Like a good girl I had three lovely children and stayed home to take care of them and rested back on the throne of my past good girl career success. But this good girl was clawing at the walls. I had to break out of good girl prison. But good girls don’t get divorced… Good girls don’t hunger for great sex... But guess what? I guess for those who need binary terms, I’m good…and I’m bad. And that’s just fine with me. I’m just flowing through it all, holding nothing, experiencing everything for however long it takes for me to float by.

Bruce Lee had a great quote: “Empty your mind…be formless…shapeless like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”

Paid subscribers can scroll down to find a meditation practice I recently did for 10 days that made a very big shift for me. (I’m not going to shut up about daily meditation! It’s like the person who brushed their teeth for the first time. Such a game changer!) Check it out.

Separately, our first two IRL get togethers were pretty incredible. Kind of blew my mind and expectations, tbh. If you’re in NY and you want to attend one, respond to this email with a Thursday night you’re free this summer and I’ll put some more together. Otherwise, you know where I am, 24/7, as always at atoosa@atoosa.com.

xo, atoosa

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