One rainy October afternoon I was at my routine beauty appointment chatting up a storm with my astrology-loving aesthetician and talking about how something crazy was happening to me. I was talking about how much my tastes in life had changed, everything from my favorite color to my hobbies to my interactions with my loved ones. As she was beautifying me, I imagined even this star gazer would think I was nuts judging upon what was coming out of my mouth. I mean, I have never been known to have a filter but this was like I had woken up a different person and I didn’t know why. She let me talk until silence covered the room. When she asked, “How old are you?" And I replied, “Almost 28," She nonchalantly said, “Oh honey, you are just having your Saturn Return.”
Now lets backtrack. In the past 3 years I’ve gone through a pretty tumultuous breakup, moved back home, tried to get into working out (which lead to me checking out Craig’s listings, which led an apartment instead), gained 30 lbs eating late night pizza, drank like a college kid, and worked my ass off as a typical young professional in the Bay Area - basically sitting at desk eating my pain’s weight in bagels and drinking copious amounts of white wine. At one point getting so drunk I even managed to fall off the side of a pool, and 3 weeks later broke all the capillaries in my eye from “being a mess". And yes, all of this still seemed more normal than a “Saturn Return” - yeah I had heard of it, meaning I knew Gwen Stefani named her first album it but that was about it. I just thought she was a rock star who named it something random - like how Gweyneth Paltrow and Coldplay’s Chris Martin named their daughter after a fruit - so in all my newly-waxed glory I thanked her, tipped her, and gave her a hug (figured she needed it - she was definitely nuts), then went home and came to terms with the fact that I didn’t have hypochondria and was definitely dying of a brain tumor.
Triggered by Yoga
I had started to try out yoga. I have no idea why. Regardless, I just kept going back - by myself, with other people. It was just as natural as brushing my teeth. Then one night I was attempting bridge pose and this instructor Libby, with the most gorgeous red hair, was talking about trusting your “quiet voice" - I know, cliché - but all of a sudden something happened. I felt something inside of me I hadn’t felt since I was little. I felt my heart, my soul, all the beauty I am, without fear, I wasn’t lonely, and then I had that even more cliché “aha moment" when I realized everything I was looking for was there - except it wasn’t on the outside, it was all in me. Oh No!
I know it sounds nuts so backtracking again. I had been spending my life searching for happiness after being in unhealthy relationships, giving everything I had to my job, denying the fact that maybe my upbringing was oddly different from my friends’, joining every charity/independent women organization under the sun - all with hopes that something would fulfill me. The sad thing is it never did, in fact it just catapulted me into a deeper hole of feeling lost and out of control. Anyways, I wasn’t necessarily looking for yoga but somehow it unlocked a part of me. From October to the week before my birthday in December the only things I distinctly remember are going back to yoga over and over again and the 20 minute walks to and from yoga. I did not even realize I was working out close to two hours a day. I was hooked. Every time I finished “practicing" yoga I felt that feeling within myself get stronger. I felt less alone, and more at peace with myself. Weight dropped, walls lifted, and my life turned around. I became confident, I stopped doing stuff I didn’t like (like drinking too much and falling off pools). I also embraced art which I hadn’t done since I was in grammar school. Life was good. I was so happy that I felt I might in fact not be dying of a brain tumor, and so I planned a big birthday to celebrate my new “grown up" me - and it was perfect. It was like everything was coming together. I had friends, I looked good, I liked my job, my life was stable. Beautifully stable finally.
As I got stronger, better, more confident, all I wanted to do was share what had happened to me. I have always been someone who loves to share - from my cheerios, to my opinions, to my feelings (especially my overly sensitive feelings). So I did. I had gone from being this (slightly) overweight typical college graduate to being an advocate of yoga, health food, and trying to find ways to be more healthy and make my life even better than it was. At first I think my friends were happy for me, and why wouldn’t they be. But sometimes with all this happiness came internal confusion, because what I didn’t realize was while I was discovering this new me, I was also opening up the big can of baggage I had covered up for my whole life. I kinda got weird. I started becoming obsessed with talking about my life, and I think eventually it became too much. And I could feel it happening. I have always been intuitive (I mean I am a tech recruiter and barely can use a computer, I must have good intuition and gut instinct about myself and others).
So I started a blog - why? because I knew I needed an outlet, a way to work through these issues and channel my feelings without driving everyone around me nuts - and who knows? Maybe even help or encourage someone else weird like me. Wouldn’t it have been great if someone shared something this with me years ago? Would I have read it? Probably not. Would I have thought it was weird? Probably, but I also didn’t expect 99% of what has happened so far in my life to happen, so maybe there would have been a sliver of a chance that I would have come across a guiding voice that could have helped me avoid a little bit of the pain I’ve been through. So I started Naturally Marina.
Now Naturally Marina was good but I also am not sure now it was 100% genuine. Sure, I wanted it to be, but being a "naturally the glass is always full" kind of girl, I only shared good stuff. I shared recipes, headstand goals - which I actually ended up reaching as I found healthier ways of living. I would do things like be vegan for a week while avoiding tofu, or choose an item and use it for the entire week (favorite being Meyer lemons). People liked my amateur posts, I got followers, and most of all I was having fun. Except, being so naïve, I failed to realize that with people liking it also would come criticism and jokes. One day, as I was typing in the search button, I stumbled upon a spoof blog called “Naturally Marina-er". Actually, I had seen it pop up before and in the back of my head thought it seemed a little weird, but being excellent at “selective everything" I ignored it. This time it stood out, so I clicked on it. Right before my eyes - it was like reliving when I fell out of my chair in grade school and all the guys in class saw my pink and white polka dot panties. My heart sank and reality set in; it was a page making fun of my self-expressive Naturally Marina. And the worst part was that my friends were following it. I was so confused, hurt - not because of the page itself (I mean the content was actually kind of funny), but because this blog had been more to me than just a blog. It was through this channel that I was learning about myself, and suddenly I felt that no matter how hard I tried I just didn’t deserve to be accepted for who I was. I was devastated. After a few days passed, I tried to move on and let it go (I even started making fun of myself on Naturally Marina-er) and just accepted that I was a “joke". I pretended everything was cool, covered everything up, never blogged again. And Naturally Marina died.
While I wanted to accept myself, I thought it was more important to be accepted by others. But even though I tried to go back to how I used to be, I couldn’t. I was in between a rock and a hard place - on one side, I just wanted to be the “old me", who just wanted to be in good shape, get a boyfriend, be “normal" - but on the other side, I wasn’t content with this. As time went on I went back to overanalyzing everything. This is when my friends started pulling away. I was trying so hard to be someone I wasn’t anymore. It was a disaster, not to mention the harder I tried the worse it got.
The more caught up in the throes of my “internal affairs", the more unfortunate things became. I started to resent a lot of occurences and that I toonhad accepted myself as a joke. I mean my whole life I have always played the self-depracating card. And now I was in trouble. I started to become both wary and weary of everything and everyone, but the fact is that I had done this to myself; it wasn’t anyone’s fault but my own. I had spent the majority of my life thinking I wasn’t worth much, so how was I to expect that after a few months I could be taken seriously. I didn’t think I was pretty, smart, or even had a good enough personality compared to anyone else’s, so I carved out a place where if I didn’t compete with anyone I could be accepted. To me, others’ approval meant I would be allowed and deserving of accepting myself and in turn have a sense of self worth. Not so.
Fast forward to now. Lesson learned - or being learned. I lost a lot of my friends. In my social circle I am labeled a “drama queen” - and I have never had more value for myself than I do now. I realize the importance of being true to myself, accepting the fact that I can and will “walk to the beat of my own drum". I also realize that everything that happened I did to myself, and although it is so easy to point the finger, the only person I can point the finger at is me. However, I also realize that while I feel embarrassed, humiliated, and sad-, I no longer am in denial. I repressed a lot during my life but I wouldn’t change anything that happened in the past few months because even though it was messed up it’s how I got to where I am. I somehow developed a sense of real self through it, and I can accept the circumstances - although maybe it's because I don’t have any other option. Regardless, I am going to try to cut my losses, forgive myself and try to make something of this new me. I have no idea how things will unfold, or if this will end up being a story of success or failures, but I do know I believe that there is something beyond my wildest dreams out there just for me- and this crazy "Saturn Return", real or not - comforts me.
And maybe this is just my natural progression in getting there…