I would like to take a few moments to share with you my tears, my lessons and my personal insights derived from the six weeks I took off work to travel to France with my gorgeous husband as part of a holiday/belated honeymoon.
So if you’re anything like me, you have a posy full of romantic expectations on what you ‘think’ life should look like, and I’ll admit I headed to France, expecting to be swept away by the romance of everything Frenchie!
Yep, like I was smack bang in the middle of some uber cheesy chick-flick, where the man gets the girl.
(Only in this case the man already had the girl!)
My romantic picture looked somewhat like this…
Swing dancing by candlelight to the chugging chords of a live gypsy jazz band, running through fields of sunflowers in a pretty red dress, practicing my French while wandering around the local markets shopping with my husband and spending a night in a gorgeous chateau.
Not too much to ask for, I thought!
So we arrive in Paris, and literally as we step out of the train station at 10am on a Friday morning, a riled up guy smashes a beer bottle down on the ground in an angry state, swearing some obscenities we didn’t understand, right in front of us.
Welcome to Paris!
Hence to say, we didn’t feel so safe (or romantic) in Paris during our first week abroad.
Hold on, I missed a crucial part of the story.
Rewind back to the airport, and before we even get to our luggage my husband sustains a foot injury, that stays with him for the remainder of our 6-week trip.
Now France is a very walkable place, so we had to get creative with our exploring, employing the help of horses to explore what we’d been told were the spectacular views of Cirque de Gavanie (as it turned out, it was fogged over so we didn’t get to see it), take the tourist train through cities, ride bikes (many of which had limited braking capacity) and canoe (leading to my gorgeous husband sustaining an arm injury).
Bung foot (and later bung arm), meant no swing dancing.
Cross that romantic expectation off the list (although my hubby did swing me out for a quick dance on the streets of Paris when we came across a swing party despite his painful foot).
Next on the list: Running through a field of sunflowers.
Well, with fields of lavender and sunflowers all over country France they weren’t hard to find at all.
However, I didn’t consider that with flowers comes bees.
No running carelessly through the fields, more like treading millimetre by millimetre trying not to upset our yellow and black friends.
Ok, we can navigate this.
But try posing for a photo in front of the sunflowers?
Impossible! Unless you are happy to be blinded by the sun!
Neither did I consider that sunflowers face the sun, so standing in front of them for a picture, means looking straight at the sun – duh!
Yes lots of French markets to explore, but we soon realised that a lack of walking ability and my husband’s dislike of wandering through the swarms of people, meant exploring the markets on my own.
Sometimes it’s not until we go on holiday that we find out some of our partner’s big ‘dislikes’ are not compatible with our big ‘likes’ 🙁
Finally, staying in a chateau!
Yes, we stayed in a gorgeous chateau which was absolutely divine, until one-hour into our stay we hear a big bang across the other side of the room.
We both look up, my man going to explore, only to find part of the roof had fallen down.
What could we do but laugh and duck for cover under the four-poster bed, spending the rest of our days there a little too nervous to sit anywhere but remain in the safety of our covered bed.
Thank goodness for the baguettes – which never let us down.
Yes, one thing France does well, is food.
We certainly enjoyed the snails and cheeses during our stay.
Ok, so France was much more than what I’ve shared here – we did get to see live gypsy jazz bands, we did get to wander through a garden with 2000 candles, I did take a yoga class in French which I loved!
Yet what surprised me most about the trip was how the pressure of injury, staying with random French families and driving on the right-hand side of the road (and deal with crazy French drivers!), led to a breakdown in my relationship with my husband.
We fought… a LOT!
And with each fight, came confrontation that often lead to tears and uncertainty, and a feeling of despair.
But thankfully once the despair had passed came deeper understanding, and even more love.
Our relationship was like a bi-polar interaction; so much confrontation one moment, so much love the next.
Even for me, this felt difficult, and I felt at a loss, until I realised this:
Sometimes, what you expect in life – what you ‘think’ you want – is not what you ‘need’ to deepen the love within you.
To deepen the love you have with another person.
Sometimes all the sh*t needs to come up and smatter you in your gorgeous face, so you can know what has been holding you back from a deeper, more profound connection.
Sometimes that ugly sh*t is the greatest gift one can receive.
Love isn’t always chocolates and cream, swing dancing and chateaus.
Sometimes love is getting naked emotionally with another person.
Sometimes love is fighting in the dirt beneath the sunflowers as you get stung by a-thousand metaphorical bees.
Sometimes love is looking your past hurts, scars and conditioning in the face and saying: ‘I still love you!’
Sometimes love is letting go of preconceived ideas of how things ‘should’ be, and opening up to all that is.
Love is our friend.
Love is all that truly exists.
Love can be experienced anywhere and is not just saved for the streets of France.
Love is available during our daily drive to work, love is available when we have a screaming child throwing a tantrum in the middle of the supermarket, love is available when we look at our bills and think ‘Oh gosh, how am I going to make ends meet?’.
When we are able to still love ourselves (or another person) in the heightened state of emotion, no matter what our circumstances, that is our path out of the pain.
When love is present we are safe, we are happy, we are able to enjoy the vulnerability of our feelings.
We are able to move through big hurdles that have been holding us back in all areas of our life.
When life feels tough, when your relationship is struggling, when you can’t seem to look beyond the chateau walls, let go of your expectations of life and how you think it ‘should’ look, and feel the beauty of what is right NOW.
For what we all have right now, is love.
There is love within us, every moment of every day, and in those deeps darkest moments, if we simply remember this, we can move through the difficult times with much more ease.
Much more clarity.
Only when love is present, can you gain the lessons needed to take you deeper into your relationship with YOU and thus your relationship with another person.
So please remember to love, as I did in France.
And I will take this opportunity to thank my gorgeous husband for his unconditional love in France, which has made me a stronger, clearer and happier women.
Thanks to him and his commitment to love, I have a newfound love and belief in our relationship.
So in conclusion, whether it’s a six-week holiday in France you’ve been looking forward to all you life, or if it’s a swim in the local waterhole, whatever mental gunk you are holding into will reveal itself, and it’s up to you to shine love on the parts of you, that need it most.
With much love, T xx