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My 40 Day Dependency Project (Part 1 of 4)

By Jessica Karpinske

MON AUG 20, 2018

This has been quite the year!  I spent 5 weeks in Bali for Yoga Teacher Training in February, came home for 6 weeks then took a vacation to Mexico.  I have also transitioned to being a full-time personal trainer/fitness instructor/health coach/jeweler.  It has been a year of many transitions and as I am finding each year, life continues to push me to grow, change and adapt to new circumstances.  Life doesn't stay the same, but goes through courses of higher demand for personal evolution.

I love to set New Year's resolutions on my birthday in April because it has more significance for me being a new year of my life.  This year, I decided that I wanted to live from my wild heart.  The Year of the Wild Heart!  Sounds free, sexy and full of spirit, right?  I decided this while I was vacationing in Mexico to a usual spot that I have now visited 3 years in a row.  I love being in this small coastal town along the Pacific that always feels so welcoming and lovely.  I spent my days doing yoga, reading, writing, painting, napping, being immersed in the ocean or riding the waves.  This year it didn't feel like a vacation destination, but rather just felt like coming to another place I feel at home.

Something that I continue to come back to in my journey and finding my wild heart, is my relationships with men.  This is something that has always pulled on my heart, many times in unhealthy ways.  I don't feel that my relationships habits are all that uncommon.  In fact, they may be all too common and I've just become more aware of my own behavior over time.  We all have habits that come back when we're feeling sad, lonely, drunk, insecure...so this spring I was noticing that I have a pattern, a habit that wasn't serving me in making me truly open and available to being in a loving emotionally available relationship.  I'll share some of what I wrote during this time and how this 40 day "project" unfolded.  I wrote so much during this period of time that I am going to break this down into a 4 part series.


An old habit I reach back to when I feel lonely is reaching out to people (mostly men) who "fill space".  Mostly those who have been long gone, then it's like I'm Sarah in the Labyrinth and I call the Great Goblin King's name 3 times and he reappears.  They are guys that are there to fill space.  Meaningless texts, flirting and chit chat that is not a precursor to any type of relationship including even a decent friendship.  Instead of sitting  with uncomfortable feelings, it's like I'm reaching for Twinkies...or the worst junk food created.  My internship in life right now is to sit with these feelings and not fill space with undesirable things, people, food, etc.


There is more depth, growth, love and soul to be gained through the difficulties we face in life than the desires that are immediately and easily fulfilled.  It is through longing, wanting, failed attempts and broken hearts that our souls gain depth that cannot be measured.  That we gain our power and strength that cannot be broken.  It would be a disservice to our being not to keep going each day, keep trying new things, learning, growing, loving in big ways so that our obstacles break us down a little bit then we get stronger.  Loving so big, like a love kamikaze, that our hearts will take a beating because it's the only way to really live.  THIS is how our souls are made.  It is from the chaos that we learn there is a center to return to.  The center is not in our minds, but lies in the solar plexus with our confidence and trust, in our hearts being wildly curious and open and in our voice, speaking our personal truth.  We need to quit denying our souls the experiences they long for and be more like children playing recklessly on a summer's day.  Adventure after adventure, no sense of time, no cares in the world.  Fall and dust ourselves off and keep going.  Let go of attachment, expectations and outcomes.  It is in each of us to make our soul, not to limit it's depth.  It is grace, the work of the magician that weaves this complex web.  We are the magicians.  The blueprint to our soul lies in the heart.


Today I had a dream as I laid on a rock by Lake Superior.  I was swimming out into the lake and dove deep down until i reached the bottom of the lake.  When I found a deep, dark, black hole at the bottom, I crawled down through it.  When I got there, I knew this space I was in was my own solar plexus.  The place in my body I had been feeling for weeks like my energy was actually stuck.  The place when I feel really scared or fearful, this is the black hole that I don't want to go to.  The endless black hole to nowhere. So, here I was in this dream, in this place I never want to go.  It was a dark tunnel and I wasn't sure which way to turn.  I could feel all my spirit animals there with me, but couldn't see anything.  There was just a feeling of supportive, loving presence with me.  Eventually a firefly lit my way a bit and it became more clear that this tunnel was my sushumna nadi (my central energy channel flowing along my spinal cord, like a chakra tunnel).  Once I knew where I was at, I knew that I should go left, up the tunnel to the door of my solar plexus, which was like a hobbit hole door.  The drumming I heard in the background was like the knocking on this closed door, but it wouldn't open.  I needed to know the secret knock in order for the door to open.  It was then that I ran out of time and it was time to climb back out of this hole, swim back to surface and return to the rock where I began this journey.


"As the sun and moon circulate, spirit must travel light.  So the wealth within you, your essence, is your kingdom."


May 15th was the new moon of May and according to my 2018 horoscope from We Moon, it is an important day.  It says, during this new moon to set seeds to catalyze abundance for all.  And there will be some healing for aspects of feminine experience that have been silenced and excluded.

The last several days had been emotionally challenging.  I was feeling a bit low and was thinking about the dark hole I had visited in my dream.  What if I started to light up the dark tunnel in my solar plexus, like the firefly did for me?  And was actually able to see the treasures that are there instead of going to the dark murky place where I can't see the jewels that lie within.  The solar plexus, also known as the mani pura chakra (meaning lustrous gem).  It's knowing there are gems inside even when they are not being given attention.  The knowing deep within that sometimes the attention is inward.  That I can give myself all the love and attention I need in the ways that I need and don't need to seek external validation from the sources I've been going to.

The graceful mediator ~ the magical meditator ~ Cosmic alchemist ~ Koatlique- Aztec Goddess of the gods, sun, moon and stars.

I think I understand why the firefly came to me now...little lights along the way to finding gems.  Almost all of my spirit animals have wings...


On this day I reached out to one of my instructors from Yoga Teacher Training who did our leadership development sessions.  He is so fabulous and was very helpful during training that I thought I'd just run this by him.

I sent him a message and said, "Hey!  I'd love your take on this situation.  I keep going for the same types of men.  They all have issues with chemical dependency, undealt with mental health issues and are emotionally unavailable for a real relationship.  I'm not sure how to break this cycle.  I don't go scouting out this type of person, but seem to find them.  Any thoughts on this?"

He responded back and said, "You attract what you need to work through.  The guys will leave once you've learned your lesson.  Two things...1) what have you become dependent on to get through life?  Do 40 days without it.  Even dependencies you like, go without it.  You're still creating dependencies.  Notice how this feels, ups and down and convert your experience with compassion.

2) volunteer at a senior home and visit the people who have been forgotten.  Show them they are still loved and that they still matter."

I thought, what?!?...I attract what I need to work through?  What does that mean?  I've done my work.  It's them, not me.   I can go without my dependencies, no problem.  I'll start this project...soon....yep, soon.


I visited an old friend from college in the Twin Cities, 2 1/2 hours south of where I live.  I haven't seen her for a few years and recently connected with her.  She asked if I was single as she had a co-worker who she thought I would get on well with and wanted me to meet him.  I agreed to come down, less because of the prospect of meeting someone, but I wanted to reconnect with her and see what this person was like.  The last person she connected me with was a complete disaster.  Lots of fun, but really a DISASTER.  So, I went down and hung out for the evening.  We stayed in at her place, he came over with his 4-year-old son, she had her 2-year-old daughter at home that night.  Just a bunch of 30-something-year-old's having a few drinks and dinner.  Well...as the night  went on, he got super drunk and my friend and I were like...what just happened??? Well checking the kitchen it became apparent that the bottle of whiskey that was full when he arrived, was mostly gone.  Holy drunk mess...he fell up the stairs onto her plant, cried himself to sleep and fell out of the bed then proceeded to get his kiddo up in the morning and take off from her house to drop the son off for school and go to work...It was the most awkward morning as I tried to ignore the fact that he was a complete shit show the night before and to not give him my number as he was like, "Umm...it was really nice to meet you."


Day 1

Ok, I'll start today.  What am I dependent on anyways...

  • Texting people (mostly guys from the past who have rejected me in some way or all out treated my poorly and hold no hope for any type of future relationship or even a decent friendship) usually in the evening when I'm lonely and bored so I don't have to sit with my feelings of being lonely and bored.
  • Checking my phone excessively (just in case someone might need me).
  • Chocolate
  • Sugar
  • SWYPO/Paleo baking
  • Social Media especially while eating
  • Eating when I'm not actually hungry
  • Seeking validation for big decisions and accomplishments
  • Eating too much
  • Alcohol was included because nothing becomes clear when I'm numbing myself with alcohol.

I decided to stop doing these things, or try and stop doing these things for the 40 days.  So, no more reaching out to random guys for casual conversations and meaningless flirting.  No sugar, chocolate, alcohol...yikes!!

My one hang up was a guy I had become friends with and got used to talking to at least a few times a week.  He was honestly not someone I was using to fill space as I genuinely appreciated our visits, but he might fall under chemically dependent and emotionally unavailable for a relationship.  I couldn't decide what to do and since I was trying to gain perspective on things, I ended up letting him know that I'd be doing a project over the next 40 days to learn more about myself and wouldn't be reaching out in that time.  We'd talk soon.  This was one of the more difficult decisions to make and I really tried to avoid and make excuses around it.  When I debated it out loud with a friend, she looked at me and was like...if it's that difficult for you to "give up" for 40 days then I think you know the answer.


Day 2

What am I supposed to be learning from this? I am sad, irritable, anxious and crying...

My reflection today was on, how people use each other to fill space when feeling lonely or sad.  I think it's unkind to do this to people.  I don't want to be treated in this way.  A few months back I had an ex from high school who would reach out to me once in a while and I came to realize that I was his go to when he broke up with another girl friend.  I had to tell him to quit making me his go to.  I don't want to be that, but I am doing it to other people.

5-20 and 5-21-18

Days 3 & 4

The next several days involved me questioning everything I was doing.  What am I doing with my life?  My career?  Who am I?  I wanted to run away and never turn back.

I started to pay attention to who and what I was giving my time and energy to and why.  Also, noticing that I maybe haven't been as emotionally available to my friends and family as I would like over the last several years.  And in these more superficial relationships I was giving some of my time to, I started realizing that it's like a mirage and it's filling time I could be spending on other things or with other people.  It's like when people accumulate more things in life to fill space, keeping things that are no longer wanted or needed and eating too much.  All act as ways to avoid having an empty space.

What if I were to hold space?  Hold space for something great.  Hold space for myself.  Hold space for other's without fixing anything.

I kept hoping that after I had gone through the food detox part of things that I'd start to feel really great.  Like have an abundance of energy and feel really wonderful, but mostly I just felt even.  No highs or lows, but really even.  Like someone with ADHD just put on meds.  Not exciting and really unfamiliar territory.


Day 5

I think about Katrina, talking about living in my truth and when the truth is in line, our bodies vibration and energy gets stronger.  It's like all the chakra wheels lighting up at the same time! Maybe then our bodies cannot help but glow radiantly like never before, but not until our truth is known on a cellular level.  The body never lies.  Our mind can tell lies, but the body knows.  What is my truth?  Maybe it's on my list of needs and wants in life.  Maybe it's in my 5 year vision I wrote while in Bali, that I wanted to live a simple life on the beach.  All of it...

The more baggage she kept, the harder it was for her to fly.  She wanted to travel lightly with her heart on her sleeve, but sometimes it was hidden under her layers of "winter blacks".  Maybe one day she'll stay where it's warm, where she travels light and her heart is allowed to shire bright every day.  And one fall night, she made a bonfire and burned her winter blacks and with confidence never looked back.  She was the goddess of the earth.  Strong and gentle with grace leading the journey.

Sometimes the things I think I want aren't really what I need.  Maybe I think I'm hungry, but really I need a walk, a hug, a nap or something.  Same thing with feeling of wanting in a relationship.  Maybe what I really want is love, but I settle for flirting and casual relationships.  It's like settling for the "junk food" of life habits.  It doesn't make sense to have a Swiss Cake Roll when I want gourmet chocolate cake.  It will always leave me disappointed and longing for more.


Day 8

I drove to South Dakota to visit my parents today.  Lots of driving and thinking time.  Lots...

Something I wondered about is this.  Can people who are chemically dependent ever be emotionally available and present for a relationship?  I'm talking even minor chemical dependency and I'll make my own definition here to include anyone who uses chemicals, including pot or alcohol on a daily basis.  This could be functional chemical dependency or more severe. 

I previously mastered functional chemical dependency earlier on in my own life, so know a thing or two about it.  I went through high school getting good grades, graduated college with honors and was what I would now consider functionally chemically dependent through most of it.  I don't know how emotionally available I was and was certainly doing a fine job numbing and covering up all sorts of grief and things I needed to deal with.  Given that, I feel that people who are chemically dependent on any level have things they are likely avoiding and numbing.  But, really...does that mean they cannot be available?

Most of the people I have been in relationships with have been chemically dependent or have some type of undealt with mental health issue as I mentioned earlier, so I just came to think this was normal.  I always figured we could work through it together or that it really isn't a big deal because everyone is dealing with this, right?  This has led to years of me making excuses and exceptions for some really shit behavior.  I have felt like if I could love enough, care enough and be accepting enough that I could magically un-fuck the hurts of other people's past.  Except...that this isn't my role to play and people who are in this place aren't able to love me with an open heart because their heart isn't open even to themselves.


Day 11

I drove back from South Dakota today.  On my way home I listened to lots of great podcasts during my 7 hour drive.  Two that really stood out were episodes of On Being featuring interviews with Elizabeth Gilbert and Brene Brown.

One of the things I've noticed about myself so far is that I find it difficult to hold space for myself and others.  Like really, genuinely hold space for everyone to process through things, hold their own opinions, take actions that are true to themselves and not take it personally. It is especially difficult in unknown cases of relationships, career, what to be doing with my life, am I doing enough, etc.  When I enter the space of unknowns, I go to my dependencies.  Unknowns are the empty space that I want to fill with my dependencies so I don't have to feel how uncomfortable it is that I don't have answers or there aren't certainties and I don't have control in those situations.  I have to trust in a higher order to take care of things to work out.  

I started realizing that I need to hold space even when it's uncomfortable and tell myself, "Yep, it's uncomfortable and of course you feel this way and that's ok."  It's a different skill to become the observer of our lives. To not speed ahead in order to avoid the challenging parts, but to take time to feel things along the way and have more compassion for ourselves and others.  It is a skill to be learned, not to already have mastered without intention and practice.

On my drive home from visiting my parents, aside from the theme of holding space for myself and others, I started to think...Be the person I want to meet.  Who do I want to meet?  Who do I want to be? I want to be emotionally available.  I was at that moment that I was like...I might be kind of unavailable myself...sigh...damn it...

This shifted my focus a bit as I became more aware that I am the common denominator and even though all these other circumstances are real and even though I have been attracting the same kind of men, this is what my instructor was talking about.  "You attract what you need to work through."