“Sometimes good things fall apart, so better things can fall together.”

~ Marilyn Monroe



Chapter 5 Recap:

In Chapter 5 of “Lessons from an Island Girl,” Phoenix races to catch up with Rafiki on the Muir Woods trail. The whimsical skipping takes a serious turn as Rafiki imparts unexpected insights into Phoenix’s recent breakup. Emotions intensify, and Rafiki challenges Phoenix’s perspective, leading to a surprising shift in the conversation. Unprepared for the mandrill’s unanticipated words, Phoenix finds himself navigating the complex terrain of post-breakup reflections, questioning the true nature of the “gift” Rafiki believes the situation holds.




…I’m at a loss of words. Gift? What? I’m shocked with the change of direction Rafiki just took in our conversation. Just like her, he unexpectedly changes his tune.


In the blink of an eye, without any chance to understand or work on what’s going on he starts talking gifts. I’m not ready for the gifts. I want to scream.


Rafiki isn’t going to stop. Once he’s on a roll, look out. Did anyone teach him about boundaries!?…



The Gift


“The gift is,” Rafiki continues unperplexed, “you don’t have to worry about the relationship while she’s away all summer long. You can focus on you. She was going to be on her own for five months and you two wouldn’t have had much contact anyway.”


I’m quiet, in my head. He lets that statement hang for a minute before continuing, “Look at it another way. If you worked together as a couple, that would have included communication with the two of you while she’s gone, possibility of you overloading her with texts and messages, maybe zoom sessions with a counselor or going to online RCA meetings. That time commitment in your relationship would’ve taken her away from doing what she needs to do with the changes in her life; preparing her for her new career, and staying present with herself. She’s got a lot on her plate and has taken one thing off her table so she can breathe.”


“I know she has a lot going on. I’m so angry with myself. I should have seen it coming,” I complain.


“You did.”


“But I did things like I always did.”


“Did you?”


“I pushed her away.”


“Did you?”


“She’s gone isn’t she,” I declare, a hint of frustration in my voice.


“Making it about you again,” Rafiki sighs gripping his staff a little tighter. I can tell he isn’t happy. I grip mine ready to deflect if needed.


Rafiki changes tactic and challenges, “Did you push her away or did you get so excited that someone was giving you attention that you got caught up in the moment?”


“I guess I got caught up in the moment,”


“Guess? How long has it been since you have met a woman who not only could keep up with you, but also challenged you and loved you fully? Someone you could picture spending the rest of your life with?”


I hesitate. I know the answer but for some reason I feel so much sadness admitting it. “Since I met my ex-wife 24 years ago.”


“Did you get caught up in the moment or were you so captivated by having the woman you loved going on adventures with you that you missed where your energy was going?”


“It doesn’t matter. As she pointed out, she expected me to have had more awareness.”


Rafiki can tell I’m starting to spin. “Let me see if I hear you correctly. Your ex-girlfriend expected that you be more aware of your actions and yet when you asked her why she didn’t tell you that your energy was coming across as needy in the moment so you could have adjusted your behavior, her response was that she didn’t realize this until she had some time alone to process it.”


“Yes?” I question.


“Why was there an expectation for you to be aware and yet she was allowed a few days for her to process what was going on? And once you became aware, were you willing to find ways to prevent that from happening in the future? Phoenix, there was a breakdown in communication between both of you! Once again, you’re taking 100% of the blame.”


I’m silent.


“You had no idea that you had become too needy until after she put up a wall. It wasn’t until you sensed that wall that you started searching inward trying to figure out what was going on and trying to fix you. You can’t keep shouldering all the blame. Remember, in a relationship it’s 50/50.”


“Still doesn’t matter. It’s what I’ve always done. I couldn’t see it. I created a self-fulfilled prophesy. All the fears I had at the beginning came true,” I continue to whine.


Rafiki doesn’t comment. He switches back to the gift. “Did you ever think that her breaking up with you was done out of love?”


I look up, eyes wide. Where in the world did this come from? First gift, now love? Didn’t he just say both of us were at fault? Now he’s suggesting that she broke up out of love for me? I can’t keep up with him. He can be so frustrating!


Rafiki continues, “Maybe she felt you deserved more than she was able to give you. Maybe she was the one setting YOU free.” Rafiki emphasized the word ‘you’.


That’s a twisted way to look at it. I didn’t want to be free. I wanted to be in relationship. I wanted to learn how to communicate in a healthy way. For the first time in my life, I wanted constructive feedback, so could I learn and grow. How can I grow if I don’t have feedback?


“I’m lost Rafiki. What am I to do?” I reply through clenched teeth, a wave of emotions coming on like a Tsunami. I can feel them, just under the surface, rising in my chest. I breathe deeply, instinctively, and yet I don’t know if I can control what wants to come out…



Chapter 7



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