How did I get here?
Looking back at your path can be a very rewarding exercise. It wasn’t that long ago that I lived in a different city, had a different marital status and had a different career.
So how did I get here?
The short answer is SUPPORT and a ton of it. I allowed myself to look within and to reach out for support. I spent a lot of my life worried about other’s opinion of me. I allowed it to shape me and all my decisions. I thought I had the perfect life or at least the appearance of a perfect life.
Five years ago, I picked myself up and left the home where I spent over 20 years raising my kids and building a life with my then husband. It wasn’t easy leaving and it wasn’t easy to stay away but I did it. I listened to a tiny whisper that told me there was something missing; something better and most importantly that voice told me I deserved better. I told myself the truth about what was really going between those four walls. I didn’t know what lay ahead of me only that I had to find out.
I had to look some hard truths about myself and learn how to stand up for myself. I allowed my voice to heard even though it may’ve made many people around me uncomfortable. There was a lot of ‘two steps forward and one step’ dosey-doe.
Ok so it was a struggle….I am not the first person to come up against adversity. My story isn’t unique. I had and have a lot of privilege: white, middle-class, educated, attractive by societies’ standard, cis-gender, straight and on and on. Each of us have a story and my path or the sharing of it is not intended to muffle anyone else only to to speak my truth.
So what did I do to pull myself and I move out on my own after a 30+ year relationship ended?
Again, the short answer is that I worked to make that whisper louder and louder. That was my self-esteem speaking to me. I didn’t know it at the time but it was. I got a therapist, a family lawyer and I gathered a community of women who propped me up.
STEP 1: What is your whisper saying to you? Are you listening when the tiny whisper decides to speak up?
STEP 2:Gather the support you need to make the voice louder. Gather the support that values you.
I had to quieten the chatter in my brain to hear that voice. Part of the quieting came from yoga. The practice of being still in my body helped me immensely. At first, it was incredibly uncomfortable and I had many moments where I only wanted to run from the room. It was similar to that scene in “Eat, Pray, Love” where the main character realizes the excruciating pain of meditating for one minute! But I persisted and the voice became louder and clearer. The vision for my life started to become clear. I started to write and I started to dream.
STEP 3:Articulate your vision. What is your purpose? Why are you here?
Now step 3 may take some time …. this is not a one-time conversation. There will be many drafts and many areas to consider: self-care, career, relationships, contribution. Take your time and really describe what you want your life to look like.
Don’t compromise; don’t cheat yourself
Keep adding to it….put it away and bring it out from time to time. Get feedback from your community. Share it and have others get behind your vision.
STEP 4: Take steps (even small ones) towards your vision. Make choices that move you towards the vision; the life you say you want. When your vision is clear (and loud) it becomes the measuring stick by which every thing is judged “Is this worth my time, energy, creativity or not”. Keep getting feedback (remember the community) on your baby steps.
Saying no (SO IMPORTANT!!!!) becomes easier.
STEP 5: This is the last one and a huge key to success….BE GRATEFUL. Take time everyday to list your gratitudes. You will be shocked with what happens, you actually end up with more (more abundance, more community, more love, more self-acceptance and yes, more things for which you are grateful).
There are probably some mini-steps I have left out but this is the basic plan. Did I know this going in? Of course not! It is what I discovered along the way. It wasn’t always easy and there were a lot of tears and drama in my therapist’s office and out in the world.
I can honestly look at my life now living at a beautiful lakeside resort with a man who cherishes me everyday. I have relationships that are authentic (not always easy but definitely real) and work that inspires me to be my very best everyday.
I am so glad I listened to that tiny whisper five years ago because I did find a better life, a more enriched life and a life I am proud to say I created through my commitment to myself.