My old story (the lie):
I work hard to support myself and my family. I’m loyal and committed. Everyone makes mistakes, but if I continue to see the light in those other mistake-making people, that will help them see it themselves. I’m content. Things could always be better, but I find joy in my work and life’s small moments.
The unfiltered story (the truth):
I work hard because I’m afraid of what will happen if I don’t. Who will I be? Will someone step up to help me? I will not find out. I keep my life full to avoid examining it. I control my body with strict diet and exercise because everything else feels so out of control. I’m worried I’m not enough, and my marriage affirms that frequently. I’m comfortable in my chaos because it’s familiar, and I don’t know how to be different.
That was the story that suffocated me. It was sneaky- it lived under layers of ‘fake’ and ‘pretty’- I wore these layers like heavy wool coats and they kept me disguised, protected (I thought), and the same.
The real fear was in change- any change at all. The life I lived and the story I had written was TERRIBLE, but I knew how to live it. I was familiar with the rollercoaster ride- I knew when to lean into the turns and when to cover my eyes. It was scary but not AS scary as jumping off and getting onto another ride. One that had it’s own route and rhythm- one I couldn’t anticipate. Knowing what to expect from my current life- the familiarity gave me a sense of control. The other option- any other option felt absolutely paralyzing- and I had trouble even acknowledging it’s existence.
Our stories do this.
Your life plays out in a certain way and you react. When the same things happen, you learn to react in the way that feels the most painless- the least scary. This becomes your habit: the cycle of action-reaction has you reaffirming your story in a way that feels like you never chose it. A beautiful amnesic dream you live out as if it were yours. You’re invested, attached. You’ve forgotten who you really are.
You’ve forgotten you have a choice.
Your life up to this moment consists of a collection of choices. There are some circumstances that may have been unavoidable. But even there, you had a choice about how you would react to the hand you were dealt.
I thought the life I’d chosen by not choosing- the life I’d ‘fallen into’ was where I was meant to be. In my passivity I’d forgotten one simple concept: I have a choice. And by not choosing something else, I said yes to my shitty circumstances.
My new story- now that I remember who I am:
I’m working for myself in a business that scares the shit out of me and also feels oh so right! I surround myself with friends and family who love and support me in becoming the woman I want to be.
I still have days, months even, where I forget. I fall into the old thoughts and feelings, and have to crawl back out of the pit again. But I don’t live there anymore, it’s just a place I wake up in from time to time- like a blackout then walk of shame situation with an ex.
I listen to my body and move it in loving ways- I know we have to stay together until the end and I want to take care of her. I’m here, I’m enough, and everything will always be okay.
This wasn’t a pretty process- but at least things got real.
I burned the wool coats and turned my former life to dust. I learned to find comfort in the edginess of vulnerability- a practice that often took my breath away.
The crumbling relationship, divorce, downsizing, purging of my old life was NOTHING compared to the realization that I’d neglected the ONE person I was actually tethered to forever= ME.
An now that I’m through the darkest parts, I can see that the times I felt like I was fumbling around and lost I was exactly where I needed to be.
I wanted someone to tell me what to do. I wanted a flashlight in the dark.
Looking back I realize I have a light inside of me that will always show me the way- I just needed to learn how to turn it on.