Wow, you guys. It's been pretty difficult for me to figure out how to follow that last blog I posted. Partly because it was one of the most honest blogs I've ever written and I felt a bit exposed and wasn't really sure how to recover from that. Truthfully, I expected a flood of judgment and lectures. While I did receive a little bit of that (comes with the territory in a public forum), I have been pleasantly surprised by the kindness in your hearts. I really can't begin to reply to everyone that has so deeply touched me with their loving words. Please know that I read every single comment and think deeply about them.
The impetus for this blog is the other kind of response I've been receiving. Allow me to step away from the divorce talk for a moment and use a different metaphor.
My friend, Andie Redwine, is a screenwriter and she made a film recently called "Paradise Recovered" (stream it free on Netflix!!!! It's SO good!) The film deals with religious abuse - it's the story of a girl very much entrenched in a religious cult, who through a series of events, finds herself alone with nowhere to go. Her boss (a philosophy student at the university and agnostic) takes her in and cares for her. (Like the story of the Good Samaritan) Throughout the film, we see Esther experiencing new things and embracing herself and her right to enjoy all the things that used to be "forbidden". Of course, she flounders...don't we all when we get sudden freedom? I won't ruin the end for you. Haha.
The reason I bring this up is this: after the film was released and it started making the film festival circuit rounds and began to win awards, there came so many letters and e-mails and comments from real life spiritual abuse survivors in recovery. This pleases Andie greatly, as most of the proceeds from this movie will go to Wellspring Recovery Center, a place that specializes in helping spiritually abused people become free. So, a "fictional" movie is changing REAL lives.
I feel my experience since I posted that blog has been similar. I am shocked and saddened by the sheer volume of responses I've received from so many of you that are currently at some stage of life that is similar to mine. The overwhelming idea that just keeps hitting me is: look at all of us hiding, pretending, wishing things were different. Everything looks beautiful on the outside. But inside things are so much more complex. There are so many sad people. If you guys knew how many there were...it is heartbreaking.
I don't have the answers to my own issues and I'll tell you I'm completely broken myself right now. But there is a very helpful exercise that my therapist is having me do...and I don't see how it couldn't benefit EVERYONE (whether your life is just the way you want it or you're in a more difficult place). So, thought I'd toss it out there...just in case it helps someone else.
The past couple weeks, we've been discussing the fact that it seems the reason I've been so unhappy for so long is because I've been living a life that isn't authentic to me. Other ways to say it: living a lie, pretending to be happy, propagating a facade (if you're a vocab nerd). You get it, right?
Yesterday, she pushed it further and asked me the hardest question I've had to answer in a long time...
When you imagine living a life that is wholly authentic to you and who you truly are as a person, what kinds of practical things do you see yourself doing in that life? In other words, think about what is TRUE to you.
I couldn't think of one thing. NOTHING! What the heck? How is it possible that I don't even know myself? It was really eye opening. After quite a bit of silence, I thought of one: hold each of my kids each day.
As we talked more, I began to think of more and, since yesterday afternoon, I have not stopped adding to the list.
Here's a sampling, to get your mind rolling:
If I were to live a life that is completely authentic to who I am inside, I would be doing these things:
Take care of myself in ways I haven't before: nails, waxing, haircuts, etc.
Get rid of my TV
Teach my kids the joy of reading
Read more about my business
Sit in silence and feel God's love and shut out all other voices
Spend time listening to music and connecting with it
Use my workouts as a way to build and express my inner strength, rather than as a way to run away from my problems and myself
Tell my kids each day that they are loved completely...no matter what happens
Take my kids outside and spend time exercising WITH them
Be present when I'm helping my kids with their homework - it's not just a pain in the butt task, it's valuable precious bonding time
I suppose that's enough for now. Once you get started, it gets easier. In identifying these things and actually doing them, I will apparently create a "safe place" inside myself that is my center of strength. Because it's fully ME. The idea that I can carry around a "safe place" instead of it having to be somewhere to travel to (whether physically or mentally) is kind of revolutionary for me.
I mean, when you think about it...it's everything we are being taught here on SparkPeople - find strength within yourself. Own your beauty and your strength. Dig deep and make it happen. Make your life what you want it to be with hard work and dedication. Some of that hard work has nothing to do with muscles or cardio capacity. Some of it is purely emotional. This is the side of my life that I've let go for so long...I've somehow lost myself (if I ever knew myself in the first place).
You don't have to be going through hell in your life for this to apply. All of us could use a reminder of who we are at the core...and what we need to do to remain true to that every single day.
So...when I say this...you understand that it holds so much more meaning than a trivial sign-off:
Take care of yourself today. You're worth it. And you're beautiful.