“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows achievement and who at the worst if he fails at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
On the cusp of turning 50, I found myself single after being married for over 20 years.
I was heartbroken. I felt ashamed, profoundly depressed, and haunted by the fear of being penniless. I felt ill-equipped to begin again. Yet I was terrified by the never-ending loop of my own voice whispering, “I refuse to make the same mistakes in the second half of my life that I’ve made over and over again.”
A Shell of Myself
I had become a shell of a woman turning myself inside out to be loved by a man who was incapable of loving himself. In fact, this had clearly become a recurring pattern for all the relationships in my life. But I was blind to it.
My Midwestern back was broad, so I shouldered the blame. I was a type A doer – demanding and bitchy. I lived in the past, accusing everyone but myself for the transgressions of life. I complained constantly. I believed I wasn’t pretty enough. There were years when I was too fat and years when I was too thin. Perhaps if I had been smarter, or worked harder, things may have been different. Certainly if I had been more sexual, my marriage would have had a different outcome. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror without bursting into tears over the perceived potential that I had wasted.
The litany was endless.
These conflicting emotions and the stories they held in place served as an overwhelming and debilitating yoke. Yet, they became some of the greatest gifts I have ever received. After five decades, it was time that I learned to love myself. It was imperative that I nurture self-respect. I had to cultivate independence. I needed to be my own source of joy and fulfillment.
An Extended Time-Out
I had lived in the dark for so long, something within me was screaming to find the light. And so I was thrust into my own awakening.
There was a singular morning when I knew that in order to move forward I first needed to put myself in an extended time-out. I hit the brakes in my life and shut everything down. I began saying no to every invitation. I resigned from my community boards. I cut off every distraction I could identify and for the first time ever, I got quiet.
Without realizing it, in cutting myself off from the greater distractions of life, I begin to get in touch with the silence of my soul.
This experience was dramatically different from my daily prayers and my fervent recitation of the rosary. I had no formal training in spirituality. I was not on a particular path of awakening. I was not a meditator nor was I necessarily a sane human being during this time. But I became a living testament to how the energy of your soul can move you into greater connection with your authentic self if you just open the door, even a tiny crack.
The Brightening of the Light
For 18 months I worked relentlessly on myself. And with each successive day, the light became brighter. I got into intensive therapy with a practitioner who had a spiritual foundation and found the courage to look at the part I played in how my life had unfolded. Then I began to take responsibility. I worked outdoors and cultivated my garden. I walked on the beach. I prioritized my relationship with my middle-school-aged son. I read books. I refused to date because I didn’t want to be distracted. Most importantly I listened to the stirrings of something deep within.
The synchronicity and magic that unfolded were astounding. I was physically moved into direct alignment with individuals who played a profound role in my recovery. I witnessed unexpected messages and profound insights that kept me moving in the flow of my own becoming.
Through these interactions I came to realize that all of my prior experiences merely served as the evolutionary fodder required for me to grow and evolve into the acceptance of the love that lives at my core. And here is what was revealed to me:
I am not broken. I am evolving. Within me resides the courage to break the rules necessary to create my most authentic and beautiful life.
I am a living testament to all women that the best is yet to come. Here’s how you can begin your journey to authenticity.
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The Five Steps to Beginning Again
1. If you, too, are faced with challenge, crisis, or adversity, start by fully embracing the flawed, broken, and frightened person you see when you look in the mirror. Blame has no place here. Fault is irrelevant. No matter how overwhelming your situation may seem, your life is not over. As you begin to embrace your brokenness with unconditional love you will start to hear the quiet whisper of life calling you into more. And I promise you it will take your breath away.
2. Find time each day to completely disconnect from the chaos of life and just be still. No fancy poses. No dark rooms. No special music. Just stillness. Begin with three minutes each morning. Simply open your palms and your heart and ask the God of your understanding to support you in your unfolding. My invitation to the Universe each morning is “I am open to receive.” And then I shut up and just listen.
3. I couldn’t sleep for months. I stopped eating. I wanted the pain to stop but I knew that addictive substances were no longer the solution. So I got the support I needed and the tools to get me through the toughest times. Trust me, drinking alone is never the solution. It may temporarily feel like you are deadening the pain, but once again you are also deadening your ability to awaken to the life that is being birthed.
Prioritize finding your support team. A best friend to walk with you in the morning. A therapist to whom you can rant, scream, and cry. And then when you are ready, guide you through the hard work. A spiritual advisor who will provide the tools to support you when you feel disconnected from your soul.
4. Feel everything there is to feel. Cry. Scream. Curse. OK, if there are others at home, let it all out in the privacy of your bedroom. But the important message here is to let it out. Allow every emotion to flow through you without restraint. Don’t judge anything. To do so creates energetic blocks within you around this crisis or adversity. Know that each emotion that is felt through to completion carries with it the ability to heal your heart and renew your being.
5. This is not the time to rush into any major life decisions. Be gentle with yourself. You are in a process of unfolding. I promise the universe will align you with your next move when you are ready to take it on. (That goes for dating as well).
These five steps will deliver miracles if you allow them. They will call you into the light of your most magnificent life.
If you’ve been where I have, I hope you will share what you are feeling in the comments. I can’t wait to read your insights.