"What the hell have I done to my life and how can I get out of it?!”
This is the thought I have had playing on repeat most for the last two years.
On the outside, from what I’ve heard from others, my life has looked like a magical story-tale. (And that’s one reason I’m sharing this story today; to break down the illusions we create when we compare our uncut life-movies with the highlight reels of others as seen via carefully curated social media profiles. On some level we KNOW that its an illusion, but it doesn’t always stop us from comparing and feeling like shit. One of my life goals is to nurture a community of honest sharing and encouragement that inspires and empowers us to press in, to keep going, and to stop abandoning ourselves and our life purpose.)
After leaving a toxic relationship 10 years ago, single-boss-momming for 5 years, creating and growing a successful bodywork business out of nothing, I called in and magnetized a king to dream, play, build, and work with. After dating for a year we bought a house and jumped into life together.
Our relationship contained challenges of course, but overall I felt like we were handling it all really well and staying in sync. My kid was getting easier and more self-reliant every year, and I was immersed in growing my second business, deep coaching- and loving it. I had a steady income, and I had time and resources for all the self-care strategies that worked to keep me healthy, hopeful, and courageous in facing life.
I had always wanted my son to have a sibling, but as each year went by, I realized this was probably not in the cards. I was happy with my life. The most exciting thing in my life was my work and the new stuff I was learning and sharing in the world. Of course I enjoyed my kid & our family, but no part of me wanted to go back to square one with a baby. Nope.
I was happier than I had been maybe ever, sharing a meal in Carmela’s with my lover. I can still remember the warm feelings of confidence and life force moving thru my body that day as I munched chips and guac. But then something happened.
“I think I really do want to have a baby,” he said.
Ummmm, mic drop.
Annnnnnnd the rest of our lunch became a logistical strategy session about the what if’s and details of what would have to happen to make this a reality.
I spent the next couple of months feeling angry.
Now I know that I was angry and scared. This was NOT the challenge or invitation I wanted. I was terrified about giving up my life as I knew it and being at the mercy of this man to meet my needs in new and different ways. I was terrified about the changes a commitment like this would bring to my relationship. I was terrified and angry about gaining a bunch of weight, and trying to be nice to myself about it and act like it was ok with me because it was weight gain due to pregnancy. I was angry that I had been open to this (second child) for so long, and now that I was really ok with letting it go and moving on, NOW my partner wanted to make this massive request of me. I was terrified about losing my freedom completely by having a new baby who would NEVER leave, the way my older son leaves to go with his dad. (Even though it was painful at first to be a single mother, I had built my whole life on that schedule. I would work most when my son was at his dads. I would rest. I would play. I would do my toes and journal, and get massages….. and my custody schedule made it all possible.) I was terrified and angry just thinking about losing, or at the very least compromising, the financial stability I had created for myself.
After prayer and soul-searching for the next couple months, I felt that in spite of my fears, I wanted to open my womb to a baby, and see if this new soul wanted to join our family.
Well, I got my answer because within 3 weeks there was a baby growing in my belly.
And then my life as I had come to love it, began to unravel. Before every birth there is a death. The feelings of being trapped and out of my own control started pretty early in pregnancy with nausea, exhaustion, and hormones making my fears feel larger than life.
The feelings of regret and still feeling trapped and wondering how I would manage my new life only snowballed after my beautiful baby was born.
This was my second time being a mother, and all the trauma residue and soul-shrapnel from my first birth experience began to reactivate in my cells and saturate my entire being. I have a deep self-love and self-care practice. I extended as much love, acceptance, etc. to myself as I could during this time, but it still didn't stop the feelings I was going though on this journey. There was no way out of this experience I had created.
It was my second time being a mother but it was my partner’s maiden voyage into parenthood. I felt like I needed extra-special care that he couldn’t give me, because there was no way for him to really understand how vulnerable and anxious I was to choose to have a baby with another man after what I had been through the first time around. I resented that. I felt like we were on two different planets, and early on I began to doubt whether I had the tools and the strength to maintain our relationship with all of this new pressure. I felt that he didn’t really hear me when I expressed my concerns before and after birth.
As I felt the relationship I cherished being chipped away by the growing distance between us (which he seemed completely oblivious to), I began to sink into that deep, dark pit of despair, hopelessness, and depression.
In a nutshell, all my worst nightmares were coming true- experiencing the death of the carefree season of my relationship, co-parenting with another man, a loss of personal freedom to do even minor acts of self-care or grounding, a loss of freedom and availability to earn money; and money = freedom, so I was feeling trapped by my lack of financial mobility, being 20 pounds overweight after years of healing old abuse and hatred of my body, struggling to love my new baby in the same ways I had found it effortless to love my first (because of feelings that this new baby was actually destroying my very life,) feeling like a total and complete loser and failure, and finally- worried and crushed that it now felt inevitable that I would end up split from this partnership and what that would mean for my oldest son, who had completely accepted Niall as his stepdad.
I tried to activate my old trusty self-care tools. It felt like nothing worked as much as I needed it to. Some things were unaccessible to me in this new season. My new baby (already much more relaxed, happy and independent at the time of this writing) was very sensitive, fussy, and high-needs. I did not enjoy so much of his first year, no matter how much I wanted to love and cherish the miracle of his new life. Instead, I found myself completely submerged in grief and loss.
Does this sound hard? Surprising? Challenging?? It was! But here’s the thing. Along the way miracles were happening. Miracles that have ushered me into a new way of existing in the world. Miracles that have catalyzed the birth of a wiser, softer, braver, more patient, more resilient me.
#1: I learned the invaluable tool of permission. I learned how to give myself permission to be having experiences I didn’t want to be having. I learned how to give myself permission to be right where I was, even when I was deeply unhappy about it. I gave myself permission to be unhappy when I really didn't want to be unhappy.
There is a tremendous opening up that happens when we can allow ourselves to be immersed in whatever is unfolding in our lives. Giving permission is another way of practicing acceptance. Does this sound stupid and unnecessary to you? are you thinking, “Why would I need to give myself permission for something that is already happening anyway? What good does that do?” Well, just because it’s already happening anyway doesn’t mean that you are free from resistance to what is happening. The resistance that comes up when we are facing stuff that really scares us, triggers us, and brings up feelings of failure and hopelessness can keep us contracted and closed to the tools and insights that will act as vehicles for moving through our challenges. I encourage you to give this a try and test it out for yourself!
What is something you wish you weren’t dealing with right now? Ok now say this: “ Even though I wish I wasn’t dealing with (fill in the blank) I give myself permission to be in this exact circumstance and experience.
Here’s an example from my last year: Even though I wish I wasn’t dealing with this, I give myself total permission to be in a relationship I don’t feel good about right now, even though I never wanted to be in this position ever again. I give myself permission to feel lost, stressed, and overwhelmed by the demands of this new baby.”
#2: I practiced the art of persistence. (To persist: to go on resolutely or stubbornly in spite of opposition, importunity, or warning 2 to remain unchanged or fixed in a specified character, condition, or position 3: to be insistent in the repetition or pressing of an utterance (such as a question or an opinion) 4: to continue to exist especially past a usual, expected, or normal time)
Actually, I am still persisting. I am persisting in my business. I am persisting in motherhood. I am persisting in my relationship. I am persisting in other relationships in my life. I am persisting in my choice to create a life I love. To believe in the possibilities contained within it. To reach for a new story and to paint a beautiful picture I have not yet seen.
None of this is possible if I give up. I too have contemplated whether I am cut out for life at all. I too have heard the voice that says death is a better choice than struggling through life. What I also know is that my desire is not to cause more pain on the earth. Not to cause pain for my children. For other loved ones. But to model the ways that it is possible for human beings to alchemize pain into growth and goodness that reverberates out into future generations. If given a choice between death and transformation, I truly believe most of us would choose transformation. Persistence on the growth journey is absolutely necessary. #neverthelessshepersisted
#3: I learned that everything else comes after the choice. In this case, I choose devotion to myself and living a life I love that is in alignment with my values and my purpose. We always have a choice. Whatever we need to follow through with our commitment will be generated in the creative power and process of CHOOSING.
Think of a time you made a choice to do something, you had no idea how you were going to pull it off, but the universe came through to help you achieve your objective. This is exactly what I am talking about. We are the creators. When I make a choice, the universe is immediately conspiring with me to real-ize my vision. To REAL-IZE. To make a vision REAL. The starting place is always in the choosing.
What are you choosing right now? What are you committed to? What are you aligned with? If there is something in your life you aren’t happy with, can you identify how you are choosing it? Who or what do you allow to choose for you in your life? (Lovers, partners, work, addictions, etc.)
#4: I recommitted to the art of innovation. Merriam Webster defines Innovation as: 1: the introduction of something new 2: a new idea, method, or device. Let’s face it, we can all struggle with the “I already know that” disease. I suspect that this is largely due to the sheer quantity of amazing information at our fingertips and flooding our faces every waking moment. I mean, before the internet how did we learn that we could use Doritos to start a fire in a zombie apocalypse?! What did we do without hundreds of green smoothie info-graphics and those glorious tasty cooking videos?!
The thing is, just because we have read something doesn’t mean we know it. If we aren’t DOING IT, WE DON’T actually KNOW IT. We have not metabolized it into our cells. We are not embodying it.
Ok, so stay with me for a sec. How do we gain practical (not theoretical) experience of concepts? By straight up experimenting! We innovate! We take some suggestion, or exercise, or bit of advice, and we innovate that shit! We create our own personal experiment with it and we observe the results. Not just one time, but again, and again, and again.
In my case, I have been innovating my self-care. I had to go back to the drawing board and create rituals and practices that work for me where I am right now, instead of only complaining and feeling guilty that my old rituals and practices weren’t doing the trick for me anymore. I have also been innovating my relationship tool kit; another branch of self-care. Trying new things, looking through new view-points, etc.
Keys to successful innovation:
Getting curious and asking open ended questions. What would feel the best? What would the details of that look like? What might work better than what I’m currently doing? Why haven’t I been open to change? Am I ready to feel better?
Teaming up. Accountability and group support are absolutely key to successful innovation. Not only are you more likely to follow through when you’ve announced your intention to try something new, but you can also receive support when you are feeling weak, feeling like you’ll always be stuck repeating your past patterns, or simply feeling overwhelmed. I have support in the form of my beautiful coach, who never believes my 'stories' but always points me back to my creative power and my sovereignty. I have support in the form of badass friends who are in the world doing the work themselves; who listen and comfort and encourage. I have support in my sisters and our long running group text. There are many more examples of how I have welcome support into my life- too many to share in this moment. This in and of itself is a miracle, because there were many years that I truly felt unloved and unsupported, which meant that I was unable to receive the support and love that were present for me. Have you ever experienced this? It is painful and lonely, and I want you to know it can be shifted!
Give yourself permission to change your mind. I know how much you really wanted your experiment to wake up at 5am, eat a bowl of kale chips with a green smoothie, meditate for 30 min, and then yoga for an hour- to work. I know! You really thought it was the answer to all of your problems! "If only I can do (insert thing here) my life will be in balance!" But if it isn’t working, give yourself permission to try something new. Try something else. Make a tweak or two or three. Make a change. And do it from an orientation of loving-kindness rather than a feeling of “I should”. Keep trying stuff and feeling into what really works best for you.
My new baby turned ONE on June 11th. He is perfect, sweet, funny, and smart. He is still high needs, but it’s getting easier all the time. And my attitude shift is really helping too, because it is transforming my daily experience. I love him and cherish him deeply. I can finally say, and mean it, that I love what he’s adding to our family. Since his birthday I’ve felt a growing spaciousness opening up inside of me. I did a thing I thought I couldn’t do! I DID IT! I have navigated the strain of a new, really challenging baby and a relationship without burning it all to the ground. (It’s a miracle!!!)
And despite challenges this past year, I have been doing incredibly powerful coaching work with brilliant, radiant women while being totally transparent about my own journey. To my great joy and surprise, this transparency has only increased the power of our connections and the impact of the work we are doing together!
I have enrolled in a new training to deepen my skills and knowledge. This training really feels like a risk on many levels because of the large financial commitment and logistics of several trips over the coming year. However, I am absolutely committed. And I am excited in advance for the way the universe is going to miraculously provide everything I need to make it all happen. Of course, I will keep you filled in along the way too! ;)
I have renewed commitment to myself, my purpose, and unequivocally living a life I LOVE. I get to choose, and I will not commit to beliefs, attitudes, habits, and behaviors that do not bring me into the frequency of what I love.
Of course my story isn’t over. I am still learning how to make my relationship work, practice forgiveness, and learning what supports me in staying out of shame and blame. I am really learning how to access my inner freedom when I feel trapped and want to run away. I am still too big to wear my old pants, and sometimes begrudgingly loving my body. I am still right in the thick of it! And it is ok with me! I have a renewed zest and vision, and it’s got me thinking about you and where you’re at right now.
I want you to know you’re not alone. So what about you, beloved?
I’m offering a 30 day Radical Self-Care Reset Challenge kicking off on Monday, July 23rd to support you in innovating what you need for this season of your life.
No matter what has happened, where your dreams have been derailed, where you’ve encountered unexpected challenges and heartbreak, where you feel behind, where you feel overwhelmed, or where you feel unhappy- you can use it all for your growth. You can transform your failures and personal soul shrapnel into treasures.
What if all the twisted rubble and soul-shrapnel of the world is only waiting to be turned to gold through the alchemy of our choosing growth, beloved?
I invite you to live into this question. What possibilities open up in your life if this is true? So ask yourself again....
What if all the twisted rubble and soul-shrapnel of the world is only waiting to be turned to gold through the alchemy of our choosing growth, beloved?
To Turning Our Rubble To Gold,
ps. Worried the challenge will add lots to your already full to-do list?? I thought you might say that, and I want you to know that this challenge is more about the magic of doing less, the magic of rest, the magic of pleasure and fun…..and less about piling on more ‘shoulds’.
pps. The July Book of the Month is awesome! Check it out here.
Questions? Leave them in the comments.
Thoughts or stories to share? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and fill me in. I will respond to every email I receive.